It’s like Dynasty Warriors, but with less arcade action.
Review (with Spoilers)
It has been so long since I played a video game which wasn’t made by TellTale Games, and I think their work has made me so used to Sly Cooper graphics that now everything looks like a Final Fantasy game. That thought aside, with you being a one man army, going against hordes and hordes of Urks; constantly dying due to being outnumbered; and dealing with a RPG system to get stronger, is this game just another title cashing in on the familiarity of The Lord of the Rings or does it remind you why you are a gamer in the first place?
Characters & Story
A ranger named Talion finds his post overran by Uruk forces and is forced to watch his son and wife die. As for his fate? A ritual leads to him merging with the creator of the ring the series is famous for. Thus leading you to help Celebrimbor, the creator of the ring, in his quest to recover his memories, as well as fight against the evil forces who wish to take over Middle Earth.
Back when I was a heavy PS2 junkie, games like God of War would be so much fun for there were times, especially as you were ranking up hit combos, that made you feel the character’s intensity. That also happens in Shadow of Mordor for with these huge amount of Uruks going against you, all with different strategies to defeat you, every time you take one down it feels like an accomplishment. Especially when you begin to face the war chiefs who have entourages and may have some defenses which keep you from using your usual strategy on them.
Leading to us speaking on the controls. Now, I’m using a PS3 controller on PC, and I have to say sometimes I did have the slightest issue where I felt I hit the counter button and between not hitting it soon enough, or simply the button press not registering, I ended up getting hit. Though considering there are times in the game where more than one Uruk may assault you, sometimes even trying to defend yourself won’t matter. Especially if it is a spear thrower or an archer.
Making me backtrack to talk about the combat difficulty and AI for, as noted, the Uruks have various strategies to defeat you, and also various defenses so that you can’t always jump over them and go for a furry kill. I mean, most of the time, you can, but not all of the time. Though what is worth the most praise when it comes to SoM is that each Uruk type, whether it is spear and shield; duel blades; archer; or spearman, they all seem to act as one cohesive unit which makes it where, unlike most games, pretty much when you see a huge amount of them you are not thinking that you can be like some action star and take them all down. No, sometimes your thought process will go from “I’m going to take out all of you!” to “Let me get the hell out of here!” For rather than you just dying and that be it, the Uruks actually get stronger if you lose to them. Making it so, on top of them sometimes having poisonous weapons, you not being able to use range attacks on them, and etc., they gain additional ways to present a challenge to you.
Luckily though, the game gives you good methods to fight back against them without making it so you end up feeling invincible. For example, you are able to gain a mind control power which allows you to build some type of Uruk army  but, being that hordes against you can be 30+, it doesn’t necessarily make it so you can create a squash match. Plus, despite the AI getting attacked by their former friends, everyone pretty much is still focusing on you.
Which leads into the criticism for it was kind of annoying how I could take over a dozen Uruks and yet everyone was still relatively chasing me. Making it seem the AI was far too geared toward taking me out. Though that wasn’t the only issue. To me, the action in the game is so fun that it makes you not care about the story at all. To the point that, more often than not, I exercised the skip option during cut scenes. For, after a certain point, all I wanted to know was: where I was going, who I needed to defeat, and then what was the next task.
Though, I must admit, the combat does get repetitive after some time and one of the tasks, like commanding over 5 war chiefs, can become a bit of a headache since you aren’t 100% how to make a war chief, much less how to make the Uruks you like a war chief vs. becoming a war chief’s bodyguard. Also, a part of me felt annoyed that if you collect all the collectibles pertaining to Celebrimbor’s past, or do all the side quests for your weapons, you don’t get any cool reward. You get points to unlock stuff, but not something which makes you feel all the headaches was worth it. Especially since, for most missions, you aren’t given a retry option. Thus leading you to trek through Uruks back to the starting point to redo the mission.
Overall: Worth Buying
I’m not sure if DLC may be released for this, but I am certainly hoping so for between new enemies or new stories, I feel, even after beating the game, I haven’t gotten my fix. Hence the rare “Worth Buying” tag since even though now I have nothing to do but beat up Uruks, I still am having fun doing it and can see this game as being a nice stress reliever for some.
Things to Note
90% at 35 hours and 44 minutes – All missions done, all collectibles (side missions), and I just have to do the survival missions (like take out the flying creators and collect certain herbs).
I should note, pretty much after the battle, no Uruk of your army really follows you. They pretty much disperse and once you leave the spell seeming wears off.