By jakob187 16 Comments
Everyone's going to be listing off their top 10 or top 5 or however many games they want to put together with numbers in front of them. We do it every year. Also, anyone who knows my previous GOTY entries is aware that I don't follow the norm with this shit.
In a year filled with mediocre releases and a handful of really awesome ones, there was nothing...NOTHING...that impressed me nearly as much as the Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor.
"But Josh, wouldn't that mean that your Game of the Year is Shadow of Mordor?"
No. Shadow of Mordor in and of itself is little more than an amalgamation of Rocksteady's Batman combat system, Assassin's Creed's parkour and movement, and light-ended open-world exploration ala every fucking game that exists in this modern day and age. While some games can excel greatly at being an amalgamation (i.e. the original Dead Space), I didn't feel like this entire blend of gameplay mechanics would've mattered nearly as much if the game didn't have its Nemesis system.
When you first experience the Nemesis system, nothing seems special about it. You kill a few captains, then others replace them. It's the moment that you die where you really see the depth of it all. That Uruk that just killed you? Yeah, he's a captain now...because HE killed YOU, the Shadow of Mordor. Now HE matters in this world. Now HE is going to be dueling with others for a higher position. HE is going to be ambushing other captains in a coupe for more power. YOU might not even be the person who brings him down.
All in all, within the ecosystem of Shadow of Mordor, I began to realize that in the grand scheme of everything happening in Mordor, I was nothing but a ghost story. All of this motion within the ranks of Sauron's Army was the thing that really mattered.
That was the other thing that made me love the system: it DID matter to me. When a berserker killed me and it was revealed that his name was Raksha Black-Heart, he had a mouthful of shit to talk to me upon our next meeting. He killed me again, having been bestowed with poison on his axes and commanding about twenty other Uruk to slay me alongside him. Funny enough, he would no longer finish me off. He'd walk away from the fight at the last minute and let his minions take care of me. This created more and more captains, all of which had their personal names and stories.
At least eleven Uruk became promoted through my hunt for Raksha Black-Heart, who at this point had climbed to the rank of a level 20 Legendary Captain. I wanted him down. I seethed with anger that he kept getting away. I hated that I had not been able to kill him yet, especially because he was susceptible to stealth attacks. All I needed was to be stealthed, sneak up, and slit his fucking throat for all the setbacks he had caused me. I slayed every Uruk in my path, interrogating every one of them to find out everything I could about this goddamn army, how I could slay every one of those captains that killed me.
Finally, the moment arrived. Raksha Black-Heart was next to a bush, only two people next to him.
THIS WAS MY CHANCE!
I sneaked up with a quickened pace. My heart was racing with excitement and vengeance.
I reached out of the brush, grabbed his hair, yanked him upward, and stabbed him repeatedly right in the chest. The two with him, frightened and demoralized, try to run. I chase them down, slitting one of their throats and decapitating the other. Everyone else runs, and I let out a battle cry of glory!
I then realized that it was 3:00am in the real world, and that the battle cry I let out wasn't in the game. It was me. I just screamed in my apartment at 3:00am...because I killed a virtual character that had caused me to virtually die multiple times.
This is the depth and the level to which this particular, individual character was able to connect to me in my adventure. This is something I've never experienced to this level in a game. I was on a two-hour long journey just to kill one goddamn Uruk captain in a video game because of how emotionally distressed and angry he made me because of his actions against me.
I have completed MAYBE five or six story missions in this game.
I've thought on multiple occasions already how much better the Nemesis system could make multiple other games:
- Marvel Heroes
- Diablo 3
- Divinity: Original Sin
- Sunset Overdrive
The list can go on and on and on.
My Game of the Year is the Nemesis System from Shadow of Mordor. Argue amongst yourselves if that is legit or not, but when it comes down to it, that entire system is a game in and of itself.