League of Legends review

  • Tons and tons of heroes
  • Multiple maps expand the DotA formula
  • Extensive meta-game mechanics
  • Daunting barriers to entry
  • Cartoony look won't appeal to all
  • Hard to find your perfect hero

The last few years have seen Defense of the Ancients devour millions of man hours, both in its original incarnation as a WarCraft III mod, and in its refined DotA Allstars evolution. League of Legends, by the original team, is here to provide the definitive version.

It’s a multiplayer-only RTS battle between two teams. Each has its own network of auto-firing turrets, and steady streams of allied forces automatically pushing toward the foe’s base and attacking anything in their path wearing the wrong colours. With these constants, it’s up to the player to add their own variables in the form of heroes. Coming in different flavours, from ranged attack specialists to close-quarter berserkers, heroes are common in their ability to turn the tide of battle. Careful deployment of a hero’s base skills – which level up as enemies are offed – plus a sprinkling of magical attacks, can push through a defensive wave of soldiers and into opposition territory. The game ends when a home base is destroyed. Matches are thus tense push-and-pulls, massed attacks and frantic defensive struggles to break a deadlock.

With a number of different games now riffing on the Defense of the Ancients template, choosing LoL is a vote for choice over refinement. The recent Demigod attempted to condense the formula, narrowing choice and restricting the player to a smaller base of selectable characters. LoL goes the other way, throwing a mass of heroes at the player to fight in teams of five. Selecting one is a daunting prospect for newcomers, but even old hats might find it difficult without extensive trial and error to find a character that suits their favoured playing style. Each hero has a list of tags – established RPG tropes such as ‘tank’ and ‘mage’ – but vague descriptions or seemingly conflicting areas of focus can make it tough to get a quick read on them.

If you’re a committed DotA enthusiast, you can ignore a good chunk of the nit-pickery above. LoL is a comprehensive update to a compelling idea. It’s so crammed with heroes and items, combinations are near-impossible to exhaust. It also brings a meta-game where your account is a “character” that levels up, adding a whole new layer to the strategy of the DotA formula.

For players new to DotA, it’s a harder sell. League of Legends has set itself up as a final version of the original game, and assumes a level of familiarity with its concepts. It may be worth learning the ropes elsewhere before diving in, but if defending those Ancients tickles your RPG/RTS crossover gland (found in the mouse-finger), then LoL is a well-stocked playground.

Nov 5, 2009

More Info

Release date: Oct 27 2009 - PC (US)
Oct 27 2009 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Riot Games
Developed by: Riot Games
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol, Use of Tobacco, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:
12+: Violence


  • luckiest_strike - December 26, 2012 11:16 p.m.

    HELP!! I was browsing around the net and came across this site. Got me wondering if Ezrael or Lee Sin are pretty much easy to master since they are so popular? Also, which champions do you keep seeing when you play? I've seen so many Garens that it isn't funny anymore. T_T
  • HeavyTank - November 7, 2009 10:45 p.m.

    ..the reviewer is damn right, I never played any Warcraft-related game in my life, and I got buttraped while playing's fun, but the level/skill difference makes it almost unplayable for new players :(
  • HeavyTank - November 7, 2009 10:41 a.m.

    Haha, the game's acronym is LoL...
  • ChristianWitzel - November 5, 2009 10:20 p.m.

    Been playing LoL for a while now, now in open beta. The matchmaking system in this game is great, giving you roughly a 50/50 chance to win each time you play, and that's how it's about been for me. This game doesn't dissapoint! Great Job and Review!

Showing 1-4 of 4 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000