I remember when Lord of the Rings games legitimately excited me. Of course, I was roughly 12 seconds old back then and wanted to grow up to be Legolas (life experience has since taught me that Aragorn is where it's at and also that far better fantasy literature exists), but there was a time when the prospect of mowing down a million orcs like so many blades of sickly green grass seemed like an idyllic, Shire-worthy way to spend an afternoon. I wondered, then, if Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's latest trailer would rekindle that feeling in me, that wide-eyed reverence of a youth boxed away in the basements of time. Long story short, it didn't. Kinda made me want to play Assassin's Creed, though.
So basically, runes give your weapons new powers, like fire arrows and videogames. You get them by sending death threats to orcs and then slaughtering chieftains in cold blood while they're surrounded by loyal friends, which doesn't sound weirdly sociopathic at all.
Combat, meanwhile, is unabashedly cribbing notes from Assassin's Creed and the Batman: Arkhamplacetime series. There are far worse Heroes Of Our Time to liberally imitate, but it could be maybe a teensy bit less obvious about it.
Beyond that, Shadow of Mordor sure looks like a Lord of the Rings game. More Peter Jackson-style design, more easily enraged orcs, more high fantasy. On the upside, FEAR and No One Lives Forever developer Monolith is steering the ship, but their track record is kinda all over the place these days.
Shadow of Mordor will be out in October. Are you feeling up for some wanton murder in Mordor?