PS4 Review: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Mordor’s Creed

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a big risk for both Warner and Monolith, the past game “War in the North” fared well, but not as well as it should have. The story is set in-between the events of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you play as Talion, a Ranger of Gondor cursed to live beyond death by the Black Hand of Sauron. After being empowered by a fallen spirit, you are free to exact your revenge against seeing your family murdered and attempt to break the curse so you can rest in peace.
The game is open world and you will begin to see similarities from two other popular gaming franchises, Assassin’s Creed and Batman’s Arkham. The main story is only 20 missions long, so you can breeze through that in no time…although I would recommend going off-track to the side quests and collectibles to power up Talion so he’s more than ready for the final set of battles, of which there are plenty.

The good thing about Shadow of Mordor is that you can mostly play it as you wish, you can be stealthy and take out enemies through silent assassinations or go in swords swinging. You also later get the ability to “brand” Uruks, essentially making them work for you, which works incredibly well in your favour when trying to solve power struggles between Uruk captains and Warchiefs, all of which are scattered across Mordor.
It’s an interesting concept as you can essentially promote a Uruk to a Captain by letting him kill you, then rank him up to the Warchief’s bodyguard through a mission, then make him his own Warchief and after that, you can rest easy…or unleash him and his fellow Uruks on other Warchiefs or Captains’, depending on what you are trying to do. There are a few missions where stealth is the only option and its sadly forced on you, but other than that…the combat is totally up to you, you can even kill long-range through your bow which slows down time and is the only effective way of killing certain, larger enemies…

If there’s one problem with Shadow of Mordor, it’s that its rather short. Luckily there’s a season pass, so there’s more content on the way. But it did feel like I was just getting started, only for the credits to roll after a massive build-up and a rather easy and cheap final battle.

Visually, Shadow of Mordor looks great. The character models and facial expressions of the Uruks and Orcs are stunning, as is Mordor itself. There’ll be a cameo from the series that you’ll instantly recognise and it’s handled very well, while staying true to the character from Peter Jackson’s take on the Tolkien universe. Voice-acting is superb, while the music is just as epic and dramatic as it has been in the films.

The Verdict

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a much better game than I ever imagined it would be. It borrows heavily from Arkham and Creed, but it does so in its own way that makes it fit within the series well. I would have liked a longer story mode, although I am looking forward to seeing what the season pass provides. On the whole though, this is probably the best LotR game yet that ironically doesn’t have LotR in the title.