6. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
After getting hold of Guardians of Middle-earth, Monolith Productions is back with a new game inspired by the work of the master JRR Tolkien. The father of the medieval fantasy created a universe as rich as deep, and left, at his death, the great door open for others to bring their minds fruitful participation in the work of a lifetime. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor honors the legend on which it attacks? We will try to see.
Treat Middle Earth, when we know how the descendants of Tolkien are touchy about the issue, is a daunting task. After a first experience more or less successful, Monolith Productions recovers with a more ambitious game: it is to offer gamers and fans of the author of Lord of the Rings, an action-adventure game in open world visually close to Peter Jackson’s films.
For that, developers had to first choose a time, a long time in the chronology established by Tolkien; their choice fell on a particularly important period of the Third Age: The return of Sauron! Defeated by the Last Alliance of Men and Elves that are almost 3,000 years old, the second Dark Lord, reduced to the status of ectoplasm, has accumulated enough force so his enemies will understand that he was not dead . It therefore returns to Mordor, carrying with it clouds of orcs and creatures equally filthy … This is where the game begins.
Game intended for geeks … or not?
This small introduction allows me to start on a particular point of the game, in the universe. As a purist, I know it is difficult to deal with the Tolkien universe without errors: the history of Middle-earth is bushy, sometimes complex, as the author’s writings and multiplied notes, sometimes contradictory. Not easy, then, to produce a game that will respect his work! However the game has managed to amaze me many times, whether through language and formulations used, very close to the spirit of the books or films; many references are made to Ancient Times, the Silmarillion, and the characters that the public, knowing Tolkien’s mythology that through the films of Jackson, will not understand. We feel that there has been a research and that’s great!
Aaah, Mordor’s Orcs, its Dark Lords, and its green and flourishing valleys.
The representation of Mordor, it also raises questions. The first part of the game takes place in Udun the northwest end of the Shadowlands. Do you remember the description of the fief of Sauron by Boromir at the Council of Elrond, in the Fellowship of the Ring? “This is a devastated land and barren, covered with embers and ashes and dust, the air we breathe is poisoned only steam,” this is what we thought too. And we must recognize that the game does not really stick to this definition. Tolkien has always described the country as cursed, dangerous, corrupted by Sauron, covered in ash spewed by Mount Doom.
And then … yes, the place is quite dark and there might not sting a little nap, but we would expect a murky atmosphere, darker. This is all the more striking when one reaches Nurn, incredibly green, almost peaceful, if we put aside the orcs that lurk around there. Nurn is certainly a more fertile country than the rest of the country, from the writings, but there … In short, proposed by Monolith Productions Mordor was not much concern, and that is a pity!
With each death, you will see the army of Sauron evolve. Orcs are desperate to advance in the hierarchy.
This is one of many features that has been put forward by developers: Nemesis System allows interactions and evolution of the most interesting greenish with and for our friends. You’ll have to kill many orcs, but the most important are the orc captains, killer brutes and warlords. Each captain is unique, and can evolve, take rank as and when you meet him. Defeating them will obviously be beneficial to you so be careful, even if you are immortal.
So we have fun listening to the reactions of these stinking grunts with each of our reunion, since they do not hesitate to provoke you about your previous defeat, or simply to make allusions to what took place during the last fight. It is frankly well done, and this time the game is quite amazing. These captains are carefully staged, at each meeting, with warrior cries, small slowed going well … We attach it almost, if some were not as clinging to life. If you ever manage to eliminate them, you can change the order in place in their ranks. Death may mean particular the arrival of a new captain, weaker, more easily influenced, since you can run these corrupt creatures and join your cause, through the powers of our pointed ears friend.
Ezio Auditore Walk around Mordor
One senses very quickly one of the main inspirations of The Shadow of Mordor: the saga of Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed. The game is built, is structured in much the same way (surveys, murders, investigation, murder, a small side quest to vary a bit, etc.), at least in its first third. But the movement, pseudo free-run, climb the walls, assassinations to the discrete, jumps … As in Assassin’s Creed was a fairly weak AI (captains apart) at times, unable to see you as you walk past it, 5 meters, or because you hid … in a cage. Truthful! It even has a faux eagle view, which is actually a spectral vision of the world, that of Frodo when he puts on his Ring; with this “vision”, we can see the enemies, allies, objectives, mark certain enemies. It’s one of the problems of this game that, quite often, makes us feel we know it by heart, without even playing. Fortunately, it’s pretty well done;
The Shadow of Mordor is a nice game. Everything is modeled very carefully, and even though he never really dazzles, the title boasts very nice graphics.. The animations are fluid, light effects on the muddy water are remarkable, and the lush vegetation of Nurn in particular is nice to see. Good point for graphic Monolith, who did a good job. We appreciate all the more the visual aspect of the game when we notice that Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop, the special effects studio and director of accessories, have influenced the title.
The influence is not complete, since some costumes, or even architectures, denote some imaging (beautiful) they created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. But it is there. In fact, the game, a technical and aesthetic point of view, is almost perfect. The only fault we may note, finally, is at the building you cross. The devs that we have simply created the impression meadows, leveled by here and there, asked some ruins from time to time to allow retaliation to make the climb … In short, it’s pretty repetitive, and so clearly it lacks imagination.
“ Aesthetic point of view, is almost perfect ”
If the drawn portrait of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor may seem a bit harsh, it is mainly because the game is based on intelligent bases, very promising and original, and never delivers the experience expected. In the manner of the first Assassin’s Creed, we feel and we understand the will and ideas of Monolith Productions, but it still lacks a bit of development, deep. Moreover, the game is fairly complete, rather long, has a terribly addictive combat system and polished graphics.
We just regret the lack of inspiration for the decorations, the faltering IA and sometimes mindlessly repetitive aspects of adventure, spent ten hours of play. The title should nonetheless appeal to fans of Tolkien, who take pleasure to learn more about retaliation, his teammate elf and Sauron returned to Mordor. Others will find a action-adventure open world game well done and quite demanding, which should put their talent to the test. Pending a shadow of Mordor 2 most successful?
5. Forza Motorsport 6
Rage, despair, anger, three common names from the same lexical field and pretty well define the reactions of the players that read here and there on the internets, shortly after the release of Forza Motorsport 5. With 6th episode, Turn 10 had to work hard to win back the heart of Forza fans, particularly numerous. Good news, the devs have moved the hindquarters to repair their mistakes, and to please fans.
If like many others, including myself, you have discovered the self-simulation Gran Turismo, some games are dear to your heart. Including the above, and Forza Motorsport Microsoftien for the title of Polyphony Digital. Fewer cars, but the same passion for racing and automobiles. In the cold and implacable rigor, Forza had opposed a more personal, more human, playing on the color, the lights and the involvement of big names in the automotive world, to offer players a title brimming love for all that is Zoom-Zoom.
Except that here, time is a very vile enemy, and if it did not spare Gran Turismo on his last two bouts, it has not missed the last Forza provided a license yet in the strength of the age. In fact, consumer simulations may have some bad press lately. The hardcore players are directed to titles certainly less rich but more mature, more and more realistic, urinating remotely on former glories suddenly become too mainstream for them. But the public “mainstream” also turns the genre.
At one time it was impossible to own a PlayStation (whatever model) or an Xbox 360 without owning the latest brand of racing game. Today the situation is very different, as Polyphony Digital and Turn 10 have to raise the bar. And while we are still waiting for news of Gran Turismo 7, which is Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport returns with 6, hoping to regain its throne, the best console racing game. And so as a must for all lovers of virtual cars.
Always so beautiful
Those who have tried the demo put online by Microsoft and Turn 10 recently are unanimous: Forza Motorsport 6 is a wonder, from a visual point of view. And it is very difficult to prove them wrong. It’s simple, it’s currently the best racing game on the Xbox One. Some would say it does not have many challengers, which is quite true, but so far does not contradict the original claim.
Comparative lovers will find something to their heart. Horizon better than 2? Certainly. Thinner than Driveclub? Without a doubt. Is it proof Project CARS turning full on PC? Here, the answer will in the least be conclusive. The title of Slightly Mad Studio offered particularly sublime vehicles, thanks to a massive use of polygons. This is less true for Forza 6, which remained to him on a compromise: provide an enjoyable game to watch in all aspects.
We must therefore take into account the decorations, rich, light effects, particularly well done, especially the use of color that makes the title of Turn 10 game … shimmer. This is the rain that we truly become aware of the work well done. The lighting effects in particular highlight an extremely meticulous work, the reverberation of different light sources on the puddles, which rapidly invade the various circuits of the game (at least those for this configuration). Even the mud is finely represented and appears more slippery than ever.
Flow to wonderland
Like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport has always been a public car simulation. Understand by this that the titles do not look realistic at all costs. Take Gran Turismo for example: its creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, has long fought for the cars of his game to not receive cosmetic damage in the race. What for? Just because he does not like to see these gems deteriorate in the hands of a few bad drivers. The Forza Motorsport series follows the same line of thought, but as GT, ended up upgrading to meet the demands of an increasingly demanding public.
Indeed, Forza 6, although “general public”, is still a racing game sometimes generous to the physical, but which always follows the same logic, the same relevance. If we had a little accused Project CARS to pass itself for what it is not really, sometimes swinging between sharp hyper simulation and much more relaxed moments of the slip, the new Forza is faithful to the series and to what it always was.
The physical game engine works just as well, and once the various aids to disabled driving is a real pleasure to drive your favorite cars. Beginners can of course be used, but that would deprive beautiful moments of adrenaline … Poor braking, anticipated a change, wrong direction, a tire that bites into the grass, and it is the head-hop to-tail. Each turn is therefore a challenge to be learning how to approach and to housebreak. And I’m not even talking about the new climate conditions, which bring a lot under Turn 10 … But I’ll come back later.
Wet it rain
One of the big news of the Forza Motorsport 6, it is the arrival of rain and night races. And note, dynamic weather. However this contribution to the simulation made in Xbox is a real plus for the game as it is well done. On some systems, the water will truly spoil your life and ask yourself some adjustments, both at the level of your settings or your driving. Braking distances are elongated and the laws of physics somewhat different.
It will approach each corner, each turn with great composure and prepare its coup in advance. In short it is a little happiness, especially as the puddles of the game are made in 3D, filling here and there various asperities circuits. Besides, Turn 10 has managed quite well since its stroke thrills and chills and aqua-planning obtained through the xbox one pad are quite bluffing. If you doubt the interest vibrant trigger of the joystick, play Forza 6, you may well change your minds.
Some circuits have a more modern lighting, it is easier ride.
Other small innovations include course night races. Again the rules change: according to the circuits, it can really be, really dark, your headlights will not suffice. We must therefore adapt your speed and be careful especially in the first few corners. Yes, for the night, the asphalt is quite cold and grip is not quite the same. A new parameter to be considered. What we particularly note of these night races, beyond the effects of light and shade rather well damn, it’s mostly that feeling of oppression that we feel a little advancing blindly in black. Uncomfortable and oddly amusing …
Is in old jars …
“ One of the best racing games released in recent years ”
Before concluding, I would like to reassure everyone: everything you loved in previous Forza is still available in this sixth Motorsport. Customization technical, visual, everything is there and nothing has changed. We note in particular some extra wheels, and the introduction of new brands on the shields front, rear and side skirts that will customize your cars.
The customization possibilities are more numerous, but the change is of primary importance. It is always possible to rent cars to participate in free races, allowing more “casual” players to play with the best Forza 6 fighter jets without having to spend 50 hours in career before you can reach 300 km / h.
Clearly, Forza Motorsport 6 is a great game. It has been accused of many things at the output of FM5, but the finish is now fixed. Its replacement is the hopes of everyone. Beautiful, demanding but benevolent towards beginners, Forza Motorsport 6 is inevitable on Xbox One and definitely one of the best racing games released in recent years. Nevertheless, despite all these qualities, it may have a little classic in its approach, and one could hope that substantive work was performed at the sound design. This is probably what prevents Forza Motorsport 6 glean an extra point. But the title of Turn 10 is very strong, both in terms of content than driving experience. The conclusion is the following: Forza Motorsport returned to the place where it was before, and that’s good.
4. Mortal Kombat X
If I tell you bloody fighting, hemoglobin effusions, spines torn and whatnot that stain, you’ll potentially think of Mortal Kombat, one of the most violent licenses game in the world since it proposes to push the limits of gore while delivering a versus fighter in each new installment. After four full years without a new episode, now NetherRealm is back to perfect its already very successful recipe that was previously embodied by the 2011 Mortal Kombat, now dethroned by its brother: Mortal Kombat X.
Plastik a dream?
Announced with great fanfare in June 2014, Mortal Kombat X is the logical continuation of the ninth episode. Using a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, it is largely thanks to its technical achievement that makes us the title of the eye, in the manner of what we had seen on Injustice (last game dated by the studio). Indeed, of the plastic, the title appears with a living dynamic 2D fighting area, littered with interactive elements, in which two fellows clap above, sowing here and there a lot of visual effects rather successful. The icing on the cake is obviously the presence of special moves such as X-Ray (anatomical destruction of over 2.0) and fatalities (2 per person, excluding brutalities).
Nevertheless Notice the shift framerate and visual quality between the cut-scenes video and sequences of play. In fact, if they display an exemplary smoothness, we can pester, on consoles anyway since the game was tested on Xbox One, against narrative passages 30fps video encoding which is sometimes inadequate, although the stage there is very correct. Aside from that, MKX is frankly beautiful and assumes its particular artistic direction with the character design that do not necessarily appeal to newcomers. HUD side and ergonomics, this is a faultless, with a minimalist interface that leaves much room for action and offers such quick access to lists of different movements, but games are much more than that .
On the merits, Mortal Kombat has not changed much. It borrows Injustice its own contextual actions at each arena, and creates a variation of triple-system styles that we have seen in titles like Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, namely offering for each character three fighting styles well individuals who are here selectable upstream. Characters have a pre-build on their ability, for example Scorpion can choose to use fire attacks, the teleportation or the art of the katana. Both say that with 24 characters and three variants, one arrives at a variety of rather interesting matchups.
Moreover, as we speak of the characters, know that those who join the roster are quite unusual and we feel that developers are pleased. There will therefore be entitled to the western gunslinger with Erron Black, to the insectoid making use of poisons with D’Vorah, or a combo colossus / child with Ferra Torr. Takeda meanwhile is a lively character, focusing on the distance, in a style close to that of Whiplash in Iron Man comics.
Focus on history
All this merry band finds itself as usual to a huge pile of bloody fighting between the Shadowlands and the Kingdom of the Earth during early ten hours offered by the single player campaign of the title. Without spoiler too, know that the story here is shown in a twenty year period, a period that stretches from the conquest of the Earth by enemy forces until the rebellion that will lead, hopefully, to the release of planet.
Shinnok, an old acquaintance of Mortal Kombat 4, also is back and takes on the role of villain, alongside Quan Chi. As usual, each chapter of the adventure focuses on a character, good or bad, which must play its role in history, whether to conduct coups, to gather forces in convincing decision makers, suddenly floss-snitches, or to protect loved ones. Because yes, Mortal Kombat is also a world of sweetness where family values are important!
Thus, you get to know Cassie Cage, daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, or Jacqui Briggs, daughter of Jax. The “20 years” campaign also allows us a few times so interactivity QTE whose outcome is relatively inconsequential, which is a shame. Also note that the final bosses of the 9th episode of series had to leave traces, because this Mortal Kombat X, the end will not cause you any problems and even out a little too fast shipped at the challenge …
Avalanche of extras!
What makes the salt of Mortal Kombat, is also its unlockable content, whether skins of fatalities, brutalities, artworks, concept art … There is plenty to do as usual, and it is by Krypte it will pass, an open area and designed by rooms that can be explored to spend points by breaking graves at random. The destructible elements all cost a different amount of credit and the rewards are often at height.
For this Krypte of MKX, NetherRealm wanted to make the area more beautiful than before like explorable dungeon crawler. It is surprising to make leaps over the first jump scares and discover some interactive elements well felt like having to open a door with such a key to unlock a zone or use a weapon collected in the inventory to open a passage… There are also tours of challenges, as in the ninth episode, even if they are now focused on the fight, scrap, and encounters with random effects. At that level, there is a bit left to be desired compared to MK9 which proposed a more fancy approach.
Without upsetting the recipe of the 9th episode, often making better and sometimes worse than the latter, Mortal Kombat X happens to climb as reference of good dirty fighting game that will cheer up your evenings with friends. Solo, count ten hours to complete the campaign, which also worth a visit, if only to find out that playing the characters through their three respective styles. The action here is more clear, the look and feel more refined, and the X-Ray and fatalities are over worked. Besides the combat, we obviously found the Krypte slightly redesigned. The tournament brings the online experience of 5 factions and therefore try to captivate players for the long term. In short, Mortal Kombat X is a great heir to the series.