I’d like to begin this instalment with a short visual presentation:
I’d like to begin this instalment with a short visual presentation:
I think I might be getting really invested in this.
Strangely, I came to this revelation about League of Legends in the wake of a defeat. It wasn’t a blowout but it wasn’t a close call either. Respectable stats on both sides, the other team’s were just slightly better. All that mattered to me were the three numbers next to my name on the overview screen.
8. 6. 1.
Eight kills, six deaths, one assist. After an utterly shambolic performance yesterday, I suddenly found myself with a winning record. And I felt pretty chuffed.
Therefore, I am placing the blame for that incident squarely on the shoulders of my cohorts Craig and Caithan. Quit holding me back, guys. Honestly.
Since yesterday saw an unscheduled intermission (I was tired), I made up for it tonight by playing two matches. Although my session threatened to finish before it had even started. While waiting to begin a co-op vs. AI match, and waiting several years for one player to connect, my ping suddenly sky-rocketed and I found myself back at my desktop. After trying several times just to get back into the client, I eventually made it and found myself in the same game I’d initially joined. So nice of them to save a spot for me.
By now, it’s pretty clear that Summoner’s Rift is really the only map in the game. It’s the only one available for co-op vs. AI games and outside of that no-one seems to care for the others. I honestly don’t see where the lasting appeal lies in a single map, but I guess 11 million people can’t be wrong…
Ready to put last night’s unpleasant events behind me, tonight’s session of League of Legends begins with a rendezvous on Skype. My lackey tonight is Craig, a relative newcomer to LoL himself but with weeks more experience than me. So, I guess that makes me the lackey. Disgruntled face.
Together, we leap into a co-op versus AI match on Summoner’s Rift, the same map I’ve been playing on before. Why the repetition? Complaint #4: League of Legends has only four maps. Many more are still to come, apparently, but have yet to materialise. Until then…
Control is a really understated feature in games, I feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most important feature. It’s the conduit between the player and the plaything, yet in most people’s eyes it takes a back seat to the fidelity of the graphics or the breadth of the game’s content. If I don’t feel like I’m in complete control of what happens on screen, I tend not to enjoy myself. It’s what frustrates me about games I otherwise really like, such as Street Fighter and NBA 2K. Think about first-time players, too. If the controls don’t make a good first impression, they become disconnected, disinterested and disheartened before they can adjust.
Last time, we outlined LoL’s premise, rules and basic gameplay. Now let’s talk about progression. What fills the RPG quota of this RTS-RPG?
After logging in, I swing past my summoner profile; since I’ve yet to participate in any real matches, I have no statistics to speak of. It is here that I start to piece together the game’s monetary system. Outside of battle, LoL has two currencies: Riot Points and Influence Points (in battle, gold is the only currency). IP are earned for simply playing the game, ranking up etc. RP are purchased with real money. Both of these currencies can be used to unlock champions and other items, though some things can only be purchased with RP.
After a relatively harmless download and install, plus a couple of patches, I’m ready to throw myself into the unknown. I pray for a safe return. Got my safety rope and flare gun handy, just in case.
After a simple login, I’m asked what kind of players I’d like to be matched up against, with four difficulty levels to choose from - Beginner, RTS Player, Veteran and Expert. I’m no stranger to RTS games, but like fighting games and PC shooters, I tend to steer clear of their online components for fear of emasculation. I humbly choose Beginner.
Since I started writing about games, I’ve held the belief that scepticism does not give way to slander. There’s nothing wrong in looking at a game, film or TV show that many regard in awe and saying “it’s not for me”, but broadcasting any unjustified and defaming conclusions you’ve drawn on it is something I personally take offense to (looking at you, fanboys). You won’t know until you try.
I, for instance, once sat down and attempted to watch Twilight, to see if it merited the somewhat negative light the internet has shone upon it. I made it about halfway through before I had to stop. Not out of protest for its portrayal of vampires, or fear of catching ‘the gay’, but out of sheer boredom. It’s a dreadfully bland film, like it was written by emotionally overbearing high school students.
On the flipside, earlier this year I decided to see what all the fuss was about the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As of yesterday, I’ve now watched every episode. I’m not about to devote myself to the ‘brony’ cause, but I will defend the show if I have to. It looks amazing, the cast is terrific, its morals are all in the right place, it doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its cuteness and - most surprisingly of all - it’s funny.
You won’t know until you try.
**If you have not read my week-long journal on Pokémon White, you can either go back and give it a skim (beware of some spoilers towards the end) or just click ‘Read More’ to get straight to the review.**
Is Pokémon still as addictive as it once was?
Fifty hours in one week. Nuff said.
Has it evolved sufficiently over the years?
It has evolved since Red/Blue, but at a snail’s pace. This could be the first time in the series that Game Freak have concentrated more on updating old things than adding new ones, but those old things should have been sorted out years ago.
Is it worth buying a DS for?
Obviously, that depends on whether you like turn-based RPGs or not, because if you’re not a fan, neither Pokémon Black or White is going to change your mind. If you are a fan, then hell yes, it’s worth getting for a DS alone.
Every single critic of the Pokémon franchise has said this same thing but it really is worth mentioning; there are very few games that can get away with roughly the same formula year after year. Even yearly instalments like Call of Duty shake things up with new additions to multiplayer, new gameplay mechanics and changes in setting. So why has Pokémon been allowed to let evolution pass it by? Why have I sunk fifty hours into a game that, besides some graphical upgrades, is almost unchanged since the late nineties? It’s simple, really.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’m not going to spoil any more of the game for you, but Pokéfans should know that the game’s climax, if you can call it that, is such a breath of fresh air that I was literally on the edge of my seat as the final battle played out, my DS grasped firmly in my sweaty palms. While Black/White’s plot pales in comparison to most RPGs, sometimes simplicity is the best way to get somebody excited. Here’s the bad guy, the one you’ve been poised to take down the entire game, ready and waiting for you. Go get him.
Oh, and then once you’re done with him, we’ve got a whole new quest waiting for you. Seriously. And did we mention the other 493 Pokémon you haven’t seen yet, let alone caught?
The Unova region, as seen from a Pidgey-eye’s view.
I literally cannot think of another game - save for a creation-based title like LittleBigPlanet - that offers so much friggin’ content out of the box. What’s even more incredible is that all of that content revolves around the battle concept that you would think you’d get tired of after the 40-hour campaign. But that’s simply not the case. It’s a game that I have found physically hard to put down, something I haven’t encountered since…well, LittleBigPlanet. Of course, the fact that it’s on a portable platform helps a bit (more on that later), but mostly it’s the nature of the game and the game alone.
Y’see, the thing about Pokémon that really appeals to me over everything else is the collection aspect. I’m a little obsessive compulsive, so I take the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” tagline perhaps a little more seriously than most. At the point where I overtook my friend Caithan in the game, I had caught around twenty or thirty Pokémon. He had caught seven. Of course, the battles appeal to me as well; I simply have to go in to each fight with some kind of strategy, like “He has a Flying-type, so I’ll send out my Zebstrika first, if he takes too much damage, I’ll Volt Switch and send in Boldore…” I put more thought into my Pokémon battles than I do in a whole game of Civilization IV.
In short, you can gather by now just what it is about Pokémon that appeals to me. But does that make it a niche game? I shouldn’t think so, but for all your sakes, let’s judge the game by its own merits. Just let me get my reviewing fez.
Is Pokémon still as addictive as it once was? Has it evolved (no pun intended) sufficiently over the years? Is it worth buying a DS for? And how many Magnemites does it take to change a clichéd joke? Without further ado…my Pokémans. Let me show you them…
**WARNING: This article may contain spoilers!**