A man slain by the forces of evil, after witnessing the death of his family and friends. Caught up by the re-emergance of Middle-Earths great evil, Talion didn’t have a chance, and lost everything when Sauron finally emerged from the shadows to take back his seat of power. Given a second chance to pay back the Evil One, Talion is resurrected and given the powers of a Wraith, bonded with a being from the other side.  Its Shadow of Mordor folks, and it seems pretty darned cool.

Release: Date: Oct 7, 2014

Consoles: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Genre / Rating: Open World Fantasy / M

Fantasy nerds REJOICE, for lo, the franchise of the chosen has a new upcoming release! My whole ‘creative’ side could accurately have been said to have been incubated and given life during the adventure of a singular Hobbit and a band of 12 dwarves some 28 years ago. And those movies? They can still stand the small hairs along my neck and arms as straight and true as the re-forged Sword of Kings. But with all that, I’ve never really been drawn into any of the games… mostly because they have been fairly mediocre I think. Well, that might be at an end. Coming this fall we have Shadow of Mordor (and a pre-order bonus of said game), why don’t I tell you about it?

Taking place between Tolkiens hugely influential works (the Hobbit/ Lord of the Rings), Shadow of Mordor tells the story of Talion, Ranger of Gondor and a guardian of the Black Gate. A dangerous profession, particularly if you happen to be hanging around when the old tenant (that’d be Sauron, the ageless evil whose sole goal is the absolute domination and enslavement of all Middle-Earth) decides to move back in. Mysteriously resurrected by a spirit of vengeance and the lone witness to the annihilation  of all he held dear at the hands of the Dark Ones minions, Talion has a bone to pick with that giant flaming eye and all of its followers.  As if being one of the most dangerous and hardened specialists Middle-Earth has to offer wasn’t enough, Talion is aided in his struggles by a Wraith, which, if you’re waging a one man war on all the massed legions of the dark is a fairly useful thing to have around. Unraveling the mystery of this vengeful spirit and why it’s brought you back to life (my guess?  Vengeance) seems to be a big part of Shadow of Mordor, that and laying waste to the fetid hordes of evil… soooo, sign me up!

If I’m being honest, this one was completely off my radar, but after watching this trailer, I have no idea why or how that happened. Touting a new game mechanic they’re calling the ‘Nemesis System’ Shadow of Mordor boasts ‘no generic canned enemies’ instead, enemy character’s appearance and personality is different every play through. I’m not entirely sure how they pull that off, but if its legit, I expect we will be seeing more of it(or things like it) in the future. If this works as advertised it will make for an incredibly complex and dynamic game environment that is a huge step up in gaming as a whole. Baddies who encounter Talion and live to tell the tale will be different during later encounters, based on those encounters outcomes. I’m not sure how they do it without scripting it, but it likely has to do with the randomized character traits interacting with the branching option trees available in game, if I had to guess.  At any rate, it’s complex beyond my understanding (and just think about how much voice recording they must have had to do) and almost frighteningly close to approaching proper AI. 

Resurrection, redemption, and lets not forget operating a one man guerilla style campaign of terror on the darkest blight in creation. Pre-order now and get access to ‘The Dark Ranger’! Landing October 7, 2014, pre-orders score you an exclusive playable character skin and challenge mode ‘Test of Power’. This means you get to look awesome, and take on Sauron’s best lieutenants for, well the satisfaction of slaughtering the worst monsters the enemy can throw at you, but, also Runes! And if I know my fantasy Nerdery (and I do) the only thing better than wraithlike powers to tackle an evil army is wraithlike powers and Runes.

Stay tuned folks, for I am certain we’ll be talking about Shadow of Mordor again soon, as its made my short list of ‘games Kurtis wants to play now’. Pre-order today for the bonus character skin and game mode, and then wait with Gollum like patience, rubbing your hands in the dark, muttering about your ‘Precious’ (or am I the only one who does that?)

A firm believer in "you have to get old, but you don't have to grow up," I've been an unabashed lover of nerdy things for a good long while and don't plan to stop anytime soon. With experience on both sides of the video game, both as a consumer and a producer, and a love of the written word, I've managed to combine all three right here with the Plug-in blog