Shadow of Mordor Accused of Using Assassin's Creed II Code
A former Ubisoft developer thinks aspects of the new Lord of the Rings game look especially familiar.
by Chris PereiraJanuary 23, 2014
A former Ubisoft developer who worked on the first two Assassin's Creed games is claiming that the latest Lord of the Rings game, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, appears to be using code and animations from Assassin's Creed II.
Charles Randall shared his suspicions on Twitter today following the release of a trailer for Shadow of Mordor, a new open-world game set in the Lord of the Rings universe. Linking to the debut trailer seen below,
Randall joked, "Check it out guys! I apparently made a Middle Earth game!" He followed this up with a series of tweets expanding on what he meant, first stating, "Seriously, can someone tell me how Assassin's Creed 2 code and assets are in this Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor game?"
Randall said he believes work he did for Assassin's Creed II could be seen on display in the trailer released today, including "code/anim[ation] for sure." He pointed out that he's aware he has no legal claim to his work, but did say he hopes to be acknowledged in the game's credits.
Combat and air assassinations are among the aspects of Assassin's Creed that Randall worked on while at Ubisoft. When it was pointed out the game resembles the Batman: Arkham games more than Assassin's Creed, he responded, "I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it."
In his tweets, Randall didn't bash Shadow of Mordor; in fact, he expressed enthusiasm for it and the prospect of the Assassin's Creed engine being licensed out to other developers. However, there is as of yet no indication that this is what's happened. Shadow of Mordor is being developed for PC and next-generation consoles by Monolith Productions, the developer of FEAR, Condemned, Gotham City Impostors, and Guardians of Middle-Earth.
IGN has reached out to both Ubisoft and Shadow of Mordor publisher Warner Bros. to confirm Randall's claims and will report back with any information we receive.
A Monolith dev spoke to EG about the resemblence earlier this week:
Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor design director Michael de Plater has said an Assassin's Creed vibe "definitely wasn't something we were consciously going for".
He made those comments to Wesley Yin-Poole at a game-specific event earlier this week - that is, before the AC comparisons were publicly made.
You may also recognise de Plater's name, given that he used to work at Ubisoft as creative director before joining Warner Bros. and Monolith to work on Shadows of Mordor. But de Plater worked with Ubisoft in Montpelier: he didn't work on Assassin's Creed.
When asked about the influence of the Assassin's Creed games, de Plater replied:
"We didn't think much about them at all. 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."
What about climbing around and working your way through a hierarchy of enemies before you get to your real, final target? That's very similar to Assassin's Creed.
"Clearly assassinating highly ranked enemies is a key part [of Shadows of Mordor]," he answered. "And lots of games have that as well. It's not just Assassin's Creed. Lots of games have you hunt guys down from hierarchies of enemies."
De Plater and Monolith wanted to "change that up for next-gen", make it freer and more personal. The game's Nemesis system is the result. It has you meet enemies time and time again, build a relationship with them, and the satisfaction of the long kill is well worth it, he suggested. "Even just the first time someone realises an enemy in the game actually remembers them..."
De Plater got involved with the project at the start, after getting in touch with Warner Bros. because he was excited about the IP because The Hobbit film was coming out. Shadows of Mordor has been in development for quite a long time then, and Monolith has churned out a couple of smaller games - Gotham City Imposters, Guardians of Middle-earth - to tide things over and keep nosey noses away.
"It's a lot of work," de Plater said. "Open-world games are tough. ... no-one knew this was happening."
Looks like more than code/animations were used IMO. Whole game comes across as an AC clone with super powers. Still looks good though, which I don't say lightly. LOTR games have typically been awful in the past IMO