The first wave of reviews are in for Warner Bros.’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and it would appear that developer Monolith Productions has a surprise hit on their hands. Sure, LOTR-meets-Assassin’s Creed-style-world-meets-Arkham-style-combat with a new grimdark story sounds like a pretty solid concept, but knowing that it’s actually really fun and frustrating and beautiful? We finally might have a media tie-in game worthy of its franchise. (That doesn’t star Vin Diesel.)
While hardcore Tolkien enthusiasts might take issue with such a departure in tone from the books and the recent kid-friendly Hobbit movies from Peter Jackson, open-minded gamers might find themselves intrigued by the darker, bloodier corners of Middle-Earth that Monolith explores. Honestly, though, we’re mostly just excited by the prospect of meeting an orc programmed to have a personal vendetta against us. The aptly-named Nemesis system is wowing critics with its ability to foster emotional reaction with players, and you’ve got to admit, there’s something incredibly compelling (and infuriating) about a sneering Uruk-hai taunting you about that time you died at his hands earlier in the game while his henchmen put a world of hurt on you.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is available now on PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and PC. If you’re jonesing for more games to play set in the Tolkienverse, IGN has compiled a handy guide of the best and worst LOTR games of all time. Check it out.
In other gaming news this week, Bayonetta 2 is a critical smash hit but a sales flop, The Evil Within shows off its survival chops, and have brunch with your friendly neighborhood Tibetan dictator, Pagan Min, in Far Cry 4. Read on!
- Bayonetta 2 doesn’t launch in North America until Oct 24, but it released in Japan this past week and despite absolutely stellar critical reviews and an extremely impressive co-operative campaign, game sales are not going well. It’s always unfortunate to see a quality entry into the field fall into obscurity due to exclusivity choices. While there’s hope that North American sales may boost the game, given the number of Wii U’s sold on this side of the ocean, it’s a lot to ask for. Through no real fault of its own, this could be a serious blow to the franchise.
- This week in Alien: Isolation coverage… when droids attack.
Wanna hear two legendary game developers talk horror gaming in the same room? Of course you do. Check out Shinji Makami and Hideo Kojima, best known for the Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid franchises respectively, discuss and critique the genre. Some highlights:
• Mikami on the state of the genre as it relates to his upcoming game, The Evil Within: “Looking at current survival horror games as entertainment, I feel they lean too heavily on action. I thought that I wanted to make a game that would stand up on both the fear as horror and on the enjoyment as a game.”
• Kojima on the success of his Silent Hills P.T. demo: “Making people mad or sad or especially scared isn’t that hard. Actually, making them laugh is the most difficult thing. For P.T. I decided against using a ruin as the stage and had it take place instead in a simple hallway. That way, I didn’t have to worry about the cultural background of the player. I wanted people to experience the fear of not being able to escape in a world where there was almost no information on the screen.”
- Speaking of Makami’s The Evil Within, check out the game’s latest trailer, emphasizing the importance of making every bullet count.
- So, The Last Guardian is still alive, everybody! Because Shuhei Yoshida says so. There’s no real point to hiding the fact that it’s more than likely going to be a PS4 exclusive now, is there?
- What in the… why? How? More importantly, why?
- Yet another Assassin’s Creed game is on the way. Seriously, keeping track of this franchise is bloody well like playing Whack-a-Mole each week. Meet the iPad exclusive Assassin’s Creed: Identity.
- Does this Smash Bros. glitch really need to be fixed? I don’t think it does. Giant Yoshis are The Best.
- CD Projekt Red, developer of the Witcher franchise and the upcoming Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, won over even more fans this past week as they reiterated their corporate stance against DLC and DRM.
- Finally, the Far Cry franchise is known for masterful storytelling and a giant sandbox that lets the player do almost anything. One of those things apparently includes having a delightful brunch with a sadistic, stylish, narcissistic, yet utterly charming Tibetan dictator in Far Cry 4.