Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s storyline is respectful of Tolkien’s lore, says Monolith

Saturday, 12th July 2014 20:35 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor writer and director Christian Antamessa has said the storyline in the game bridges the gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings while still remaining true to the foundation set by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Antamessa said while creating the game, the team at Monolith Productions were adamant regarding being “respectful of [Tolkien's] ideas, while incorporating ours.”

Also in the video, you’ll note Golem plays a role, and during a panel at San Diego Comic Con at the end of the month, the team plans to reveal new story elements regarding the character’s role in the upcoming action game.

The video posted below also features Troy Baker who lends his voice to the main character, Talion.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is currently available for pre-order and will be on sale worldwide October 7 for PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.



  1. Tormenter

    There’s nothing in this game that true to anything Tolkien would have written, certainly not for a heroic protagonist.

    Man with ghost powers? Controlling the behaviours of other beings in the name of good? That alone, and there are other issues with the lore too, is enough to negate any details they may have gotten correct, a character so removed from any archetype that Tolkien would have created.

    IF Tolkein would have written that character then the story would most certainly be a cautionary tale, of how power corrupts absolutely and of some things simply not being the purvey of man. He would certainly have come to a sticky end, at the least being remembered as the enemy.

    Aragorn’s acceptance and participation in the deal with the ghosts of murderers and thieves, was a completely different situation and not valid as to draw on for a heroic archetype.

    This game gets the very point of Tolkien’s writings wrong from the off.

    #1 6 months ago
  2. TheWulf

    I’m intrigued, and by Tolkien, you say? I’m not as intrigued as I am by something like, oh, say, Styx, but I am intrigued. It doesn’t look like Tolkien. Respectful, you say? It doesn’t seem to be.

    Is that a bad thing?

    I suppose it depends on the originality of the piece, if something is stagnant and dead, and to disrespect it is to reinvigorate it with new life, ideas, and wonder, then I’d encourage that. However, if something is all ready very unique and original, with its own personality, and its own strengths, and you want to contaminate it to bring it to the masses by whittling away its strengths and lobotomising its personality, then being disrespectful is bad.

    The most important question is: Will being disrespectful to something bring about an end result which is more or less stagnant?

    In the case of Thief, it was more stagnant, because it was like so much out there in all but name. It committed the cardinal sin of lobotomising a genuinely interesting individual, and then placed the now retarded host up on a stage to dance for the unwashed masses. That’s deeply unpleasant and unsettling to me, and I’d rather look away and pretend that this transformation from paragon to dessicated husk never happened.

    There are situations, however, where something has next to no personality all ready, it’s incredibly generic and stagnant by its own nature and it just sort of shambles along in that way. Is it disrespectful to uplift this writhing mass into something of worth, by providing it with both personality and a degree of uniqueness which it can call its own? So instead of stagnating until the end of time and never changing, it now has the potential to evolve, and to shift its own paradigms however it pleases. Is that a bad thing?

    I think we have an almost fetishistic attachment to things which are overly generic, mostly because it makes them so very easy to understand. Tolkien, for all of its boons and intellectual worth, had no personality. It’s always been an ultimately dry affair. I think Tolkien was at his best with The Hobbit, and exemplified by Smaug’s conversation with Bilbo.

    Isn’t it interesting, then, that when Jackson took upon the task of creating films for the Hobbit, he dessicated that personality into something wholly generic and simple to understand rather than respecting the source material? In the case of The Lord of the Rings, he remained fairly true to the original works, which speaks volumes of how soulless those books are by comparison.

    That’s what we need to look at, really. We have this… or at least, it’s fair to say that extroverts or people following the money trend towards homogenising things. We like to strip it of its individuality because then the extroverts who take everything at face value don’t need to feel offended, it becomes entirely inoffensive, centric, and it doesn’t challenge anyone in any way.

    Numerous film adaptations have done just that.

    Now, the question is is whether this is desiccating a personality which all ready exists, or whether it’s injecting personality into something that had none. Usually the latter is what receives a negative response from the majority, and the former tends to just be railed against by those like myself who prefer that we don’t embrace homogenisation.

    But what do I have against things being homogenised?

    It’s stagnation, it’s always the same thing, over and over, never changing. Even to the point where we’re revisiting the past to find something brilliantly different, just to strip it down, strip it down more, and remove everything that made it once brilliant. Just to make it stagnant, so it won’t offend anyone. Just like Thief, just like Sunset Overdrive.

    Is this homogenising Tolkien, or adding personality to Tolkien? I’m almost inclined to say that it’s doing the latter, but I’m not going to put my money on that, yet. Though considering that this is the first Tolkien anything that I’ve been interested in the longest time (that’s not The Hobbit in book form), I’m going to be cautiously optimistic.


    Your post is especially interesting to me. I’m going to cherry pick a few lines, if I may, just to make a point about how we defend anything that’s homogeneous, and attack anything that’s different.

    [...] a character so removed from any archetype that Tolkien would have created.

    Does it need to be a character of an archetype that Tolkien would have approved of? Doesn’t it make things more interesting that it isn’t?

    Look at The Wolf Among Us as a perfect example. The Fables comic series is utter shite, it’s filled with bad writing, inconsistencies, and right-wing ideologies up to the nines. So Telltale didn’t really add a story onto that, they took the idea of the Fables setting, and used it to tell their own story, to explore new themes and notions that the comics never would have.

    The end result is that everyone I’ve spoken with has said that Telltale’s effort is much better than the original comic books, in every way. Some were those who picked up a few issues of Fables initially but quickly tired of how it was just a disguised podium for thrusting ideologies down the throats of the readers, and others picked up the comic after playing the games. Neither group reckoned that the comics were any good.

    Sometimes, just going with the vague idea of something and not staying particularly true to it can be good. Especially if the original content wasn’t actually particularly inspired or original in the first place.

    Tolkien isn’t a god, he’s just a writer. And beyond The Hobbit, I don’t even think he’s a particularly good writer. I’ve read better.

    IF Tolkein would have written that character then the story would most certainly be a cautionary tale, of how power corrupts absolutely and of some things simply not being the purvey of man.

    Exactly. What you’re saying is that if X had done Y, then X would have remained exactly the same as it always was, with nothing ever changing, and nothing ever challenged. But who’s to say that the views of Tolkien can’t be challenged?

    This notion that the homogeneous is somehow holy and beyond criticism is frequently baffling to me. I understand that you’re talking about faithfulness, but I fail to understand why being disrespectful in this case is actually bad.

    What happens when X always remains X as a completely flat dimension is, if you can guess, completely flat, generic, and one-dimensional writing. Which is something that Tolkien was frequently guilty of. This is why some of my favourite writers challenged and questioned themselves. Even comedy writers like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett showed more capacity for insight in this regard than Tolkien did, because Tolkien never questioned himself.

    Now the Church of Tolkien is a holy thing, and the homogeneity must never be questioned. That’s stagnation. That’s bad.

    Why do we want to drive ourselves toward stagnation so readily?

    If the challenge fails to be valid, fails to have worth, and just makes the setting less for it having existed, then we can just forget about it. But if the challenge is valid, it adds a degree of three-dimensionality to the work by adding new viewpoints and perspectives which hadn’t existed prior to this.

    He would certainly have come to a sticky end, at the least being remembered as the enemy.

    How utterly generic. To me, that comes across as Tolkien being a technophobe (he actually was) and spreading that idea in his works, that man shouldn’t tamper with these things, and we should all go back to living in mud huts. It’s a very regressive notion, it’s very primitivist.

    Oh, look. A man can do more than another man, therefore he absolutely has to be evil, without any room for doubt or other perspectives. How flat! How mind-numbingly boring! Even comic books have more depth than that. At least in a comic book it’s more that the personality dictates whether they’ll be corrupted, rather than the power itself.

    This game gets the very point of Tolkien’s writings wrong from the off.

    Or maybe they understand Tolkien all too well, and they’ve decided for themselves that they want to shake things up a bit, to add some new ideas and perspectives to an otherwise very bland, staid, soporific, hackneyed, derivative, and ultimately generic setting?

    Frankly, Tolkien stole without understanding himself, quite liberally. He stole from various tales of folklore and fables, he supped nonchalantly upon cultural diversity and rich history without really grasping what made it so special, and then he jury-rigged all of that into his own fantasy setting.

    Frankly, the fonts he stole from are much more interesting than his own works.

    #2 6 months ago
  3. Panthro

    The only thing that speaks ‘LOTR’ to me is the enemies and setting.

    The story seems very ‘gamey’ where the protagonist is basically a killing machine overpowering any enemy he comes accross, mix that with the assassins creed recycled gameplay and you have something completely unoriginal.

    I’m hoping it has a deeper story than whats on show currently, otherwise it will just be another shallow game with the gimmick of having the LOTR name attatched to it.

    Still keeping my mind fairly open though since its Lord of the Rings, I shouldnt be as it will probably only lead to disappointment.

    #3 6 months ago
  4. Tormenter


    No, I don’t think something can be altered from source and still retain the integrity that gives the original a reason for it’s existence, especially when it simply comes down to making changes as an excuse to be able to make money from it, that alone makes it creatively bankrupt.

    If you seek to change a given thing simply because it no longer appeals, then it ceases to become that thing ENTIRELY.. Find something else to exploit but you can’t make changes to the very details and creative motivations that give it it’s originality in the first place.

    No, individual original creative works have their reason for existing, regardless of whether or not they personally appeal, but one has no right to change those reasons out of a personal motivation and then STILL call it as it’s original.

    Messing around in someone else’s world building doesn’t give us more of that world, all they are doing is pissing in our drinking water.

    However it’s obvious that as I am biased for Tolkien, you are biased against.. soulless, seriously?

    #4 6 months ago

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