Warner's freshly announced third-person role-player Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes a lot of cues from Warner's Arkham trilogy of Batman games.
There's rhythm-based combat with counter-attacks and multipliers for good timing, and you're very much the predator toying with your prey.
The odds are usually stacked in your favour, suggested Game Informer in its December preview of the game. By stepping into the wraith world, the hero can view targets from afar, slow time in combat and even teleport distances to fatally stab enemies in the back - a murderous terrain traversal tool.
Those wraith abilities, as well as your human ranger abilities, can be levelled up in one of two XP skill trees. You can unlock even more powerful abilities there, too.
Your power, like Batman's, will scare your enemies. And you can take this a step further with the game's central Nemesis mechanic.
In Shadow of Mordor, hundreds of enemies will be individually named and capable of levelling up and rising through their own ranks. In other words, some will get away from you and you'll want them to.
You can take control of an enemy's mind by laying a wraith hand on them - dominating them - when you've bested them in combat. You could send them away as spies to stab their generals in the back at carefully orchestrated moments, or you could send them away to tell of their encounter and sow fear in their ranks.
Or you could let one kill you and run off to boast to his friends about it. You won't restart from a checkpoint or saved game: the world will go on and you'll slowly come back to life - you're cursed, you see, never to die until you avenge your murdered family.
The next time you see your orc murderer he'll be a much more satisfying kill. He will have risen in rank because of his kill and gained abilities and fears and vulnerabilities, which you can learn by dominating his lessers. He'll be worth much more XP. He'll also give you a better rune reward, used for modifying your sword, dagger (your son's broken sword) and bow weapons.
Pour all of that into an open world structure, with side quests etc, and you get an enticing playground to muck around in. Monolith hopes the Nemesis system will mix things up enough for each player that no two playthroughs will be the same.
GameInformer labelled Shadow of Mordor as "1-Player Action". It's not specifically referred to as a single-player game in the preview, but the way it's described as revolving around one person's actions seem to back the label up.
There are a handful of screenshots in the preview that show an accomplished but not jaw-dropping game, which is dark and moody and bloody. I can't obviously reproduce them here.
The Shadow of Mordor story will uncover the origins of the Rings of Power, and is written by Christian Cantamessa, a chief writer of Red Dead Redemption.
You'll bump into Gollum along the way and you'll find you have much in common: dual-personalities and an affinity with the wraith world. Discovering who or what that wraith is inside you sounds like it will be the overriding plot in the game.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is due on PC, PS3 and PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, in 2014.
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