In the past free products have usually been sub standard if not even less than sub standard of their paid counter parts and that goes for games as well. Usually when a title is free one could expect bad graphics, sad sound and or poor gameplay but lately that has been changing as evident with several Free to play (F2P) titles, Leage Of Legends (LoL) being one of them. LoL is not a new title but it has been in constant development with new content being offered almost on a monthly (if not fortnightly) basis usually in the form of new playable characters.
League of Legends – LOL as it is affectionately called- is one the latest re-imaginings of Defence of the Ancients – DOTA. DOTA was created by ‘Eul’ and is currently maintained by ‘Icefrog’. DOTA is a Mod made using the Blizzard’s Warcraft III and its expansion: Frozen Throne as its foundation. While this review is not about WCIII I feel its best to give a chronological link to where the League of Legends genesis began. League of Legends differentiates itself from all the other DOTA remakes including Demigod -2009- and the more current Heroes of Newerth –HON- With the addition of a persistent progression model via levelling up and Talent trees called Masteries. HON is a DOTA clone with a facelift and new sprites (character designs) for the Heroes, but it is essentially DOTA in a new skin with only a few tweaks to game-play mechanics.
Improved Defence of the Ancients
This certainly is not a bad thing, as the saying goes if it isn’t broken don’t fix it? However, League of Legends, like the Original DOTA is free (and who doesn’t love free games?) it further manages to separates itself from the pack by being innovative; while not deforming the core game play Mechanics – minus last hitting for all the DOTA fans and the major fact that you do not lose gold when you die. LOL has the same play style as DOTA but creates new and refreshing Champions and Champion abilities with a chic stylised cel-shaded facelift in the graphical department. Also on the list of Innovation, is another Blizzard cloned Mechanic that works very well: talent tree, or Masteries as it is called in LOL.
Masteries and Champions
What Masteries allows is for a more custom feel to a Champion, so another player might be using the same Champion but the overall effectiveness of said Champion will be different depending on what mastery you went with and Runes they have equipped as well. Runes give a plethora of status bonuses to your Champion, for example, more attack speed or more Hit Points. Runes are Items bought for use pre-game with one of the games currency called Influence Points or IP for short, IP is gained by simply playing the game. Runes can only be bought with IP, the other currency the game uses is called Riot Points or RP which we will discuss later on in this review.
What further differentiates “LOL” from DOTA and HON is that unlike those games you do not get access to all the Champions to use; shocked? Let me explain. What LOL does is rotate Champions on a weekly basis which then allows you to try different Champions but those Champions are not yours to use permanently, unless you buy them using IP. However Champions or Champions Bundles: A Champion and Skins for that Champion that are packaged together can be bought with Riot Points. RP is gained by spending real cash. Yes, that is correct you spend real cash to get virtual cash so you can then buy virtual things. This is in no way a mandatory thing so LOL is still free to play. This method of business is called a Micro-transaction model. That is, you are given the option of spending cash but only on cosmetic items such as skins and – for all those who can’t wait- to buy Champions. RP is also used to buy IP boosts so that you earn IP faster when playing the game this is again totally optional. However, it is important to note that similarly to how Runes can only be bought with IP, Skins for your Champion can only be bought with RP. League of Legends falls into the category of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or “MOBA” so that if you are not a fan of player versus player action, this game is not going to appeal to you.
There are a few Issues I have with the game that I consider to interfere with game play. Since it is a free to play game, you should not have to spend cash to play the game, however, RIOT the company behind League of Legends once said that they would release new Champions all different price points. As of late all new champions are now 6300 IP. This to me is a distasteful trend as newer Champions tend to be somewhat better than those released when the game just launched. It is will not prevent you from playing the game, but if you are like me and like Variety in your Champions then this will prove to be an obstacle in getting the Champions you want to play with.
Guest Post by Nicholas Morgan