In a league of its own
League of Legends is something refreshing in the MMORPG market for several reasons. Firstly it’s a concept that I haven’t seen many times before in that it’s an RTS game and not the usual hack and slash RPG. Secondly it’s very friendly for none paying players, in fact, the elements of the game you have to pay for are purely superficial and don’t really affect gameplay. This is great because it means that you don’t start out at a disadvantage if you don’t want to spend your hard earned cash on a game you might not like.
The game operates on two levels. You play the role of a summoner and each match you select one of an ever growing list of champions to take into battle. Each champion has its own array of skills and abilities and levels as you play, but only in the realms of the match. When the next match begins your champion reverts back to level zero and you start afresh. This might sound annoying to some but it’s actually a nice little touch. It means that every match is a game in itself and that you can try different combinations of abilities. It also means that you aren’t stuck levelling up one champion and you can try a different one every time you play should you wish to.
Items work very similarly. You gain gold as you play and buy items during the match. There are basic items to be had and various builds which require a given number of items to form a new one. Your character can only carry six items at a time but to be honest you don’t need any more than this as the matches aren’t long enough to warrant you adding more and a powerful build might reduce four lower level items to one powerful one.
Outside the match you level as a summoner and this is where the player customisation comes in. You gain skill points which will make your summoner abilities stronger, these come in the form of spells you cast on your champion which heal and buff him or her in a variety of different ways. You can also buy runes and rune slots unlock as you level up. Runes give the champion a starting advantage, meaning that they hit harder, move faster, have more mana for spells and so on. When you hit level 20 as a summoner you can play ranked matches and this opens up another level of difficulty and gives you something to aim for, (the number one slot.)
You can pick this one up and play a match or two, (or a lot,)
The rules to the game are simple. You are one of a team of three to five summoners, (depending on the match location,) and all you have to do is get to your opponents base and destroy it. Easy eh? Not in the slightest. Each base has an array of turrets which will blast your champion to bits if they get anywhere near them. You have to rely on your minions, little critters that spawn in waves and constantly attack the enemy base. If you use these wisely and don’t just let them get killed off they will protect you enough to do your job. Then of course you have the other team’s champions to worry about. Different champions play in different ways and you have to adjust your strategy to factor this in.
The matches are short and this makes the game very addictive and replayable. You don’t feel like you’ve got a hard slog to get anywhere, it doesn’t matter if you lose either, you’ll gain less experience for the match but that’s it. No PvP stealing your gear nonsense like in other games. The length of matches also makes League of Legends great for people who don’t want a game eating their lives. You can pick this one up and play a match or two, (or a lot,) but you can put it down whenever you want. You don’t get the feeling of missing anything by not playing.
Runes and Champions are bought with game gold which costs real money but all of these things can also be purchased with IP or Influence Points which you gain by playing matches. Each week there is a stable of champions to choose from which change every seven days. If you fall in love with a given character you’ll have to buy him or her to play permanently but as a nonpaying player it’s great to be able to play even the most powerful and expensive champions right from the start.
The biggest down side to this game is that you need to work as a team with other players, if players disconnect mid game or aren’t willing to work with each other you might as well concede defeat straight away because you are going to lose. Equally, there isn’t really a level cap for each zone. You don’t know what you’re up against and if you’re with a team of low level summoners and up against a team of high level ones you might as well kiss the match goodbye.
The game gets quite repetitive as it’s just match after match with little else to offer, but for people like me who play in short bursts it doesn’t really matter. It also has to be remembered that this is still a very new game. It might seem limited now but that just means that there is plenty of scope for improvement.
Graphics are really nice but this means that older PCs might struggle a bit, it plays on mine but can be a bit laggy at times. I didn’t notice the sound which means either there wasn’t any or I wasn’t really listening. There are plenty of effects but very little music so I’ll reserve judgement on this.
Gameplay is great if you are looking for a game that you can just play and enjoy without it being too deep. If you want something plot heavy or very character orientated I think you might struggle with this one. Nonetheless I’d urge any MMORPG fan to at least give this a go you might be pleasantly surprised.
The Bad: Laggy on Older Machines, Repetitive, Frustrating player disconnections.