I always wanted a good RPG to take place in the LOTR universe and developers Monolith Productions delivered just that. The game is set in Mordor and takes place before the LOTR events. We are given control of Talion, a ranger, who after being sacrificed is merged with a wraith and together they must uncover the wraith's past and have revenge.
I'm a huge fan of LOTR and naturally every little reference, ever little thing related to it made me really excited. And because of that, I really liked some elements of the story. That being said, the story overall was lackluster. It started out great, but after that there were very few story missions and fewer still felt proper. This was my biggest gripe with the game. Not many characters in it, some were interesting, some were OK. I liked the protagonist and his companion. Companion's history was interesting.
The game really shines in the gameplay department though. I loved its combat system. Was like a modified version of Arkham games combat system. It was fluid, fun and really satisfying. Finishing off Uruks in gory ways was always entertaining. As the game progresses, you get newer and more powerful powers, allowing you to take down more and more Uruks at a time in various satisfying ways. The game was pretty easy though. There were very few places where I felt like I was properly challenged. And it got more easier as I unlocked better powers.
Apart from combat, the game featured climbing and free-running mechanics very similar to Assassins Creed. While it wasn't sometimes as smooth as the AC games and I occasionally got stuck at certain places, it was still a good addition. Just like AC, you could do a lot stealth kills and stuff, reminding you of your assassin days. And I really enjoyed it. Often times, the enemy groups were too large to confront head on, so thinning out the herd with stealth always made for a wise decision. The stealth also helped the game from being too repetitive as you can change up your fighting style from time to time.
The most amazing thing in the game though was the nemesis system. It made every battle and every death mean something. If any Uruk kills you in battle, He gets promoted in the ranks, gets more powerful and even remembers you when you try to fight him again. This made for unique feature unlike anything I have experienced in a game. It gave every Wandering Uruk a purpose other than just getting killed and it added to the stakes in every battle.
The game gets really fun in the second half, when you get to control Uruks. This added an extra layer of strategy and planning. I often took down tough warchiefs by taking control of their bodygaurd captains first and then relish the sight when they turn on him during the final encounter and do all my work.
The game has basically two large areas to free roam. The first one is a desolated barren place while the second one is a more greener and nice area. Both are fairly large but feel very similar and repetitive. Beside from this, the game doesn't have any interesting side quests, which lead to boredom after playing it for long stretches.
Graphics were great, game looked beautiful. Character models were highly detailed. Soundtrack was good, and I really loved the nice touch of Uruks chanting a warcheif's name when he is revealed, making a big entrance and all. Made them feel formidable and stuff.
Overall, it was a great RPG. Had tons of fun killing countless Uruks. Story could have been a lot better. Took me around 16 hours to finish it. Definitely a must play if you are into western RPGs and want good combat system and/or are a fan of LOTR world.