You’ve just earned the ominous task of crafting a game set within the meaty embrace of a much beloved franchise. What do you do first? If Rocksteady’s take on the Dark Knight in Arkham games Asylum and City taught us anything it was that these first steps should be onto fresh turf. Monolith was clearly taking notes when preparing Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor.
Middle-earth Shadow Of Mordor gameplay & info
Rather than slap The Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit onto the box of its third-person, open-world action adventure, Monolith is setting SOM betwixt Tolkien and Jackson’s well-trodden tales. The story centres on Talion, a Ranger of Gondor who’s posted to patrol a human garrison at the Black Gate of Mordor. Chief bad guy Sauron has been gone for 2,000 years and tribes of humans are eking out a life in the slowly recovering landscape. Until, that is, the Dark Lord stops slapping the snooze button and sweeps back intotown.
In true badass forging style, Talion’s family are killed in the ruckus. Rather than die himself, the sword, bow and dagger-wielding hero suffers a mysterious curse which bestows him with a dark wraith personality. Unable to die and rejoin his family in the afterlife, and with powerful new abilities, Talion has to penetrate into Mordor as the orc armies begin their inevitable growth.
“We’re trying to explore what Power means in Middle-earth,” director of design Michael de Plater tells us. “We were very inspired by the idea of what would have happened if Boromir had managed to take the Ring Of Power from Frodo and use the weapon of the enemy against him.”
As well as creating a twist on the lire Shadow Of Mordor is also trying to bring more depth to the world, to creating a living space rather than a copy of one of the movie sets. “It’s extremely important to have balance and contrast,” explains de Plater. “It’s part of what makes it so interesting to explore in this time period. Mount Doom is dormant, Barad Dur is a ruin and there is life in Mordor. As well as bringing sunlight and contrast to the game it gives you a heroic purpose in helping save the people trapped by Sauron’s return.”
Middle Earth Shadow Of Mordor gives you wraith abilities to use in combat or control enemies as minions
How to explore this tale of Tolkien-esque temptation? With rhythmic, combo-based combat and across a distraction-filled sandbox world. A unique Nemesis AI System means every foe you encounter has a name, a rank and a memory. Orcs will remember you and how you fight. They might take on personal vendettas against you. If they manage to slay you, Talion won’t die in the traditional sense but will respawn after the passing of time in the world. The individual orc that struck the killing blow will remember doing so. He may have even been promoted for it. Or perhaps he’ll have been backstabbed by another orc vying for his power. This year might mark the last excuse to watch dumpy men climb mountains, but if Monolith pulls this off we’ll be more than happy to swagger back into Middle-earth.
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