Review by Vidy_ogamasta
"By Far One of The Best Free Online Games"
League of Legends is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) made by Riot that is similar to DotA or HoN in gameplay. However, the game is made to be quicker paced and be much more action-oriented, though skill and strategy are still greatly involved. It tries to be lenient to new players and match them with other newbies of similar experience, so it's relatively easy to get started.
The gameplay is definitely the best part of this game. The basic layout of the 5v5 game is a map with 3 lanes, 2 wrapping around the edges and 1 shooting straight through the middle. Each lane holds 3 turrets for each team that will attack enemy champions if they get too close. At the end of the lane is an inhibitor, which prevents powerful enemy minions (super minions) from spawning. At the base of all 3 lanes stands the nexus, guarded by 2 more turrets. Destroying this nexus is the goal of the game, and the only way to win (barring surrender). To attack a turret in any particular lane, the turret farther out from it must already be destroyed. Nexus turrets only require 1 inhibitor down to attack. At the far end of each base is the Fountain, where enemy champions spawn. Walking into this fountain results in nearly instant death. After a set amount of time, minions will spawn and head down each lane. Killing a minion (last hit only) or an enemy champion will result in precious gold that is vital to winning.
Items inside the game play a HUGE part in determining how your character does. The gold earned from kills is used to purchase these items. Items increase the stats of your champion by a significant amount, and are necessary for winning a match. You can hold up to 6 items at one time. Cheaper items will combine into more expensive items at a cost, though this combination will almost always result in an increase in stats and a useful passive bonus. The shop is located in your team's Fountain, and is very organized and easy and quick to search through.
When the game was first made, there were serious balance issues. However, lately Riot has been working on improving the balance of the game and making each character worth playing, and has done fairly well. There are no champions that you will see in every single game, and there are no champions that you will never, ever see. The champions you see the most are most likely the ones that are the easiest/funnest to play rather than the "best."
Variety and Replayability- 10/10
There are a huge amount of options when it comes to which champion you play-- anything goes. You want to play a nearly unkillable character? There's a variety of tanks to choose from (though don't expect to be getting kills). Like blasting people to smithereens or watching the enemies' life bars drop steadily? Bu(r)sty mages and steady damage output characters are there for you. Don't like being up in the enemies' face? Support and utility characters to stay back and stay useful. Get bored of one style, you can switch to another. Even within each set of characters, there's variety. For example, want to be entirely a healer? Soraka's a good pick. Like buffing your teammates up to give 'em an extra bunch? Zilean's the way to go.
A fair amount of characters can even be played different ways due to itemization. Items can make your champion become more resistant to attacks, move faster, deal more damage, or give small buffs to any nearby teammates. Some players can choose to build either magical or physical damage, depending on what they need. Some champions can build pure defensive items and still deal decent damage, or they could build damage items to pack a bigger punch.
Skilling order in the game also makes a difference in how your game turns out. Each champions comes with 4 skills (and a passive ability) that can be strengthened as your character levels up. Each skill can get to level 5, with the exception of one's "ultimate" ability which can only reach 3.The remaining skills can be leveled up in any order, allowing for yet more gameplay variety.
Finally, the outer-game lets one apply even more customization to fit their playstyle. Winning (or losing) a game will result in "IP," or Influence Points. These points can be used to purchase even more champions to chose from, or runes. Runes give very minor bonuses to your champion, but they add up. There are 4 colors of runes- red, yellow, blue, and purple. Red marks are more suited to offensive bonuses, yellow seals are suited to defensive bonuses, blue glyphs are utility-oriented, and purple Quintessences work well for any stat it may offer. Each primary colored rune allows up to 9 runes at a time, while the quint allows only 3 at a time. The small bonuses add up and greatly enhance a champion's potency in battle. Mastery points are another feature that adds small bonuses to your character. You can gain up to 30 mastery points to use across 3 branches of bonuses, which can be redistributed at any given time. One branch if for offense, another for defense, and one for utility, each branch requiring 21 points to achieve the final bonus.
The audio is okay. None of it sticks out in any way. At the very least, it's not terrible music. Nothing that makes you want to go out and kill kittens or anything, but also nothing that gets your heart pumping or makes you smile as you listen to it. The songs fit when they're played, so Riot definitely did a good job. Just not an amazing one.
They aren't amazing. I can't judge the BEST graphics as my computer doesn't have a graphics card and I can't use the best settings. However, the graphics are very well done, even if they are a little cartoony. And when I say cartoony, I don't mean "MapleStory" cartoony, but more like "Jimmy Neutron" cartoony. The map's detail is probably a little bit lacking, but the characters look great. The graphics don't hinder gameplay at all, and there are multiple settings to choose from if something's bothering you about them (E.G. I don't like the outline around the characters so I set character detail to low). The screen can also be set to scroll along with your character (though this setting makes gameplay difficult at times), or set to scroll when your mouse reaches the edge of a screen (similar to an RTS).
The servers go down a lot. Not gonna lie. Riot's actually gotten significantly better regarding their server quality, and only go down off-schedule a couple of times a month rather than a couple of times a week. Still, I wouldn't skip school or work just to play this game, especially near update days. However, Riot handles server downtimes very well. Time-based bonuses (that increase IP/XP per game) will stop counting down in server downtime, and if the downtime was incredibly bothersome, Riot will apologize with free hand-outs of these bonuses (most often 4 wins of extra IP).
Speaking of how awesome Riot treats everybody, the customer service is top-notch. If you E-Mail Riot with an issue, they will usually get back in touch within a couple of days with a solution to your problem. Also, f you made a purchasing error, purchased something before it went on sale, or made purchasing decision that you strongly regret, Riot will grant a 1-time refund. Riot also hold a lot of community events, and keeps their players very updated with the projects they're working on. They're also very willing to listen to fan suggestions, though they rarely blindly nerf/buff a champion or item without careful consideration and sandbox testing the idea first.
It's a free game. Let's leave it at that.
It's an amazing game and a good timekiller. The average game will take 30-50 minutes, so you have to be expecting a LOT of free time, or a consistent down-time in your daily schedule to really get into the game. The fact that it's free is an even bigger plus, because all that's required to play is a computer that's not 9001 years old. It's not perfect, but you can see the effort that's been put into the game to make it as close as it can get, It's very, very team-reliant and can be pretty rage-inducing, but it's definitely worth a try. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/11/11
Game Release: League of Legends (US, 10/27/09)
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