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.

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