Level Up: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

By Samual Cale on September 04, 2016 from Level Up via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Sometimes a small thing such as a trinket or a place can bring back memories. This happened to me when I walked into Gamestop and saw a copy of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor for Xbox One on the shelf for a low price. I had purchased the game when it came out in November of 2013, and had been anticipating its release for months. This is a game that is often overlooked and forgotten, but I believe that it should not be.
In Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, you play as Talion, a ranger of Gondor assigned to guard the Black Gate should Sauron’s forces rise again. In the night the Black Gate was attacked by orcs and overrun. The attack was led by The Hand of Sauron, The Tower, and The Hammer, Sauron’s three Black Lieutenants. Talion’s wife and son were slain before his eyes before he was killed as well in a ritual of some kind. He awaked in a dark place quite similar to the one seen when the One Ring is worn, and there he met the wraith of an elf that does not remember who he is and wants to find out. He tells Talion that they have been bound together and banished from death. Talion sets out into Mordor on a quest to have vengeance against the Black Lieutenants, and help this wraith discover who is and why he has been summoned from beyond the grave.
The gameplay of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is amazing. Since you and this wraith are bound together, you gain supernatural powers such as short range teleportations, slowing time to fire arrows, and even mind control of lesser beings such as orcs and animals. You may also look into the wraith world to identify enemies and environmental elements, even through walls. There is a system of orc captains that you must hunt down to increase Talion’s power, most of which is randomly generated. There are some captains that are pre-generated for story purposes, but the rest are either randomly generated or rise from being a standard orc to a captain by killing you. Orcs that have killed you in the past will remember, and they will also remember previous non-lethal encounters.
Sometimes a captain can even come back from the dead seeking revenge for how you killed them last. Every captain has certain strengths and weaknesses, such as being afraid of fire, or having health regeneration. Killing captains gives experience, power, and runes. Runes can be applied to your weapons to give them special powers. Talion is skilled in stealth, the use of a bow, and sword to sword combat, allowing for a flexible approach to any situation. Later in the game, you gain the ability to dominate the minds of orcs, which includes captains. This allows you to pit captains against each other, giving you the opportunity to interfere on behalf of your brainwashed compatriot. There is no real multiplayer, however there is a system that allows you to find captains that killed another player and avenge them. Overall, it is a very comprehensive system of gameplay that allows you to either gain victory through battle, or through stealth.
The graphics are pretty good for a game originally made for the older gaming systems (Xbox 360, Playstation 3) in 2013. It has a very dark and gritty feel. There are so many orcs that a lot of them look the same, but this is not really a problem as it feels right that the orcs should be generic and lacking the levels of intelligence and character to be truly unique. I find that the in-game music is quite productive in adding to the dark and desolate atmosphere of Mordor.
I give Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor a rating of 9/10. It has an immersive story that incorporates important elements from the books, as well as extremely substantial gameplay to back it up. The graphics are not knock your socks off, but they are decent. With these memories of a great game sparked in my mind I reached down and purchased the game again for a better system at a low price to see how it plays now. I have yet to be disappointed.

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