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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review



Even though certain aspects of the story, such as the identity of the wraith, are shared in trailers for the game, I am going to try to avoid potential spoilers, just in case.

The game begins with Talion remembering his life with his wife and son, while an unseen speaker comments between these memories. Before long you experience the memory of your family's murder before your eyes, your own death, and the wraith that has been talking appears before you. This is when it is first explained to you that when you died, a curse bound you to the wraith, banishing you from death. Now the only way to be free of this existence, trapped within Mordor, is to confront and kill the source of the curse, the Black Hand of Sauron.

This beginning contains the only true issue I have with the story. You see, if I were to wake up from the dead, relive the memories of my murdered family, and have a transparent, glowing figure talk to me, I would have more questions than just what happened and how do we end this. The big one would probably be to ask the wraith who he is. At this time the wraith does not know what his identity is, but I still would have appreciated it if that part of the plot began here, instead of further into the game. I likely would have also asked where my family is, or rather why I am here while they are not, since we all died in the same way at the same time.

All of these questions are eventually answered, in one way or another, but the fact that they were not asked originally does stick out to me.

As you play, you will be exposed to many stories of Mordor and the people within it, such as Hirgon, a ranger who fled from his post. Now he helps the outcasts and slaves fight against the forces of Sauron, with the ultimate goal of leaving. You will also encounter the people of Núrn, a kingdom in the south of Mordor, who wish to assist you and the wraith in your fight; Torvin the dwarf; and Ratbag the orc.

All of these characters, especially Ratbag and Torvin, are very interesting characters, with those two being particularly amusing, as well. Ratbag is an orc that wants to become a warchief, but is too weak to do so on his own. Being an orc though, Ratbag has information about the army that could be useful for Talion, so they make a deal. Talion will help Ratbag rise in rank by killing the other captains and warchiefs, while Ratbag provides his special kind of assistance. Torvin is just funny as he teaches you how to hunt beasts, including caragors and graug, with the ultimate goal of killing the one graug that killed his brother and former hunting partner. During these missions, Torvin and Talion have some rather amusing banter.



Gollum also makes a number of appearances, as he helps you find items that are connected to the wraith, and each one serves to unlock memories of his past. Gollum, having once possessed the Ring of Power, is able to see the wraith: the Bright Master.

Outside of missions, you can come across artifacts, which are small items that have a lingering memory on them that the wraith can view. These artifacts serve to provide more information about Mordor and the people in it. None of the memories are very long, which is nice as they do not distract you from the game for long.


Being an open-world game, there is some risk that the story can become lost as you explore and do other things. You are never far from the story though, as the orcs you run by will actually talk with each other about the Gravewalker and what they would do to him, if they had a chance. This, coupled with the fact that most of the cool stuff you would want to do in the game is part of the campaign missions, will keep you from straying too far or too long.

I do want to briefly mention the ending here, because it does an excellent job of wrapping up this story, and setting up more to come. However, the ending is not necessarily what you would expect from the rest of the game. There are a number of twists you uncover throughout the story, and the ending contains some of the biggest.

Overall the story of Shadow of Mordor is really very good, not only in its content, but also its execution. Yes, I did not like that some questions were not asked when it seemed appropriate, but the story also does a great job of complimenting the gameplay, which can be tricky to achieve in an open-world game. Too strong of a story can overwhelm the game, giving little reason to explore beyond serving progression, and too weak of a story can allow the player to leave and forget about the campaign. Here, the story is balanced well.

  1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Introduction
  2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Graphics
  3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Story
  4. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Gameplay
  5. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Additonal Gameplay Media
  6. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review - Conclusion
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