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E3 2009: League of Legends hands-on impressions

Riot Games first announced their plans for League of Legends a little while ago and this week the indie game developer announced plans to release their fantasy online action-strategy-RPG hybrid this September. During E3 2009 this week the developer held a press event just outside the LA Convention Center (in a bowling alley actually) to show off the game and give us a chance to play it for ourselves.

League of Legends, as we have mentioned in previous interviews and stories about the game, has its roots in the popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients: Allstars (the mod's main creators are now working on League of Legends) and playing the game you can definitely tell that Blizzard's fantasy RTS game series is still a big influence on this original stand alone time. For one thing the game's art style is cartoony in nature much like what the Warcraft series is like.
There are 40 so-called "Champions" that will be able to be played in League of Legends. Each champion starts our weak at first during a match but as a match moves on the Champion "levels up" to grow more and more powerful and receive new powers and abilities. However the Champions themselves are not persistent. That is the role of a Summoner. That is basically you playing the game and having the Champions act as a proxy in online battles.

As the Summoner of these Champions your stats grow and grow and allow you to not only gain levels but also unlock new abilities, attire and other new items. The Champions themselves have a huge variety among them in terms of physical appearances; from a little girl called Annie to a Yeti Rider (yep a person who rides on a Yeti).

Playing the game is a pure online multiplayer click fest of action and strategy. The matches we were involved in were fast paced as our Champion and his or her minions went after the enemy forces. There's no resource collection here; it's just straight up fighting with other Champions until one man (or woman) is left. Using special abilities (such as scaring opponents with a fear spell for an example) gets you to take out both the minions and their Champion. You also have to deal with automated sentries in the level that will attack you and your minion team/ Again, your champion is not persistent; it's you who are controlling them from afar and gain powers that you can use for your Champions. The levels also were well designed and the game's visual effects for powers and abilities are well done.

League of Legends is a lot of fun to pay and the visuals are certainly eye catching.The big question is whether or not Riot Games (who got their initial funding through venture capital) can both create a great game and bring in enough of an audience to make it viable in the long run. We will soon find out; the game is due for release this September.

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