Games News and Reviews | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Games : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $24.96 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 15.99 In Stock
Release Date: September 30th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Overview -

'Middle Earth' is a vast and expansive world created nearly three quarters of a century ago from the imagination of English writer, poet, and World War I veteran, J.R.R. Tolkien. His stories and characters span thousands of pages, dozens of cinematic hours, and numerous video game interpretations. The newest entry into the video game medium, 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor' is poised to be one of the most ambitious and creative uses of the property to date. Developed by Monolith Productions, most notable for their contribution to horror genre with the likes of the 'F.E.A.R.' and 'Condemned' series, 'Shadow of Mordor' is a follow up to their multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) 'Guardians of Middle Earth'.

With a greater focus on the single player experience and boasting an entirely new AI mechanic in their Nemesis system, the build-up and support from publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment resulted in one of 2014's most anticipated new IPs. However, just prior to the release of 'Shadow of Mordor', news spread that the title would initially only be available on the current generation consoles and PC, delaying its release on last generation hardware. As might be expected, concern for the game's quality and questions of an unfinished product were understandably posed. Is 'Shadow of Mordor' the one 'Middle Earth' game to rule them all, or is it better off cast into the fires of Mount Doom?

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
7.1 LPCM
Release Date:
September 30th, 2014

Video Review

Ranking:

On the PlayStation 4, 'Shadow of Mordor' is an attractive looking and smooth running game from start to finish. Character models, both human and beast, exhibit a great amount of detail, with the real highlight shining through in the environmental effects. In particular, Talion's nocturnal activities provided the greatest amount of detail. Stalking along the edges of cracked and crumbling walls, with rain changing to hail and lightning streaking across the sky, were some of the best visuals I've seen to date. Watching the hail bounce off every surface impressed on a level of realism that was often mesmerizing.

However, it seems that even with the power of current consoles, developers continue to struggle with an erratic and often disruptive third-person camera. All too often I found myself precariously surrounded by a growing number of Uruks, pressed into the corner of a canyon or structure, when the camera would come unhinged, lose all coordination, and zoom in to an uncomfortably close angle. With an angle that was generally too close even during the best of situations, this behavior often resulted in a mad dash for open ground or a quick death.

Audio Review

Ranking:

With a cast of veteran video game voice actors headed by the likes of Troy Baker ('The Last of Us', 'Bioshock Infinite') and Nolan North ('Uncharted', 'Spec Ops: The Line'), it's not surprising that 'Shadow of Mordor' excels in its character performance and delivery. These actors have been perfecting their craft for many years now, and their talents continue to shine with this latest effort. Just as impressive, the first meeting with Gollum prompted me to pause the game and verify that the voice actor was in fact not Andy Serkis from Peter Jackson's enormously popular 'Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings' movies – it was that good.

Adding to the highly immersive soundtrack reminiscent of the big-budget movie franchise was the wonderful use of the DualShock 4's built in speaker. Often utilized to represent the supernatural world of Middle Earth, it left a lasting effect and was a welcome addition to an already high quality audio sound design.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor PS4 Screenshot

Final Thoughts

I've been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien since I was a boy. The fantastical world he created never disappointed, regardless of the entertainment medium it was presented in. His books kept me awake long into the night and Peter Jackson's film adaptations often left me breathless. While many of the video games based in this fantasy world have often been hit or miss, it's safe to say that 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor' has lived up to my very high expectations as being my most anticipated game (and let's not forget new franchise entry) of 2014. It took everything that I love about the action/adventure genre and brought it to life in wonderfully immersive ways. Monolith Productions has earned some serious bragging rights not only with what they've done for the epic fantasy franchise, but for what they have developed with their Nemesis system. Their many accolades and high praise are both warranted and justified. 'Shadow of Mordor' should not be missed.