When I first heard about Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, I was less than enthused about the game. I assumed that it would be a flop, something that tried nobly to encapsulate the action and mythos of the LoTR series, but ultimately collapse underneath itself. It seemed overly ambitious to me.
My buddy picked it up for his Xbone, and since I don't have a current gen console (PS$ or Xbone) I figured I'd just play it at his place/watch him play it. It is a pretty easy way to check it out, see what's really up with the newest game set in Middle Earth.
I had pretty low expectations.
I did not expect it to have detailed, close-up graphics that clearly showed the carnage you could unleash on the hordes of orcs.
I did not expect there to be a fluid, engaging combat system and skill tree that allowed for real depth and some seriously satisfying moves. However, I quickly determined that this combat was effectively a Batman clone, and not quite so visceral, so impactful as Batman is.
I was pleasantly surprised by the powers you get as you level up in the skill tree, and how easily they can be intergrated into battle, on the fly. You've got gap closers and powerful finishers, and even more that I didn't get to see.
Really the only complaints I came out of playing Shadow of Mordor with were the things that the storyline did to the continuity of Tolkien's novels. The Wraith part of your storyline, fusing with the spirit of Celebrimbor, all of that felt weird to me, and out of place in the overall story of Middle-Earth.
That being said, though, the game certainly went above and beyond the perceptions I (and others, surely) had for it. I just wish that happened more often.