In Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, you play the part of a ranger by the name of Talion. Picture Aragorn but undead,and with a fairly intense case of dissociative identity disorder. The reason for that last part is that poor Talion is cursed to walk the land of the living after the Talion family’s throats have all been opened for non-medicinal reasons. Not only that, but he also has to share his already lamentable situation, and body, with the ghost of an elf suffering from amnesia.
Exposition nearly aside, Talion is assured by his Elven parasite Celebrimbor, who forged some of Middle Earth’s most problematic jewellery, that if he kills the ‘Black Hand of Mordor’ everything will be just fine. Well, not fine exactly, but Talion will be allowed to die without respawning at his last checkpoint.
The game is a lot of fun, and there’s no shortage of things to do. The combat system is reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham series, whilst the acrobatics and stealth are similar to those of the Assassin’s Creed series, without feeling like a carbon copy of either. More importantly, they both work. Shadow of Mordor has great visuals, an excellent original soundtrack, a varied landscape and feels remarkably dynamic. This dynamic element is in part thanks to the ‘Nemesis System’.
The Nemesis System remembers your interactions with certain ‘Uruks’, and then alters the way in which they will interact with you in later encounters. If an Uruk kills you, he will be stronger the next time you face him. The same goes for when Uruk’s fight amongst each other; the victor will become a more challenging foe, possibly dropping better loot. Pleasingly, an enemy you heavily wounded in a previous engagement with. For example, a flaming arrow will likely reappear with some tender-looking burns and scars, as well as a few words to say about how much they dislike you.
Is this game worth spending money on? In a word, yes!