For #8 we have the first of two very successful games based on IPs in 2014 starting with Shadow of Mordor that managed to take a world that we all know and flip it on its head both design and story wise.
Shadows of Mordor plays out similar to Assassin’s Creed. You have an open world, missions to do and a very acrobatic main character. However the unique twist of the game draws similarities to Crackdown.
The army of Uruks that you have to take out is created from procedurally generated enemies complete with unique strengths and weaknesses which the developers dubbed “the nemesis system.” Your job is to find out what they are and then exploit them to take out Sauron’s army one by one. This system works brilliantly at providing the player with ever changing enemies to fight and prevents them from relying too heavily on one strategy.
Enemies will also react on their own as the uruks try to out maneuver each other in terms of ranking and power. This further gives you the ability to manipulate the army and forces of Sauron and is just such a great system. It’s such a bad-ass moment to stalk a captain and learn his weakness to be able to take him out in one shot.
The story takes place at different times of The Lord of the Rings universe while having some major characters from the series appear. But really, the gameplay is what makes Shadows of Mordor so compelling and why it is on the list. Unlike Assassin’s Creed you don’t start out as an immediate bad ass and you have to work your way up the skill trees to attain the abilities needed to become walking death.
The main reason why I’m not listing it higher is that while the mechanics are great, Shadow of Mordor has a very slow burn to get to the good stuff. It’s going to take a bit before you get enough skill points and rankings to unlock important skills. Combat was somewhat basic and relied a lot on basic attacks and felt like it was copying more of Arkham City instead of a unique system.
And outside of hunting down Uruks, the rest of the game feels somewhat flat which is in part due to the lackluster main character trying to be brooding throughout the story. But still, applying such a brilliant system to a licensed game is no small achievement and the developers deserve praise for elevating the game so much because of it. Hopefully the nemesis system will be something adopted by other developers in their open world titles to give them some much needed life.
Up next we turn to another licensed game that instead of going for action, when all in for horror.