Published on January 1st, 2015 | by Westin2
GOTY 2014 — Westin: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
What do you get when you mix solid combat/stealth gameplay and an ever-changing enemy hierarchy with a Middle-earth backdrop? Well, you get Shadow of Mordor and thank God we did!
What I quickly realized was that Shadow of Mordor was the kind of game that when you stopped playing, all you could think about was when you’d play next. Well maybe I’m only speaking for myself… Na, I’m sure everyone felt that way!
One of the game’s highlights was easily the combat, which was extremely smooth and powerful, but never so powerful that you felt unstoppable (i.e. Assassin Creed games in my opinion). Along with the general 5 – 10 Orc face-offs, the stealth and ranged combat was equally as great. Stealth kills would yield brutal, yet satisfying death animations while ranged attacks helped to give you some space or close that gap with the transporting kill (or Shadow Strike) upgrade.
While story/characters were okay and graphics were quite good, it was the Orc hierarchy system that made the game so damn addictive. The reason being was that there were multitudes of ways you could manipulate the Orc society. To obtain loyal War Chiefs (the top five Orcs) you could:
- Go straight after each War Chief killing their bodyguards (other Orc captains) and brand them (i.e. convert them to your side)
- Brand less-powerful, lower ranked Orcs, have them become body guards of the War Chiefs, then have them betray the War Chiefs and then perhaps help them out in ensuing battle
- Convert Orc captains, have them kill other Orc captains to get stronger, then have them go after the War Chiefs
To get prepared for the inevitable battle against an Orc captain (especially a tough one), you would want to interrogate an Orc to reveal vital information about a Captain such as their location and weaknesses/strengths. With that information you could plan your attack accordingly. Go for a stealth kill, avoid angering a captain by not setting him on fire, or bringing a dog-like beast (Caragor) to scare the captain into a retreat. The possibilities seemed endless!
All-in-all, Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor was a game that provided me with hours of addictive gameplay. If you haven’t played it, you definitely should pick it up!
Throughout the entire game, I never lost the satisfaction of hacking into the various Chicago utilities. Street lights, road barriers, steam pipes, you name it. Plus, going into slow motion when you hack at just the right time? Beautiful!
Alright, so I thought Watch_Dogs was a good game. Not an amazing game, but not a bad one either.
Of course, the game looked great. While many people felt that it didn’t look as good as it did at E3, it still was gorgeous in rain or shine (seriously, Chicago raining at night? Hell yeah!). Unfortunately, my PC had some problems running Watch_Dogs graphically, but it was actually this game that made me realize that my PC was overheating from dust build-up (it was randomly shutting off to prevent from overheating). So thanks for that Watch_Dogs!
In terms of the story and characters, I felt it was lacking. I was never really able to empathize with the characters. They just didn’t feel real enough to tug at my heartstrings. In contrast, I’ve been playing the Wolf Among Us and I’ve felt like a part of the story, characters, and events that have taken place. I have a deep respect for realistically deep, complex, and complicated personas because they’re so hard to get right. Now along the lines of story, it was unfortunately forgettable. So much in fact that I had to watch a YouTube video as well as check out the Watch_Dogs Wiki page to remember what happened.
All that aside, it is the gameplay that redeems Watch_Dogs. As you can imagine, hacking was the real joy that made playing so fun. Hacking into an enemy’s ear piece, turning on a car alarm, then taking him out silently was always satisfying. Being a Splinter Cell fan, shooting/stealth has always been an enjoyable combination for me. In addition, the whole upgrade tree was well-done, providing the player with fun new abilities like the city-wide blackout, which I really should have used more now that I think about it. Concerning driving in Watch Dogs, I still think it was silly that players could not shoot their guns while driving a car. I understand that it could be game breaking (given that players would no longer be forced to use hacking), but I think it should have at least been a choice. And while many players complained about the “stiff” driving mechanics, I felt that it got the job done and didn’t detract from game.
All-in-all, I see Watch_Dogs as being in a very similar position to that of the first Borderlands game. What I mean is that Borderlands was, like Watch_Dogs, a pretty good game. However, it didn’t have much of a story to keep things engaging. So with the addition of some colorful characters and an interesting storyline, Borderlands 2 was considered as amazing game. And honestly, I believe that Watch_Dogs could do the same thing as Borderlands. I have a great deal of faith in the sequel and think that it’ll be a truly great game!