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Photo Modes: Shadow of Mordor

The fourth in the series, Shadow of Mordor proved difficult to get good shots.

Ok, so I'm not going to complain about the camera this time. Much. It's a bit of a stretch to get Talion out of the shot. There, done, no more camera.

The real issue with Shadow of Mordor's photo mode is how difficult it can be to get anything to look good. Mainly because some of the textures in the game are quite ugly. This is even on PC with textures maxed at "Ultra," some textures are so low res that it makes the whole shot look ugly.

Shadow of Mordor made me realize that with each game I've done, there's an aspect I'm focusing on most. Really, this boils down to what each game does best visually. For DriveClub as you'd expect, the cars were the best thing to take photos of in Photo Mode. With The Last of Us Remastered, I found it difficult to take nice looking action shots, but what worked in TLOU though was its detail, the environment, and the two central characters. Infamous: Second Son also wasn't great with action shots, the abilities and particle effects overpowered the image. And with Photo Modes, I like to take images of the details in the given game. Playing the game normally, you might not pick up on details you can excel in showcasing with a Photo Mode.

So what works best in Shadow of Mordor?

Firstly, on top of poor textures, Shadow of Mordor is a grim looking game. Being open-world it suffers from poor texture work both close up and at long distances. In Shadow of Mordor, I found the best images to take actually were the action shots. Interestingly, this is what I hadn't had success with in any of the other games so far. This is mainly because, since Mordor isn't a nice place, there's not much beauty there. It's not the developers fault Mordor is a desolate looking hell hole. I tried with some environment shots, but at long distances the textures look awful. 

So, let's see how Shadow of Mordor's Photo Mode works. In what is an impressive Photo Mode when it comes to frame customization.

How it Works

Though playing on PC, Shadow of Mordor has the same combat style as the Arkham series, so a controller is the best way to play. Guess how you get into Photo Mode on a controller, go on, I'll wait.

L3 of course! If playing with mouse and keyboard on PC, it is 'P'. The camera isn't as bad as Infamous' camera. This time, however, to switch settings you use the triggers, not the directional buttons.

  • Field of View: Your standard zoom found in most Photo Modes. This one ranges from 20-85.
  • Depth of Field: As seen before, Depth of Field has a "Distance" and "Range" setting. This is the first I've seen so far to have an intensity setting. It's a nice inclusion to not only choose what is and isn't in focus but also how out of focus what isn't in focus is. (I hope you got that, cause that's definitely a sentence.) If you want the distance to be quite high, you'll be sitting there for awhile because it takes ages to go up. Even with a mouse, you right click and move it forward again and again and again to get it higher. 
  • Filter: Heavy Noir, Poison, and Warm are 3 of the 13 filters in Shadow of Mordor's Photo Mode. As with most of these Photo Modes, I tend not to use the filters at high intensity. I usually have them at 20% or less, a slight difference but enough. 
  • Vignette: Vignette adds soft black edges around the image. If put all the way to max, it's like looking through Sauron's eye, except significantly less fire. I avoid Vignette and did in TLOU. With TLOU, the ones I did take with Vignette were accidental and took it off once I realised. 

  • Overlay: This is quite an impressive little setting. There are frames to add around the image, 25 of them. On top of that there are 7 textures you can add, with an intensity setting as well. This is where you'll find the film grain as well as Wraith textures. Overall, though, for what I use Photo Modes for, the overlays were pretty useless.
  • Logo: 6 logos you can add to the image (only one per shot). You can change its position manually with the analogue stick, as well as its size. Placement is set positions for the logo around the shot to save time with using placement.

I did my best with Shadow of Mordor, but creating shots that I actually liked proved hard. Usually, I play the game and take loads of photos, go through them after and pick which ones might make it on here. With each session, there's usually a good few that I think "yeah maybe, that one looks nice". However, with Shadow of Mordor I kept having sessions and thought: "I don't like any of these."

So here you are, some concoction of Mordor. I felt just like this first, sad Orc. I did try with environment shots of Mordor, so let me know what you think.

Published Sep. 23rd 2015
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    I've found action shots easy to take. Anything with characters/enemies in, fine, anyone else... ehhhh....
  • Alan Watkiss _5447
    I definitely feel the action shots work better in this than the landscape/background shots. It's as though they knew they couldn't make the world look pretty so as arrest they thought screw it let's make these brutes ugly as sin up close.

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