Much has been made of Shadow of Mordor’s resemblance to Assassin’s Creed. But while any new AC game enters into series saturation after a fanfare of 30-odd trailers, Shadow of Mordor has enjoyed unusually low expectations.
Whether that’s down to Tolkeinausea or the diminishing returns of Monolith’s output is a matter for debate - but the fact that Shadow of Mordor has turned up on PC looking really rather good has taken everybody by surprise. Go on: have a gasp as its launch trailer.
Protagonist Talion breaks gently from Gladiator cliche by being slaughtered alongside his wife and children. He’s then resurrected by Celebrimbor, a Wraith dredged up from the foundations of LOTR lore, and tasked with roughing up Sauron’s series of Black Captains - and eventually putting the willies up the Dark Lord himself.
I’d recommend watching this trailer the way I did the first time - with your headphones not fully inserted into the port, so that none of the dialogue plays. That way, you won’t have to hear the sound of Middle-Earth canon being twisted until it comes off in Monolith’s hand.
Shadow of Mordor’s masterstroke is to make characters of the orcs. And why not? They display all the traits we celebrate in our HBO anti-heroes: greed, bitterness, and a proclivity for violence.
The game’s Nemesis system sees player interactions with enemies inform the make-up of future bosses. An Uruk lobbed into a fire, for instance, will probably wind up disfigured and vengeful in a future level.
What do you make of all that? Is there enough intriguing here to relieve you of your dosh this Friday?