All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Shadowed expectations

I just completed Shadows of Mordor. Yes we are going to pretend the last 3 weeks of abesence didn't happen, what're you going to do about it?
Stop reading? well that doesn't seem fair now does it? Get back over here, read on and pretend with me, dammit!


Shadow of Mordor!
This was by far the best assassins creed game I've played in a long time, perhaps ever, and considering it's not actually assassins creed you gotta give it props.

I have to admit that when I first looked at Shadow of Mordor a long time ago, when it was adverts on a theoretical game I didn't care. it looked like another failed attempt at a good LOTR game. I thought, like the movie games, I'd look at it on someone else's computer, play it for 5 minutes maybe and decide not to buy, but the more I saw the more it surprised me, the more I craved it.

Shadow of Mordor is an open world melee combat game that offers the options of stealth, knee deep combat or ranged battling using a system reminiscent of Assassins creed's free running to get around and a system quite heavily based on the Batman Arkham games to fight.
The player is given a story, an open world filled with missions, uruks (Bad ass Orks I think) and collectables and told go nuts, do the story in your leisure.
The first half of the game takes place in a desolate area that, admittedly, looks pretty crap, while the second half takes place in a beautiful foresty, grassy world that looks fantastic. In the first half you are trying to kill your way up the ranks of Uruks to take out the Warchiefs and eventually kill the black captains. This is fun and it gives the player time to get to grips with the Nemesis system (I'll explain later) for when they move onto the second area where they have to magically recruit all of the Uruk warchiefs.

Okay, the story really isn't all that great and for the most part it doesn't make sense - I mean lets be honest, if there was a good wraith teleporting around out there, killing off Saurons forces and turning them against him I'm fairly sure Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn would have had a much easier time of it... of course they ignored the Eagles, maybe they knew about Talion and Calibrimbor and decided 'Fuck it, that would make it too easy.
But I digress.
The story is a fairly simple, underwhelming revenge plot, save for the first ten minutes where they show Talions life before Saurons return and what happened to his wife and kid, making me genuinely feel for him. After that point I lost interest and just started enjoying the Nemesis system.
The story was okay, but mediocre, ending in, not a bang but a whimper.

The Nemesis System though is what brings this game together.
The game play is good, it's fun and engaging, but the Nemesis System is art. There are characters in this game that you will hate. Enemies that will make you stumble, that will make you turn left when you should have turned right. Enemies that will kill you over and over again making you genuinely hate them, thirst for their blood, and that's all because of the Nemesis system.
In Shadow of Mordor any Uruk can become a Captain and any Captain can become a bodyguard and any bodyguard can become a war chief.
This is what happened to me:
First time out the gate playing I go to a captains base, find him and almost kill him but one of his minions kills me. His minion is promoted to captain rank, an Uruk named Hugor the Surgeon - that's right, without turning the game on I know his name he got so far under my skin - while the captain got promoted up to elite captain and half a dozen other things changed that I wasn't involved in.
So I came back to life and decided to take out Hugor first since I'd just made him and I didn't want someone who'd killed me walking around. I go find him and from a mile away - because I'm awesome, not cowardly - I shoot him with an arrow to the head. He dies and I get a rune for my weapon.
A few hours pass, I'm going about my business, hunting down body guards of Uruk Warchiefs and my screen stops, moving towards a captain that was walking nearby. For a moment I don't recognise him. He has metal plating on one side of his head. I consider that he actually looks pretty cool, maybe I should let him kill me and rank up like some other people had done, but then I noticed his name and his clothing. Then he shouts at me "You left me for dead, Tark! Now I'll kill you!" Hugor the surgeon. The first Uruk to kill me. He'd survived the execution I'd wrought upon him.
Clearly I couldn't let that stand, I had to kill him- but the battle didn't go my way, hordes of the Uruk descended upon me and Hugor dealt the final blow, murdering me and ranking up, his power level increasing and his weaknesses disappearing, one by one.
I re-spawn and go after him again. I sneak up on him this time, wanting to end it quickly and carry on, after all he had to die, but I didn't want to make a thing of it. And die he did. I dominated his mind, ripped intelligence from him and snapped his neck. Or so I believed for a day, until the next time I played and found him walking with another Captain.
Together they slayed me. At this point my blood was boiling. I needed that damn uruk to die and stay dead. It'd had enough. I went for him again. This time I knew not to make any mistakes. I found him eating with his minions. I set fire to him, I stabbed him, I shot him, and skewered him through the chest... and he still came back. His face gone, melted and burned away to be replaced by cloth. A sack had been torn apart and used to cover the flesh that was not covered by the metal plate.
"You don't recognise me ranger, but I bet you know my voice!" Hugor had survive... again.
This time I ran. He didn't kill me but he still powered up, emboldened by my fleeing. I had no choice, I was surrounded and out of elf-shot.
Later I found him again and made swift work of him murdering him for good. It certainly seemed that way, for a week after doign it. I played through the area, continued the story mission into the second half, got to the point where I had to go across the sea and decided to re-visit the first area... where Hugor the Surgeon had risen to the rank of War Chief. He was stronger than any other, with more body guards...
My Nemesis was back and I had to deal with him swiftly, replacing him with a captain under my command. I took his bodyguards, I had them betray him, and I gutted him.
Only to have him turn up one final time when I went to face the Black Hand. the place of Nemesis shining brightly, he was the last test I had to face before the end...
scarred with burns, stab wounds, metal plating, and stronger than any other Uruk in the game; I had truly made my own Nemesis.

The game is a solid 8, despite the weak story. it's gameplay and nemesis system more than make up for it. I may even 100% it.

Tubage
- James

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