Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor

EDIT: Ok, changing this to Reluctantly Recommended. While I stand by everything I wrote I can’t stop playing the game. It has the “Destiny” effect. It’s not a great game but you keep playing it. I will say that the main missions are fun, but the side stuff (Warchiefs included) that you have to do to unlock missions still feels like work and the cheapness of the encounters are still very prevalent. So be warned.

I really want to like this game. It’s pretty, it’s a big title, it’s got swords, I paid $30 for it…but I don’t. I’m sure people that are heavily invested into the lore of Middle Earth may really like it, but I can’t find any fun in this title. The combat is repetitive, VERY repetitive. I realize all games are but the sheer number of enemies this game throws at you making you mash the same two buttons over and over to win a battle after you’ve already grown bored of it is just stupid.

That’s my main issue with this game. There is something here that is good. Like Batman meets Assassin Creed. It has the makings of a great title. But it ruins the experience with the combat. It’s the same combat system used in the recent Batman games but Batman knew how to make it fun. You were never overwhelmed with enemies around every corner, but in Shadow of Mordor it seems every fight is a test of patience. Add to that, every one of your enemies seems to have a lot more health than you do which just adds time to an already uninspired battle.

Shadow of Mordor title

To make matters worse, when an enemy kills you they get “promoted” with more power. So if you couldn’t defeat him the first time, good luck next time as that encounter will be even harder. I get that this is supposed to challenge the player but for those of us that just want to have fun with a game and experience the story while slashing things with a sword it’s just a giant middle finger that will have me thinking twice next time I decide to spend my cash on one of their games. I’m not turned off by difficult games, but the way it’s handled makes all the difference.

The premise of the game is fine, you and your family were sacrificed and you are out for revenge. Easy. And the design of the game definitely helps set that tone. That’s basically it. You are also “possessed” by a spirit that is helping you and that mechanic is done fairly well. The game controls fine aside from some very weird climbing animations where it looks like you are literally flying up a wall for a second or two. It breaks the mood of the game when I see that as it’s just completely out of place.

I know that orcs pain!

So at the end of the day it has the makings of a good game that is fun to play at certain times but it’s difficulty seems comprised of cheap and lazy design choices. I’d much rather face smaller, more difficult groups of enemies than large armies made up of the medieval equivalent of bullet sponges.

I just can’t fully recommend a game where it feels like lazy, cheap design choices were used in lieu of good gameplay and fighting mechanics. While the “Batman” system is great in those games, this game needed a more hack and slash style of fighting. And that design choice, for me, ruined the experience. This game with the combat system from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would be amazing.