"It's chess meets Hamlet. Okay, maybe not Hamlet. But it's a start." Ken Levine, of BioShock and System Shock 2 fame, wrote an interesting review of Shadow of Mordor this week in which he praises its novel ability to tell stories that players "build for themselves simply by playing the game." Read it over at Matter.

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DISCUSSION

I read the article when it first went live, and honestly, I think Levine is giving the game a little bit too much credit.

Mind you, I don't think Mordor is a bad game. But I do think the seams are far more visible than Levine seems to, and I found myself - about halfway through the game - realizing how overly manufactured the whole thing felt and just burning through it like a crazy person without paying any actual attention to any of the orcs. They were just speed bumps.

I know Levine is really into emergent narrative and things of that nature, but I really felt like the Nemesis System was too simplistic (and too repetitive, really, once it became clear that you could never really eliminate all of the orcs for good unless you brainwashed every single Captain so their slot could never be refilled) to pay off the way he says it does. Especially if you ever try to do a second playthrough and notice the ways the game basically scripts itself for you in advance.