Licensed video games don’t have the best history in term of quality. Whether rushed through development or chained down by expectations, these titles are often written off before they even get a chance. Thankfully, many people gave Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor a chance and it turned out to be one of the most memorable games of the year thanks in large part to the game’s nemesis system. With a vast and ever-changing array of uruks to fight, I constantly found myself just running around and having fun, not worrying about any particular objectives. This marks a truly successful game that, intentionally or not, prioritizes fun and exploration.
Mordor is not a beautiful place, frankly it’s not meant to be, but artists did such a wonderful job of realizing the game world, that it still feels beautiful, in a muddy and gloomy sort of way. The individual look of each of the uruk captains are also very well done, especially as they take damage from previous encounters. Even listening in to enemies before they’ve spotted you, they actually gossip about things you’ve recently done sometimes. It was the little details that went into this game that took it from a promising licensed title, to one of the best games to come out in a year that was already impressive. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor truly deserves the number 2 spot on my top 10 list for 2014.