Shadow of Mordor is Nothing But Infantile Revenge Porn

Jumwa

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It's curious to me how people can take such drastically different things from works of fiction.

When I think of LotR, I think of Gandalf telling Frodo about the importance of life, and how he shouldn't be so quick to mete out death as justice. How in the end it was wreckless compassion for someone who clearly didn't deserve it that saved everyone.

When I think of Star Trek I think of that bold view of a future where humanity united to get rid of poverty and gross inequality to forge a nobler existence, pursuing knowledge, discovery and greater prosperity for all.

Other people look at these and just see an opportunity to tell stories about violence in weird worlds apparently.
 

fix-the-spade

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Wolyo said:
I'm sorry but "masterbatory"?
A small, partially glazed room found as part of upper class houses and public schools in the United Kingdom, usually built as an extension and never discussed in polite company.


I'm sorry, couldn't resist
 

Kilo24

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I had some hopes about the narrative being a story about Talion getting corrupted into service of Sauron; even though people invariably getting corrupted by inherently evil power isn't a theme I like in stories, it does fit with the themes of Middle Earth and would be at least an interesting alternative to the stereotypical revenge flick we got. There was an interesting line Talion said in the ending (something to the effect of "I'll create another ring of power") that hints towards that theme, but that's all that exists (beyond some very throwaway dialogue with Celebrimbor). Which is a pity, because a story about Talion and Celebrimbor getting corrupted into either service or a betrayal of what they once believed in could have been a great story that kept with both Tolkien's themes and let you go mad with flashy and gory combat powers.

I'm not nearly as unhappy about the treatment of Tolkien, partially because I'm not that fond of his work but also because most of the game focuses on things he didn't detail well: namely, orc culture. His immaculate attention to the culture of his world did not extend there, and I personally find that generic evil villains make the chief conflicts much less compelling. And they're probably portrayed at about the same level of care in the game that Tolkien did in the books.

I'd still support the rest of the story/game being chastised for turning Tolkien into a generic "infantile revenge porn", but that's part and parcel of AAA game storytelling nowadays. (Not to say that it's excused, just to say that it's an old problem by now).

oldtaku said:
I guess nobody noticed that it is NOT a Lord of the Rings game? That name is very conspicuously not on it. Normally that would just be splitting hairs (it IS a Middle Earth game) but in this case I suspect it's because it does take Tolkien's setting and then then it rejects a lot of his themes. And takes a closer look at some things Tolkien was too squeamish to think about the consequences of (the Uruks).
It's not a Lord of the Rings game in the same way that The Hobbit and the Silmarillion are not Lord of the Rings books. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are three books set in the Middle Earth setting, not the name for the setting itself.
 

Shamus Young

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For the record, I'd forgotten that "Revenge Porn" now meant "posting pornographic pictures of someone to get revenge on them". I was using it in the old-fashion sense, like "food porn".
 

Tiamat666

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Shamus channels his nerd rage into a well versed tale of backstabbing, theft and betrayal. Shakespeare would be proud.
 

Aiddon_v1legacy

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that actually describes most of gaming right now. I really do wish gaming would get through its awkward puberty already and drop its obsession with being "gritty" and "dark", which is the same obsession that caused the American comics industry to collapse and become little more than a niche market. It's all so freaking juvenile and boring; and the thing is the guys writing this tripe think they're being interesting. These guys need a swift kick in the ass.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I haven't even played the game and I couldn't agree more. The moment the first announced Talion and his motivation back when the game was first announced, I knew he was going to fall flat and be very out-of-place in Middle-earth. Still, I'm pretty sure I would have missed a lot of this other stuff if I hadn't read this article. It was a very nice read, and I think it will put the game in an interesting light when I pick it up next week.
EternallyBored said:
To be fair, depending on DLC and/or sequels, they could just very well be setting up the hero for a tragic fall, we already know that unless this goes into AU territory then the protagonist fails and Sauron conquers Mordor before going on to be beaten by the protagonists from LOTR, so there is very little chance that the protagonist is coming out of this with anything other than a bittersweet reunion with his family in the afterlife after failing to stop Sauron.
Ooooooh, I like that idea. I'm sure people would get upset because then you have to pay for the 'real' ending to the game, but I like that idea a lot. I would get behind it.
 

EternallyBored

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Kilo24 said:
I had some hopes about the narrative being a story about Talion getting corrupted into service of Sauron; even though people invariably getting corrupted by inherently evil power isn't a theme I like in stories, it does fit with the themes of Middle Earth and would be at least an interesting alternative to the stereotypical revenge flick we got. There was an interesting line Talion said in the ending (something to the effect of "I'll create another ring of power") that hints towards that theme, but that's all that exists (beyond some very throwaway dialogue with Celebrimbor). Which is a pity, because a story about Talion and Celebrimbor getting corrupted into either service or a betrayal of what they once believed in could have been a great story that kept with both Tolkien's themes and let you go mad with flashy and gory combat powers.
I'm not sure if you missed it, but they do add more than that:

At the end, celebrimbor and talion are glowing with the same color power in their eyes that set Sauron apart from everyone else in the flashback scenes. They pretty much out and out show it in visual cues that they are basically setting off to be another Sauron.

This is sort of why I disagree with Shamus's analysis of the game, they pretty clearly show that the revenge and power fantasy, while fun for the player, is only going to end in tears for the actual characters. The comparisons to Boromir are a bit off, they are pretty clearly setting up a Saruman style fall with the narrative, and the game seems to be sticking pretty closely to Tolkien's theme of using the tools of evil will eventually corrupt you into evil as well, just like Saruman thought he could use the Uruk-hai and the ring to overthrow Sauron, so too do Celebrimbor and Talion think that using the orcs and making another ring of power will help them overthrow Sauron, and just like Saruman, the protagonists in this game are only setting themselves up to fail.

While the game still has an atmosphere that isn't very Tolkienesque, with its constant action and murder spree, it seems to be firmly rooted in the theme of the books, that the tools of power unrestrained and exercising that power without caution will ultimately lead to dark paths. They don't play the whole arc out in a single game, and if the series doesn't get a sequel, then it will just be kind of a shallow revenge story, but it is clear right now, where Talion is going, he's very likely not going to get anything other than corruption and failure, because that's pretty much where all of Tolkein's characters who follow that path end up, and I don't think this series is even trying to hide that this is where they are taking it
 

Hawki

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It's interesting to read this article straight after reading Yahtzee's. Two takes on the same game that approach it from completely different angles.

Not played the game, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, but I'll establish that yes, I've read the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and seen the films, overall favorite films for me personally), and agree with Seamus's thematic assessment of them (or at least, I can see them forming reasonable conclusions). However, I have to question the following facets of the article:

-The Batman and Superman analogies don't carry much weight. Talion is not a pre-existing character, so unlike Batman and Superman, there's no individual to ruin. That, and alternate reality versions of both characters exist in abundance.

-The thematic angle is more understandable, but as assinine as the "title defence" may seem, I think it's still a worthwhile distinction. As someone who's also read 'The Silmarillion' (didn't like it that much either), I have to point out that if the premise that innocence is what defeats Sauron, it certainly isn't the cause of Morgoth's defeat. Morgoth was defeated by force of arms. Elves and Men outfought him, and had the aid of the Valar. In 'The Hobbit', in the Battle of the Five Armies, while the personal highlight is Thorin's last words with Bilbo, from the standpoint of the conflict itself, the Free Peoples win because they outfight the orcs, and they have the aid of Beorn and the eagles. There are plenty of cases in Middle-earth where good has triumphed over evil on the case that good simply fought better (e.g. the dwarf-goblin war - seen in 'An Unexpected Journey' for those who haven't read the novel appendecies). I'm not trying to diminish the themes listed in the article - it's telling that Frodo lasts as long as he does (far longer than Isilidur), and that indeed, Gollum is the one whose actions result in the ring's destruction. For a game that doesn't bear the title of "Lord of the Rings," I don't think it's obliged to be tied to its themes. I've repeatedly stated that context should not dictate content. 'Alien' and 'Aliens' exist in the same universe for instance, but approach the same subject matter very differently. Doesn't stop me from enjoying both films and considering them sci-fi hallmarks.
 

Barbas

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Shamus Young said:
For the record, I'd forgotten that "Revenge Porn" now meant "posting pornographic pictures of someone to get revenge on them". I was using it in the old-fashion sense, like "food porn".
Oh shit. That's unintentionally hilarious. XD

Thanks for the words.

fix-the-spade said:
Wolyo said:
I'm sorry but "masterbatory"?
A small, partially glazed room found as part of upper class houses and public schools in the United Kingdom, usually built as an extension and never discussed in polite company.


I'm sorry, couldn't resist

Neither could I! :D
 

EternallyBored

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Hawki said:
-The thematic angle is more understandable, but as assinine as the "title defence" may seem, I think it's still a worthwhile distinction. As someone who's also read 'The Silmarillion' (didn't like it that much either), I have to point out that if the premise that innocence is what defeats Sauron, it certainly isn't the cause of Morgoth's defeat. Morgoth was defeated by force of arms. Elves and Men outfought him, and had the aid of the Valar. In 'The Hobbit', in the Battle of the Five Armies, while the personal highlight is Thorin's last words with Bilbo, from the standpoint of the conflict itself, the Free Peoples win because they outfight the orcs, and they have the aid of Beorn and the eagles. There are plenty of cases in Middle-earth where good has triumphed over evil on the case that good simply fought better (e.g. the dwarf-goblin war - seen in 'An Unexpected Journey' for those who haven't read the novel appendecies). I'm not trying to diminish the themes listed in the article - it's telling that Frodo lasts as long as he does (far longer than Isilidur), and that indeed, Gollum is the one whose actions result in the ring's destruction. For a game that doesn't bear the title of "Lord of the Rings," I don't think it's obliged to be tied to its themes. I've repeatedly stated that context should not dictate content. 'Alien' and 'Aliens' exist in the same universe for instance, but approach the same subject matter very differently. Doesn't stop me from enjoying both films and considering them sci-fi hallmarks.
This is actually a good point, and ties into the a lot of the complaints about Talion being too powerful too. The Lord of the Rings featured magic as fairly subtle and low key compared to a lot of modern fantasy, with even the ring doing little more than granting invisibility to Frodo and Bilbo.

The Silmarillion on the other hand, had a lot of epic smackdown fights with high level magic getting thrown around, and depicts Sauron with the ring at full power as basically blowing anything shown in the Lord of the Rings trilogy out of the water power wise.

I agree with the point about themes too, the game should not need to be chained to only the trilogy, and the fact that the wraith is celebrimbor seems to indicate that the game makers were aware of this and consequently decided to bring in a character from a much earlier age in Middle Earth's history, an age where much more powerful magic was getting thrown around on a regular basis.
 

llubtoille

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While it is somewhat 'revenge porn' (which makes it very satisfying to play), they do have an overall goal which is to slow Sauron's rise to power. He is undeniably a threat to all the characters know and love, even if they are somewhat jaded by how their past life ended.

They seem to have gone with the idea of, what would a semi-immortal Herculean character do were he waist deep in Mordor prior to LotR, and I think they executed it rather well.

I'm yet to finish the game, so I can't comment on the outcome, but you imply that he lives beyond the end and perhaps is somewhat happy, but I would be surprised if once his goal is completed (his blood-lust sated if you wish) he keeps the wraith's power.
If it is retained, then perhaps an eternity of being resurrected from one violent death and tragedy after another would lead him dark, but if it's taken away then he no longer has the 'absolute power' to be corrupted by.
 

zumbledum

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Shamus Young said:
Shadow of Mordor is Nothing But Infantile Revenge Porn

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is a literary classic. It's a shame that Shadow of Mordor takes the setting and turns it into nothing more than a vengeful killing field.

Read Full Article

good job its a game and not a book then eh?
 

Lurklen

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It really is a shame. I was kind of excited when I heard of an action game set in Middle Earth, the first thing that came to mind was maybe they'd do something interesting and set the game during the war of wrath or the last alliance, eras that haven't gotten a lot of attention. Followed swiftly by the fear that they would just awkwardly tack on their own mythology and jam it in somewhere in the period already covered by the books. I hear the game is actually fun to play though, as long as you ignore the story.

What's really annoying is there already are these kinds of stories in the Tolkien mythos. The Turin saga comes to mind, but even some of the stories of the Elves from the silmarillion would work(Not all the elves were nice guys) so it really bugged me that they just took Tolkien's world and shoved some generic white angsty guy in there. It was already full of those! There is a whole world for them to explore with thousands of years of history and they just tread over the same well worn territory.

What about a story of what was happening in the north with the dwarves and Dale, or in the south among the human kingdoms serving Sauron where there are two other Wizards and a whole environment only slightly explored by Tolkien. Just seems like a wasted opportunity.
 

The_Darkness

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BrotherRool said:
I really want to have a sequel, but one that isn't set in the Lord of the Rings universe. The gameplay feel is prefect for something like Prototype
Oof. The Nemesis system in Prototype... My mind is actually blown. That would be awesome:

Military Commander: "Sergeant Vasquez, report."

Vasquez: "Sir! We were fighting a particularly vicious group of infected in Times Square, when we encountered Zeus."

MC: "Zeus?! You were lucky to get out alive, I've fought him in the past."

V: "I wasn't sir."

MC: "Wasn't...?"

V: "Lucky, sir. And I didn't get out alive."

MC: "You... Didn't... Oh no..."

Zeus: "Nope, and neither will you. Now, this is for blowing me apart with an RPG last week..."

On topic... Well, I'm avoiding spoilers, but I'd guess it would be appropriate in the ending if Talion's quest for revenge was successful, but ultimately destroyed him.
I'm guessing that's not what happens, however, judging by the tone of this article.
 

Ryan Hughes

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Shamus Young said:
For the record, I'd forgotten that "Revenge Porn" now meant "posting pornographic pictures of someone to get revenge on them". I was using it in the old-fashion sense, like "food porn".
I do that, too.

It really is disturbing though, this trend to vengeance-porn (shall we call it that?) Pretty much Quentin Tarantino's current career is based around "Oppressed minority vengeance-porn, as told by a middle-class white male." Which is admittedly its own kind of awful, but disturbing nonetheless.

In reality, there has been very little vengeance around these issues, though. Did Frederick Douglass seek vengeance? no, he became one of the first black intellectuals, and inspired a generation. The restraint and civility of these people is what should be celebrated, not this kind of raw vengeance-porn.
 

Spacewolf

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Lurklen said:
It really is a shame. I was kind of excited when I heard of an action game set in Middle Earth, the first thing that came to mind was maybe they'd do something interesting and set the game during the war of wrath or the last alliance, eras that haven't gotten a lot of attention. Followed swiftly by the fear that they would just awkwardly tack on their own mythology and jam it in somewhere in the period already covered by the books. I hear the game is actually fun to play though, as long as you ignore the story.

What's really annoying is there already are these kinds of stories in the Tolkien mythos. The Turin saga comes to mind, but even some of the stories of the Elves from the silmarillion would work(Not all the elves were nice guys) so it really bugged me that they just took Tolkien's world and shoved some generic white angsty guy in there. It was already full of those! There is a whole world for them to explore with thousands of years of history and they just tread over the same well worn territory.

What about a story of what was happening in the north with the dwarves and Dale, or in the south among the human kingdoms serving Sauron where there are two other Wizards and a whole environment only slightly explored by Tolkien. Just seems like a wasted opportunity.
The Dwarves and the war in Dale was covered pretty well by the Battle for Middle Earth games I always felt. The two other Wizards were something I kept expecting to come up in this game considering the amount of secrets in the second area that reference them, to the extent that I thought the final scene would basically be them showing up saying good job to Talion and the Wraith then sending them onwards to their final resting places now they have fulfilled their purpose.

I also kept expecting it to be a plan of Saurons, although I suppose that was more of a hope that they would show more of his "Master of Lies" side rather than just brute force, but unfortunately not.