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Have You Played... Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor?

Where's my nemesis?!

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives and PC miscellany. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Remember when Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor [official site] came out, and everyone was all, “WOW! Everyone’s going to be copying the Nemesis system! Hooray!” and then no one has?

It is such a completely splendid idea. Because your Ranger in Mordor cannot die (he’s eaten a ghost or something), when you’re killed by a generic orc enemy it gets upgraded to a Captain. It gets a name, attributes, and thus marked for revenge. He’s tougher to kill now, but oh my goodness, so much more satisfying.

It was so tremendously simple, and so completely brilliant. It made player deaths more meaningful, but it also embellished the game, made enemies more personal and less generic. Then at the mid-point you could start to influence that orc hierarchy even further, taking over their minds and then deliberately getting them promoted up the ranks until they were bodyguards for Warchiefs you wanted them to betray, and eventually Warchiefs themselves under your control. Oh gosh, it was so smart. “Every game will be doing it!” we excitedly announced.

No games are doing it.

This keeps happening with gaming’s best ideas. I remember as far back as Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time’s amazing idea of letting you rewind time after a death, and being certain this was a gimmick we’d see implemented everywhere. It appeared nowhere, with third-person action games still needlessly punishing player deaths with shitty checkpoint systems.

It’s all the more silly since Mordor so liberally – er – “borrowed” so many ideas itself, Assassin’s Creed presumably feeling rather violated when it sort just how much. It’s the best idea! Why is no one stealing it?

Developers! Steal it!

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John Walker


Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, they killed me out of jealousy. I now run

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