Well, it's here, and I rather wish it wasn't! Shadows Of Mordor is the second Lord Of The Rings adventure, based on Tolkien's epic The Two Towers.
In this game Frodo and Sam, whose roles you can play, have travelled down the river where they found themselves at the end of the first game, and are now on an island in the middle of the lake, and secretly gone on their quest, which is to cross the wastelands and the evil mountains surrounding the homeland of their enemies.
Sam is equipped with all sorts of objects, the inevitably backpack, greencloak, rope, matchbox - yes, the list is familiar. So off we set, me being Frodo, and Sam tagging along. There weren't any bus stops of signposts around, so we trudged from dreary ridge to desolate plain, until we came to the edge of a cliff.
Smeagol was a constant visitor to our location, but once there, had the habit of sneaking off into the bushes with alarming regularity. What on earth he was up to in there I care not to guess - I only know that when I tried to follow him, something very blank happened on the Spectrum and Amstrad, while nothing happened on the Commodore. And I mean nothing! I had to turn the computer off to regain control of it. But I understand this has been corrected.
Yes folks, it's written in Inglish, that wonderful Australian parser that is so exciting because you never quite know what it is going to do next.
It is said to understand complex sentences, but it seems you need a keyboard with an Australian accent, for when I typed SAY TO SAM "GIVE ME THE SWORD" I got a rather deranged SAM DOESN'T SEE ANY ME TO GIVE TO THE SMALL SWORD. On the other hand, a simple GIVE SWORD got me the sword.
The screen layout has been simplified since Lord Of The Rings. On C64 and Spectrum you get a blue single line band at the top indicating which role you are currently playing (you can swap between the two using a BECOME command), a yellow four line command and message window at the bottom, and the rest of the screen is white and carries the narrative.
On the Amstrad the categories of text are difficult to distinguish between when all lines are in use.
The locations descriptions are said to be lengthy, but in fact are rather short and drab. To make them appear verbose, they are bulked up with fairly useless information which is repeated ad nauseam.
If for example, Sam is with you, you also get: "Frodo can see Sam. Being carried by Sam are a beautiful small sword, a matchbox, a canvas backpack, a fine green cloak..." And if you open the backpack, the matchbox, or anything else that contains something, you get the contents of that thrown in too, which makes for quite a lot of repetitive reading to make sure you don't miss an important part of the message.
The response times are better than those of the game's predecessor, but even then, the Commodore version is very sluggish, and all have an annoying delay after the reply has been screened, before control is returned to the player with the prompt. This leads the fast typist into inadvertently entering many commands which then go unrecognised because the first few words or characters were not accepted as input.
Only the Commodore version has graphics, and these are limited in number on cassette. These pictures are reasonable, although in no way exciting, and display is effected by switching over to a graphics screen whilst the text response is in mid-flow. The effect, if you are not expecting a picture, can be quite startling, and frustrating, too.
I found the game rather boring, and put an end to it all with a SAY TO SAM "KILL ME WITH SWORD". He understood that all right!