October 27th, 2009
Gaming heroin at it’s purest
First of all, yes I have started playing League of Legends, and second of all, I’m not sure yet whether I’m proud of that. League of Legends is an online multiplayer real-time strategy action game (the acronym OMRTSAG isn’t likely to catch on) which is, more importantly, free to play, though there are plenty of opportunities to splash your cash on unlocking characters and costumes if you feel the need to. The basic premise is that of a defense game wherein you control your own avatar, a Champion, and with your team of fellow Champions try to stop your opponents from destroying your base as you simultaneously advance on their own. Every Champion has a selection of powers that you unlock as the game progresses with the ultimate aim being ‘balance’ as some characters are best suited to killing enemy Champions while others are better at chasing down fleeing enemies or halting advances. And, in the main, it works very well and when everything goes according to plan it feels, just like Golf, very satisfying. But when things aren’t working out it can feel, just like Golf, like the most infuriating experience in the world. I have nothing more to add about Golf.
The game looks and feels very much like a Warcraft clone which isn’t bad as said series has a very strong and appealing essence that taps into the core of the fantasy gaming genre. You’ll find everything here from dark wizards and buxom assassins to walking rocks and flying shadows, and it all fits in rather nicely. There is a substantial amount of lore for anyone who’s interested but the problem with this sort of game is that anything beyond ‘background information’ will only get in the way so it is very much down to the preference of the individual whether they indulge in it or not. The most important aspect is the ability to include the wide array of quirky and interesting characters as it does while making each one unique, which I have so far found to be the case. However, while some characters are quite obviously suited to certain roles you’ll find that others are more resilient to the casual player and take a little time and concentration to be played effectively. This can be frustrating when you buy a new character with your hard-earned points only to discover their play style is totally unsuited to your own, but it is only to be expected from a game like this and isn’t really a negative.
The game proper takes place on three different maps and two different modes. The most popular is the basic defence game played on the first two maps, one for 5 on 5 and the other for 3 on 3. To its credit this small selection is more than enough to keep you entertained as the gameplay is deep enough to keep you from getting bored of the same map. There are literally more factors than I could list here that affect the optimal way you and your team can play, but do include the Champion selections of your team and the selections of the opposing team. The way you adapt your tactics on the fly to suit the changing field of battle is probably the most engaging aspect as you can quickly get caught out if you miss a vital moment on the battlefield. Sometimes it is better to give up ground and ambush the charging enemy than to die defending an already lost position. The team-play is also a vital aspect of your matches as having selfish or uncooperative comrades can seriously damage your ability as a group to mount a viable counter measure, especially in the heat of the moment when everyone has to coordinate.
League of Legends is also very addictive and you can easily find yourself playing too many games in a row when you should be doing something more productive. When a match goes well you will find yourself craving the next one, and yet when it goes badly you will want another go to banish the negative feelings and grant yourself admonishment. It can become part of a vicious circle if you’re not careful and a watch or nearby clock is advised if you hate wondering where your day has gone. You might also benefit from having a high tolerance threshold and sometimes thick skin as other players, as in all aspects of the multiplayer-verse, can sometimes be very stupid, very annoying or very abusive. I don’t dislike new players, but seriously: four quick deaths in a row in the same circumstances must tell you something about what you’re doing wrong! But use the chat command wisely as everyone is liable to player reports post match for the slightest transgression. You should also be prepared to put real life on hold while you play as exiting a match for any reason is not easily justifiable, as I found out when I left a match that was all but won so that I could attend dinner. Apparently the League does not wait for spinach quiche.
A very fun game overall and equal parts satisfying, frustrating and fulfilling. And who can ever argue with a free game? Nobody, that’s who!
- Deep tactical gameplay
- Plenty of choice
- It’s as free as you want it to be
- Can get addictive
- Sometimes frustrating
- Other players (sometimes)
League of Legends has gained quite a following. Are you one of the many players? If so, what is your favorite thing about LoL?