Thoughts and Reflections: Shadows of Mordor (PS4)

This will be more of a reflection than a true review of this title. After all, there are a ton of other full reviews floating around if you want to know about the game’s story or Assassins Creed-meets-Arkham combat, or the orcish political system and how the player can manipulate it. Or terrible editorials about how the game represents violence towards women or minorities, or encourages torture and terrorism or other insane ramblings by “commentators”. I’ll just give my thoughts on my experience with the game.

It is the thing that it says that it is.

I’ve put over 40 hours into Shadows of Mordor now, and while it certainly does suffer a little from “second island syndrome” as the gameplay is pretty samey after awhile, I’ll be quite happy to finish it shortly and then just fire it up occasionally for some random orc slaughter. So I’ll be well satisfied with the purchase.

I see it this way – I rarely buy new release games anymore, since my backlog there is as bad as my painting backlog, so the positive word of mouth is what convinced me to buy. I enjoyed GTA5, but never finished it. This is the first game in (at least) a year that has kept me up until 1, 2, 3am for just a bit more, and 90% of that has been playing with the procedurally generated Uruk Captains and Warchiefs. I’ll finish it soon and be satisfied, as despite the 40 hours so far (45 or 50 by the time I’m done with it?) it’s not felt like a grind or tedious boredom. Despite the time, it’s not over-long, either – and I’m sure it could easily be finished in a fraction of the time I’ve spent with it.

It’s far from perfect. The controls are better than AC1 or 2, but Telion still sticks to walls or jumps in the wrong direction occasionally. A toggle option for crouch/stealth run for the right trigger so you don’t need to hold the button down to sneak would be welcome. The graphics are very much cross-generation, so the environment are not a graphical showcase for the PS4 (though the Uruks look bloody good!) The cinematics are pre-rendered, so Telion doesn’t wear the alternate outfit or wield the reforged weapons you got him in them. Telion smoulders with somewhat generic rage (possibly NSFW). The challenge of fighting Uruks also takes a sharp decline once you’re fully upgraded. But then, you’d want it to, right? And you can still get overwhelmed and die.

But despite all of this, the game is simply fun. I don’t regret my pre-order purchase. Money and time well spent. I’ll buy any substantial DLC in a moment. The Nemesis system will I’m sure become a feature of many games to come, as soon as they can figure out how to shoehorn it in. I’ve heard that the ending isn’t the greatest, but again – after this much fun in the playing, I’m not too fussed if the finale of the story turns out to only be as compelling as Telion’s personality.

In fact, writing this up has made me want to go and load the thing up and play it some more, so that’s what I’m off to do. Now if you’ll excuse me…


Deathworld Fauna – Part 1.1 – Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawler (Leech)

Back in March, I found two out of the three figures from the Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawlers kit that I picked up bout 15-20 years ago. (Damn that makes me feel old!) Because of the way that things seem to work in my life and on the painting desk, the frog-thing and millipede-thing have been MIA for a couple of months now (they might be in the shed, perhaps?) and I ended up finding the leech-thing, conveniently already glued to a 60mm base with some putty ’round the edges. Not wanting to tool around too much rebasing and agonising over the scheme – since that’s a great way to never get anything finished – I decided to get that sucker painted.

So here it is:

Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawlers Giant Leech

I figure this thing can work just as well as a 40k-sci-fi alien leech as a D&D-style fantasy giant leech. So, you know, whatever. I went with green and mustard yellow since the underside was sculpted with a bit of contrasting texture, so I thought I may as well transfer that to the palette. Same deal with the pinky-purple tongue and the bone teeth, again so they stand out.

Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawlers Giant Leech


A nice thick layer of polyurethane varnish on the model keeps it looking suitable shiny and yucky. I also added some Vallejo realistic water mixed with some transparent yellow to create the slime effect on the side of the model where the slime-holes(!) are located, and some realistic water without colouring onto some of the mouth-parts and tongue.

Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawlers Giant Leech

I found that the figure looked too small for its base, and to help fill in the empty space without going overboard – or adding in fantasy or sci-fi-specific extras, I just went for some of the larger tufts that I had sitting around in the packets. Often those are the hardest ones to find a use for and they end up on scenery, since they’re too large for use on almost all miniatures.

Scotia Grendel Dungeon Crawlers Giant Leech with Warhammer High Elf for scale.

Finally, a big-hat Warhammer High Elf for scale. I should really finish this guy’s unit off. I bet it would take less than half a day if I ever manage to pull my fist out…  Actually, I’ve got some scenery that just needs finishing off that could be measured in probably less than half an hour…

Full disclosure – I actually painted this thing a couple of weeks ago but didn’t get around to posting it. After a pretty productive two weeks or so of painting I’m in a bit of a ..not burnt out, but kinda taking a rest. Also, my wife bought me a PS4 as a belated birthday gift, and so I’ve been running around Mordor after work and on the weekends instead of sitting and painting like I’m “supposed” to…