When Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor first came into light, it dealt with a lot of unwanted criticism, with most even tagging it off as an "Assassin's Creed rip-off". And although you cannot really blame, going by the kind of gameplay involved, it was still more than just a blatant rip-off of one of Ubisoft's premier projects.
However, since we are a race of gullible folks and have this undying habit of judging things by the number of awards they have won or credits they have gathered, Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor has even effectively silenced those criticisms by bagging the best game award this year Game Developers Conference.
It's not that Shadow Of Morder hasn't picked up gameplay elements from the likes of Assassin's Creed. In fact, the game even has bits and parts of Red Dead Redemption and Far Cry 3 in it. However, the beauty of it lies in the fact that how well the game has picked up those elements and worked upon them for further betterment.
Nonetheless, with the game picking up the best game award at this year's GDC, there might be questions regarding the factors involved in the game being chosen as the one. Hence, here are six reasons why we think the game was awarded the highest honour at the event.
Best Graphics We Have Seen in a Long Time
If there's one thing that upholds the value of Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, apart from the intense gameplay, is the kind of graphical eye-candy that's on offer. Sure the game is stuck in a single timeframe with major ruins all around you, but it's actually breathtaking to notice the kind of detailing that's involved with the entire deal. Be it dark, treacherous caverns or high mountains, the graphical output makes sure you stay one with the environment around you. This is, of course, aside the fact that the game opens up in the second half of your adventure. Almost reminds us of an LOTR movie being played at 1080p.
The Power Lies in Upgrades
Aside the rich graphical presentation, heading deeper in the core gameplay mechanics, we were mightily impressed by the kind of profundity we saw in the game's levelling and upgrade system. Sure there's the usual skill-tree upgrade system that opens you up to more features for your character, but you will find the optional Rune unlock system a treat to deal with. The Rune upgrade focuses on improving a host of things for your character (including better health recovery) and can be acquired whenever you eliminate or take down a powerful captain or Warchief.
Understanding the Power of 'Nemesis'
With Shadow Of Morder, one of the core game features most of the fans have talked about is the most-impressive 'Nemesis' system. The unique thing about Nemesis is the fact that every single Orc opponent in the game will remember you and has a great chance of becoming the main adversary, provided they got the better of you in a recent battle. In case the Orc has indeed brought you down in a battle, it will be presented with a promotion that usually involves the Orc getting even stronger than before. This is where you cannot take it head-on and have to manipulate other Orc enemies to get the better of the now-powerful rival. Players will also note that each enemy has been presented with different set of stats, hence requiring you to prepare your strategy differently every time.
Shadow Of Morder > Assassin's Creed
While criticisms are still abundant that the game is an Assassin's Creed-wannabe, if speaking honestly, we would keep Shadow Of Morder ahead of AC. And before you start complaining, we are simply judging in terms of the kind of stealth mechanics we go to see in the game. Speaking of AC titles, while in the past we have seen a lot of emphasis on anything that spells stealth in the game, the effect soon wore away with later Assassin's Creed titles allowing you to easily take on multiple enemies at a single time. Thankfully, Shadow Of Morder keeps its stealth element well and truly alive, meaning you just cannot face the Orcs going all gung-ho into the battle.
This Open-World Attracts Us More
The open-world nature of Shadow Of Morder is actually better than most titles in the same category. While many titles just cram in the concept of open-world into a game just for the sake of it, Shadow Of Morder carefully plans out each part of the world to make sure whatever less you are doing inside, will seem like fun. Several small side-missions can be attained while you keep a track of the bigger goal, with more details about warchiefs on offer, depending on the kind of side-quest that's available.
We Loved Controlling the Orcs' Minds
If there's one thing that we enjoyed more than the Nemesis system in the game, is the part where you get to control the minds of the Orcs. On opening up their minds, you get access to different class systems involved for the different section of Orcs in the game. The entire thing somehow looks like a game of chess where one Orc is replaced by another one when it falls while you try to get rid of it by approaching and controlling its other allies. Not essentially a fair game, but that's the perk you get when you are the most gifted hero in the land. It basically becomes a game of agents and double-agents inside the Orc ranks, with you having the perfect strings to pull at all the time.