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League of Legends

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Riot Games
Developer: Riot Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 12 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

League of Legends is a free online RTS based around the Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients. The idea behind the game is really quite simple, but opens up a world of strategic decisions - something you wouldn't think would spring up from an RTS where you only control one unit.

Not everyone is going to go for League of Legend's bright, simple style, but I loved it. The game's art style is reminiscent of Warcraft III, but with more of a cel-shaded slant. Character models look simple, but are also fairly detailed and bursting with personality. Champions range from a pigtail-topped youngster to an armor-clad swordsman and a werewolf. The different character types don't fit the typical fantasy mold, but add so much personality to the game its forgivable.

Music and sound are both passable, but become a bit monotonous after a while.


Gameplay:

Games play out in team-based fashion and find players acting as heroes in an A.I.-controlled battle. You begin by creating a Summoner and then a hero from a vast number of different types, or have one randomly chosen for you. Champion selection is one of League of Legends many high points. Granted, some are little more than slight modifications of other classes, but there are so many to choose from it is hard to not find something you'll like. From here, you can further augment your Champion by adding Rune abilities as well as selecting from a group of Summoner spells.

Once you enter the battlefield, you are placed on a team and given a few minutes in your home base to stock up on items and decide which part of the map you'll oversee. Matches can include up to 12 players and can usually run upwards of an hour depending on how many players you're facing and their skill levels. Similar to tower defense games, your Nexus, or main base, is surrounded by lanes allowing enemies to walk towards the core of your base. Lanes are protected by turrets, which provide basic protection from A.I.-controlled minions and rival Champions.

Your ultimate goal is to push down an enemy lane with your Champion, destroying enemy turrets and A.I.-controlled minions, eventually working your way to their Nexus. Depending on your team's strategy, you can team up with teammates in a lane or go it alone and hope your A.I.-controlled minions help you out. Online play is great. You have some basic Matchmaking options as well as persistent stats showing your win/ loss record and, more importantly, how many games you've quit.


Difficulty:

Since League of Legends is based around a popular mod for an even more popular game, there's already a substantial player base out there ready to dominate in matches. If you're more the casual competitive player, League of Legends may not be the environment you're looking for. It's certainly possible to find relaxing, enjoyable games thanks to the Matchmaking system, but it's far more likely you'll end up in a high-level, cutthroat game with experienced players. In other words, League of Legends is a hard game to just jump into.

To help players along, Riot Games has included a great single-player mode that serves as a tutorial. It won't teach you all of the tricks and secrets used by higher-level players, but it can make you competitive if you can get into an appropriate mindset. Concepts are introduced early and in bite-sized portions. It's not hard to understand the underlying concepts behind gameplay. Smartly, Riot Games has also included a few Unlockable rewards for going through the tutorial, so there's always a new little treat waiting at the end of the trick.


Game Mechanics:

The wide selection of hero units is a major plus, but it's variety of choices is a bit overwhelming, particularly if you're the type of player who has a really hard time finding a class and sticking with it (like me). Riot Games has implemented a number of tools to help you sift through the numerous types in order to help you find something that will fit your play style, which is a major plus. At the same time, the number of classes is so immense even with a filter pointing at a certain type; you'll want to experience everything. Luckily, the game is well designed and something you'll want to keep playing. Riot deserves a lot of credit for managing to find a way to introduce so many hero types while also keeping them competitive and fun to play.

The basic mechanic of choosing a unit also hints at some of League of Legend's hidden depth and challenge. Choosing a character introduces an interesting meta-game similar to Magic: The Gathering where you're not just looking to play as a character that suits you, but also something that could potentially offset whatever class your opponent may choose to play. I've yet to see an all-powerful class or classes crop up, but finding the right balance is sometimes more interesting than the core game (at least, it was for me... but I'm a Magic nerd who loves that sort of thing).

Defeating enemies earns money and experience you can then use to upgrade your Champion. One ability point is earned for each level, which can then increase your Champion's abilities up to five times. Money is used to purchase new weapons and items for your Champion.

The core game is available as a free download, which will let you jump in and start playing immediately. A $30 Collector's Pack is also available, which contains the core game as well as access to special Champion skins, Rune upgrades and $10 gift card redeemable in the in-game store. League of Legends may not be a must-play game for everyone, but when you consider the no-risk price, it is definitely a must-try game.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



XP Service Pack 3/ Vista Service Pack 1/ Windows 7; 2 GHz processor; 1024 Mb RAM; 1.3 GB HDD; 512 Mb VRAM (must support shader 2.0); Broadband Internet
 

Test System:



Windows Vista; 1.6 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600; Broadband Internet

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 FIFA Soccer 10 Nintendo DS Space Invaders Extreme 2

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated