Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crimes Against Fashion

Blizzard's Warcraft series has always had a cartoon-y feel. The characters and locales are historically zany and exaggerrated. Wander through any of the more exotic environments (Stranglethorn Vale, Ashenvale Forest, etc) and you'll see what I mean, especially when you consider the bordering zone. The Tanaris desert is right next to the plush, pre-historic Un'Goro Crater, which is right next to the Silithus desert. Snowy Winterspring is located right next to temperate Felwood. The world is littered with stark contrasts from zone to zone. The result is an over-the-top feel to the environments... but it doesn't stop there. Look at your characters and you'll see the same effects. Male Draenei shoulder size, male Troll and Night Elf (lack of) limb girth, Gnome hair - they're all, for lack of a better word, exaggerrated. It makes perfect sense that this theme of exaggerration and off-beat graphics when considering the medieval-type setting would carry into their gear skins. However, it drives me stark-raving mad.

Ever since my beloved paladin reached level 60, he's been plagued with a never-ending flow of gawdy, hideous, and generally atrocious gear skins. First up was the [Lightforge Helm] graphic. I didn't know what to make of it. It didn't look anything like any plate helmet that I would expect, and struck me more like a fez than anything. It's when I began hiding my helm graphic. Insult to injury is when I upgraded it to Soulforge, it just turned purple. My armor was a gleaming gold before, and then it got morphed into a motley purple. I was not happy. At least the stats were good!

Next I started grabbing Molten Core epics. The Lawbringer set, despite being good for only Holy paladins and generally useless otherwise, was a set I filled out completely and didn't look horrible in. With one exception, however - the shoulders. Oh how I loathed those shoulders. For those who didn't raid pre-Burning Crusade, the [Lawbringer Spaulders] were an abomination of shoulder-armor. The upturned golden banana-spikes on either shoulder were subject to mockery by all races and classes. At one point I started using my Soulforge shoulders while healing raids, just to prevent having to stare at the bananas for hours at a time. The icing on this proverbial cake was Chromaggus never dropping enough [Judgement Spaulders] for our raids, so I never even had an opportunity to out-and-out replace them. As a side note, the Judgement set is widely regarded as Blizzard's finest achievement among paladin sets, but even that set did not escape my ire - the legplates were not legplates at all, but were a skirt-kilt thing. A knight wearing a skirt into battle just struck me as... well, wrong. We never got far enough in Naxxramas for me to wear the tier 3 Redemption set, but my general opinion of the set was that it was 1) pure Holy gear, and offended my hybrid nature; and 2) was almost more hideous than Lawbringer, as it made paladins look like one of those morph-robot things from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. My knight shall not be likened to a cheesey children's action series!

When Burning Crusade hit the shelves, I had high hopes for new sets. The new dungeon set offered pieces such as [Spaulders of the Righteous] and [Helm of the Righteous], which were very encouraging. The Righteous set looked like armor - steel, rigid, and strong. However, as I moved into Karazhan, I found unpolished and unfinished graphics. I was wholly disappointed by the original [Pauldrons of the Justice-Seeker] - they were a re-hash of the Lawbringer graphic, recolored to a puke-y green. And that didn't change for at least a patch or two, when they were re-skinned to look exactly like the Righteous armor equivalent. When I started raiding tier 5 content in Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep, I was aghast at the abundance of purple and the other-worldly floating pieces on [Crystalforge Shoulderbraces]. I specifically passed on the tier 5 shoulder token several times and kept my Justicar equivalent in protest of the graphic, but eventually caved to the superior stats.

I'd like a word with the Blizzard item artists and to commend whomever came up with the [Lightbringer Shoulderbraces] and [Justicar Shoulderplates] art. Those are shoulders I wear/wore with pride. After I got done lavishing them with praise for those though, I'd probably start a half-hour rant about how the rest of their awful gear skins made me want to slaughter every orphan in Stormwind, with special malice spurned on by the [Lightbringer War-Helm] graphic. Halos are reserved for holy priests - paladins wear armor that actually protects.

That's my random gear thought of the day. As you can tell from this post and my previous post on gear stat selection, Blizzard's itemizers and I have a sordid history.

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