Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Gameplay Trailer

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I remember when I first saw footage and read details of The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, I wasn’t overly impressed. It seemed to be stretching the Middle-earth IP just a little too far and associating it with the sort of genre of game that it didn’t quite match. However, I eventually bought a copy in a Steam sale and it was marginally better than I expected.  That’s not to say it was ideal. I still think that the focus on combat and violence are a little jarring. It was also far more closely associated with Peter Jackson’s take on Middle-earth than the Professors. Sadly as each year goes by I find myself disliking his interpretation more and more.

Yet despite prior experience, I have tried to keep a relatively open mind about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Nevertheless, in light of the latest gameplay trailer, I am no longer expecting great things. Sure the alpha footage looks very slick and contemporary but once you strip the somewhat tenuous veneer of the IP away, you are left with just a clone of Assassins Creed. In fact the similarities are so striking that former Ubisoft developer Charles Randall took to twitter claiming  “I spent two years staring at AC2. I know [my code] when I see it”. Whether the code has been licensed to Monlith Studios remains to be seen.

Sadly, this is the way movie studios and game developers treat major intellectual properties these days. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor appears to be a text book example of taking a known IP and trying to shoehorn it into a particular genre of game that has proven to be successful and lucrative. Whether the source material is suited for such a project is irrelevant. Such business practices have no interest or respect for lore, artistic integrity or those with an emotional attachment for the source text. Or at least that is how a Tolkien purist may see it.

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Irrespective of my opinion, there will be many who have watched the gameplay trailer and are impressed by what they see. Perhaps this situation highlights the differences between those who are fans of Tolkien’s work and those who simply know it from Peter Jackson’s movies. Furthermore I would hazard a guess that it is the latter group that are the target demographic for this title because of the emphasis on action and established aesthetic design. With the recent death of Saul Zaentz, it will be interesting to see if there is any major change in policy from Middle-earth Enterprises with regard to games licensing. Perhaps Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor could be the first of many new titles.

7 thoughts on “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Gameplay Trailer

  1. John Gibson says:

    Interesting thoughts Roger.

    I’m a self confessed lotr fan-boi. I shout from the rooftops that everyone should read ALL the middle earth books and scoffed at the movies due to their twisting and adding to the lore of a world which I love.
    I played LOTRO from release until Riders of Rohan and only stopped because of the in game problems like Lag, and not the actual lore of the game.
    I think this game looks good and I say that for two reasons.

    1. Yes, It looks pretty much the same as assassins creed but that in itself is not a bad thing. The assassins creed games (Especially 1 and 2) are fantastic games, Very well written and fun to play so for me, this doesn’t make this game suffer if it’s being compared to them in any way.
    2. Although I love lotr and all it stands for, I am also willing to suspend my serious attitude towards content which depicts the profs works and just go with the flow with certain things. I could see this game as being one of those situations where I don’t think about it too much (because I know if just going to drive me nuts) and just play.

    I’m actually looking forward to this game.
    John Gibson – A HUGE Tolkien fan.

  2. Glod says:

    “I call myself a huge Tolkien fan and I’m looking forward to this abomination …” This game blatantly defiles Tolkien’s lore & legacy, but as long as you can brutally murder orks, nobody cares. This is just depressing.

  3. John Gibson says:

    This is the problem that I see all the time. People just can’t distance themselves from the lore for the sake of a bit of fun. That’s not being a fan.. That’s having a fetish, which is fine if that’s what you want to do but you can’t paint all tolkien fans with the same brush.
    If something is fun then it’s fun.
    It breaks lore.. yes, I get that but so does Rune Keepers in LOTRO. Anyone who tries to justify their existence in the game is just kidding themselves on.

    And you spelled Orcs wrong Glod :)

  4. Roger Edwards says:

    This is very much like the “movie adaptation” argument. I am a Tolkien fan but I do consider myself to be an objective one.

    There is the notion of widening a franchise and exploring what it can cover and there there is just brand exploitation.

  5. Brian says:

    I see this game as a way of zooming into the war and strife of Middle-earth, a different lens if you will. The story of LotR is so epic in scope I wonder if we sometimes forget that all of the battles involved pain, suffering and death on a massive scale.

    Perhaps the more personal view of war that this particular game provides serves to shatter the illusion a bit and makes people uncomfortable?

  6. Jake W says:

    Being frank, I can’t say I like your insinuation that ‘fans of Tolkien’s work’ would dislike this, and people who have only seen the movies wouldn’t. IMO that is an insulting and baseless generalisation.

    For my part, I think Shadow of Mordor could be pretty interesting. Calling it just an Assassin’s Creed clone is to focus only on the climbing and sneaking similarities and ignoring the whole rest of the game. The fact that they’re delving into a time and place even Tolkien gave scant details on has my curiosity piqued and the enemy memory system could turn out to be pretty fun, although I suspect it could also end up being repetitive. Time will tell.

  7. Roger Edwards says:

    Feel free to dislike an insinuation that wasn’t there.

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