Swain, the Noxian Grand General is a man surrounded by stories. Some say that a pact exists: a great price for unconceivable power; but that’s little more than a rumour. It’s said he knows what’s coming. What is clear is that in any battlefield, even the political, power is necessary to weather any storm. Whether braving the cold winds of the northern front, buccaneering along the seas or displaying the whole extent of an unknowable magical prowess; Swain knows how to adapt to the environment. Some remember him calling for Beatrice; a name with a mysterious meaning. Read this skins’ review and learn if there’s more to see beyond the stern visage of the Noxian Grand General.
|Concept:||Swain dressed in a cold weather military uniform and ravens as white owls.|
|Model:||Major model changes for Swain, moderate model changes for his raven form and new model for his ravens plus new glow for his left arm and frozen breath.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities, auto-attack, joke, taunt and recall.|
|Animations:||No new animations.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for Vision of Empire and Nevermove.|
|Splash Art:||Blurry but with the feel of blizzard the snowy mountains are all the background we find. It’s a backdrop, sure, but minimal and more filler than context. It’s clear that Swain is the only relevant figure.
Swain’s portrayal emphasises his gritty, veteran style. His face, scarred by many battles, is at the forefront surrounded by the pristine equipment to brave the harsh climate. The military regalia is glints on her hat but looks dull on his shoulders. The fur of his coat looks sketchy and strikes as artificial and thready. The torso shows good shading but the leg is diffuse. The frozen arm also appears a bit dull and the exterior of the coat is flatout blurry. As we can notice, the central area is sharply depicted while the outer areas are unnecessarily diffuse. The perspective adds dramatism but eschews a clear view as well as Beatrice.
It only takes a glance to notice how straightforward and simple this splash art is. There’s no context, just a background and the portrayal, in its uneven grace, is all there is. It’s also clear that Swain shown in a way to make a good first impression but at the expense of disappointing with the lack of depth. The basics are, more or less, covered but barely.
|Conclusion:||Army clothing while only coat and hat make any reference to rank looks like kind of practical approach that the Grand General would take. Northern Front Swain doesn’t look impressive but doesn’t want to. In fact, the light colours are what catch the eye the most. Still, there’s more to see like the subtle camouflage pattern of the coat or the frozen breath of Swain. The hair may be a bit too long but the beard and eye-patch aim at displaying Swain like a rugged veteran of many battles; one that hasn’t lost the knack or the inclination to be ready for any battle. The glowing light arm stands out against the dark armour but can mesh with the light-coloured coat. It’s a nice balance that makes the dichotomy interesting. It should be noted that he looks a bit too modern for displaying magical powers, though.
The particles embody the frosty feel of the skin though most of them are simply re-coloured to match. Some ice shards are added to make the ice touch on impact more obvious though it’s not always easy to catch given the speed at which it happens. The result is rather monotonous but gives actions a consistent feel to represent the theme.
Sounds are even shier than particles. On top of the classic effects, Vision of Empire and Nevermove add a frosty sound. The rest of keep their classic sounds which aren’t out of place but notoriously lack a proper icy touch.
All in all, it’s obvious that Northern Front Swain is chained to classic and a victim of its price tier. Perhaps if it were a 975 RP skin the execution would’ve showed a more ambitious angle. Regardless, it does a rather good show within its limitations. Even if the changes can seem shallow at times, the result is certainly appealing. As a look at a potential future where Swain has seen more battles, paid the price for them, yet retain his style adapting to new challenges, there’s an interesting backdrop to draw from.
|Concept:||Swain outfitted as a pirate and ravens as colourful parrots.|
|Model:||Major model changes for Swain, minor model changes for his raven form and new model for his ravens plus new glow for his left arm.|
|Particles:||New particles for his joke.|
|Animations:||No new animations.|
|Sounds:||No new sounds.|
|Splash Art:||The suggestion of great heights is given by the perspective and emphasised by the blur but the distance isn’t that great to justify the latter. In spite of how diffuse the background is the ship with its torn sails with cannons shooting at an unseen enemy is a good context.
A couple parrots, not entire normal flank Swain who appears all too passive but dashingly so. The portrayal is all about style so that the flamboyant pirate can have show how cool he is. The left arm glows with magic power but the hand looks plastic. The right arm is omitted; which makes one wonder how is Swain holding himself to the mast so as not to fall. Perhaps he’s balancing himself, given the stylish approach of the portrayal, but that is starting to enter the land of exaggeration. The shadows on also seem too pronounced making Swain’s colours duller than they need to be. Even though the perspective offers a rather god view at his look the lighting seem uneven and whimsically distributed.
In spite of some inconsistencies, this is an effective splash art. There’s room for improvement but the basic are covered and an extra dose of style is added without compromising clarity. While there’s room to develop the scene further it’s a good glimpse at Swain’s former adventures in the high seas.
|Conclusion:||With a youthful but firmly Pirates of the Caribbean feel Bilgewater Swain is a skin that looks the part. The model is heavily stylised making for a flamboyant pirate with a touch of Captain Sparrow but with a more stern and practical demeanour; which fits Swain very well. The coat, lined in gold, and the lack of visible scars speak of a successful pirate but the magical arm may explain what’s behind the success. Speaking of which, the new colour for the glow is red enough so that the classic particles don’t strike as out of place. However, there’s a mismatch between the two. The trousers and boots are simple, deceptively so but admittedly functional.
Overall, this is a good re-model, mostly, that envisions Swain as a fictional pirate. It has a clear fantasy angle taht can remind of Jecht in its style: strong but with good looks. In a way, it could be a look back at Swain’s early years when he was making a name for himself and deciding what to so with his life in the high seas. It’s a bit of a guess yet, given the skin’s name, it delivers what it promises.
|Concept:||Swain wearing a majestic armour and coat plus ravens as regal, demonic ravens.|
|Model:||Major model changes for Swain, minor model changes for his raven form plus new glow for his eyes and left arm. New model for his dancing cane and ravens.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities, auto-attack, joke, taunt and recall.|
|Animations:||New recall animation.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for Vision of Empire, Nevermove and recall plus processed voice-over.|
|Splash Art:||Let’s get straight to the point: this is Sauron. The cathedral or temple behind doesn’t say much because it’s simply not allowed to. The corpses being drained of life which is concentrated into a spiralling ball of energy is all that matters; perhaps there’s one ring there. Some extra magical effects and feathers here and there the setting is devoid of life, much like the corpses.
Swain’s Sauron-styled portrayal is eye-catching no doubt. It’s also derivative and not very clear about his actual look. The glowing hand and energy conceal much of his armour but it has to be admitted that the lightning is evocative and attractive. The reflections on the plates make the effect believable but feathers and cloth seem largely unaffected which makes a strange, unrealistic discrepancy. Wings extended but too dark to have any personality end up filling up the piece. The sharp, vertical lines of the armour are emphasised to give a semblance of height and sharpness. Unfortunately, the feathers and clothes look dim and sketchy which leaves the depiction feeling quite uneven.
All added together, this is a splash art that goes straight for the throat. While the approach is familiar the result is certainly eye-catching. Sadly, it’s also patently uneven. The balance of light and darkness is unrealistic and so the piece ends up not being as believable and evocative as it could’ve been; even if there’s enough of both.
|Conclusion:||Human: Tyrant Swain gives the Noxian Grand General a powerful and dignified style that casts all doubts aside about his strength. The attire covers him completely removing all traces of expression or humanity from him. There’s only metal and magic to be seen; whether in his glowing eyes or arm. To be fair, the look is clearly based on Sauron. There’s also some familiarity with regards to Mordekaiser but with a more royal style. Perhaps the feathered coat gives a more overt raven reference as well as the armour designs yet it’s a subtle effect.
Raven: Swain’s raven form is a balanced act of monster and human traits that make very clear the potent magic at his disposal. The peacock-like feathers of the semi-translucent wings give a proper spectral feel to the form. The raven head with many eyes is a great nod to the ravens that still fuel his power; hand talons would’ve been icing on the cake. Actually, the raven head is such a great touch that the classic incarnation should’ve used one too. Still, the result manages to have a good balance of dark power with a distinct bird motif.
Particles have an interesting design where the main colour is bright and the highlights are black; as if they were chromatically inverted. The result is of a slight, unnatural look that suits the dark style of the skin very well. Sure, for the most part, they are simply re-coloured. Impacts explode in feathers, reinforcing the bird motif, and there are spectral flames added to some effects but the general design is more than familiar. Vision of Empire also brings to mind Sauron as the demonic eye has much in common with his famous, all-seeing eye.
|Concept:||Swain as a half-dragon sorcerer.|
|Model:||New model for Swain, his raven form, his ravens and walking cane plus new glow for his left arm.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities, auto-attack, joke, taunt, respawn and recall.|
|Animations:||New animations for Demonic Ascension, Death’s Hand during Demonic Ascension, respawn and recall.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall. New processed voice-over and new quotes about dragons.|
|Splash Art:||In terms of setting we don’t have much to see. There’s some sky, a rock for Swain to stand on and the dragons to circle around but that’s it. Actually, even if the sky shows some dark clouds which may foretell ominous events the only real feature of the background is the numerous, identical dragons flying around; they may be considered wyverns for their lack of front legs. Through sheer numbers the idea of a Master of Dragons is conveyed, no doubt. The dragons’ design is nothing new but their familiar outlines and scaly bodies and faces are eloquent enough. There’re even some sparks here and there to subtly reference fire but the effect seems unfocused and weak. Unfortunately, no dragon escapes from a certain degree of fuzziness. For all the detail their scales hint at their skins seem unnecessarily softened instead of showing their rough surface.
With so many dragons in sight Swain has little room to show his new look. It also doesn’t help that the portrayal is quite uneven, looking dull everywhere the light doesn’t directly shine on. The cape, despite the wasted right side, manages to display its florid design but it’s exaggerated to the point that it feels misguiding. There’s a clear difference between the eye-catching elaboration of the piece and the serviceable simplicity of the in-game model. There’s also the fact that the side view gives the armour a strange, unnatural shape which also prevents a proper look at the complicated design; again more complex that in-game. Of note is the wing protruding from his back, which is forced to appear as it wouldn’t normally be visible unless looking at the back. Also, the left arm seem quite solid and scaly unlike the lava seen in-game. Actually the portrayal doesn’t manage a faithful or even useful representation of how the skin actually looks.
In the end, the Game of Thrones inspiration with a splash of high fantasy, Lord of the Rings flavoured, is difficult to ignore. In the process of adding style, clarity is sacrificed to the point that the splash art serves as a rough guideline of the skin’s actual look. There’s some use and there’s some style to the piece. However, the end result is so uneven in all areas that it seems unbecoming of what should be a grand demonstration of dragon mastery.
|Conclusion:||Human: wearing bronze-ornamented armour, a cape made of large scales and a helmet with horns the look is rather stereotypical. The fantasy aesthetic also reminds of any high fantasy elf but wearing dragon armour. The message is clear: we have a dragon warlock that is full of power as eyes and lava arm demonstrate. However, the classic design is noticeable and what departs from it merely reaches into the derivative. This results in a model which is good and that’s as much praise as can be given considering how unoriginal it is.
Raven: clearly, this is the dragon form. Still wearing armour, with a translucent arm that seems to have transformed into a shaped flame and a body of a humanoid dragon this is where the skin stands out. Fine, originality isn’t one of the strong features but the dragon form lives up to the expectation set by the skin. If we expect a dragon breathing fire then the skin, mostly, delivers; at least in the ultimate.
Particles add a fluid, lava-like feel to the evident classic design. The result is nice, using different colours to add personality to the flames, but more often than not everything looks familiar with just a splash of lava added on top. The fact that the colour scheme is rather limited, added to the familiarity, means that abilities can feel monotonous. Death Hand’s look is particularly strange as it seems to be borrowed from Tyrant. A few highlights are Ravenous Flock: Ravenous’ pull which employs a trail of silhouettes in the pull. The dragons that circle around Vision of Empire’s eye are a good touch to add something new to the classic design. The head added to Nevermove’s returning wave is interesting. A claw would’ve made sense anyway but the head stands out more. It still seems a bit out of place as the skin relies on small dragons and never on a disembodied head. Demonic Ascension only stands out in the model because even if the lava splashes are nice the overall design isn’t much different from classic.
All of Swain’s are quite good. Northern Front Swain is the recommended skin given its interesting concept and good balance of price versus features offered. The frost concept is superficial but present while the adaptation to the cold is done with a few extra touches that make the skin more appealing.
Tyrant Swain is the most elaborate skin but, ultimately, doesn’t manage a well rounded execution of its theme. In spite of the Sauron inspiration the demonic raven aesthetic is attractive but not taken advantage of. This results in a skin that is appealing despite its flaws yet suffers from feeling unfinished.
Bilgewater Swain is mostly a re-model but good one. The youthful Pirate of the Caribbean is ready to make a name for himself with style more than anything else. The skin is certainly nothing ambitious yet it delivers on its promise.
The much awaited Dragon Master Swain is a skin that follows the template laid out by the visual upgrade. There are some interesting features but the classic design is recognisable too often. For all the potential the skin has the implementation can feel shallow. There are things to like in the skin but there’s ample room for more in the spaces filled by the familiar classic design.