League of Legends: Clash of Fates - Staff Review  

Pay Now For Greatness Later
by Phillip Willis

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40-60 Hours
+ Tried and true gameplay model
+ A ton of imaginative characters
+ Attractive visuals
- Only one map at release
- Story? What story?
- Poor value for a retail product
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   Defense of the Ancients, an extremely popular mod for Warcraft 3, has a huge following all of its own. In it, players choose a hero to play on one of two sides. They must defend their main base while trying to take down their opponent's. To help assist them in both goals, waves of creeps, low powered, computer-controlled armies, join the battle at regular intervals for both teams. Players work side-by-side with other heroes and these creeps, to wipe out the opponent's armies, heroes and defenses with the ultimate goal of destroying the enemy's ancient or main base.

    This core formula of Defense of the Ancients remains unchanged in Legends of Legends: Clash of Fates. As kills against enemy creeps and heroes rack up, the hero earns experience points and levels up. Upon leveling, the hero may choose one of a few different skills to improve while hit points and magic points also increase. Also, earned gold may be spent on much needed gear. Such a large variety of powerful gear exists that choosing various types can literally define how a character plays, regardless of their predefined role. As expected, some characters are better suited for certain tasks then others.

    Currently, all battles are five versus five ordeals, and the matchmaking system does a decent job of setting up bouts between similarly qualified players. This brings a certain level of balance to the games and keeps them from becoming too lopsided. Of course, the overall experience hinges on who one is matched up with. Playing with a couple of teammates who berate one another with 'colorful metaphors' can get very old, very quickly. On the other hand, when playing with a group that works well together, everything flows nicely.

A lack of selectable maps make her mad. Very mad! A lack of selectable maps make her mad. Very mad!

   After each game, the player receives XP and IP (account currency). Accumulate enough XP or experience points, and the player will level, giving access to new rune slots and talent points. The player also has a rune slot sheet. As they gain more levels, more slots open up, allowing them to put runes in them. Each rune provides a small boost, such as a higher defense against magic. Similar to World of Warcraft or Diablo, a talent point system allows gamers to to help individualize and personalize their avatar's stats and abilities even further. As a bonus, players may reset these points and reallocate them however they see fit (in between battles) in order to try different set ups.

    IP, a form of currency on the player's account, is earned after every battle, allowing the player to unlock characters, buy runes and character skins. Players also earn bonus IP for going through a string of battles without dropping out, winning, etc. Finally, riot points (RPs), purchased with actual money, provide an instant way to buy many of the same things. They may also be spent to purchase XP and IP boosts, allowing players to progress at an accelerated rate for a set number of days.

And may the best monster win! And may the best monster win!

   Until players unlock champions, they can choose from a pre-set group of about seven champions which changes on a regular basis. This allows players to get a feeling for them and purchase only the ones which the player enjoys the most. Balancing between the various characters still needs work, as some prove more useful than others; however, it does not take long to find a handful of effective champions. A severe limitation cripples the overall experience, despite the game's high points. Only one map is available for multiplayer action, severely shortening the replay value of the title. Due to this, and the list of changes in progress, the game effectively feels like that it is still in beta; therefore, RPGamers buying the retail package from the store may feel short-changed. While it does unlock a large group of champions right from the beginning and offer some RP's to give the player and early boost, it simply feels insufficient for a retail purchase. Thankfully, RPGamers may download the client and play the game absolutely free of charge.

    Bright graphics featuring a cartoon style follows the popular pattern seen in games like Torchlight and World of Warcraft. Small details, such as the moving grass adds life to the vibrant colors. Each of the champions looks good and shows quite of bit of imagination at work. The staggering variety and number of heroes one can play contrasts sharply with the limited maps available. Unfortunately, what the backstory provided does little to flesh out the world. League of Legends focuses much more on gameplay than story. Sounds effects get the job done as long as RPGamers bring their own music to suppliment the repeative background music.

    Overall, League of Legends holds a lot of promise, but comes up short as a retail product. The addictive gameplay, wide array of characters available, bright graphics and reward system combine to form a great gaming experience. Unfortunately, it becomes stale rather quickly, for most, due only one map being available for play. RPGamers buying the retail product will certainly feel short changed. Thankfully, many gamers can jump into the game absolutely free, and decide for themselves how much money they want to spend, if any, to enhance their gaming experience.

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