Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor

Monolith is taking another stab at the J.R.R. Tolkien canon with a new next-gen game taking place in the realm of Middle Earth.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor happens between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and it brings the Ranger Talion to the front stage. Murdered at the hands of Sauron when he and his armies return to Mordor, Talion is resurrected as a spirit and is given Ring Wraith like powers to go on a revenge murder spree on the forces of darkness.

The game plays almost like a Batman Arkham with the rhythm based fighting mechanics and special abilities able to level up throughout the course of the campaign. Talion can see enemies hundreds of feet away and will always feel like he is outnumbered, resorting to tricks and traps to whittle away the numbers before turning to fisticuffs to solve the rest.

Each enemy is also a named unit known as a Nemesis. Should they survive a battle against Talion, they can level up and become stronger in the background, making more trouble for Talion down the road.

Monolith is most famous for its F.E.A.R. series, and it most recently created Guardians of Middle Earth. It is working with Middle-earth Enterprises, Peter Jackson, and Weta Workshop to make sure that the canon stays true and that this narrative bridge remains loyal to nearly 80 years of story.

Sounds a lot like The Force Unleashed to me. A super being, penned for the sole purpose of a single story, is the key puzzle piece bridging two pieces of a larger narratives. He also uses the power of the enemy against him, and get this! He struggles between good and evil, and your choices affect his outcome!

I’m glad the art direction seems to be taking a sidestep from the Peter Jackson films and establishing its own style, but that style couldn’t be more obviously aimed at video gamers if it tried. Glowing blue eyes, lightning fists, epic pose, broken sword. A lightning bolt tears behind a castle while hordes of angry orcs charge Talion in an attempt to murder him.

There once was a time when all fantasy novels took their inspiration from Lord of the Rings, but now Middle Earth looks like a cheap World of Warcraft knock off with a generic revenge story. We’ll see how this turns out, but sorry to say, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

GameInformer has the game as its cover story for the coming month. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be available for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC.