Shadows of Ridiculousness

Started Finished playing Shadows of Mordor a few weeks ago, and my experience for most of it has been compelling. The game’s design hits the sweet spot in a whole lot of categories.


Brutally killing orcs = definite sweet spot.

For example, running around in stealth and brutally executing orcs makes you feel overpowered. Manually attacking and parrying even a half dozen orcs does not. And so stealth is highly encouraged. And yet it isn’t the end of the world if you get spotted, as outside of specific missions, you can always just run away. Or even just kill every witness and get back to skulking about.

One of the flops though, is the RPG-esque Nemesis system. Or rather, the RNG aspect of some of the combinations.

In a nutshell, the Nemesis system simulates the ascension and power struggles of an orc army as they vie for control and fill in new vacancies made by you stabbing the predecessors in the throat/blowing them up/getting them eaten by wildlife. This specific part is insanely cool – the jockeying around and combat promotions – and is one of those features you kinda wish were in every open-world game from now on.

The issue comes from how the Captains have a random assortment of Strengths, Weaknesses, and combat abilities. Again, this is cool. Except when it’s not.

Witness, Hûmgrat, the Kin-Slayer:

I originally wrote several paragraphs about this guy – having hitherto unsuccessfully taken him out for bullshit reasons¹ – but I’m going to let the video speak for itself. Start at 2:50 (of this 5 minute video) if you want to see the actual “fight.” And keep in mind this is pretty much the only way to take him out, sans getting lucky with fire pit placement/existence or coming back after unlocking Branding (mind-controlled Orcs bypass the usual immunities).

So… yeah. Beginning parts are very fun, and then later ones much less so. You end up either facing more Hûmgrat, or you face an Orc you can practically one-shot. While Hûmgrat left enough of a bad taste in my mouth to almost poison the entire experience, he was not fully successful. And so I would recommend this game to any LotR fans, Batman fans, and/or Assassin Creed fans. If you can dodge the bad RNG orc combinations, there is much fun to be had.

¹ Bullshit reasons usually being other Orc Captains “randomly” appearing in the middle of my 5+ minute stunlock.

Posted on April 29, 2016, in Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I met one of those totally imunne to nearly everything (except explosions, for mine) ranged shooty orcs very early on in the game. While frustrating in the short term, I thought it was pretty cool ultimately, as it was the only way I would develop an actual Nemesis (otherwise, I delighted in finding an orc’s weakness and offing them.)

    I had to keep running from him for quite a long time, and watch him slice his way through the ranks to become a Warchief. Taking him down was a grand affair of recruiting my own pack of pet (ahem, Branded) Warchief + Named Bodyguards, corrupting all of his bodyguards to betray him at the crucial moment, and all-out orc civil war, culminating in branding my Nemesis, and then deliberately executing him after he was finally humbled and under my power.

    My favorite Branded bodyguard who betrayed him then became Warchief in his stead.

    Sauron ain’t got nothing versus my Bright Lord megalomania…


    • That does sound like a more interesting meta-narrative. I might have felt similarly, but at the time, Hûmgrat was the sole bodyguard to the last Warchief I had to kill before unlocking the second half of the game (I had killed 4/5 of the required Warchiefs and none respawned). So, essentially, I had to deal with him… or at least think I did. There might have been another solution besides 2+ minutes of stunlocks, but that was the route I felt chained to.


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