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To date, I have received very little hate mail for this column. Actually, it’s none. Either you guys aren’t reading this, or you aren’t motivated enough. Or maybe it’s because my wonderful editors have not seen fit to forward it to me. Though, to be honest, the major reason is probably that I haven’t really covered any ground that hasn’t been pre-treaded by the major gaming sites.
Those sites have, of late, been raving about the new kid on the block: Shadow of Mordor. It’s basically Batman’s Arkham series meets Lord of the Rings, and it’s drawing rave reviews. The basic game is not all that original, but it’s what’s layered on top of that well-executed formula that really makes the game pop. The mechanics may be Gotham-esque, but the driving force of the gameplay is the Nemesis system, which brings your stealth-em-up and hack’n’slash skills to a finely tuned point. It’s a constantly shifting network of bad guys that reacts to your actions – you might take out the Big Bad on day one, and find out that there’s a different bloke there by day 74. So it’s basically XCOM in reverse. I don’t have the space to discuss the game in depth, but, suffice to say, it’s a hell of a good romp (with spiffy production values to boot). Not bad for a 32 GB download, I might add.
What matters to me is the fact that it’s the first game I’ve played that I feel can properly be characterised as ‘next-gen’. The whole game just sings, to the point that it feels like a wholly different experience. It’s the vanguard of a new era, and I for one welcome it.
The interesting comparison, then, is with the game I like to see as the rearguard of last-gen: Grand Theft Auto V. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but it was a lot of stuff we’ve seen before, only turned up to 11. There weren’t a whole lot of moments that made you gasp at the pure innovation, just the scale. Fundamentally, it wasn’t all that different from San Andreas, but it was a hell of a swansong to the last decade in gaming. I mean, I’ll definitely be picking up the PC version for the multiplayer and improvements over my PS3 version, but it’ll be almost like buying a tombstone. Meet the new boss – thanks to the Nemesis system, it’s quantifiably different to the old boss.
Since this is my last column, why don’t you add me on Steam? My ID is ‘sacredsnowhawk’. That is not an invitation for hate mail.