I leapt back into Shadow of Mordor this week and was greeted with a terrifying bit of text: 13 hours in and 24 percent complete. Not an ideal point to pick up a save. The point at which I’m taught how to crouch long since past and forgotten, and no sign of an end in sight either.
But it turns out – and I knew it would – that this is an ideal way to get back into Shadow of Mordor. And Mordor, it turns out, is an ideal game to run around with little sense of what the buttons do. Jump? Roll? Swing a sword? I re-learned all of that afresh while I was on fire, and being chased by wasps. That probably doesn’t sound a lot like Tolkien. That’s fine. Shadow of Mordor isn’t The Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. It’s not a grand finale. It’s not there-and-back-again. Instead it’s an endless pubfight, the game that brought hilarity to Middle-earth.
This probably sounds like sacrilege. So be it. True story here: my mum, who is a proper Tolkien fan, still clinging to her classic 1970s copy of Lord of the Rings with Tolkien fairly stamped on the spine in caps, was once staying with us when Shadow of Mordor was first out. She watched one morning, stirring a cup of tea with mounting anger as I clambered over walls, shivved orcs and accidentally set myself on fire. After a while, she said, “What is this absolute bullshit.” No question mark. Then she stomped off to find a biscuit.