What’s better than lopping off an orc’s head?  Watching every head from the entire horde detach from their bodies, duh!  Curiously morbid.  WB Games and Monolith Studios successfully reskin the Batman: Arkham games into a Lord of the Rings game that plays more intuitive than Batman. It’s as simple as that. SHADOW OF MORDOR takes place sometime before the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and has a compelling story to help bolster this into a great game.

I assumed the role of Talion, a captain at the black gate who; well, let’s just say he has a hard life – wait, did you expect otherwise in the realm of Middle Earth?  Talion meets many people and creatures along the way to help him in his journey towards peace, but Talion’s internal and external turmoil will keep you guessing how this story might end.  Again, as most Middle Earth tales will tell, it’s a rough life for everyone.  Let’s face it, there are many Hobbits who agree.

The gameplay is solid and polished.  It’s straightforward yet hard to master, but once I hit that learning curve I blew through the rest and “platinumed” PS4 version.  The things that frustrated me in the first hours of gameplay (I died A LOT) became nothing but a challenge of “How fast can I hack these bodies into pieces?”  Your character will progress to become the hero you want him to be, yet in the beginnings of the game I remembered questioning how the build would culminate;  Oh, it impressed.

Mordor’s setting is exactly how I thought it would be; dark and evil, mostly.  The world, while not large, is well crafted to give it enough variation in its short travels, which is another good thing as it really doesn’t take long to travel from point A to point B and still includes a Fast Travel option.  Progressing through the game allowed me to ponder if the game’s setting would change and wouldn’t be large enough for variation, but I was happy to find I worried for naught about 50% of the way through.  Just to be clear, the craftmanship of the world was graphically great.

The biggest problem that Shadows has is that you can’t skip the Orcs’ talking.  Seriously, I can’t tell you how many fights I picked with the captains of the Warchiefs that I had to sit through 10 to 15 seconds of them taunting… I would gander at an hour’s worth of taunting, seriously, WWE has nothing on these orcs.  Still, aside from the occasional Captain that was immune to my immediate style of fighting and destroyed me time and time again after suffering their taunts, I enjoyed learning that dying is not a bad thing in this game.

All in all, anyone who loves Lord of the Rings will be happy to know that this game does the realm justice.  Story, characters, and the setting are all top notch and crafted by artisans.  This is one game that should be on everyone’s list, especially as the gameplay is unique to WB Games and not over saturated.

Final Score: 9 out of 10