The games do look strikingly similar. Mordor’s ranger-hero Talion sneaks across ropes stretched taut between buildings, performs air assassinations, and even has an Eagle Vision-ish mode that highlights enemies.
Watching him scale the sides of buildings and perform leaping assassinations only makes the comparison more uncanny. It’s all lovely, of course, but it certainly feels like Assassin’s Creed: Mordor—minus, one hopes, any whiff of the silly Animus stuff.
Even reviewer Adam Sessler makes the comparison in his initial thoughts on the game’s first demo, though he notes that after the first few minutes of similarities the game gets interesting and exciting in its own right, with plenty of its own innovations to look forward to:
Others have pointed out that the game also resembles Warner Bros.’ own open-world franchise, the Arkham Batman games. Those games have a similar “Detective Vision” mode as well as similar platforming elements, combat, and so forth.
But while both comparisons can be made, I definitely see more of Assassin’s Creed, though the combat looks more interesting, and the Nemesis system—whereby enemies grow to know Talion and remember him and form some sort of relationship with him throughout the game—sounds like a nice touch.
And who knows? A game that looks similar certainly doesn’t mean that anything was literally stolen or copied. And Randall was quick to distance himself from any accusations on that front, adding after his Tweets drew attention, “For the record though, that Middle-earth game looks pretty damn awesome. And I love AC2 so it’s kind of a double win.”
For its part, Monolith says any comparisons to Assassin’s Creed are incidental, and that they didn’t even consider those games when designing Shadow of Mordor.
“We didn’t think much about them at all,” said design director Michael de Plater earlier this week (via Eurogamer.) “We just wanted to do a third-person, open-world action adventure. And then now, just by the time you have stealth and melee combat and you’re hunting guys behind enemy lines, the comparisons maybe come out at that point. It definitely wasn’t something we were consciously going for.”
Having not played the game, I’ll withhold judgment for now. No doubt there’s some parallels, but the devil’s in the details, and a great deal will depend on not just how the game looks but how gameplay actually feels. Certainly Assassin’s Creed is not the only third-person game with wall-climbing and so forth. And I’m hoping Mordor gives us more satisfying combat.
I’m not a game designer, but I have a strong suspicion that developers, like any other creative people in whatever field, take into account other games from similar genres. Nobody sets out to make a giant open-world game without thinking about what’s already been done in that space.
On the other hand—and this “other hand” is getting more and more riled up lately—my curmudgeonly side worries that the Lord of the Rings IP is being badly watered down and mishandled by its current stewards. There is very little of Tolkien’s world here, just as there is increasingly little of it left in Peter Jackson’s films. Shadow of Mordor may take place in “Mordor” but it smacks of generic high-fantasy in many ways, including the fact that it’s all about fighting and killing and overt magical powers.