Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was More, and Less, than Meets the Eye (of Sauron)

Shadow of Mordor

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was an arcade-style beat-‘em-up in the guise of an open-world adventure game.

The 2014 game, which will be getting a sequel soon, boasted the unique “Nemesis System”, which allowed the game’s orcs to have power struggles, comment on the player’s previous actions, and allow for personalized game experiences.

With the Nemesis System, orcs levelled up with the player. They began at the bottom of the food chain, and as the player advanced time (usually through death), the orcs would beat each other up to gain status and new abilities. If the player were to be killed by an orc and fight them again later, the orc might say, “Didn’t I already kill you?” Or if the player “killed” an orc in a particular battle, the supposedly-dead orc might reappear with a scar or burn mark, ready to take revenge.

Nobody stayed dead in that game, apparently. I mean, the protagonist dies at the beginning. But it’s okay because he’s got a ghost possessing him? But the ghost is an elf? I don’t really remember the details. Anyway.

It was a well-praised system that ultimately acted as window dressing for killing scores of orcs, which, in most games of this type, would all look exactly the same. Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System gave personality and history to the orcs and their respective clans, driving the player to more meaningful encounters.

Here’s the thing. Shadow of Mordor wasn’t a very deep game.

It had a beautiful, if mostly bland, open world, and some requisite collectibles scattered around. It had some fun with the Lord of the Rings universe, but never reached the heights of the books. It didn’t have a smorgasbord of minigames or filler quests, like an Assassin’s Creed. And it didn’t have a huge cast of fun characters, like the Arkham Games.

If it were a book genre, it would be sword and sorcery, rather than high fantasy. And as a game, I’d sooner call it an arcadey action game rather than an epic adventure game. And that’s great.

Shadow of Mordor came out at the very end of September, 2014. The previous big game was Destiny, which came out at the very beginning of the month. And the next major release wouldn’t be until November, when all the typical AAA releases came out. In short, it was a fairly dry time of the year (assuming you wanted a break from Destiny). Shadow of Mordor was a snack between big meals.

Shadow of War
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15939671592/

And I think there’s a market for that.

A “good enough” game, released in a slow season, to tide players over until the full-course AAAs can come out to play. Shadow of Mordor was a tight game, with fun action, that didn’t try to be more than it needed to.

Not every game needs world-ending stakes and gigantic set pieces and NPCs with filler quests to pad out the game length. I preferred the lean focus of Shadow of Mordor over the bloated Arkham Knight and the stretched-too-thin Assassin’s Creed: Unity. And I could still enjoy the open adventure format that games like Bayonetta didn’t deliver.

With all this said, I’m open for a bigger and better version of this game with Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Maybe it’ll be the Assassin’s Creed 2 to Shadow Mordor’s Assassin’s Creed 1. Or it’ll just be more arcadey orc-killin’, which would be fine with me. I just really, really hate orcs. Maybe I should talk to someone about that…

Video Games That Tackle Social Issues

Ellie and Riley

Video Games – we all enjoy it. Whether you’re young or old, a student or an employee looking to pass the time with a little fun; we all enjoy video games. It is a means for us, an outlet, to do the things we can not do in real life; to experience the things that is not readily accessible to the most of us. Video games also help us understand different types of people by having diverse and – for some games – very realistic characters. But, not a lot of us see the underlying meanings behind the video games we play and enjoy. The implications hidden behind the realistic graphics, the heart-warming soundtrack, and the innovative gameplay. Here is a list of some of the video games that tackle different social issues. Sit back and let us dwell deeper into the meaning of these well-known video games.

War“This War of Mine” 

Video Games: This War of Mine is a video game about civilians surviving in a war-torn city.
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Let’s start with a very well-known topic – war. We’ve all heard of different stories about war. And war has been a choice of topic or genre by a lot of video games. But, the creators of This War Of Mine, 11 Bit Studios, approached this genre in an innovative and immersive way. In this game, you don’t play as a well-trained-muscle-torn super soldier equipped with a planetary cannon. Here, you play as a civilian caught very deep in the war-devastated fictional city of Pogoren, Graznavia. You will struggle, because ‘gather’ is putting it lightly, for food. Scavenge for medicines or supplies and try your very best not to bump into soldiers or other hungry survivors.

The day and night cycle plays a significant role in the game mechanics. During the day, you’ll be managing your hideout in a very detailed manner; while keeping an eye on that sniper whose not letting you out. When darkness falls, you’ll be sneaking into buildings and areas for supplies; while avoiding being killed by other people seeking means for survival. You will also be making a lot of moral decisions; whether you’ll kill that one annoying person to save the whole group or watch as everyone slowly suffer. Add to that, the beautifully-made charcoal-style aesthetics; and you have a game that will leave you thinking and reflecting about war and its effect on the human soul.

 

Privacy“Watch Dogs 1 and  2″ 

Video Games: Marcus Holloway and the gang
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Have you ever felt like being watched? Like Big Brother is always around you, lurking in the dark, studying and recording your every move? We are living in the age and time of information and the improvement in technology is far from slowing down. Also, the number of people uploading all of their information in the internet is increasing. Which is why black hats are more eager to steal any sensitive information they can get their hands on.

Watch Dogs, is a video game about hackers waging war on the government for manipulating information and invading the privacy of their people. This video game does not really tackle or explain ‘hacking’ in detail; but it shows what hackers can do with the information that the people, themselves, gave out there in the internet. This game is a sweet reminder that internet privacy is sometimes just an illusion to make us feel safe. It also reminds us that the internet is a very dangerous place to be placing all of our information.

 

Social Difference – Multiple Video Games (Witcher SeriesLife is Strange, The Last of Us, other video games)

Video Games: The Witcher
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So what if you have white hair, feline eyes, sterile, and has high resistance, if not immune, to diseases? So what if you have pointy ears and lives longer than humans? We are all living things and we can co-exist if given the chance and consideration.

The Witcher series, which is set in the world of Temeria, is flooded with racism and discrimination. Elves and Dwarves are discriminated for not being human, despite the humans being the invaders of the land. Basically, humans are the foreigners and, yet, they are pushing away and abusing the original inhabitants of the land. Luckily, Geralt, despite being discriminated himself, acts as the median between the two worlds. That of humans and of ‘non-humans’. Geralt does not make any rush decisions when doing a job. He investigates first and looks for a way for both parties to work together. With an exception, there is no consideration to be given for evil-tainted individuals, human or non-human.

Video Games: Life is Strange
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Life is Strange is a video game that takes place in a small town called Arcadia Bay. A place where a lot of things happen. Including alcoholism, bullying, and child abuse. Child abuse being a social issue that’s very rampant nowadays; this video game shows the whole issue in a different perspective. You play the game and see the world through the eyes of a teenager with the ability to control time, Max Caulfield. The game also includes other issues like teenage pregnancy, social anxiety, and brats who think like they are on top of everyone. Max’s story is also a depiction of how it feels like to be bullied for being “not among the famous”. This is a game definitely worth checking out if you want a relaxing soundtrack and a story that is full of twists.

Video Games: Riley and Ellie
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The Last of Us: Left Behind, sparked a controversy when Ellie and Riley hinted quite a number of times about their feelings with each other. We all remember that photobooth scene, right? How about that scene where they dance to a tune and then unknowingly attracted a horde of infected? All of these hints led to one conclusion and a lot of people were shocked. Some related and found themselves in the position of the protagonists in terms of personal identity; some accepted the fact and were happy for the pair; but, for some…they just do not approve of the whole charade. The relationship they have and the characters themselves doesn’t actually raise an issue; but the different ways people responded to the writing of the game, present an issue on sexual discrimination.

There you go. Here are just some of the games that tackle some of the issues we are facing up to this day. There are still a lot of games that depicts issues not mentioned here. If you have played a game with an interesting theme, comment them down below and let’s have a talk. Looking forward to hearing from you!