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Lord of the Rings

Price Chop: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel & Shadow of Mordor

Oct 17 // Dealzon
Next week's Civilization: Beyond Earth can be pre-ordered for up to 25% off. There's an unknown expiration date for this particular deal, so if you're planning to play on Day One, we'd recommend grabbing ASAP. The download comes with the pre-order bonus of six Exoplanet maps. (There's also a classic bundle available but the deal is kind of meh to be honest). On the console side of things, the Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive is now available on Microsoft Store. As a pre-order incentive, you'll receive a $10 Xbox gift card, good for adding money to your Xbox account. Furthermore, you’ll get free guaranteed release day delivery if you order by October 24th at 2 p.m. Pacific. The $10 Xbox gift card deal is pretty typical as a pre-order incentive for Microsoft Store, but the free release day delivery is usually only reserved for the more popular Triple-A titles. Update 10/20: We've added a few more deals for the week and have strike-through the expired deals. Happy browsing! Top Deals Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Steam Pay) — $46.80  (list price $60)Use coupon: SPOOKY-TREATS-GMG20X Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Steam) — $37.49  (list price $50)Must login to see price, doesn't work in AU/NZ Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) — $59.99  Free $10 Xbox gift card & free release day delivery Expired deals: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $36.50  (list price $50)Use coupon: DEALZO-NMORDO-R27OFF Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $33.33  (list price $50)No coupon required, limited time Bundle Stars deal  Recent Releases Use coupon: SPOOKY-TREATS-GMG20X  10/14: The Evil Within + Season Pass (Steam) — $51.47  (list price $70) 10/14: Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne (Steam) — $11.70  (list price $15) 10/14: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Season Pass — $23.40  (list price $30) 10/10: Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (Steam) — $23.40  (list price $30) Upcoming Releases 10/21: F1 2014 — $40  (list price $50 - already out in EU) 11/4: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Steam) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/7: Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $40  (list price $50) 11/11: LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Steam) — $21.60  (list price $30) 11/11: The Crew (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/11: Assassin's Creed Unity (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/18: Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origin) — $47.99  (list price $60) 11/18: Far Cry 4 Limited Edition (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) PC Game Deals Battlefield 4 Premium (Origin) — $37.49 (list $40) Might & Magic X Legacy Deluxe Edition — $7.49 (list $30) FIFA 14 (Origin) — $6.80 (list $20) Mortal Kombat Bundle (Steam) — $6 (list $30) Huntsman: The Orphanage - Halloween Edition (Steam) — $4.24 (list $10) Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (Steam) — $4 (list $20) Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection (Steam) — $2 (list $10) Hotline Miami (Steam) — $2 (list $10) Expired deals: Europa Universalis 4 (Steam) — $10  (list price $40) Hitman: Absolution - Elite Edition (Steam) — $9.99  (list price $20) Thief: Master Thief Edition (Steam) — $8.25  (list price $33) Tomb Raider Survival Edition (Steam) — $6.25  (list price $25) Unity of Command Trilogy Bundle — $6  (list price $30) Rome: Total War Collection (Steam) — $3.25  (list price $10) Skullgirls (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Console Game Deals Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4, Xbox One) — $49.99 (list $60) Destiny + Free Call of Duty Ghosts (Xbox 360, PS3) — $49.99 (list $60) MLB 14: The Show (PS4) — $29.99 (list $40) inFAMOUS Second Son (PS4) — $29.99 (list $30) Bound by Flame (PS4 Used) — $19.99  (list price $42) Lego: The Hobbit (Xbox One Used) — $19.99  (list price $50) Watch Dogs (Xbox One Used) — $19.99  (list price $60) Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare (Xbox One Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox One Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Expired deals: Metro: Last Light (Xbox 360 Used) — $12.99  (list price $26) Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PS3 Used) — $12.99  (list price $30) Dead Space 3 (PS3 Used) — $9.99  (list price $30) PS Vita Deals Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) Resistance: Burning Skies (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) The Sly Collection (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $30) ModNation Racers: Road Trip (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) Hardware Deals Xbox One Console Standard Edition — $429.99  (list price $500)Bundles with Destiny + Xbox Live Gold 1 Year Card PlayStation 4 Console + Choice of Game — $419.99  (list price $460) Lenovo Y50 59421845 Laptop  — $1,049  (list price $1,399)Core i7-4710HQ, GeForce GTX 860M 2GB, Full HD 1080p, Hybrid 1TB + 8GB SSHD  Lenovo Y40 59423034 Laptop — $729  (list price $1,149)Core i7-4510U, Radeon R9 M275, Full HD 1080p, Hybrid 1TB HDD + 8GB SSHD  Gaming Hardware, Accessories, & Electronics Deals Asus Radeon R9 290X 4GB GDDR5 Video Card — $349.54  (list price $390) Razer 2014 Black Gaming Keyboard + DeathAdder 2013 Mouse (Refurb) — $119.99 Apple Smart Cover for iPad — $7.99  (list price $40) SteelSeries Siberia Elite Gaming Headset Promo Code — 25% Off  (expires Oct 20th)
Deals photo
Deals on Beyond Earth and Sunset Overdrive too
Deals brought to you by the crew at Dealzon. FYI: sales from certain retailers go toward supporting Destructoid. Spot something good that we didn't see? Let us know and we'll add it! Post formatting is a work in progress...

Fun with photo mode! photo
Fun with photo mode!

Shadow of Mordor: A visual tour of stabbing orcs in the face

And other horrible crimes
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Mordor may not have the most picturesque landscapes in Middle-earth, but that hasn't stopped Monolith from kitting out its new action game with a photo mode. The addition allows you to take dramatic shots of Talion stabbing U...

Bored of the things: Shadow of Mordor should've been a dating sim

Oct 13 // Steven Hansen
When Andy suggested that the next Mordor should be a "Middle-earth open-world dating simulator," it clicked. The Nemesis mechanic makes so much more sense as some sort of reverse Catherine with you playing Cupid to, in this setting, a bunch of Orcs, or the tiny less creepy halves to The Good Son, or whatever other dumb idiots are in this world. Sean "I'm the asshole in Ronin and also I starred in a bad Hitcher remake" Bean.  All them folk.  See. Twitter is for more than just goofing off. It would be like an omniscient visual novel. You would be Patrick Swayze in Ghost, but with the goal of helping others grind it out on a potter's wheel instead of being a selfish jerk, not letting Demi Moore move on and almost getting her and Whoopi Goldberg killed. At which point they all would have had to notify Next of Kiln. You can even keep and repurpose parts of the existing design. Gross invasions of privacy through ghost stealth to pick up on a character's love interest's interests. The skill system would be a progression of rom-com tropes. Ghostly-whispered in-ear suggestions for dialogue and game spitting. "My you seem to have bathed in the blood of many Humans today!" You could use the doll display Nemesis menu to send two potential lovers to run into each other at the same quaint, locally owned bookstore. If you level up the skill, they will literally run into each other and share an awkward but endearing dialogue session.  Fuck it, keep the killing in there and intervene like hell when some bigot Elf Dad doesn't want his daughter marrying a human. Kill the fuck out of that guy.  Mordor has one good, novel idea and it's couched within a restrictive "fight things" framework that is a pastiche of every major, successful "fight things" frameworks of the last generation. It feels weird to get nostalgic for the PS2-era, but that videogame industry doesn't exist anymore. The one where "AAA" development could manage "fight things" frameworks that are at least distinct from one another. Some borrowing, maybe, but not copy-pasting with the "orc" slider turned up and the "historically dressed idiots" slider turned down.  The world of Resident Evil 4, God Hand, Viewtiful Joe, Okami. Yes, we have our Demon's Souls and our Vanquish these days, and we should be happy to at least have that, rather than laud reskinned doppelgangers hammering conventions into place down to control schemes and button mapping. That's when you start getting the uncanny mimicry of Resident Evil 5, a bad game for bad people. That's when crap like "detective mode" vision gets shoehorned into everything. Every game becomes a chest-high-wall shooter.  But maybe there is no more large-scale market for Bushido Blade and standalone, learn by doing mechanics rather than console-FPS standardization. There wasn't even enough of one for Pimp Hand -> Reverse Hell Kick -> Granny Smacker when Godhand launched. If Mordor signals something for a "new gen" that has taken a year to build momentum, it is a continued conservatism in big-budget design. The glowing reactions to its one original design idea signals our thirst for something alive and new, not, "Like [popular franchise] but [mild difference]."
┴ la carte photo
Press X to kiss your wife
I was reading Weird Dad Andy Astruc's loving look at Shadow of Mordor's menus, which is basically praise for Mordor's Nemesis system. The same system left our own Nic Rowen giddy and, uh, shitfaced. N...

Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system signals the true beginning of this generation

Oct 06 // Nic Rowen
Like a bad penny, Azdush the Dung Collector kept coming back at the worst times. I'd be in the middle of fighting two other orc captains when he'd wander up full of piss and nerve and try to horn in on the fight. Or I'd be chasing down an orc fleeing the battlefield and bump into him, forcing me to choose between sweet satisfying revenge on the fresh-and-ready-for-a-fight Azdush, or finishing off my already weakened prey. He kept worming out of my grip and I kept shaking my fist at him and swearing "next time!" Eventually, as I cleared out the higher ranks of the orc power structure, he was promoted to one of the freshly vacant Warchief positions. Good for you buddy. I sent him a customary death threat as congratulations. I started filling in the little details in my mind, unconsciously creating a back story for my one-time murderer. Azdush's sudden and unexpected rise to power shocked everyone. His bizarre fascination with scat had made him an outcast even among the orcs, but a lucky swing propelled him from a nobody to a major player overnight. Azdush was living out a classic underdog story, like The Mighty Ducks! But with more skull-crushing and bloodletting than Emilio Estevez would probably have been comfortable with (probably). I was tickled by the idea that this vile, filthy dude, who literally picks up poop and keeps it, was able to ride my coattails into the upper echelons of orc society. I pictured other orcs reconsidering their stance on dung-collection as a hobby -- "Sure it's nasty, but look how it's working out for Azdush!" -- setting off an unhygienic and utterly ineffective trend among low-ranking but ambitious orcs. I was still mad that he, you know, killed me, but I also vaguely proud of him. Look at you go, Azdush! I couldn't bring myself to kill him. Even after I ruthlessly turned his bodyguards into my pawns and had them poised to assassinate him at my command. For better or worse, he was my pet monster -- a disgusting, pig-nosed, foul braggart who reveled in taking cheap shots, and was scared shitless (ironically) by Caragors. I made him, and even though I kind of hated him, I couldn't bring myself to end him. It must be the same way Batman feels every time he has the Joker dangling off of a building. Azdush the Dung Collector finally gave me the next-generation experience I've been waiting for. The Xbox One and PS4 have been out for almost a year now, and so far we've seen a lot of sequels of established franchises that are being released across all platforms (limiting how far the new systems can push them), and plenty of HD remasters of last-gen games. It's not all that surprising, new consoles generally need a year or two before the games start to showcase their full potential, but still, it has been a little disappointing. We've all waited so long for these systems it feels like we should be seeing new and exciting things, not just prettier versions of games we've played before. Even new IPs that were developed specifically to lead on the new consoles, like Titanfall, have cleaved closely to established formulas. I think it's reductive and snarky to call Titanfall "CoD with robots and jetpacks" but not entirely inaccurate either. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention to Mordor as it was being developed and hyped because it also looked like more of the same. An ArkhamsCreed game set in the Lord of the Rings universe. A neat idea that I could definitely see the appeal of, but not something I would consider groundbreaking, nothing I was hungry to tear into. But I was wrong, VERY WRONG! Thanks to its Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor is the first game I've played that really feels like it's pushing into what these new consoles are capable of and where games could be going in the near future, and that has me EXCITED. I played Mordor for more than ten hours before I realized there was no quick reload button or way to start over at a checkpoint. I never noticed that basic feature was missing because I never felt to urge to take advantage of it. Sure, I was annoyed every time an orc took my head or skewered me on the end of a pike, but I was also interested in the story that was slowly taking shape with each dirt nap. I liked how the orc that killed me grew in power, and that I could look forward to repaying the favor. Or how the other captains capitalized on my time in the grave to hold lavish feasts or settle scores with rival orcs. I wanted to get back in there and dish out some steely vengeance. I wanted to single out the most ambitious or troublesome of the bunch for execution, or to forcibly convert them to my side and build the strongest orc army ever. I never wanted to hit reload or take a do-over, I wanted to keep going. In most games, failure is, at best, a waste of your time. You get killed, see the Game Over screen, hit continue, and try again like it never happened. In many games, death doesn't just waste your time, it will add insult to injury; you lose half your gold or ammo, or have to repair your gear. Or you can continue, but you'll get a shitty ranking at the end of the stage or even at the end of the game (thanks Metal Gear). In any case, if you're like me, you're probably going to be mashing through menus and starting over from the closest save file as fast as possible. We've been trained to do it. Mordor breaks the mold. In most games you want to play as perfectly as possible, but in Mordor, not only is death not the end, you'll probably have more fun if you take the occasional dive. You'll have more interesting encounters with orcs you've crossed swords with in the past, and the orc political map will move around more instead of falling into stagnation. Yup, they found a way to make death fun. How cool is that? Narrative content is expensive and time consuming. It takes a lot of effort to put together an awesome quest in an RPG, or a kickass action sequence in a shooter. It's one of the reasons so many games will crutch on meaningless fetch quests or sealed arena shooting galleries. Gameplay elements that are cheap and easy to put together and will pad the playtime of a title. It's why so many open-world games "that let you do anything" often feel boring and empty, because "let you do anything" is code for "kill everyone in the village and then reload from last save." Mordor's Nemesis system offers an interesting in-between. It builds procedurally generated content that feels like narrative. It's a way to let the game and the player build their own story outside of the main plot, without having to devote tons of development time to individual story hooks and set-pieces. It leads to all sorts of awesome personal moments and memorable characters (like my pal, Azdush), creating cool stories to swap with other players -- who will have their own tales to tell. It's a trick, a veneer of narrative pulled over the typical Arkham/Assassin's Creed exploration and combat, but it's one I don't mind falling for. It makes the game feel more alive, more interesting, and I'm excited to see how far they can take the illusion. It's new, it's different, it's something I'm not sure would have been possible on the last-generation systems, and to me, that's a breath of fresh air. I love any game that lets you cultivate relationships that change the way the story plays out, the more dynamic, the better. I put up with Alpha Protocol's many flaws because I enjoyed wooing spy ladies with my suave charm and creating lifelong enemies with somewhat less charm. It was mind blowing when Mass Effect let me take the choices and relationships I built in one title and carry them over into the next. I loved how the Dragon Age games would twist the knife and put you in situations where you had to choose between friends, and how their attitudes towards you could affect the outcome of those tense moments. But as cool as those games and the choices they offered were, they were always fairly obvious. They came from dialog trees, binary choices, or obvious piss-off moments ("Hum, is the battle nun in my party going to be upset when I desecrate the holy grail with dragon blood? Nah."). I'd love to see games take the groundwork built with the Nemesis system and run with it (and please, lets find a better name for it before we're referring to every game with a similar system as "Mordor-like"). It would be great if next year's games all found a way to neatly fold more relationship- and history-building moments into the gameplay itself, and feature fewer blatant "MAKE YOUR CHOICE" cues. Granted, the system at work under the hood in Mordor is fairly simple. You burn a guy, he's gonna show up later with burn scars and an attitude. If you chicken out and run from a Warchief? You can be sure he'll remind you of your cowardice next time you see him. It's pretty easy to peel back the layers of how the system works after spending some time with the game, and to be fair, orcs aren't the most nuanced bunch to begin with. But imagine what more iteration and a different setting could do for a mechanic like the Nemesis system like that. Mordor is only the first step, and while I'm totally in love with what it is laying down now, I can't wait to see the games that will be coming out two or three years from now that will expand on that system. Imagine an espionage game like Alpha Protocol that lets you threaten other agents and goons into giving you information or sabotaging a target. Missions that could be randomly interrupted by an enemy you made on a previous job, or a mysterious ally lending a hand in exchange for a favor. Or how about you transplant the orcs social power struggle system into a game like Bully, where no-name punk kids could climb to power one atomic wedgie at a time? (It isn't a huge jump to make, high schoolers are basically orcs when you think about it.) I want to meet more Azdush the Dung Collectors. Well, you know, hopefully not more disgusting, shit-flinging monster men, but other interesting characters born out of dynamic systems. Poop collection totally optional.
Shadow of Mordor photo
It's bad enough dying a humiliating death at the hands of some random orc, but "Azdush the Dung Collector?" Really? He couldn't have been "Azdush the Shield Breaker" or "Azdush the Invincible?" I could have taken a bit of con...

Shadow of Mordor Playthough - Here's a Graug-sized portion of gameplay

Sep 29 // Bill Zoeker
Below we have some more gameplay. We picked up playing today from where Max is in his personal run of the game, much deeper in than our first run. [embed]281891:55793:0[/embed]
Shadow of Mordor photo
We could kill these Orcs all day
[Note: I am currently in process of rendering and uploading all of the videos to the playlist. If you run out and want more, be sure to check back soon.] Max and I decided it would be a good idea to shoot a playthrough of th...

Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Want to watch a season pass trailer for a game that hasn't released yet?

I don't
Sep 29
// Brett Makedonski
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's doing mostly fine from the reviews that came out last week, but that doesn't mean that you will like it. How can you like a game if you haven't played it yet? You can't, plain and simple...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Where did he get that sword?
Like Max, I didn't know what to make of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor but taking a guarded approach has paid off -- the reviews are in and they're overwhelmingly positive. Nice surprise! Still not sure I'll rush out to grab the game at launch on Tuesday -- I've got my hands full, as I'm sure many of you will shortly -- but it's much higher on my to-play list after this week.

Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Sep 25 // Chris Carter
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Monolith ProductionsPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentReleased: September 30, 2014 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) / November 18, 2014 (PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $59.99 Shadow of Mordor generally does a great job of respecting the source material even if it doesn't really add much to the overall universe. Simply put, the game takes place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, pre-supposing that Bilbo has already located the One Ring, but before it is entrusted to Frodo. Thus, Shadow is a side story of sorts, giving you minor insight into the creation of the ring while focusing on the tale of one particular human -- a skilled ranger named Talion. Talion's entire family has been murdered by the forces of Sauron, whose evil now encroaches the land of Middle-earth once again. Through the use of some dark magic after his own death, Talion is now bound to the spirit of a mysterious wraith, who grants him the power to essentially function as a super-being, combining dark arts with his already awe-inspiring combat prowess. In short, it's basically the setup for God of War, and the basic revenge tale theme permeates throughout in a generic fashion. What I do like about the wraith conceit is that it creates a sense of duality, as the wraith itself is an elf with a mysterious past who can manifest himself during cutscenes, and whenever Talion triggers a wraith-centric power. The companion aspect is cool as it's seamlessly worked into gameplay, and allows for some good banter between the two souls throughout. While I don't want to spoil the wraith's identity, I found his story to be vastly superior to Talion's. [embed]281235:55690:0[/embed] In addition to Orcs and other members of Sauron's army, you'll also encounter Gollum -- who is tacked onto the story to add a connection to the films, predominately because his mannerisms and character are done in the style of Andy Serkis (though he is voiced by Liam O'Brien in the game, flawlessly I may add). With Talion and the wraith, there is that same Frodo and Sam love/hate relationship, and their moments are easily the highlight of the campaign. The rest, however, is too generic. As previously mentioned it's a basic revenge tale, with a few minor minute-long cutscenes woven in to highlight the wraith's past and his place in the plot. The rest is basically going to be "go here, kill this, draw out this big bad, then kill him for your family" type plots. The finale has a few cool cutscenes here and there, but considering that the last boss is a quick time event, it's ultimately unfulfilling. It takes roughly ten hours to make it through the story alone, and the rest can be completed at your leisure by way of two moderately-sized (though small by current-gen standards) sandboxes. The actual exploration and combat mechanics are solid. Drawing from Assassin's Creed and the Arkham series, Talion can climb structures fairly easily simply by running and pointing at them, and his climbing skills are just as sharp has his blade. Basic combos are available by mashing the attack button, though an upgrade allows critical strikes if it is pressed just as a slice is hitting. He also has the exact same "cape-stun" as Batman in the Arkham games (though it's wraith-flavored here), and the combo-enabled "execution" moves that can instantly take out a regular enemy after your combo meter has reached eight (later upgradable to just five). Talion can also take out enemies with a delayed contextual strike when they're on the ground. Combat makes no attempt to hide that it's basically ripped wholesale from Arkham, and that's not really a bad thing -- it just feels less fluid and polished. Stealth has a part to play as well, and that particular aspect is also executed flawlessly. Talion can sneak up from behind to slay his enemies in silence as well as use jumping executions from a vantage point, which are still just as fun as they are in every other stealth game. There's even a version of "Detective Vision" (I call it "Wraith Vision"), making it easy to identify stronger enemies through walls and structures, as well as archers and the like with different color schemes. To dig even further into Talion's utility belt, he can summon spirit arrows at will and fire them at enemies for quick stealth headshot kills. As his powers are upgraded he'll have even more tricks up his sleeve (including possession and beast-riding, among many others), which makes it very fun to carve up Orcs willy-nilly. Then of course, there's the big draw of the game, which allows players to plot revenge in a dynamic fashion. The highly hyped "Nemesis" system starts off rather promisingly. In theory, it allows Talion to interact with specified named enemies in the game, creating random creatures along the way and generating unique storylines on the fly. So if Talion did battle with a weak Orc at some point and it manages to flee, it may appear later, and not only remember him, but have a more formidable force to contend with. Defeating these enemies will grant runes, which can be used to upgrade melee, ranged, and stealth weapons. The system is endless in nature and can create a ton of unique scenarios involving inter-clan warfare and tenuous alliances. The other big portion of the Nemesis mechanic is that it requires isolation and interrogation of Orcs to locate the whereabouts of each ranked member of Sauron's army, starting with the captains. As Talion, you can question peons as to where a captain is stomping about, then either slay the captain where he stands after hunting him, or interrogate him in turn and learn the location of the more powerful warchiefs. Some of the weaknesses of each enemy can be learned by way of intimidation, including an enemy's fears and ways to exploit it with certain combat mechanics. It initially gives the feeling of working a way from the bottom to the top, which is a unique way of approaching a game -- a stark contrast to open world titles that make you feel like god from the get-go. In theory, it's a very cool idea. But like many hyped-up mechanics, the Nemesis system ultimately becomes gimmicky very quickly. Yes, the names are randomized and some of the appearances look different enough, but after an hour of seeing it in action everything blends together. Orcs don't have unique personalities per se, just unique weaknesses (like insta-stealth kill vulnerability, or a weakness to ranged attacks) and generic parameters. Fights against 90% of the captains, warchiefs, and named enemies in the game feel exactly the same. Basically, all of the Nemesis encounters are going to go like this: You walk up to a captain that generally can't be killed by a stealth attack, engage in combat, and watch as a small cutscene plays where the enemy exclaims a generic phrase like "Sauron rules all!" Then 20 additional enemies appear, the player stuns the boss, combos him, and uses an execution attack while avoiding the newly spawned enemies. Repeat the process until he dies. Warchief fights are the exact same, except they also require some tedious basic quest to "lure them out" like "kill five archers." After a few hours of doing this, I became far too bored with the system to even bother hunting down enemies for a chance at a minor upgrade. There are also a few unintended consequences of the system that actually make the game less fun. For one, a roughly ten second long, unskippable cutscene has to play for every captain or named character in the area. For example, there could be up to four named enemies in one skirmish along with the intended target. If Talion happens to engage, strike, or otherwise damage any of them, all of them have their own ten second scene and exchange that plays out -- this repeats even if you die and return to the same location. Initially, this feels pretty cool, and it brings the player into the game even for the most minute confrontation. For instance, after dying by the hands of an enemy and meeting him in battle again, he might say something like "I already killed you once, I'll do it again!" But after watching that scene multiple times over the course of the game and having every fight play out in the same exact manner, it feels like another gimmick. To make matters worse, every fight basically throws the aforementioned 20 enemies at you, so there's no real room for unique one-on-one encounters. Not only that, but a few milestones in the campaign are gated off by Nemesis system progress, making the process even more tedious and forced.Thankfully, the rest of the open world experience is worthwhile. Fast travel towers can be located rather easily, and open up quick portals to practically any area desired. The two maps are different enough (one is desolate, the other fertile), and there are a ton of extra sidequests (including some related to the Nemesis system) that are actually fun. Given all of the tools Talion has at his disposal, it is enjoyable to just roam the map and get into trouble. Whether it's sidequests like stealth challenges that task the player with killing a certain amount of enemies undetected, ranged exercises or combat skirmishes, the rewards are great (certainly greater than those gained through the Nemesis slog), and it's as simple as finding the marker on the map to jump into them. There are also hunting challenges (like in Red Dead Redemption), hidden elvish artifacts to find, and a lot of other secrets to uncover wandering around, all of which are more fun than the main story. Ultimately, like many ambitious projects, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor doesn't deliver on everything it sets out to do. Although Monolith's heart is in the right place and the studio honors the lore, it doesn't really add anything that's worth seeing outside of some solid open world gameplay. It isn't a bad game, it just feels far too repetitive for its own good. 
Shadow of Mordor review photo
One does not simply walk into Bore-dor
Developing a licensed game can be extremely difficult. Not only does Monolith Productions have the Lord of the Rings film series to honor with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but the developer also has to work in ma...

Contest: Win a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor!

Sep 15 // mrandydixon
(Note: We have partnered with LockerDome for this contest, which verifies votes via social media accounts. Although they are a reputable company, if you are uncomfortable with sharing social media access, you can always revoke it immediately after entering the contest at no penalty.) *Non-U.S. winners have the option of receiving a download code, cash value (approx. $60), or to pay for shipping themselves. [embed]281191:55628:0[/embed]
Shadow of Mordor Contest photo
"Mordor? I hardly even know her!" -Steven Hansen
Destructoid is giving away a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor to one lucky reader! For a chance at the prize, just push the big blue button below and follow the instructions to earn entries. It's pretty simple! Of cours...

Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor pushed back on Xbox 360 and PS3

Xbox One, PS4, and PC remain unchanged
Sep 09
// Brett Makedonski
Like a Balrog vanquished to the depths from whence it came, Warner Bros. took a good look at the legacy console adaptions of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and declared "You shall not pass!" At least, not for a few more ...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor's campaign digs into Middle-earth's past

Origins of the rings
Sep 01
// Abel Girmay
[Writers Note: The original story was amended because of number of factual inaccuracies. My sincerest apologies to anyone who was confused by the original article.] It won't be long now until Middle-earth: Shadow of Mord...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Warner Bros. Interactive reveals Shadow of Mordor Season Pass

Sauron would support Season Passes
Aug 18
// Chris Carter
Warner Bros. Interactive has just confirmed to Destructoid that Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will be getting a Season Pass. Strangely enough no price has been announced, but here's what it will grant you: the "Guardian...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor looks good but is it Lord of the Rings?

No hobbits here, sir
Aug 12
// Alasdair Duncan
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has gotten a lot of people excited because of its seemingly great combat and interesting reputation system but is it me, or does it just look like a generic dark fantasy game? I'll be honest, m...
Middle-earth photo

Engage in psychological warfare with Shadow of Mordor's Wraith

Dominate and terrorize, you hellion
Jul 31
// Brett Makedonski
You might've thought that Orcs were all fleshy and a good ol'-fashioned sword through the squishy parts would be enough to take care of them. False. Some might fall to the blade, but you'll need something decidedly more cere...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor shall not release on October 7 anymore

It's September 30 now
Jul 25
// Brett Makedonski
October is going to be ridiculously packed with high-profile videogames, so the news that Warner Bros. has decided to fast-track Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's release from October 7 to September 30 is certainly welcom...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

New Shadow of Mordor trailer moves like a ghost, fights like a devil

Stabs like a Lord of the Rings character
Jun 05
// Brett Makedonski
We spend so much of our lives working. When I die, if there's some sort of afterlife, I want to just chill out. Make it look like a never-ending Corona commercial or something. Doesn't that sound nice? That's not a position ...

I couldn't kill this damned orc in Shadow of Mordor

Here's the bastard taunting me
May 29
// Dale North
Our first hands-on session with Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor had me going up against some orc bodyguards to take out their boss, a war chief. If you recall from my preview, there was one orc that escaped me. His name? ...

Voice cast for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor revealed

You know these folks
May 22
// Dale North
Upcoming game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will be voiced by some of the best in the business. Troy Baker will voice lead character Talion, while Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Alastair Duncan, and Liam O'Brien hold down other ...
LEGO photo

LEGO The Hobbit now available

Watch this charming launch trailer
Apr 08
// Conrad Zimmerman
Warner Bros. has released LEGO: The Hobbit to retailers in North America today, with a European release coming on April 11. As one might expect, new marketing materials have been released for the game, including the abo...
Middle-earth photo

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor set for release on October 7

New trailer and pre-order bonuses revealed
Apr 02
// Alessandro Fillari
It's been awhile since we last heard from Monolith's new action-adventure title set in Tolkien's fantasy universe. Now, WB Games has revealed the release date, and fans will get to experience Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor&nb...

LEGO The Hobbit PlayStation 3 bundle on the way

500GB PS3 for $269
Feb 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
If somehow you still have yet to get a PlayStation 3 and also happen to really love The Hobbit and LEGO, then you're in luck. A new PlayStation 3 bundle is on the way that will pack in LEGO The Hobbit. It'll be a 500GB PS3 sy...
Middle-earth photo

Monolith talks cross-gen differences in Shadow of Mordor

PC, PS4, and Xbox One are the focus
Feb 21
// Jordan Devore
One of the big talking points for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has been developer Monolith's Nemesis system, which involves procedural generation of orcs ranging from their fighting styles to their individual rank and role ...
DTOID News photo
DTOID News is part of a balanced breakfast
Here's Max to cap off the week of videogame news. He claims his laptop battery is almost out of juice but I think he just wanted to get the weekend started early. I'd have done the same thing. The new Thief and Middle-earth:...

Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

First footage of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Is there anything Talion can't do?
Jan 23
// Jordan Devore
My initial reaction after hearing about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and seeing this eight minutes or so of footage was that it's a shame Monolith didn't come with an original setting. Even if you aren't a diehard Tolkien ...

Preview: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Jan 23 // Alessandro Fillari
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC [previewed])Developer: MonolithPublisher: Warner Bros. GamesRelease Date: TBA 2014 The developers at Monolith weren't shy to talk about the reputation of movie games, and they were clear to share what their influences were, in particular Batman: Arkham Asylum. In terms of production, the Batman series served as motivation during the development of Middle-earth. "We saw Batman: Arkham City as the model," said director of design Michael De Plater, while discussing influences. "We looked at that game as the way to make licensed properties. It's best to make the best game you can first, before trying to make good movie game." Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, players take on the role of Talion. As a ranger for the kingdom of Gondor, Talion was a guard for the black gates on the eastern side of Mordor -- but on a night like any other, a massive army of Orcs siding with Sauron invaded. Killing many of his allies and loved ones, he is left for dead by the orcs. Unexpectedly, Talion is saved from death by the spirit of a Wraith and given new life and along with new powers. From here, our hero makes his way into Mordor to seek revenge, learn why the Wraith saved his life, and discover what the forces of Sauron have planned. Of course, this story may raise some eyebrows among loyal Tolkien fans. It's somewhat of a departure from the lore, and plans to stick more to the film's style, but the developers at Monolith are confident that fans will enjoy the narrative, as it's one of the bigger focuses of Middle-earth. The lead writer of Shadow of Mordor is Christian Cantamessa, who was also the lead writer of Red Dead Redemption, and he's placed a lot attention on fleshing out Talion and making sure it's in keeping with Tolkien's lore.As an open-ended sandbox action game, players will be able explore Mordor as it was before the return of Sauron. In fiction, Mordor was mostly known as a volcanic wasteland, but Middle-earth plans to show off areas that were filled with wildlife and flora untouched by the volcanic ash of Mt. Doom. Players can even interact and use items and animals from the game world for scouting and combat purposes. Large trees and bushes allow for cover during stealth, and utilizing bait can manipulate aggressive animals against the orcs. As a ranger, Talion possesses abilities that suit him for mobility, and melee and ranged combat. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a key influence and the developers took notes from the design of its action and traversal. Combat utilizes a similar free-flow fighting system from the Arkham series; specifically where players can freely move between individual enemies in a group and maintain combos to unlock special moves and power ups. To take things further, Talion has access to a series of new abilities while in his Wraith form. In this phase, he can enter the Wraith realm (in similar fashion to how Bilbo Baggins uses the One Ring) and observe enemies and points of interest in the game world. Moreover, he also moves much quicker and possesses enhanced archery and combat skills while in Wraith form. When engaging enemies, Talion can switch in and out of his Wraith form to expose weaknesses in enemies and pull off quick shots with his bow and arrow.As expected in a sandbox game, exploring and taking on new challenges will lead to great rewards, such as experience points and journal logs detailing more of the story and history of Mordor. Talion can also acquire ability points through leveling up which can be spent on unique skill trees for his Ranger and Wraith abilities. At the beginning, players will find the offerings somewhat bare, but eventually when you gain new moves and skills, such as a teleport attack called Shadow Strike, Talion becomes a force to be reckoned with. In order for our main character to exact his revenge on Sauron's army, players must create chaos in Mordor to undermine the influences of the orcs in the various zones. This is accomplished by strategically battling through the hierarchy of command by taking out enemy strongholds and camps, to draw out Sauron's Lieutenants to cripple their forces. Of course to do this, players must start at the bottom. In each zone of Mordor, there are a number of captains and war chiefs to combat with, and even pit against each other.  During our presentation, we saw Talion stalking an Orc captain by the name of Ratbag the Meathoarder. Starting with the stealthy approach, Talion takes out various orc soldiers utilizing both ranger and wraith abilities before breaking out into a full-on brawl with the entire camp. Realizing he's outmatched, Ratbag makes a run for it, but is captured when Talion uses a Wraith arrow to immobilize him.From here, players can approach the captain and interrogate him to gain Intel about the other officers in the zone. In a surprising twist, Talion can utilize his wraith abilities to take control of weak-willed captains and use them as temporary pawns in his struggle against the armies of Mordor. The player can assign tasks such as spying on other unknown officers, or assassinating other captains and war chiefs. Using his Wraith form, Talion marks Ratbag as a temporary ally and assigns him a mission to assassinate a war chief by the name of Orthog the Troll Slayer. This decision will create a brand new mission within the zone, which players can choose to accomplish at their leisure. Skipping ahead, we start the assassination mission and see that Ratbag is the second in command to Orthog. Moreover, the captain-turned-pawn has his own band of orcs at his side which will allow for Talion to gain the upper hand against Orthog, but also have a group of orcs fighting by his side under Ratbag's leadership. Surprisingly, the central enemies within Sauron's army are all procedurally generated by the game. Known as the Nemesis system, Middle-earth aims to create a greater level personality and uniqueness for each playthrough. The orc characters seen in the presentation will likely be entirely different for players. Since these characters are randomized, their knowledge and fighting abilities will be completely different for each player and for every repeated playthrough of the game. Everything from the names, fighting style, roles in Mordor, and their personality will be different for each player, according to Monolith. "We put a lot of effort into actually letting players make their own personal and unique bosses and villains in a living world, that was a big focus for us," De Plater said of the Nemesis system. These are not just for cosmetic purposes, but by design for strategic gameplay. During key moments in battle, Talion can acquire Intel from captains, such as strengths and weaknesses about other officers in Sauron's army. How deep their knowledge goes largely depends on the procedural element of the game's engine. One captain may have a deep knowledge of others in the zone, while another may be largely ignorant of who's who.The experience of death leaves a lasting impression on the game world and the morale among the forces of Sauron. Even the lowliest of grunts have potential to become a serious threat to Talion. When Talion is killed in battle, the Orc who lands the killing blow will be promoted in rank and added to the list of officers that Talion will need to take out. Even the lowliest of minions can kill Talion, and their promotion will create a new challenge for players. When revived at the various Forge Towers across the zones, they'll see that their death has motivated forces of Sauron, which will make creating chaos a bit more challenging. Moreover, enemies that escape from Talion during combat will live to see another day and alter their tactics for when players encounter them again. This creates another layer of challenge that emphasizes strategy. Some battles may not be worth running blade first into and will only result in player’s death and a new captain or war chief to eliminate. Even in this fairly short showing of the game, it's clear that the content in Shadow of Mordor is massive; and the developers plan to support players who may feel a bit lost. Warner Bros. Games and Wikia plan to release a companion app for tablets called Palantir. In real time, players can have the app on standby and learn details on the lore, locations, central characters, and other details while playing the main game. Though it's not really necessary for the game, it's a neat little app to have, if you're curious about any references or characters in Tolkien's lore. This title is quite the departure for Monolith games, as it's their first sandbox action game. This presentation of the vertical slice for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was pretty impressive, and shows the ambitious nature of the game. I left quite impressed with what Monolith has got in store for Middle-earth. The Nemesis system in particular is an inspired idea that will definitely incentivize players yearning for a deep single-player experience to revisit. While it’s still a ways off, and showed a number of graphical quirks and glitches that need to be cleared up, it's gotten me interested in what's in store.
Middle-earth preview photo
Sandbox chaos in Mordor
Whenever games tied to a major license are announced, there's usually a collective grumble from fans. Titles based on movies, television, or comics usually don't end up well, as most of the time they're developing with the fo...

Lord of the Rings Online photo
Lord of the Rings Online

Lord of the Rings Online licensed renewed throughout 2017

Good news for dedicated players
Jan 14
// Chris Carter
Renewing licenses can be tricky, and in the case of Lord of the Rings Online, fans were nervous that they wouldn't get to keep playing the game for much longer. A recent scare happened when Massively reported that LOTRO&...
Middle-earth photo

New screenshots for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Take down the forces of Sauron in this new open-world title
Dec 16
// Alessandro Fillari
Last month, we saw the reveal of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a new open-world action/RPG set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. While we didn't get a look of the game, we did learn what to expect ...
Lord of the Rings photo
Lord of the Rings

LOTR Online selling level 50 character boosts

To win, insert credit card number
Dec 15
// Harry Monogenis
So yeah, you can now legitimately buy a level 50 boost for your Lord of the Rings Online characters directly from the developers via the MMO's online store until December 19. They've named it the 'Gift of the Valar' and ...
LEGO Hobbit photo
LEGO Hobbit

LEGO Hobbit confirmed for Spring 2014

It's on basically every platform ever
Nov 25
// Chris Carter
It looks like the rumors are true -- Warner Bros. has officially a confirmed LEGO version of The Hobbit, set for a Spring 2014 release. It'll hit the Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, Vita, the Wii U, 3DS, and PC/Mac platforms. In oth...
LOTRO expansion photo
LOTRO expansion

Lord of the Rings Online: Helm's Deep expansion out today

Don't tell the elf
Nov 20
// Joshua Derocher
Lord of the Rings Online has a new expansion out today, called Helm's Deep. In addition to being able to take part in the iconic battle, the level cap has been raised to 95, and players will be able to explore new areas of W...

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