This will be more of a reflection than a true review of this title. After all, there are a ton of other full reviews floating around if you want to know about the game’s story or Assassins Creed-meets-Arkham combat, or the orcish political system and how the player can manipulate it. Or terrible editorials about how the game represents violence towards women or minorities, or encourages torture and terrorism or other insane ramblings by “commentators”. I’ll just give my thoughts on my experience with the game.
I’ve put over 40 hours into Shadows of Mordor now, and while it certainly does suffer a little from “second island syndrome” as the gameplay is pretty samey after awhile, I’ll be quite happy to finish it shortly and then just fire it up occasionally for some random orc slaughter. So I’ll be well satisfied with the purchase.
I see it this way – I rarely buy new release games anymore, since my backlog there is as bad as my painting backlog, so the positive word of mouth is what convinced me to buy. I enjoyed GTA5, but never finished it. This is the first game in (at least) a year that has kept me up until 1, 2, 3am for just a bit more, and 90% of that has been playing with the procedurally generated Uruk Captains and Warchiefs. I’ll finish it soon and be satisfied, as despite the 40 hours so far (45 or 50 by the time I’m done with it?) it’s not felt like a grind or tedious boredom. Despite the time, it’s not over-long, either – and I’m sure it could easily be finished in a fraction of the time I’ve spent with it.
It’s far from perfect. The controls are better than AC1 or 2, but Telion still sticks to walls or jumps in the wrong direction occasionally. A toggle option for crouch/stealth run for the right trigger so you don’t need to hold the button down to sneak would be welcome. The graphics are very much cross-generation, so the environment are not a graphical showcase for the PS4 (though the Uruks look bloody good!) The cinematics are pre-rendered, so Telion doesn’t wear the alternate outfit or wield the reforged weapons you got him in them. Telion smoulders with somewhat generic rage (possibly NSFW). The challenge of fighting Uruks also takes a sharp decline once you’re fully upgraded. But then, you’d want it to, right? And you can still get overwhelmed and die.
But despite all of this, the game is simply fun. I don’t regret my pre-order purchase. Money and time well spent. I’ll buy any substantial DLC in a moment. The Nemesis system will I’m sure become a feature of many games to come, as soon as they can figure out how to shoehorn it in. I’ve heard that the ending isn’t the greatest, but again – after this much fun in the playing, I’m not too fussed if the finale of the story turns out to only be as compelling as Telion’s personality.
In fact, writing this up has made me want to go and load the thing up and play it some more, so that’s what I’m off to do. Now if you’ll excuse me…