Tag Archives: Monolith

Best of 2014 #3: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of MordorHere’s another late addition, which I admitted to missing out on barely a month ago but have since fallen for in a big way. I wish I could say it wasn’t the Assassin’s Creed ripoff that I called it back when it was unveiled because, gameplay-wise, that’s essentially what it is. But it’s polished nonetheless – that’s something you can’t say about this year’s Assassin’s Creed – and has enough tricks to stand out.

The Nemesis system was the cleverest for me, in that it’s a somewhat procedurally generated system that doesn’t stand out as being so – you might not realise that Goroth Plague-Bringer, against whom you had a long-running feud, was a creation of the game itself. The way it would cause some uruks to run away and others to return from the dead, hell-bent on revenge, allowed the game to create something approaching the personal, unique stories that typify the best open-world sandbox games.

Monolith seems to have a way of coming out of nowhere with impressive games – think the Condemned, F.E.A.R. and No One Lives Forever series – without picking up the following of some of the better-known studios. After this, and following my frequent complaints that so few studios are making games that aren’t safe, ridiculously budgeted annual sequels, I’ll keep an eye on what it does next.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Any FPS being released at the moment is taking a risk by coming out in the shadow of Killzone 2 and its unstoppable hype machine, but F.E.A.R. 2, which I’ll hereafter refer to as Project Origin for the sake of my sanity, has been getting some praise of its own. It even controversially scored higher than Killzone in the latest issue of Edge, which has caused consternation in some circles.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

When my copy arrived, I must admit that my first impressions were slightly underwhelming. The first ‘interval’ – that’s ‘mission’ to you and me – takes place in a plush office block and has you fighting your way to the top against some generic special forces guys with a basic SMG and no sign of the game’s standard bullet time feature, and even the scary horror flashes toned down from how it bashed you over the head with them in the early stages of F.E.A.R. It’s really nothing more than a prologue, though, which becomes apparent when it ends in the wake of the first game’s finale.

Once you’re playing Project Origin proper, special abilities and all, it gets much more interesting. In the first few chapters after the prologue you get more variety of enemies – including my favourite: a trooper with a gas tank on his back that will make him blow up in a puff of smoke and giblets if you shoot it – and the scares come in, mostly consisting of apparitions and random psychic attacks on you and your enemies, with sneak attacks from a new kind of baddie that I won’t spoil coming in later. Continue reading F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin