Review: League Of Legends
by, 07-05-2010 at 10:04 AM (1220 Views)
I’ve always wondered how people get addicted, truly addicted to things. MMOs in particular. How does paying $50 for a game then paying $10+ a month for that single game make any sense? The model seems like some sort of way to break the bank intentionally. Video Games are investments in time and money, MMOs are some of the most time and money consuming games out there, with hours and hours on end of grinding to be had. Even fighting others in these games isn’t completely fluid. What if there was some way to take the core ideas of an MMO, namely the grind, the battling wild monsters, and fighting other players using calculated mouse clicks and item builds, into a single match of a game AND make it free? Well I may just know the game for you.
League of Legends is one of the heirs to the throne of PC gaming, Defense of the Ancients, the Warcraft III mod that crafted this type of game. Well when I call the game DOTA-like it’s a compliment, (I have never played DOTA myself) but to those who don’t know what I mean with that, let me explain. The game plays like a stripped down real time Strategy game, though instead of controlling an army, you only have a single Unit, a “Champion” in this case. As their “summoner” You command your Champ to do your bidding, namely to defeat the other team. You have 4 abilities to level up in whatever order you choose and you must buy items to improve your champion’s fighting prowess less you die, alot.
Your main base sends out minions along the predefined paths which are guarded by turrets for each of the 2 teams, with 1/2 the map belonging to each side at the start. To win you have to take out the turrets and eventually lead your minions into the enemy’s base and destroy it. Pretty simple really. The game is essentially an RTS boiled down to the most fun mixed with the most fun MMOs can offer, with grinding, strategy, wild monsters to kill and other players to compete against, all within 30 minutes to an hour.
LOL matches are typically 5v5 or 3v3 with the current 2 maps. The game is free to play, wait I didn’t mention that yet right? Yeah FREE TO PLAY. Wait wait don’t runaway, this isn’t some throwaway title either. Let’s break down how there system works. There are “free” champions that are cycled every week. And you can unlock them permanently with one of 2 kinds of currency. Riot Points are ones you can spend your actual Money to get stuff out of the gate, the other kind of points is earned through playing the game. Winning or losing, you still get points toward unlocking characters and ruins to upgrade them. You don’t need riot points for anything other than special skins for champions or boost to increase your returns in the game.
So anyway back to how a match goes, typically. The game lets you either dive into the queue alone or, you can team up with friends made in the game with the decently robust built in friend list. You pick your champion from the pool of available champions that week and you have unlocked, and only one of each per team so you can’t have 2+ of any champion. From there you then pick 2 “summoner spells” which are spells that are character agnostic that you unlock more of as you gain experience points from playing. (just like the other points) And then choose runes which augment boosts to your character in a manner of ways. You earn a new rune slot for every level up to the max of 30 and you buy them the same as champions. You also have masteries which are like a skill tree in an rpg, specializing in Offense Defense and Utility. Then you dive into the loading screen and wait for the everyone to be connected to the servers. In game you and your team help minons take down towers and eventually the enemy team’s base by killing the other players and stopping them from doing the same to you. You buy items to increase your character’s skills, either attack or defense wise. And you earn money to buy them buy killing things, it’s a wonderful cycle of death.
It usually goes looks like this
If all that talk of runes and spells and masteries sounded frightening, it really is not. It sounds more complicated than it really is which does some disservice to the game. The game welcomes you with a fantastic tutorial which goes over all that, and the practice servers are full of usually helpful people, aside from the occasional level 30 looking to Noobstomp. And at the item shop in the actual games, there’s recommended items for each champion to help guide you on making the most out of your hard earned gold. That said there’s a surprising amount of depth to this free to play game.
No I guess that we got the technical babble out of the way, you are probably wondering about how the game looks and feels. Well, it looks pretty stunning I think all things considered. The art is colorful and lively, not full on cel shaded or cartoonish, but it’s somewhere around there. Each Champions has a totally different personality and feel to how they play, which is good considering there’s nearly 50 characters to play as, ranging from an undead arnold Schwarzenegger berserker with an Axe, to a tiny mage full of evil and contempt for you (most are aware you are in command of them), to even a Monster who grows buy killing and EATING other players. They continue to release more and more champions with a new one every few weeks it seems, along side the paid skins as well.
Well after all that glowing recommendation, what are some of the negatives? Well, Private practice games are the closest you will get to a 10 person Lan since there isn’t an offline component to speak of, so that’s one thing DOTA players and old PC gamers complained about I know of. The game is built with Adobe Air which I know for some people is not their favorite piece of software. (It Doesn’t bother myself, but I should bring it up) There’s no in game voice chat, leaving only a text chat and pinging the map to communicate to other players which does sometimes cause problems ad mist the chaos of 5v5 team battles over a push toward taking a team’s tower. (It has messed me up a few times) And like any online game there can be lag sometimes, but this depends on your own internet connection, I’ve only had 1-2 games where it was too bad to play at all.
Also if you want to leave the match to play with someone else, you have to deal with a mark on your record, though only extensive leaving (10 plus I think) will show to everyone, this is if the game doesn’t try to reconnect you to the game in progress you left if it is still going on. Which while nice if you lose connection, it can be annoying if you wanted to leave that game. You also can’t back out of a game once you are in pregame setup, unless you quit the program and reopen it, which is irritating at times.
All in all the game is a solid one. Built on RTS/Diablo clickathon gameplay and with the overarching leveling up like that of an MMO, makes a potent combination that’s really fun And it’s got a compelling price of free, outside of playing dress up for Champions. And I can’t stop playing it myself.
You can play League of Legends Right now by heading over to http://www.leagueoflegends.com/ and signing up and downloading the client. (Windows Only for now sadly)
PS: My Summoner Name is Anthony Wastella if you wanted to play along side myself.
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