Few acclaimed literary series or film franchises have had as checkered a past with video game adaptations as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” but it seems Warner Bros. is using the approach of next-gen consoles to win back lapsed fans, today revealing their plans for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
Promising a darker, more mature take on the realm and fiction of the series, Monolith Productions will be entrusted with developing the third-person action game for both current and next-gen consoles.
Surprisingly, Shadow of Mordor is not a direct tie-in to either the Lord of the Rings or the next entries in The Hobbit movie series (as is usually the case), but a new chapter set in between the two. Stepping into the boots of a vengeful spirit, players won’t be tasked with ‘saving the day’ or ‘triumphing over evil,’ but a much darker, more personal quest for plain old vengeance:
In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, gamers take on the role of Talion, a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him the night Sauron and his army return to Mordor, moments before his own life is taken. Resurrected by a Spirit of vengeance and empowered with Wraith abilities, Talion ventures into Mordor and vows to destroy those who have wronged him. Through the course of his personal vendetta, Talion uncovers the truth of the Spirit that compels him, learns the origins of the Rings of Power and ultimately confronts his true nemesis.
With the official press release from Warner Bros. comes the additional announcement that Shadow of Mordor will also grace the cover of Game Informer’s December issue. The coverage will bring most of the details, concept art and technical innovations we’re likely to see this early on, with the magazine’s brief announcement teasing some potentially groundbreaking work from Monolith that could only be possible with a new generation of hardware.
Check out the cover below:
The track record of Monolith is not in question, having made their name with both the F.E.A.R. series and Condemned. That experience certainly puts more weight behind the claims that Shadow of Mordor will be “dark” – at least, a whole lot darker than the team’s treatment of the source material for Guardians of Middle-earth.
Darker and, apparently, a more even-handed approach to the reactive story and systems shaping the experiences. Much of that innovation is due to the ‘Nemesis System’ crafted by Monolith, taking the lasting impact of player decision seen in other action titles and RPGs, and allowing them to shape the enemies of the game as much as the hero:
Every enemy that players face is a unique individual, differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Through the Nemesis System, enemy relationships and characteristics are shaped by player actions and decisions to create personal archenemies that remember and adapt to the player and are distinct to every gameplay session. Gamers are able to craft their own battles, enemies and rewards within the dynamic world that remembers and adapts to their choices, delivering a unique experience to every player.
Exactly how strongly the gameplay can keep to that idea remains to be seen, especially since enemies will have to live in order to pose a threat later on in the campaign. An action game would presumably be based eliminating droves of enemies, so a player’s ability to decide who lives and who dies will have to be restricted somehow. Hopefully more details will arrive soon.
It’s still too early to know what to expect from the game (and as a next-gen title, that’s an even more accurate statement than usual), but Monolith at the helm is promising. Especially if Warner Bros. allows them to pursue a story as mature as they’re used to, and the brief plot description would imply.
What do you think of a darker trip into the fiction of Middle-earth? Is the premise alone enough to gain your attention, or the developer behind it? Sound off in the comments.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will release for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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Source: Game Informer