Middle-Earth: Shadows Of Mordor looks like quite the prospect. An open world RPG in Tolkein's universe, developed by Monolith. And you play as the best of all the classes, a ranger! It sounds rather exciting, but we've just learned that we're not going to be able to tell you if it is or not before the game's released, on the 30th September in the US. Huh.
Update: We're being informed that console outlets already have review code, after attending a special event, and will have reviews online by the 26th. It seems this is a special treat for the PC version. We will keep you up to date.
Second update: Sadly, when we asked for details as to why PC code was not available when console was, we were told by Warner, "We have no further comment... at this stage."
We've also just been told that despite Steam reporting the 30th Sept for European customers who are pre-ordering, it won't actually be out over this side until the 3rd October. This isn't going very well, is it?
Edit: Despite our double checking with Warner before posting about the Steam date, and only being told that the 30th was the release date in the US, it seems this is only the case for retail. The Steam release will be on the 30th in Europe.
And pre-ordering people are - it's currently listed as the 5th biggest seller on Steam, despite the publishers not planning to send review code out until after the game is released. This, sadly, seems to be following a pattern - the game was announced last year via Gamestop's in-house magazine, with exclusivity barriers all around. A concerted effort to control coverage. It doesn't mean the game is bad - not at all - it might be utterly brilliant. It does mean we can't tell you that, or warn you off spending your money on it, until it's on sale + the time it takes us to play it.
They've not been trying to hide the game. Earlier this month, Sony and Monolith put out an hour of their playing the game:
(I'm pretty sure at 0:54 the Sony dude says, "Penis a picture.")
See - it looks like it could be ace! The "Nemesis System" means unique enemies throughout. (And an amazingly awkward moment at 8 minutes when they suddenly take themselves off screen and show us an idle animation for ages.) It reminds me of Amalur in a great way. And all manner of complicated extras and inclusions could make for a far more involved solo RPG.
But unfortunately it looks like we (and possibly no one else, unless a sneaky deal has been done with specific publications) won't be able to give you a buyer's guide at the point where you can buy. Which rather defeats the point of reviews.