Oh Genchu, you’r e such a broken record! We’re all very scared of your murder face, we get it.
I’ve had Shadows of Mordor sitting in its plastic wrap since my birthday, but I finally unwrapped it and started it up! UGH IT’S SO BLEAK. I mean the LOTR movies get pretty dark at times, but they’re still jaunty high adventure films! Shadows of Mordor is like LOTR meets THE PUNISHER. You play as a ranger living on the borders of Mordor (probably not the best place to set up camp) when some orcs and an evil dude in black armor show up to capture your wife and son and murder them in front of you! Through some accidental summoning shenanigans, Talion, our ranger hero, gets an elf lord tied to his spirit, giving him a companion character, split personality, and magic elf powers all in one! He then sets out to murder every orc in Mordor because screw those guys.
Needless to say, the uplifting LOTR marching theme does not make an appearance in this game, as far as I can tell. That’s too bad, because the music of the LOTR films is a large part of its identity. I guess I’m just frustrated because I’m totally enjoying playing the game! It’s just hard to like the main characters, since they’re so dour and angry. I think if the game had more of a heroic vibe it’d be a much better game all around. I wish the plot went something like… a group of (important?) people are kidnapped by orcs, and Talion and a female ranger companion make an uneasy alliance as they infiltrate Mordor to save the hostages. It’d be fun, the two could meet up to advance the main plot, argue with each other, flirt wih each other, fight orcs together, save some people, save each other, form a strong bond and come out on top. Maybe you could even switch between the two characters! Yeah, I wanna play THAT game.
I do still think Shadows of Mordor is fun. I can see why it won a lot of 2014 Game of the Year awards (a lack of many stand out titles that year didn’t hurt either), and I love how accurately it’s recreated the visual look of the films, especially Mordor itself! Everything feels very authentic to the LOTR film universe, except the tone. In some ways I wonder if I should be impressed that the game tells a side story that’s not just a repeat of the plot of any of the films, but the grim tone feels like the antithesis of what people actually love about Lord of the Rings. It’s morbid and gloomy and I’m not seeing any light in the darkness, despite what Talion’s elf ghost proclaims after each time a respawn from death.Published on by Alex Kolesar