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    element40's Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)

    [February 23, 2017 08:39:17 PM]
    This session (the final journal entry for Middle Earth) was interesting for me. Shadow of Mordor is an extremely fun game. The nemesis system, in which enemies rise up through the ranks and grow more and more powerful, is one of the most clever and well made game mechanics in the last few years. Adding a personal flair and all of the strengths and weaknesses to each enemy you target in the orc army makes each session of the game unique to each player. While one player may take out an Uruk commander named Dush who is afraid of fire and immune to ranged attacks, I took out Golgoroz, who feared beasts and had an enormous contingent of orcs that accompanied him everywhere he went. This makes my experience playing this game unique in some small ways to literally every other player who ever picked up a controller.

    Integral to all of this is the relationship between Talion and Ratbag the Coward. Despite being an orc, Talion uses Ratbag to gain intel and works to maneuver Ratbag inside the upper ranks of the orc army. By working with an orc, Talion is sacrificing his moral superiority. Talion is willing to do whatever it takes to draw out the Black Hand of Sauron. This makes me wonder, do the ends justify the means? Is Talion taking Ratbagís offer and helping this murdering scheming orc to rise in power worth it if in the end Talion is able to take out the Black Hand? If the ends truly justify the means then by all means Talion should use every advantage he can to exact his revenge, but where does the line stop?

    While the game doesnít let you do anything to harm slaves or innocents, would Talion as a character be willing to in order to meet his goals? Would there be anything stopping Talion from performing even more heinous acts if it meant getting what he wanted? The fear of death is a powerful motivator for men to not do immoral acts. Today if you are caught murdering someone, even if that is for the greater good of the world, you will likely face life in prison or the Death Sentence. Talion has no such restrictions. If he is killed he will simply come back. If that is the case, what motivates Talion to do the ďrightĒ thing. He seems to be an honorable man, and he certainly would have done anything to save his Wife and Son, but with those lost to him is there anything he wouldnít sacrifice or do to get his revenge and break his curse?

    This game has been immensely fun to play and I look forward to diving into more ethical frameworks and ideas for the One Page Analysis.
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    [February 15, 2017 09:12:44 PM]
    This session was a bit longer than previous sessions, mostly because I am really enjoying the combat and stealth gameplay of Shadow of Mordor. Iíve always been partial to stealth games, but appreciate when the out of stealth combat is good enough that you donít have to restart a mission if the stealth option goes south. The story progressed quite well in this session and I was left with a few more intriguing things to wonder about in regards to morality and ethics.

    As we can see and hear all throughout Mordor, Talionís newfound powers are something the orcs have quickly come to fear and dread. While some of the higher ranks of orcs display bravado and boast that they can kill you easily, many lower orcs run away from you after a display of power. In a short amount of time, Talion has already slain several orc captains, rescued dozens of slaves from their cruel masters, and helped stem the ever growing tide of orcs killing Gondorians.

    While Talion was a skilled ranger before, his newfound undeath and his wraith powers give him an incredible advantage in fighting evil. Even if he is defeated in combat, Talion is banished from death. He will simply come right back and continue to wreak havoc on the forces of evil. The amount of good that Talion can do in this form is nigh infinite. He is an immortal orc-massacring machine. So then should Talion be trying to lift the curse that binds him to the world and keeps him from dying? As a player that is the task we have been given and it is the only way to progress the story. Shadow of Mordorís gameplay system however shows us that we do not have to necessarily make forward progress to have fun.

    In most games there is only so much you can do in any given area, once the missions are complete and the enemies defeated and the loot plundered, the only way to continue playing the game is to progress the main story. In this game however you can be content to stay the way you are indefinitely. For each Orc you slay, 5 more take their place. For every warchief and captain you slaughter another rises to power. In a Sisyphean fashion, you could slay each and every orc you come across one by one. While that may not progress the plot and lead to the eventual defeat of the hand of Sauron, for each slave you free and each orc you kill, some small increase in the happiness of the humans in the world of Middle Earth has happened. In and of itself that should be good enough to justify not wanting to remove the curse and instead try to use this new power to exact a change on the world around Talion.
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    [February 14, 2017 05:08:52 PM]
    When Transitioning from my previous game for this class, The Last of Us, I wasnít quite sure what ethical dilemmas or moral quandaries I would experience in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. While TLOU is a very morally ambiguous game with many shades of gray in every character, Shadow of Mordor is a little more black and white in its morality. Orcs in this game are not the multi-dimensional characters of Warcraft or the humans of TLOU making the best of an apocalyptic situation, the orcs of Mordor are bloodthirsty, cruel, and seek to inflict as much pain on the world as they can. For this first section of the game that remains largely unchanged, though as I was completing my play session things started to come a little more into the gray area.

    The tutorial of the game is very well made and introduces they player to a light-hearted sparring match with your son to demonstrate melee combat. In what is easily the most touching moment of Shadow of Mordor, the stealth tutorial has you sneaking up on your wife to surprise her with a kiss. These light-hearted memories are immediately supplanted by brutal uses of both the combat and stealth mechanics in an attempt to save the lives of both your wife and son. The way the game strikes a balance between the skills you need to play the game and their delivery to the player is incredibly intriguing.
    For the characters, though not the player, a little bit of an ethical dilemma is portrayed in the background of the game. During a loading screen you hear a conversation between Talionís wife and her father about the murder of a Gondorian nobleman. Talion killed the nobleman as he assaulted Talionís wife. She claims that if her father attempts to turn in Talion, she will lie and claim it was she who killed the nobleman instead. In compromise it seems Talion was allowed to join the Rangers defending the black gate and was placed into exile there with his family.

    It would be hard to argue the morality of killing the nobleman, even if he was clearly in the wrong for attempting to rape Talionís wife. However, given the circumstances is it wrong for the wife to lie about the events to mitigate the sentence of her husband? It would seem that despite the extenuating circumstances, Talion would be executed. While that hardly seems fair for defending his wife (as I would do in a heartbeat), is it also fair that the death of the nobleman would go unpunished? This is a hard line to walk and I am not entirely sure either way what is morally correct.

    The final thing that I touched on when playing was the way your wraith companion Celebrimbor tortures and burns the orcs for information. Despite the evil nature of the orcs and the atrocities they commit, is stooping to the level of torture to defeat evil worth the cost? Do the ends justify the means? Certainly the orcs are not above torture and evil methods to make their plans come to fruition, but if we stoop to the same level what makes humans any better than the orcs they despise and fear?
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    Status

    element40's Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 13 February, 2017

    Opinion
    element40's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    See info on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4) by Barnes (rating: 4)
    2 : Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4) by jp (rating: 5)
    3 : Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4) by UltraVioletLlama (rating: 5)

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