Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is an action-adventure RPG. You play as Talion, a human infused with the spirit of a high elf, giving him supernatural powers. The gameplay is based around exploration and battling the orcs of the evil Sauron's army.
Pro Entertaining combat
Shadow of Mordor has very fast-paced combat, allowing you to have exciting fights with groups of orcs. You parry, you counter, you roll, and you slash away at the orcs with your sword. You even have supernatural abilities that give you an edge in a bad situation.
For example, after stunning an enemy with Wraith Stun, you can perform a devastating combo that kills the enemy. The same ability can be upgraded to affect every enemy in an area, so it can also be used to escape losing battles or exact justice on all of them.
Regardless of your methods, you always feel like the dominant force, which makes it all the more satisfying to ruthlessly skewer helpless orcs.
Pro Enjoyable preparation element
Bosses in this game have different immunities and weaknesses to in-game skills. For example, a boss can be immune to takedowns, but can also be vulnurable to fire, so it's best to have a flame-infused weapon ready to fight him effectively.
This makes preparation very important to succeed, sometimes even requiring you to mix up your playstyle and fighting methods. Because every enemy requires a different approach, it can help the gameplay stay fresh for a longer time.
Pro Great stealth combat mechanics
In Shadow of Mordor there are various ways you can kill enemies while staying unnoticed. You can simply sneak around by staying low, breaking line of sight behind walls and carts, backstabbing orcs when you sneak up on them. You can climb walls and traverse building roofs, dropping onto unsuspecting orcs while impaling them. You can even use supernatural abilities or wait for nightfall to make you even stealthier. All of this coupled with Shadow of Mordor's very smooth controls, makes being stealthy really enjoyable.
Pro Mind control mechanic that adds depth to tactics
Players can mind control orcs to call upon them in battle, turning a one-vs-many battle, into a more evenly balanced showdown. You can even use your makeshift allies as fodder, allowing you to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies in the heat of battle and take them out instantly. It's up to you to decide when and how to use the orcs, giving the battles a decent amount of tactical depth.
Con Progressing through the storyline can be confusing
While excessive hand-holding in games is bad, you might get lost in this game with no idea what to do next. This is mostly because the game almost never tells you what you should be doing, so it's up to you to find out, which can sometimes result in you aimlessly running around an area for up to an hour. Anyone looking for a more directed experience might not like Shadow of Mordor that much.
Con Unskippable cutscenes interrupt gameplay
Every time an orc leader enters the screen, there is an unskippable cutscene where he rambles a bit, focusing the camera on him and halting combat until the cutscene ends. This usually happens as you're fighting another enemy, potentially disrupting your rhythm, which can be really frustrating, especially if mess up your combo or take an unnecessary hit after the cutscene.
Con Extremely repetitive
The game can begin to feel like a chore after 3 hours. Every area has the same missions, requiring you to unlock towers, kill/dominate that orc, or defend/attack a base. There isn't much change over the course of the game, so it can feel pretty disappointing if you're expecting more variety.