Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the latest title from Monolith, a company whose games have a high pedigree when it comes to looking back at their titles since 1997; they have released such titles as Blood 1 & 2, Tron 2.0, NOLF 1 & 2 (No One Lives Forever) and AvP 2. Since they were acquired during 2004 by Warner Bros they have also released a raft of well known and loved titles such as F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon), Condemned Criminal Origins 1 & 2 and the poor Matrix Online which closed down a few years back.
Monolith developed their own game engine known as Lithtech which was used in numerous earlier titles between 1997 & 1999 by them and evolved versions of their engine have also been used in their later games as new PC technology came to fruition, including Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. On top of engine development and their own games they also did a bit of publishing in the earlier days for smaller and up and coming developers of the time.
Shadow of Mordor sits firmly between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy; it follows the canon created by Peter Jackson’s epic movies and also expands on the Middle Earth lore established in the novels created by Tolkien. The reasoning behind giving this game a Middle Earth title is that it will not confuse the player with more story-telling within the whole Rings saga and opens up the world to new untold stories.
The game tells the story of a Ranger of Gondor named Talion, who is a guard on The Black Gate located in the Mountains of Ash in the north to the Ephel Duath (Mountains of Shadow) in the west. He is living there with his family (wife & son) when the gate is attacked by Uruks (hard core battle hardened Orcs!). After the short opening scene, teaching you the basics of combat, you send your son to find his mother – this opening scene also gives flashbacks to the life Talion had prior to the uprising and, once again, serves teaching about the stealth element in the game. Once you complete the flashback, Talion is forced to watch The Black Hand murder his captured son and wife, as Talion himself is being killed he is saved by Celebrimbor, who is a wraith. The opening scene of the game serves as Talion’s purpose and why he is now seeking vengeance and his journey into Mordor.
Celebrimbor (the character who is a smith in the novels and also the creator of The Rings of Power) possesses Talion as he himself is after vengeance against Sauron. Having the wraith gives Talion extra powers no mortal would normally be able to possess. As an example, during combat you can wraith-stun enemies which can give you a small breather while finishing off an enemy attacking from behind. You also have the ability to capture an enemy during combat or by sneaking up on them with stealth and extracting vital information about the Uruk Captains you will be coming up against. To do this, you see Celebrimbor hold the Orc and it zooms into the mind and you can gain valuable intel about who you are going after. The information given tells you weaknesses and their location on the large sprawling map – this information if used correctly can be invaluable. As an example, it may state that a weakness is to stealth attacks, so once you locate your target in the area you can stalk them and find an opportune time to take them out by either sneaking up on them when they are alone and killing them silently, or even jumping off a structure doing a stealth kill. This then gives you an instant kill with it being a weakness, rather than going one on one with the enemy and a high chance of an alarm sounding and the entire population of Orcs bearing down on you.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!