UPDATE: Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor design director Michael de Plater has said an Assassin's Creed vibe "definitely wasn't something we were consciously going for".
He made those comments to Wesley Yin-Poole at a game-specific event earlier this week - that is, before the AC comparisons were publicly made.
You may also recognise de Plater's name, given that he used to work at Ubisoft as creative director before joining Warner Bros. and Monolith to work on Shadows of Mordor. But de Plater worked with Ubisoft in Montpelier: he didn't work on Assassin's Creed.
When asked about the influence of the Assassin's Creed games, de Plater replied:
"We didn't think much about them at all. We just wanted to do a third-person, open-world action adventure. And then now, just by the time you have stealth and melee combat and you're hunting guys behind enemy lines, the comparisons maybe come out at that point. It definitely wasn't something we were consciously going for."
What about climbing around and working your way through a hierarchy of enemies before you get to your real, final target? That's very similar to Assassin's Creed.
"Clearly assassinating highly ranked enemies is a key part [of Shadows of Mordor]," he answered. "And lots of games have that as well. It's not just Assassin's Creed. Lots of games have you hunt guys down from hierarchies of enemies."
De Plater and Monolith wanted to "change that up for next-gen", make it freer and more personal. The game's Nemesis system is the result. It has you meet enemies time and time again, build a relationship with them, and the satisfaction of the long kill is well worth it, he suggested. "Even just the first time someone realises an enemy in the game actually remembers them..."
De Plater got involved with the project at the start, after getting in touch with Warner Bros. because he was excited about the IP because The Hobbit film was coming out. Shadows of Mordor has been in development for quite a long time then, and Monolith has churned out a couple of smaller games - Gotham City Imposters, Guardians of Middle-earth - to tide things over and keep nosey noses away.
"It's a lot of work," de Plater said. "Open-world games are tough. ... no-one knew this was happening."
ORIGINAL STORY: It's not just the Batman games that Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor looks like, it's the Assassin's Creed games too.
Look at the way the hero climbs the building in the gameplay video, and look at the way he uses a vision power similar to Eagle Vision. Then there's the way he pounces on and assassinates unwitting opponents, or the way he fights a crowd of them, warned who is about to attack so he can direct a parry then counter-attack their way.
Even the way the character crouches and walks along ropes is familiar.
Assassin's Creed 2 combat designer Charles Randall called out the similarities on Twitter (picked up by IGN).
"Seriously, can someone tell me how Assassin's Creed 2 code and assets are in this Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor game?" he asked his followers. "This is *my* code in that game!" he exclaimed in a later response.
"I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it."
He suggested that Warner studio Monolith (F.E.A.R.), the developer of Shadows of Mordor, may have even licensed the Assassin's Creed engine. He wasn't, he later clarified, suggesting theft of any kind. Perhaps AC was just used "as heavy reference".
"For the record though, that Middle-earth game looks pretty damn awesome. And I love AC2 so it's kind of a double win."
Then he saw his name in lights. "Oh goody," he responded. "Subject of an article... Tomorrow should be fun."
Warner and Ubisoft are yet to comment.