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

    [January 18, 2018 10:14:49 AM]
    So I decided to go back and start a separate save file for Shadow of Mordor to remind my self about how the beginning of the game felt. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and naturally the game transitioned from exposition to tutorial to actual gameplay. It was also refreshing having to rely more on my intuition and reflexes as I played instead of just crushing all opposition thanks to my end-game wraith abilities. Funny enough, killing the one level 4 Orc captain at the very beginning was more satisfying than killing the Warchief in my last play session. The little amount of character building you and your soon-to-be-deceased family members get was sweet, if a bit "fridgy" in retrospect (in reference to comic book writer Gail Simone's term "Women in Refrigerators", wherein predominantly female characters are killed off to progress the predominantly male hero's story).

    One thing that did surprise me a little was how the orcs were immediately presented as fodder for you to kill and torture. Granted, they did just help kill all your friends and family, and maybe it's just the way the story quickly shifts into gameplay that this happens, but it's obvious from the framing here that we're not meant to think ethically about the orcs, what we do to them, or what happens to them, at least so far as my experience in the early game and the post game has let me know. I'm interested to see if this changes with the Ratbag sidequest (where you help a cowardly orc rise through Sauron's ranks to further your own agenda, which is its own ethical dilemma on its own), or if this is just one more element of the power fantasy, presenting you with an infinite number of guilt-free baddies to play with.
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    [January 17, 2018 10:12:33 PM]
    Today I quested for more trophies and found myself once again dealing with my own perfectionist tendencies as I tried to create the correct circumstances to kill specific monsters, execute a flaming berserker, and mind control the five bodyguards of a Warchief to turn on him at my command. As I pressed myself forward, ever closer to that elusive platinum I'm so frustratingly near to, I started to think more about the mechanics at play here, and how, fully powered up at the end of the game, I considered the orcs, the slaves, and even my own character less as persons and more like statistics that needed adjustment. This Warchief needs to be level 20 and be weak to fire so I can get the best chance for a level 25 rune setup, I need to find 30 slaves to rescue in 180 seconds while riding what was essentially a giant demon dog. I ask myself whether this behavior is just the logical endpoint of scouring every system and piece of content the game has to offer and it's just me being obsessive (which, to be fair, there is a good chance that's all it is) or whether this behavior is merely uncovering the artifice on top of what is essentially a series of numbers designed to trigger an emotional high when I get a big enough number.

    I suppose that would be an overly reductive way of putting it, you could say that about any game, just like you could say a movie is just people wearing costumes and reciting memorized lines, and a novel is just a series of letters stringed together in various patterns. Still, I have this nagging feeling that whatever my personal feelings are towards any old orc; their personality, their demeanor, etc. the only thing that really matters to me is if they are weak to fire or if they are invulnerable to ranged attacks. They all just sort of blend together after a certain point, and it's hard to feel as attached to them as one might be just starting out. Ah well, at the very least it's still fun to play. After all, it's just a game.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 17th, 2018 at 22:13:15.

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    [January 17, 2018 12:54:50 AM]
    So, I decided to just jump in after not touching Shadow of Mordor for almost three years, and it was still fun to go back into and play around in, albeit after some frustration over relearning the controls. As a perfectionist and trophy hunter, the first thing I did was run over to an orc captain and poison him at his own feast. Naturally, this made me ponder the ethicality of my actions, as well as the actions I had perpetrated during my playthrough years earlier. Mind-control, murder, deception and coercion, torture, and the list goes on from there. This is all presented to the player as a form of power fantasy for them to indulge in, with little in the form of commentary or criticism. After all, these are orcs we're talking about here, and they're the stereotypical fantasy bad guys! I will say that I haven't played through the story in a long time, so I can't say for certain whether or not the game does in fact comment on this beyond "the end justifies the means, they're totally evil, go at it". It definitely proves to be fertile ground for personal reflection, as hopefully the previous paragraph demonstrates.

    Anyways, after poisoning said Captain I soothed my conscience by mindcontrolling a slave driver into releasing his slaves. I proceeded to kill a few more orcs, then avenge my brother's death at the hands of a captain undoubtedly years earlier. Revenge is fun!
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    jchansen's Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 16 January, 2018

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 15 February, 2018

    jchansen's opinion and rating for this game

    An overall fun experience, if a bit frustrating as a fan of Lord of the Rings

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    See info on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

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