The critically acclaimed Shadows of Mordor recently hit stores across all platforms. As always before writing a review I play until I have a significant experience to give you a better idea of what you’ll get for your money.

I am 6 hours in and have accomplished an apparent 5% of the game. Normally, I wouldn’t consider that enough time but the way the game is set up I feel it is.

You play a Ranger of Gondor. In the opening sequence you witness your family being murdered by orcs. You are then killed before you learn that you are “banished from death.” and bound to a wraith. This wraith doesn’t know who he is or how you came to be tethered together. He grants you magical powers and enhances your character’s other abilities.

This game is very graphic and not for the squeamish. It’s rated M+, meaning for mature players over the age of seventeen. There is a very grim and dark feel to the entire open world.

As you venture you encounter various side missions. Everything from gathering flowers and relics, to freeing humans who are enslaved to the orcs. Upon completing each you receive power and ability points. Occasionally humans you free will give you information vital to defeating the orc captains you encounter throughout your journey.

There are also mini-games spread around that if you successfully complete them, enhance your weapons.

Combat is very much like the Assassin’s Creed games which emphasize counters and execution moves. Stealth is your primary means of fighting because you can be easily overwhelmed and killed. When you “die” the wraith you are bound to, brings you back to life. You re-spawn atop blue towers you discover and scale, more specifically, the one closest to where you died. These also unlock fast travel from zone to zone but really the zones aren’t that big that you need to utilize this feature.

The goal of the game is simple, vengeance on the orc who killed your family named “The Black Hand.” However to achieve this you have to gather intel on high ranking orcs in order to kill them. Whenever one is eliminated you’re one step closer to finding the antagonist.

This is a single player game. The only multi-player function is if you are killed by a captain, someone on your friends list playing simultaneously, can briefly invade and kill that captain.

I would rate this a 7 out of 10. The story is basic and unimaginative. The side missions can be a bit repetitive as well. However the gameplay is smooth and fun. The textures and graphics are amazing on 1080 pixels and the world design is superb. I look forward to learning more about the wraith and how this ties into the Lord of the Rings series. I think it is the best Tolkien universe game ever made. What do you think?