so I did pick the game up after payday this weekend and got around to putting in a few hours.
then a few hours more last night.
here's the dealy-yo-yo.
people have been complaining about how the story doesn't match up with Tolkien lore. personally I could give a sh*t. the game is fun and it's clearly not supposed to be canon. having played into the campaign long enough to see a handful of both primary and side missions, plus gathering, plus the Nemesis system, it's safe to say that Shadow of Mordor is not Game of the Year and it's not a wondrous breakthrough for the industry.
it's also safe to say that Shadow of Mordor is a lot of fun and one of the better RPGs of 2014.
gameplay is solid all around, combat is intense but seamless, the AI is very well balanced, and there's a variety of missions that will be seemingly endless. it's an enjoyable, beefy RPG with a lot of open-ended options and freedom in gameplay. you have multiple approaches to completing most missions and don't seem to be forced into any specific path.
it's like a super polished version of Assassins Creed or Batman Arkham in the style of its combat/action.
I'm having a great time with it so far because it's the kind of title you can just sink into for a totally mindless gaming session for as long as you want. the open world is pretty dynamic, feels very alive, and it seems like there's always something to do whether you're playing the actual campaign or the different mission scenarios.