Whether or not the Lord of the Rings franchise still carries the weight in gaming that it once did, the developers at Monolith have pitched Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor as a mature, story-driven and mechanically groundbreaking RPG. The newest trailer shows how subtly the two sides of game design are intertwined, with the game’s hero required to turn an entire Orc army to his command in order to release his soul from its cursed state.
Since the first extended walkthrough of Shadow of Mordor gameplay, comparisons have been made between its core systems and several third-person action title, most notably Assassin’s Creed. Yet it isn’t the graphics, the executions, or even the open world that Monolith and Warner Bros. have been pitching as the game’s signature feature; that honor falls to the aptly-named Nemesis System, granting players the kind of nuanced influence over their enemies’ stories as RPGs tend to allow over the hero themselves.
The game’s hero, Talion will still be able to rely on his upgradable weaponry to make his presence known in Mordor, but the new trailer shows that his mission to bring down the game’s villain, ‘The Black Hand,’ will require a bit more strategy. Talion’s inability to join his deceased loved ones in death also grants him the power to sway enemies to his cause, and as this trailer implies, that could mean making an entire Orc army of his very own.
In addition to the new story details hinted at, and the implied impact of the Nemesis System (which, unfortunately, will be scaled down for previous gen consoles) comes the announcement of the game’s voice cast. Eagle…eared viewers may have noticed that the voice of Talion sounded familiar in recent trailers, and it should: go-to performer Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Batman: Arkham Origins) will be bringing the character to life. Not to be outdone, veteran voice actor Nolan North (Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed) will be voicing The Black Hand, hinting that the villain will play a sizable role in the plot.
The pair are joined by Alastair Duncan (Mass Effect, Uncharted 3) as a Wraith (presumably the one bonded to Talion), Laura Bailey (Halo 4, The Last of Us) as Ioreth – a character appearing decades later in “The Return of the King” – and Liam O’Brien (inFAMOUS: Second Son, The Last of Us) as Gollum. It’s unclear just how ready gamers will be to embrace a dark and violent entry in the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien, but with a story provided by the lead writer of Red Dead Redemption and an impressive voice cast, Shadow of Mordor has quite a lot going for it already.
Have you added Shadow of Mordor to your list of watched games, or are you waiting to see something else from Monolith’s entry into the famed fantasy franchise? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor releases October 7, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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