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Middle Earth: The Shadow of Mordor

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I was sick a couple of weeks ago and found myself sitting around on a Saturday too run down to want to go outside, read, work, or do anything at all, really, so I gave in to my inner teenager and turned to video games. And I was genuinely surprised at how good this game turned out to be.

Considering how little I play video games these days, I may be easily pleased, but my expectations of sophomoric, C-grade storytelling with some mind-numbing hack-and-slash mechanics were way off. Shadow of Mordor actually impressed me.

The story was decently engaging, the graphics beautiful, the combat fun and challenging, the sound and voice acting superb, and the RPG elements well designed and rewarding, but what I enjoyed most was the immersive environment and the attention to detail. Everything from the fluid character animations and combat mechanics to the changing weather to the ambient noise to the orc chatter combines to create the experience of dropping in on–and wreaking havoc in–a living, breathing, changing world, a la the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

All in all, this is one of those games that doesn’t excel in any particular way, but doesn’t face plant either. Everything it does, it does well, and it’s a worthy, high-quality representation of Tolkien’s universe.

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