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League of Legends: Clash of Fates [PC]

Update on 2010-01-05:
The score has been amended to 8.6 due to the fact that the bugs mentioned and experienced were taken care of.

League of Legends is fun to play. Simple as that. I would even call it addictive and I have spent enough time playing it to justify that comment!  Yet, this is one game I have had great difficulty to grade and review…

The problem I’ve found is that it’s very buggy on the two separate PCs I used. Although it’s free to play, you can buy physical copies in shops and expect not to encounter any gamebreaking bugs.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for me, but it is important to note, however, that some of my friends say they’ve never seen a single bug and I could just be very unlucky.

League or Legends (or LoL) is a game inspired by Dcients (DotA), aaiuetor Loge)ds fan-made mod to WarCraft III (WC3) that, to this day, is played by millions – comparably popular to WoW. Even players who hate WC3 play DotA because it’s radically different. LoL is created by Riot Games, ex-Blizzard and DotA staff and anyone interested in DotA might want to check out this article which looks at the similarities of DotA and LoL. 


But there are also similarities with other games, notably Heroes of Newerth (HoN). Both games use the same basic concept, but actually have different gameplay. With this in mind, it’s important to compare LoL to both of these games.

The basic premise of the game’s lore is that each player is a Summoner in this League (of Legends) and in each match you summon in a Champion to fight for you. Besides your teammates’ Champions, your home base spawns cannonfodder, AI-controlled soldiers called “minions” who advance on the opponent base through three lanes on the map. Your job is to kill enemy minions, heroes and destroy their guarding turrets in order to reach their base and take it out.

A Champion can gain experience and gold, levels up and can buy equipment back at the base. Items can often be combined to with others to create better items in the very clear User Interface (UI). The individual Champion has four active abilities you can play with and you can choose two additional Summoner spells as well.

The game is mostly about fighting and killing opposing Champions as they are the opponent’s strongest force. When a Champion is killed it remains dead for a time proportionate to its level. When it’s re-summoned you can continue fighting, a concept utilised in both DotA and HoN.

The game is made more interesting through the different Champion abilities, the environment and tactical team play. The environment has view-blocking features and height differences, making visual intelligence crucial to gameplay. You can hide in the bushes waiting for your friends to “gank” (gang kill) an unaware opponent, or circle around them in middle of the map to ambush when it has low health. The game feels like an action RPG with influence from FPS games – a very potent combination!{PAGE TITLE=League of Legends Review page 2}What makes LoL special in this genre is the accessibility to players as both DotA and HoN can be very elitist. As a DotA/HoN player you are expected to know a vast number of statistics on Champions, items and item combinations to be good. LoL gives you the same gameplay feel but without many frustrations. It’s simply often just more FUN to play.

In addition to the game, a player can customise his Masteries in the game lobby, a system of Mastery points almost identical to “talents” in WoW. Each point only increases a stat one or two percent, but it’s fun to play around with and since you’ll face opponents with the same level, it’s still fair between players. This feature simply adds more customisation. You gain points as you level up, gaining a little experience after every game (even losses).

With each match, a player also gains Influence Points in the world of the League. Influence Points can be used to acquire additional champions (as you only start out with a few), as well as runes you can put in your Rune Book. Runes are another incremental improvement you can use in LoL, but doesn’t change the gameplay significantly. A minor rune typically improves a game stat with a tenth of a percent or so, but you can use many runes and they can be upgraded to better ones.

If you are too impatient to accumulate IP, they are also available to purchase for real world money in the store. When I played, the store had not yet opened, so I do not know how it works exactly.  It sounds pretty straight forward, though.

The big problem of LoL is its “” game lobby client. It has been a veritable nightmare for me trying to get in to games. My problem was always the client and I have never had a single game crash in the actual game application. Unfortunately, because of these bugs I have probably spent more time trying to start a game than actually playing some nights. Should someone then disconnect when the game has finally started, it really ruins the experience.

This lobby has some good features, but can be awkward and weird. It doesn’t fill up the whole screen so you don’t feel like you’re inside the game and it uses a fixed size window, appearing very different depending on the monitor. The login screen doesn’t remember username or password a problem that would have been a minor one if I didn’t have to restart the client so often because of the bugs.

On the other hand, the lobby is fairly clear to navigate, setting your Mastery Points or to start a game. You can also start practice games with decent AI players, which is great for newbies. In comparison: HoN’s client is messy as hell, but not buggy at all; since DotA is a WC3 mod, it doesn’t really have a proper lobby at all.

Despite the relatively low score I have given LoL due to the client and bugs, I would strongly recommend you to try this game out and why not; it’s free! The only caveat is that if you’re expecting a release quality game then perhaps wait a month or two for Riot Games to sort out some the bugs, or perhaps you’ll just be luckier than me.


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