Monolith’s new multi-platfrom entrant in the Lord of the Rings universe marries a variety of gameplay mechanics, but one ex-Ubisoft dev claims that Assassin’s Creed II code was used for certain in-game animations.
The newly released eight-minute gameplay trailer for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (see below) showcases a rich fantasy world set in Tolkien’s definitive Lord of the Rings mythos, replete with open-world RPG mechanics as well as innovative battle sequences.
Right from the start, though, the trailer’s climbing and stealth animations stand out quite clearly and bring a distinct sense of deja vu. We’ve seen this before in a particular Ubisoft-owned franchise focused on the exploits of stealthy assassins in key historical periods–the Assassin’s Creed series.
Charles Randall, an ex Ubisoft dev, spotted the similarities right away and took to Twitter to voice his claims that Monolith’s RPG makes clear use of the code in Assassin’s Creed II:
“Seriously, can someone tell me how Assassin’s Creed 2 code and assets are in this Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor game?” he asked his followers.
“This is *my* code in that game! I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it.”
Monolith has since responded to Randall’s allegations, saying that they “didn’t think much about [Assassin's Creed] at all” during development, and that “it wasn’t something we were consciously going for”.
“We didn’t think much about them at all,”Michael de Plater, design director for Shadow of Mordor (and ex Ubisoft employee) said in an interview with Eurogamer.
“We just wanted to do a third-person, open-world action adventure. And then now, just by the time you have stealth and melee combat and you’re hunting guys behind enemy lines, the comparisons maybe come out at that point. It definitely wasn’t something we were consciously going for.”
It’s also worth mentioning that de Plater wasn’t involved with the Assassin’s Creed franchise during his tenure with Ubisoft.
While the similarities are pretty much clear as day as Talion shifts, climbs and even performs assassinations in a way that mirrors Ezio or Edward Kenway, the Monolith dev affirms that Shadow of Mordor will differentiate itself from Ubi’s series.
The Nemesis system, for example, is an interesting concept wherein gamers build a sort of deadly relationship with their foes. Multiple battles between certain high-profile baddies builds infamy and also makes delivering the final strike all the more alluring, which is a welcomed feature considering many enemies are just cannon fodder and are forgotten after their slain.
“Even just the first time someone realises an enemy in the game actually remembers them,” de Plater said, assuring gamers that the Nemesis system is something quite unique.
Furthermore it’s beneficial to recognize that many games share key aspects with one another quite often–think of how many MMO’s share basic structures, for FPS games for that matter. Additionally it’s interesting to see a Ranger perform these sorts of stealthy takedowns and have adequate stealth maneuvers in battle, which readily represents the famed warriors from the canon.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is shaping up to be something that marries the best elements of multiple games and genres: we have open-world freedom and stylized medieval fantasy that merges the rich Lord of the Rings universe with that of The Witcher (not to mention Talion’s Wraith abilities that somewhat reflect Geralt’s powers).
Additionally there’s the flexible acrobatics of the deadly assassins from Ubi’s popular series, along with a plethora of mechanics and elements from classic RPG’s and action-based adventure games.
In any case, Charles Randall doesn’t hold any ill will against Monolith; in fact, he thinks that it’s a good thing that they’ve chosen to incorporate an Assassin’s Creed feel.
“For the record though, that Middle Earth game looks pretty damn awesome. And I love AC2 so it’s kind of a double win.”
Powered by next-gen consoles (a current-gen version is coming too, don’t worry), Shadow of Mordor has the potential for immensely detailed graphics as well as impressive environments. Additionally the massive scope of the game’s world can be realized with real-time events and weather effects, making a living breathing adaptation of Tolkien’s fantasy world.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is scheduled for a multi-platform release sometime in 2014 for current/next-gen consoles and PC. For more information be sure to check the game’s official website.