Legacy Of The Battlefield
The gameplay is addicting. Beyond addicting. Keep in mind, I'm a huge fan of the combat in both the Batman Arkham and Assassin's Creed series. Shadows of Mordor reminds me of the perks of both, the negatives of neither, and brings along enough newness in its bag of abilities for you to forge your own play style. Want to go super secretive? Do it. Play up the stealth gameplay, though it's slightly overpowered against individual Uruks as they don't appear to have the best peripheral vision or the best hearing. What about those of you who want to wade into battle and bathe in the blood of your enemies? Do it. But be wary, because sticking to a strictly open assault at all times can quickly spell disaster once the more powerful enemies come into the fray.
As you cut your way across these dangerous lands, you will encounter Uruk captains; unique characters with a vast array of randomized looks, names, fighting styles, and even enough voice acting that it is rare to hear them say the same thing twice. Meet what I feel, is the real star of the game: The Nemesis System. These unique encounters portray a story of their own. As Talion, you can take on these special foes and if you take them down or humiliate them on the battlefield, your power goes up. But if they defeat you, they gain more power. As you fight them, they also fight each other to climb the ranks hoping to ultimately make it to the status of a Warchief: the baddest of the bad.
Throughout the game, more and more will step up to face you, with some being able to make a foothold and become your gravest of enemies. There was one who I thought would be my long running rival, as he came back twice after I'd thought I killed him. The Uruk touting himself as "The Butcher" was butchered himself, as I cut his head from his shoulders. The Nemesis System is more than just finding special characters and facing off against them, however. You can gather intel to learn their strengths and weaknesses, crash their feast by poisoning their grog, and causing an outbreak of death and violence, play two sides against each other and come in for the kill on both...the list goes on. I found this to be the story for my Talion, knowing that who I fought and how I fought them would be almost entirely different from anyone else's playthrough.
In all honesty, Shadows of Mordor was what I was hoping for and more in some aspects, but a disappointment in others. I would have loved for the main story to have been more memorable and more fluid, for characters not to leave as quickly as they arrived, and for The Black Hand to have been a more fleshed out villain. But the gameplay and the amount of side content from the Nemesis System and the various side challenges and collectibles more than makes up for my disappointments.
The cherry on top is of the most addicting melee combat systems I’ve ever experienced. I could literally spend hours just hacking away at the Uruk hordes and actually have to force myself to get on with the story. It may be a mixed bag of hits and misses, but when all of those misses have nothing to do with the gameplay itself, that's a very good thing. This may not be the game to turn to for story, but ultimately it's an experience I would suggest for anyone wanting a combination of familiar elements and new tricks, making it a precious installment in this fall season.
Addicting combat, side missions rarely become boring, Nemesis System much more than just a gimmick and adds another layer to the overall experience, great character interaction between Talion and the wraith.
Main story has awkward pacing and disjointed deliveries, most characters leave as quickly as they come, weak villain.