Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor First Impressions and Gameplay Video

Many Happy Beheadings in the Dark Lands.

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is now out in the wild and people are getting their first taste of this (surprisingly) good game. The embargo for live streaming lifted last night so I hopped on Twitch to play for an hour and change. In the video above, you can see many of the game’s mechanics and see how dynamic the world can be.

As for what I think so far? If you couldn’t tell from how amused I was during this playthrough, I’m really liking it. I was impressed with what I saw of it during a live demonstration I attended during E3 and am glad that the final product lives up to the potential I saw.


The big standout here is obviously the Nemesis System. With this mechanic, foes you’ve previously fought remember you. Furthermore, if you’re defeated in battle, the Uruk who took you down will get promoted and thus become stronger. This also causes a power shift within Sauron’s ranks and lesser Uruk-Hai also rise up or challenge others’ positions. This is something which has never been seen in a video game before and is actually “next-gen” since this mechanic had to be severely limited on the last-gen versions of the game.

The controls and combat are what really hold this game together though. As you can tell, this game is a mix of games from the recent past. The Batman: Arkham and Assassin’s Creed series are the main ones which inspire Shadow of Mordor. This isn’t a bad thing at all since those are great titles to draw influence from. Because of this, Shadow of Mordor feels familiar and therefore, the learning curve is shortened. You can jump in and feel at home if you’ve played those aforementioned titles before.


Combat is definitely what some would call “easy to learn, difficult to master.” The combat mechanics aren’t that hard to learn but the game can get difficult. Things can get really crazy when you’re surrounded by thirty or more enemies and if you don’t watch your ass, you’ll be cut down fast. However, even when I was killed, I never felt like the game was being unfair to me. Every mistake was purely my own which just gave me an incentive to get better. The combat itself is extremely satisfying and I love how visceral it  is. I’ve dismembered hundreds of Uruks so far and I haven’t ever gotten tired of it. The sheer brutality of battles satisfies the bloodlusty side of me for sure.

Graphically speaking, it’s a very good looking game. It’s not a visual powerhouse by any means of the imagination but it holds its own. What I did like was the weather effects. I remember when rain started falling down and I saw big chunks of ice bouncing off my character and I went “Wait… is that HAIL in a video game?” I don’t ever recall seeing that weather phenomenon in a game before so I was very impressed by that. I like that Mordor has a day/night cycle and isn’t always bathed in darkness. The land is pretty barren and depleted so this was a good way of giving it some visual diversity. The facial animations of the Uruk-Hai were cool and I enjoyed how their mouths and lips pronounced every word in an exaggerated manner.

This is all I want to say about Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor at this moment for fear of compromising my upcoming review. Needless to say that this is an unexpected surprise. The game hits all of the right points so far and I anticipate that it will get better as I progress further.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is out now for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One.

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Tony Polanco Executive Editor
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