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Early Impressions of Horizon Zero Dawn

by on April 1, 2017

Reposted from our facebook page. Originally Posted on 2.28.

Early, spoiler-free impressions (not a review) of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Ok, so when the first visuals pop on the screen, my initial statement was WOW. Seriously, that was the first word out of my mouth. Then I got to see some of the characters, like Rost, a baby Aloy, an old lady during ceremony. It was during this moment and the moments that follow that noticed my first issue. The faces. While the characters themselves are gorgeously detailed, with their fur coverings, sudo-armor plating and gear, the faces look like plastic dolls. Especially Aloy. She looks like one of those dolls that when it’s laying down, the eyes are closed, but if you were to straighten her up, they open. It’s just weird looking and it really takes me out of the game. All I can do is just look at the faces and say in my head to myself, something is really off.

Later, you play as a young Aloy, about 9 years old or so, it’s here as well that I noticed more of the same. With Aloy, I noticed what I called (at least to myself) disjointed eyes. The eyes clearly look like shiny glass balls placed in the head of a CGI model. There are specific moments when you can rotate the camera around Aloy and she’s standing still, but she’s looking all over the place and her eyes are just like rolling around in her head.

There’s a moment in the game where she gets wet under water and when she comes up, it’s like she was bobbing for Apples that were floating in baby oil. Her entire head is just one huge reflective surface. It doesn’t look wet, it just looks like she’s just taken a bath in coconut oil, it’s very strange. I only bring this up, because after playing Uncharted 4, another Sony game, you get spoiled. Naughty Dog makes you forget you’re watching CG characters, their animations, lip syncing, eye movements, rendering all that stuff is SPOT on. To be fair though, Horizon is a much larger game and its environments are more detailed and simply, better looking. I just wish its characters were on par with its environment.

As I said, this is just an early impression from about 20 mins of gameplay late last night. I’m not trying to dogging the game, as I’m still very impressed with the “overall” appearance and like I mentioned, I just started the training with my bow, so as long as the actual gameplay mechanics holds up to the environments, I’ll probably forget about the bad facial stuff, at least until every cut scene pops up. I’ve heard the lip syncing is WAY off for some of the characters who have smaller roles, like side quests off the beaten path. Apparently Guerrilla Games, just didn’t care to spend time with those as much as the more important, story characters. I hope that now that the game is out, they’ll spend more time fixing things like that and just release small patches that will work out bugs and issues.

All in all, I’ll have a lot more to say on this week’s show, recording this Friday night. We’ll see if things change. As it stands right now, I’m very impressed, intrigued and confused. I’ll leave it at that.-M