Shadow of Mordor is, for me, this season’s first AAA game. Destiny has a lot of production value, and as I’ve said repeatedly, it does the shooting stuff really well. But I also find it largely… forgettable. I’ve already drifted away from playing it, and there are no moments from my time with it that really stand out.
Gundza the Tracker, though… I’m going to remember him for years to come.
I met Gundza in say the first twenty minutes of playing Shadow of Mordor. He was my first real nemesis. Yours will be someone else. Still learning the nuances of combat, he killed me a few times and began growing in power. He became a real rival, until I finally bested him. But apparently I didn’t do as good a job killing him as I thought, because he then found my a couple of hours later and continued to give me a hard time.
I combed through my first few hours of gameplay footage, and put together a supercut of my run-ins with Gundza.
I can go on and on about how great Shadow of Mordor’s graphics are, how fun its combat is, how the animations are brutal and entertaining. All of this is true, but it’s the game’s nemesis system that really sets it apart for me. It helps that all of the uruk are so amazingly detailed. They have so much character to them, and there is an immense amount of variety. Through the course of your playthrough, it’s very likely that you’ll come across your own Gundza, and it makes the everything about the game feel so alive and personal.
I’ve got a little over ten hours in the game, and most of that time has been spent just exploring, fighting and running challenges, instead of doing story missions. It’s really easy to get sidetracked for hours in this open-world take on Mordor. I had all but given up hope of every getting a Lord of the Rings game of this caliber.
I would even go so far as to call Shadow of Mordor a “must play.” There are a lot of good games coming out this holiday season, but this one should easily make the top five of any list.