Zed, the Master of Shadows arrived at the League of Legends to finally offer the ways of a true ninja. Hardly conventional, his shadows are based on deceit so he retains the familiar furtive flavour of the classic shinobi. Conversely, his skins take different angles that sometimes contrast his armoured look and shadow games. Your enemies may not see you marking them for death but you can still look good in the shadows with Zed’s skins’ review.
|Concept:||Zed as a white-clad ninja with electric powers.|
|Model:||New model for Zed, his shadow and shurikens.|
|Particles:||New whirlwinds and lightning particles for Zed and his shadow. New lightning particles for his abilities, auto-attack and recall plus new blue cross for Death Mark. New lighting for his blades and shurikens when idle.|
|Animations:||New death animation.|
|Sounds:||New electric sounds for his abilities and the electric arc between blades and shurikens when idle. New sound for his disappearing shadow during his joke and taunt.|
|Splash Art:||A lightning storm as a background is a simple but striking frame for a ninja. Except for the clouds and lightning there’s a lot of empty space but the intention is clear: Zed wields the power of nature itself. Moving on to him, the portrayal is quite good due to a dynamic stance and complex shading. Intricate folds on his clothes, multiple reflections and eye-catching light effects make the piece rather stunning to look at. However, the perspective of his right leg seems unconvincing and the rather empty setting makes him float in nothingness. All things considered, it’s a great looking spotlight of Zed but the background looks like it didn’t reach the level of quality that the portrayal did.|
|Conclusion:||Shockblade Zed takes off the classic armour and instead turns Zed into a conventional white ninja. The appearance is interesting and retains remarkable facets like the dual blades and oversized shurikens. However, in general the look feels rather plain and uninspired. The particles add some flare to the skin with tame lightning effects but they never appear as impactful as lightning should. In fact, they seem to compete with and diminish the relevance of the shadow theme. Furthermore, the new sounds don’t help that matter as they are subtle and almost inconspicuous. Overall, it’s a traditional look for Zed that feels novel and appealing yet isn’t as stunning as one would expect.|
|Concept:||Zed as a sleek, modern street ninja.|
|Model:||New model for Zed, his shadow and shurikens.|
|Particles:||No new particles.|
|Animations:||No new animations.|
|Sounds:||No new sounds.|
|Splash Art:||Following on the footsteps laid before, the splash art is content with depicting the team of champions at an arena among bright lights and confetti. As dynamic as the portrayal is it also feels like it’s treading the same ground. It also doesn’t help matters that the background is so diffuse and that the setting seems empty.
That considered the champions do look good. Each depiction speaks about them though not always in the right way. Specifically, Jax appears agile and ready for a fight, Lee Sin concentrated and physically apt while Zed seems sneaky and lethal. The ladies though don’t shine as much: Zyra simply lashes forward with her classic tendrils and Vayne looks unexpectedly light-hearted and enticing.
In a way, it seems that the splash art followed the traditional path: powerful guys flanked by sexy girls. To be fair, the portrayals are nice with vibrant shading and great variety of colour. Besides, for better or for worse, all the champions look attractive in some way. Therefore, we can say that it’s a piece with a disappointing background and a good portrayal that doesn’t always display the best that each champion can offer.
|Conclusion:||Thanks to the comfortable and practical clothes and lean, new design for his blades and shurikens SKT T1 Zed manages to appear as a modern-day street ninja. The brightly coloured weapons clash with the stealthy approach typical of the profession and the option of fingerless gloves seem suboptimal. Regardless, the result is appealing and appears feasible in the realm of fiction. It’s also quite nice that some of his abilities are also modified as they use assets from his base model: Razor Shuriken, Living Shadow and Death Mark; in particular. On the whole, it’s a decidedly fictionalized but eye-catching and enjoyable contemporary look for Zed.|
|Concept:||Zed as a hi-tech ninja.|
|Model:||New model for Zed, his shadow and shurikens plus new surrounding particles as well as for his blades and shadows.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities and auto-attack.|
|Animations:||New recall animation.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall plus processed voice-over.|
|Splash Art:||The city glows with an unnatural hue as the skyscrapers raise with artificial might. Yet, the rain is the only witness to the androids that are being slashed by a cybernetic ninja. For the most part, the setting is clear and there’s some context to the piece despite the diffuse display. Regardless, the area on the bottom right is a messy chaos of diffuse smoke that barely reveals one of Zed’s shadows; which is more clearly shown over his arm. From the beams being fired one could guess that it’s Lucian shooting his guns and establish a connection to his splash art but it’s too blurry for anything concrete.
Thankfully, Zed doesn’t face such problems. The sliced robot spreads sparks that illuminate his armour and the raindrops believably fall on the metal. Whether it’s the outline, colour, shading or lighting Zed looks excellent. His left arm appears a bit sketchy but it’s something minor that doesn’t detract from the piece; though it’s noticeable. The blades and Zed’s shadows have a pleasing transparency that makes them appear solid enough to be deadly: a precise stroke of the brush. Zed’s leaning forward stance doesn’t reveal as much of his body as one would prefer but in the context of the action is understandable.
In conclusion, we find ourselves in front of a great splash art that suffers from a surprising lack of attention in a whole area; the bottom right one. If that area were clearer and the possible Lucian reference plainly stated we would certainly have one of League of Legends’ best splash arts.
|Conclusion:||With an impressive new model PROJECT: Zed stands at the threshold between machine and human. His body appears to be fully integrated with technology whether wearing it or implanted with cybernetics. The simple but efficient design for his blades and shurikens reinforce the use of effective schematics to maximize results; though one can wonder what those canisters on his thighs are for. Nonetheless the cybernetic style is clear and also realized with a pleasingly dark yet colourful aesthetic.
The red particles follow in that path with square designs that, after a while, start to feel too alike each other. The trails left for either shurikens or shadows are too similar and so the particles have to rely on other elements to make the abilities seem different. Even Shadow Slash’s eye-catching flurry doesn’t escape from that trend despite looking too conspicuous for a ninja. Where the particles work well is in the shadows which look like holographic copies with satisfying distortions. The animated cross by Death Mark is also another nice addition even though the rest of the ultimate is clearly familiar ground. The sounds support the abilities well and though there’s nothing groundbreaking they fulfil their objective. The theme restricts the variety and so the sounds are somewhat similar but they work; there could be some extra variety still. The recall is a showy addition that merely furthers the spectacle just as the processed voice-over simply gives the final brushstroke.
In the end, PROJECT: Zed is an attractive skin with a distinct style that is emphasized by the particle’s colours; though not always by their designs. The result is certainly good but there’s little that goes beyond 975 RP territory. At 1350 RP, despite the interesting features the skin lacks significant additions to justify the extra expense. Therefore, if you’d like to join the Master of Cybernetics in his adventures a sale would be the best opportunity for that.
|Concept:||Zed as a blue-armoured ninja.|
|Model:||New model for Zed, his shadow and shurikens plus new blue surrounding ripples.|
|Particles:||New blue particles for his abilities, auto-attack, death and recall.|
|Animations:||New recall animation.|
|Sounds:||New recall sounds.|
|Splash Art:||The dark and foreboding feel of the piece is evident at a glance. However, there isn’t much that is actually revealed after a closer inspection. The background isn’t very clear: there’s an opening in a low ceiling from where a light, moonlight perhaps, falls and spreads into the room. Against the walls there are some classic Zed armours or shadows but the intense mist doesn’t show much. Four visible acolytes surround the Master of Shadows with one offering a blade; with which intentions it isn’t even suggested. There are also sparks of unknown origin which, in fact, seem out of place. The result is a setting that gives a perception of gloom but that doesn’t develop it.
Zed’s portrayal shares many similarities. The control of power and its supernatural nature is implicit but the quality of the depiction is evidently uneven. From the waist down Zed is buried in a mist that barely lets some details emerge. The upper half is a completely different matter. The precise lines, bright highlights and sharp colours make the metal vivid and believable. Even the engravings on the armour and shurikens are noticeable. The blue glow on the eyes, back and forearms give the armour an unsuitable futuristic air; though they look great. The idea of magic seems opposed before the modern design of the armour; stressed by the glows. The pose does give Zed’s presence a mysterious angle but the fact that his appearance isn’t fully visible, and not just because of the pose, makes such a proposition ineffective. Too much is concealed, even his actual reason to be there. His outstretched left arm and head position may imply communication with one of the acolytes yet it’s all too subtle to draw more from it.
In consequence, this is a piece with great potential and many hints at possibilities that are never developed with more elements; even subtly. The setting has a nice, dark feel and Zed’s depiction is attractive. Regardless, both are unevenly displayed and the whole situation gives little to no concrete information about what’s going on. The result is a splash art that catches the eye but then dilutes the attention in an array of suggestions that are never given a proper purpose.
|Conclusion:||Not unlike previous skins in the same line Championship Zed is quite a straightforward skin. Unlike them the result fails at being more than the sum of its parts. The new, multi-layered blue armour is well designed. It seems functional yet good looking and has a measured air of royalty to it. Even the blades have an accompanying design that suits the general feel. While it’s nothing extraordinary it’s certainly a good appearance with modern lines that define a suitably aggressive and lean look.
The particles are direct. They mostly display blue smoke, which is appealing, and blue swirls; which are unsurprising but consistent. The smoke ends up being the most significant change as the rest is the same old classic stuff but in blue. The recall ties in with the regal style of the armour and manages to be more than a mere tournament reference.
All in all, though the blue ninja aesthetic is communicated there is a perceived lack of attraction in the changes. Everything works towards specifically defined goals and it all seems effective. However, as it’s all so direct the result has less impact than in should. The model is good and so is the blue smoke. The rest of blue particles keep everything consistent but there’s nothing that identifies the skin; colour aside. In spite of all the work, Championship Zed struggles to end up being more than Blue Zed. Seeing as this is a special, legacy skin it’s a pity that it fails to set itself apart from the many re-models with re-coloured particles and a recall tagged on that already exist.
|Concept:||Zed as a spectral ninja.|
|Model:||New model for Zed, his shadow and shurikens. New glow for his head and claws plus small ghost flying around him.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities, auto-attack, death and recall.|
|Animations:||New modified animations for his abilities and auto-attacks plus new recall animation.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack, death and recall.|
|Splash Art:||With some luck it can be guessed that the action takes place within some sort of temple. The few lines on the background could indicate some arches but that’s as far as it goes. Perhaps we are in front of a tomb or maybe the blur is so intense that no one can have a proper idea of what’s going on. Sure, there are shadows and they seem to be of the kind to be wary of. However, only a couple can be distinguished and the one on the left barely has a human shape. The one on the right does seem to resemble someone familiar, because of the helmet, but it’s also rather blurry.
In the middle of it all we find a dim spectre with sketchy armour. The perspective intends to show how imposing this figure is to be but it’s too subtle. Also, there’s no transparency to the spectral body and the light it emits doesn’t seem to affect nearby surfaces much. This results in a plastic-like ghost with a head of cotton that tries to escape from the blur yet is a victim of it. Truth be told, as far a fear and scares are concerned Zed is completely unable to communicate any sort of dread. The general idea isn’t bad but a good layer of polish is necessary to elevate this portrayal to something more effective.
Frankly, this splash art is appalling. It’s not that it’s terribly done but it wholly misses the point of what it intends to evoke. Zed’s new look is visible and, even if unimpressive, the depiction works. However, there’s no dread, no fright, no feeling to be gathered from the piece. It seems so devoid of the supernatural that it disappoints.
|Conclusion:||A ninja with supernatural powers is nothing out of the ordinary. Death Sworn Zed ups the ante by also making the ninja a spectre. The body almost glows with unearthly energy though the armour is quite stylish. In fact, that’s an aspect that goes far from the sturdy armour Zed is known for. This time is about good looks with curved designs and lots of undead body unprotected. Strangely, the fact that cements the undead facet goes straight through his armour: the swords stabbing his back. Practical as always, Zed uses them so they aren’t merely decorative. The Wolverine-like claws have a nice, soft glow but their design seems derivative. Still, they are flashy enough considering the approach of the model. The model does look a bit monotonous, though. Made up entirely of shades of blue Zed looks like a shadow himself; even if he’s supposed to be a spectre. The dark greys used for his shadows are good and differentiate the two well enough; perhaps too much as the palettes are too different.
Particles are consistent yet also homogeneous. They employ white and blue swirls and trails that end up looking quite similar to each other. Auto-attacks stand out for the horizontally displaced glow that seems to be pushing the soul away from an attacked enemy with an ectoplasmic splash; though the animation seems simplistic. Razor Shuriken’s use of the swords stabbing Zed’s back is great but the rest of the particles aren’t noteworthy. The ghosts that fly away once a shadow dissipates are also a highlight. They add an apt supernatural feel though the playful flight may be too lighthearted for a skin with sinister inclinations. The ghosts that swirl around Zed and shadows for Shadow Slash are also nice but so brief that they are barely noticeable. The swords used for Death Mark seem simplistic. The ghosts that fly around the target are clear but for an ultimate something more elaborate than what’s used in the rest of abilities is expected. The death animation is identical to Classic but now adapted to the new look. The ghost that flies over the portal is perplexing because Zed is still around; unless he uses a spirit as a gate.
For the most part, sounds use the expected slashes backed by a few haunting screams and howls. The slashes seem reused from classic and the haunting sounds are fitting but too sparsely used. What really stands out is the liquid impact used in auto-attacks and some abilities. They support the white ectoplasm seen in auto-attacks for an added dose of ghost-based nature. Sadly, their use is too sparse.
Animations for auto-attacks and abilities are different but only a little bit. They actually adapt the actions to the new claws and swords on the back; instead of shurikens. On paper, it seems like a good idea but in practice there’s nothing that stands out: the change is minimal. The recall seems to have a Bishamon reference with Zed being a cursed armour that falls to the ground with the spectre flying away; perhaps to curse another. While there’s some unnecessary melodrama at the beginning and the ghost flying around aren’t given proper context it’s a fitting addition.
On the whole, Death Sworn Zed is a supernatural ninja that has ghostly tendencies but isn’t really sinister. On the contrary, the ghosts that so often fly around in playful swirls can even be considered funny. The design also uses elements which aren’t sufficiently exploited. For example, the swords on the back aren’t given much relevance despite seemingly being the way Zed died. The result is a skin that tries to be a haunting spectre but ends up being a lighthearted ghost. This is still appealing but far from the potential horror a Master of Shadows could be capable of; especially beyond the grave. The wasted implications of his end and manifestation only add to the letdown.
Zed is a ninja with an imposing armoured look deeply rooted on the use of shadows. Therefore, Shockblade Zed’s style is paradoxical as it lightens his aspect and also his shadows. It’s still a good skin that retains his classic style while adding a bit of light to his appearance. Hence, if you can stand the competition between lightning and shadows then Shockblade Zed isn’t a bad option.
A modern ninja look is offered by SKT T1 Zed. The skin only offers model changes but as the shurikens and shadows have to be modified it manages to offer a bit more than the usual re-model. The fact that the appearance is attractive help make the skin a worthwhile choice if you prefer your ninjas more contemporary.
Cybernetics is fully embraced by PROJECT: Zed and that is clearly visible in his aspect. The dark style of his particles helps define a unique aesthetic that feels virtually unstoppable. The lack of any special features prevents the skin from reaching excellence; which are to be expected due to its price. Fans of cyborg ninjas will find much to like in the skin except the price; wait for a sale if possible.
The legacy offering comes from Championship Zed. It’s a skin that does one thing very well: Blue Zed. However, the skin, assumedly, aims much higher than that. At least, the model is a good indication with its interesting design. Sadly, even if the blue smoke is appealing, it essentially feels like a change of colour and so the skin fails at defining a new identity. Overall, it’s a good skin and has some merit. Yet, it can all feel disappointingly shallow.
Expensive and distinct Death Sworn Zed is a skin with spectral aspirations that ends up being just ghostly. The skin has good ideas but they are often unexploited. Besides, the ghosts that often fly around feel too playful and far from frightening. This results in a skin that has appeal but not the kind that could be expected. The fact that several elements are also not taken advantage of means that there’s too much untapped potential.