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So, Just What is League of Legends?
League of Legends is the next contender in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, seeking to pull the success and following from great Warcraft 3 Mods and maps such as Aion of Strife and Defense of the Ancients into a stand alone game of epic proportions, featuring a vast array of customization options such as character skins and rune/talent templates, allowing players to truly create a unique persona inside each and every game. The game has launched officially, so lets take a look!
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Cell Shading. You either love or hate these graphics, there's really no in-between. Chances are, if you can't stand the look of them play a game or two and see if you enjoy them in fluid motion and gameplay. A lot of gamers are writing the game off before they even give it a try because of an aversion to the cell-shaded landscape of LoL. The game's graphics actually complement the over-the-top nature of the characters involved in League of Legends quite well.
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Very hit or miss on the sound in League of Legends - the effects and abilities all seem to go off without a hitch, but some of the voice acting is absolute horror-show deadpan. For several of the characters, such as Katarina, you'll be hustling to wrench off your headset rather than listen to her absurd droning on. Luckily, should you want to play a "differently-voiced" character, the voice acting can be easily turned off in the options section.
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Characters, Abilities, and Items
An absolute home-run for Riot here. The creativity and originality of the heroes is a deal-breaker, and League of Legends features a spectacular cast of characters ranging from an emo mummy to an alien zergling. There's an orange-gobbling pirate (gotta prevent scurvy!), a life draining scarecrow, and a giant-Egyptian god thing clearly modeled after Anubis. Not only are all the heroes completely out of this world, the ability skill sets go far beyond the DOTA fare such as stun, snare, damage, or AOE. No, these champions have all kinds of fun, useful abilities that encourage last-hitting and allow for a completely unique gaming experience.
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The PVP.net client used to enter the game needs a lot of work, and seems like an unnecessary addition to the game - you'll often not be able to see your friends on the "AIM-style" box, and client crashing is definitely something you may experience. Once you get past that getting in a game is painless and easy, and games run about the same time as an average DOTA game, somewhere in the range of 30 minutes to an hour. During the course of a game you'll select a hero, level him up, and equip him with various gear as you try and defeat your opponents and destroy their base. The gameplay feels a lot like DOTA, with perhaps a little more weight added to teamplay and a little weight taken away from the practice of "Jungling". There's also a definite ability to come back from a losing game that isn't present in DOTA, giving teams an incentive to keep trying even after their first line of defense falls or they're down by 10 kills. If you like MOBA-style action, you'll be able to jump right in and pick up LoL easily.
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The overall experience is pretty satisfying - this is a great addition to the MOBA genre, and players of DOTA will find themselves right at home. It's also a Free-to-Play title, so the only cost to play is the time to download and install (the official League of Legends site is here), which will let you see if you like it for yourself. New players will have a fairly easy time picking it up in comparison to its predecessor (There's still a pretty steep learning curve, but it's a hill here and not a mountain). If you're a fan of RPG's, RTS's, MMORTS, you name the genre, you might want to take a look at League of Legends - it's like a spicy wrap of all the genres rolled into one!