I 100% agreed with the GB crew in 2014. Having gone back and replayed SoM a month ago in anticipation of the sequal, I have to say it hasn't aged as well as some of the other games from 2014. The graphics at the time were stunning, where as now they're slightly above average (playing on PC both times with graphics maxed). The nemesis system was a big part of why I liked that game so much. I killed or took over every damn orc at one point. Every. Damn. One. That is not at all required, but for me was a result of how the nemesis system allowed me to play out stories in my head. I'm shocked the nemesis system hasn't been completely ripped off in subsequent years (much like SoM and others ripped off Arkham Asylum's combat system).
TLDR; I think that you having not played it upon release lost out on some of the magic the game provided at the time. Context is important when revisiting games from 3(!) years ago. But, you know, to each their own and all. One of the best things about Giant Bomb's GOTYs is that the fires are stoked for the community long after they happen. That's pretty neat.
EDIT: It's also worth noting I'm a hyyyuuuuugggeee Tolkein fanboy, and was thrilled at the time to have a LOTR game that didn't suck.