The Sun shines high in the sky. Nervously but attentive the survivors scavenge whatever had or could have a use. Nothing is discarded. Much is lost so improvisation is a valuable skill. Dusk is here. No matter what they were doing they have to finish it now. The survivors take refuge in the remains of a heavily repaired house; its thick walls are a great relief. The night is here, a stench stains the air which heralds a new presence arriving on the streets. Straps are tightened, engines roar, a helmet hides a face and a mad grin lights another. It’s time to clean up.
In the distance, explosions destroy what the zombies haven’t. The red fumes cover most of what remains but one can guess that there isn’t much to see. At least that’s the idea, because the background is notable for its poor quality with regards to the simple and dull depiction of the setting. The foreground is, fortunately, the complete opposite. Here we find the zombie slayers enjoying their job against the hordes of the undead. The stains on their clothes and bodies show that they like the get quite involved in the activity. However, they are being flanked by an unusual enemy. In this area, the context is not only clearer but also more meaningful. While the zombie horde is suggested more than shown their presence is clear. The only exception to the emptiness of the background is the presence of a certain legendary undead that has his flames ready to join the battle; if he can stagger there on time. The vertical stripe on the left of Jinx and Pantheon’s splash art also catches the eye but isn’t as evocative.
Without a doubt the portrayal of the champions at combat is the central part of the piece. Their portrayal exhibits a magnificent use of colour and light that manages an attractive display. Their combat poses don’t compete with the need to allow a clear view and their expressions are reminiscent of their joy. Even the regular zombie on the corner of the foreground displays quite a bit of detail. Each surface and texture is meticulously drawn and shaded with the correct use of depth of field effects; which adds to the portrayal. It’s only when certain elements move towards the background, like Pantheon’s jetpack, that they become sketchy. For the most part, each champion has their place and their personality is eloquently presented. So, between Jinx’s dementia, Pantheon’s blood lust, Nunu’s derangement and Willump’s ferocity there’s much to appreciate.
Ultimately, it is an uneven splash art. The background, though clearly secondary in importance, is plain and uninteresting. In stark contrast, the foreground takes the reins of the whole piece and presents a battle for survival that shows the best that each champion has to offer. In consequence, this is a great portrayal backed by a disappointingly presented setting.
|Concept:||Jinx as a zombie-huntress.|
|Model:||New model for Jinx, rocket launcher Fishbones, her minigun Pow-Pow and her shock gun Zapper. New smoke for Pow-Pow.|
|Particles:||New particles for her abilities and auto-attack.|
|Animations:||New animations for Switcheroo! and recall|
|Sounds:||New sounds for Get Excited!, Switcheroo!, Zap!, Super Mega Death Rocket!, auto-attack and recall.|
|Conclusion:||At a glance, Slayer Jinx is a bit of a disappointing skin. Her appearance seems too similar to her classic one and only the more industrial approach of her weapons differentiates it. Even so, it looks like a normal change of clothes for Jinx: something she could use in her everyday mayhem and not actually custom made for a zombie outbreak survivor. She still looks good but the casual clothing is unremarkable and even seems to downplay her madness. It’s too sober and even dull. Jinx seems to be the kind of girl that would wear more colourful attire and a t-shirt with something more eye-catching in it; like a zombie face in a prohibition sign with ‘Die Zombie Die’ printed on the back.
The new look for her weapons is appealing but nothing impressive. It adds a bit of an industrial angle to her aspect but doesn’t deviate much from her classic aesthetic. Exactly the same can be said about the particles and sounds. There’s nothing that feels novel and that easily presents the zombie-huntress theme. Surely nothing looks bad but it all seems to play too safe without innovation in any area. The only addition that states the zombie theme is the recall but it’s too little considering that’s the basis of the skin.
All things considered, Slayer Jinx is a fine looking skin but also pedestrian. It’s appealing but mostly because it sticks close to her classic style; which is already attractive. The result isn’t bad but leaves a feeling that much more could’ve been done. It’s like a more casual, relaxed Jinx that doesn’t worry too much about style and goes for rougher weapons. Considering its price, it’s an alright skin but also expensive and a letdown considering the theme’s potential; better to get on sale.
|Concept:||Pantheon as a zombie-hunter.|
|Model:||New model for Pantheon and his weapons plus new sign-post for his recall.|
|Particles:||New particles for his abilities and recall.|
|Animations:||New recall animation.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.|
|Conclusion:||Equal parts zombie outbreak survivor and self-made warrior Slayer Pantheon is a unique yet suitable idea for the Artisan of War. His love of battle combines well with the requirements of zombie destruction just as the aggressive aesthetic fits a true warrior. The makeshift approach to his weaponry matches his determined personality while managing to explain his reliance on melee: he prefers to get close and personal.
None of the new particles are anything astounding. In fact, they all seem like necessary modifications to keep the visual consistency. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t appealing but what really is attractive is the sound of the chainsaw engine. Even in his ultimate it can be heard, revving up, as a complement to his jetpack. It’s only Grand Skyfall that explains said jetpack, quite an addition, but it’s a nice little touch. It can seem preposterous but it also justifies his leaps satisfactorily; given the presented fantasy. The recall is a clear statement about his reason for existing so it’s a good way of rounding the theme.
All in all, Slayer Pantheon isn’t an impressive skin but it’s certainly a pleasing one. It’s sensibly made and with some attractive additions that are well thought. Perhaps it’s not the groundbreaking destroyer of zombies that he should be but Slayer Pantheon is a great choice for a more modern urban version of the Artisan.
|Concept:||Nunu as a mad scientist and Willump as his monstrous creation.|
|Model:||New model for Nunu and Willump. New drool for Willump.|
|Particles:||New particles for their abilities and auto-attack.|
|Animations:||New animations for Consume, running during Blood Boil, Absolute Zero, running and recall.|
|Sounds:||New sounds for his Consume, Blood Boil, Ice Blast, Absolute Zero, auto-attack and recall plus new voice-over.|
|Conclusion:||The first thing that comes to mind when looking at Zombie Nunu is that it’s an eye-catching, even interesting, skin but, despite that, it’s not exactly what would be called appealing. The repulsive aesthetic is well presented, very effectively indeed, but it’s something that can feel undesirable. It’s also as much a reference to Frankenstein’s monster as to a zombie because the monster would technically qualify as such. That being said, the monstrous style is finely realised and consistently implemented across all areas of the skin. Thanks to a varied selection of changes Zombie Nunu is quite close to a legendary skin and it shows. The skin modifies almost every aspect of the duo and splatters the theme effectively on them. On top of that, it doesn’t forget to add some fitting touches like Willump’s drooling or a new running animation evoking the classic zombie walk.
The goo particles follow the style displayed by the model: they catch the eye with their disgusting appearance yet at the same time can induce one to avert the eyes. The trail left by Blood Boil is attractive but seems out of place with regards to the goo-base. The sounds complement the idea without being particularly prominent or special. Regardless, the new grunt and gibberish voice-over furthers the theme and allows it to be more convincing. The few new animations can be as unremarkable as Consume’s or as perfectly chosen as Blood Boil’s. One thing that seems uneven is Absolute Zero; what ought to be their finest moment. The bloating animation is a great addition but the actual explosion of goo and other unmentionable elements looks weak and lacking any impact.
All things considered, Zombie Nunu is a skin that shows a lot of effort and a willingness to go beyond usual expectations to make a satisfying product. Such dedication shows in the implementation which is full of additions to better present the theme. The concept may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Being so well realised the repugnant nature of the zombified duo is evident. Additionally, not all changes are as effective as they could be and Absolute Zero should certainly explode with an impressive display. The good, ultimately, defeats the flaws and for fans of monsters Zombie Nunu is a recommended skin; provided they can stomach it.
In general, this year’s Harrowing skins aren’t bad. However, the concepts aren’t in all cases transported to three dimensions in the best of ways. The recommendations are Zombie Nunu and Slayer Pantheon; which leaves Slayer Jinx as the sole disappointment. These recommended skins aren’t perfect but they offer attractive features and a reasonable price.
Specifically, Zombie Nunu has significant changes to embody the disgust of a rotting, animated corpse. The theme is eloquently presented and offers enough to very well justify the expense. The aesthetic probably won’t appeal to everyone but it’s undeniable that it’s effective and it shows that a lot of effort was invested. All in all, it may well be the most relevant skin of the trio.
Slayer Pantheon is a somewhat modest or conventional skin but attractive. The theme is fitting and the implementation, while far from spectacular, works well and has a few remarkable additions to make the skin special. Admittedly, there’s room for something more elaborate but for its price it presents an interesting picture of a urban zombie hunter. Fans of the Artisan of War will find it a good adaptation that doesn’t impress yet states its message well enough.
Finally, Slayer Jinx is a skin that even at a lower price would struggle to feel unique. The style follows too closely the classic aspect and so the skin doesn’t state its theme clearly. Nothing looks exactly bad but there isn’t an addition that embodies the spirit of the theme and there isn’t anything that wouldn’t fit her classic persona or that expands on it. For its high price, it simply doesn’t offer enough and on sale it still seems a bit lacking.