A Gamer Christmas and Why Shadow of Mordor’s Combat is so Fitting

***Possible The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies spoilers ahead***

Another Christmas has come and gone and in my family Christmas has always meant games. As a kid, Christmas was the only time I ever got video games besides my birthday and now as an adult it’s the only time I ever have to actually sit down and play video games. Either way, sitting down in front of the TV with whatever was sitting waiting beneath tree has at this point become as much a Christmas tradition itself as putting the tree up beneath which it sat.

There’s a special magic to games on Christmas. I have many fond memories of logging onto a multiplayer server on Christmas with a bunch of people who had just gotten the game that same day. People talking about their Christmas mornings and someone logging on typing “MERRY CHRISTMAS” in all caps as soon as they joined periodically. There really was a shared sense of the holidays. Other Christmases I would be glued to the television, munching on whatever came in my stocking, and marathoning through an RPG, waking up early the next day and finishing it. This year was no different. My brother brought over his Wii U he picked up the week before and we messed around with the games me and his friend got him. I sat on the couch trying to help him figure out puzzles in Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. Later on I whipped out my 3DS and joined his game of Monster Hunter he was playing on the big screen. It was nice. As for myself, I received Dragon Age: Inquisition, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and the game I’ve been feasting on since Christmas, Shadow of Mordor.

I’ve been really enjoying Shadow of Mordor. The game snuck up on me back in September but as I read the reviews and article after article on it, the hype train officially left the station. Unfortunately though I was little scared because my friend told me the nemesis system was toned down a lot for the 360 version and I read some really disappointing comparisons between it and the next gen versions. They weren’t wrong. This game is ugggggggly on the 360 and a bit glitchy, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t been having a blast anyways. I haven’t blasted through a game this quickly in a long time. More than anything I’ve enjoyed playing around with the uruk power structures in the game. I’ve spent most of my time bumping off warchiefs, dominating captains and maneuvering the ones I’ve decided to favor into positions of power.

The game plays like a mixture of Assassin’s Creed and the Batman Arkham games so naturally the combat involves taking on a bunch of enemies at once which I found to be especially appropriate for a Lord of the Rings game. I saw The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies earlier today with my family and one thing that struck me was just how much one heroic figure could make a difference in its conflicts. One man with a black arrow takes down the dragon. The Dwarven army stood battered and breaking before the gates of Erebor until Thorin and his company of 12 dwarves enters the fray and saves the battle. When Thorin and his 3 best warriors scale Ravenhill to confront the orc commander they are attacked by 100 goblin mercenaries. Thorin tells the two brothers Kili and Fili to go on while he and Dwalin take care of the goblins. This is a world of literal one man armies. Considering this, the Gravewalker’s constant 20 vs 1 battles seem less like a bit of video game silliness and more of a nod to the mythos of Middle-Earth. Of course Talion can defeat 20 Uruks by himself, he’s a hero.

What have you guys been playing over the holidays? Isn’t Shadow of Mordor rad? Let me know down in the comments.

And in case you didn’t play any online multiplayer on Christmas day, MERRY CHRISTMAS


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