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Review

League of Legends Review

  • Game release: October 27, 2009
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

A modern legend.

League of Legends is not just a game: it's a cutthroat competitive digital sport where the winners roar in victory and the losers whimper in defeat. You don't need to play on the same level as the pros to experience the thrills of these online battlegrounds, however. Blending elements of action role-playing, real-time strategy, and tower defense games into an engrossing amalgam of awesome, League of Legends is a free-to-play game that ensures each play session yields a unique and explosive experience.

Each player in a match controls a single champion. In the default game mode, Summoner's Rift, two teams of five champions are pitted against each another with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing team's nexus, which is guarded by three lanes of towers. The catch is that at the start of a match, your champion is only level 1 with no items to back up his or her quest for victory. To power up to a level sufficient enough to take on the enemy's base, a champion must first focus on killing AI-controlled minions for gold and experience.

Bots offer great training for new players.

The gold can be spent at the shop at each team's respective base in order to purchase items like the appropriately named B. F. Sword (a big freakin' sword), or its mage-friendly counterpart, the Needlessly Large Rod. Once you're appropriately equipped, your goal shifts from slaughtering the endless waves of minions to pushing your army down the lanes by destroying the towers. Of course, your enemies won't stand idly by and watch you destroy them. League of Legends erupts in beautiful savagery once the teams of five group and fight as a unified force. As the two teams engage one another in a semi-chaotic brawl, players dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge skill-shots and target abilities in order to survive and kill the opposition. Team fights can make or break a match, as victory in a single battle means there will be no resistance to the siege of towers for some time. Trailing teams may attempt to turtle around a tower in order to use its power to make up for their weakness, and then mount a defense that turns the tides of battle into an epic comeback.

Team fights don't always erupt around towers, however. An elder lizard and an ancient golem both spawn in each team's jungle, and slaying one grants special sigil buffs. In the early stages of a game, some of the tensest moments occur when a team tries to steal away a buff from the opposing team. These skirmishes may not even result in a kill, but denying an enemy champion the mana regeneration of their ancient golem's blue sigil can grant a power play during which you may assert your dominance over the middle lane. Along the river, there are far more powerful neutral monsters which grant global gold to the team that bravely battles them. The dragon is a powder keg of early game team fights; combatants wage a war of vision-granting wards in order to ensure both, or neither, have vision over the dragon's pit so they may exterminate the beast out of sight of their foes.

Failing the Baron fight or having the enemy steal the kill quickly turns the tide into a tsunami of aggression against you and your teammates.

Late in the game, the powerful Baron Nashor serves as a cold war catalyst. You seek to kill him for the enormous stat boost he grants, but you also fear being nuked by a lurking enemy team, and so you wisely wait to fight him until you know your foes cannot contest. The stalemates over Baron are some of the most intense moments League of Legends has to offer, making the catharsis of overcoming a mighty challenge even greater. Beware, though, as failing the Baron fight or having the enemy steal the kill quickly turns the tide into a tsunami of aggression against you and your teammates.

Every match is a challenge, and with over 100 champions to choose from, there are countless ways for a team to overcome it. Whether your style involves dropping a flaming bear on the opposition to stun them all, flying in as a frozen phoenix to summon a wall of ice and cut off a path of retreat, or slashing through minions in a fit of undying barbaric rage, League of Legends has you covered. Champion designs draw influence from regional legends and mythology, though others are Riot's own unique creations. Although most can be categorized as a role-playing archetype (mage, marksman, assassin, tank, fighter, or support), some champions blend two or more archetypes and allow you flexibility in how to play.

Slaying Baron Nashor can buff up your team, but bring a friend!

Riot has worked to ensure that new players don't immediately mix with veterans. League of Legends requires new players to reach level 3 by playing tutorial matches and cooperative matches versus the AI before being allowed to queue for matchmaking. If you're a complete novice, however, it's best to avoid facing other humans until you are certain you understand the basics of the game. Some veteran players may lurk on lower-level accounts, while others have slipped past bans issued by Riot's automated tribunal system, and their familiarity with the game will give them an unfair advantage. In spite of the tribunal system, which removes particularly unsavory players from the player pool, plenty of combatants use the chat window to vent their frustration toward others. Underperforming, arrogant, and impolite players are still unfortunate hurdles you must occasionally overcome.

Dedicated theorycrafters will relish the ability to make a seemingly weak champion smash perceptions and succeed.

To keep you invested in the game, Riot allows you to unlock champions permanently using influence points (earned by playing matches in the game) or Riot points (purchased with real money). Riot points can also be spent on boosts to increase IP gain, but the most common reason you may end up purchasing RP is to unlock skins. The pricier skin options also tweak champions' animations, spell effects, and even voice-overs in the case of legendary and ultimate skins. Skins have no actual effect on a champion's combat ability, so spending money on the game doesn't offer any actual gameplay advantage. Don't be fooled by the free-to-play moniker, though: you might eventually find a skin that finally convinces you to pay to support the game, and soon find yourself staring at a vast library of looks.

However, the influence points earned through participating in matches can offer distinct gameplay advantages by adjusting the stats of a champion. Runes, which can only be purchased with influence points, can offer a flat bonus to a stat, or a bonus that gets more powerful over the course of a game as a champion levels up. All in all, you may assign up to 30 runes to your individual rune pages, with a new rune slot becoming available every time you gain in summoner level until you reach the cap at 30. Rune and mastery setups allow you to customize your champions' stats as you see fit, and dedicated theorycrafters will relish the ability to make a seemingly weak champion smash perceptions and succeed.

In the ARAM mode, all players face off in a very confined wintry lane

Also unlocking at summoner level 30 is the true focus of the more hardcore players: ranked solo/duo matchmaking queues. You may queue alone or drag a friend along for the ride as you play games with slightly higher stakes than the normal games. Winning or losing in a ranked game grants or deducts league points from the summoner account. League points help to sort players into tiers ranging from bronze to challenger, with the challenger tier being available only to the cream of the crop among League of Legends players. If you're a player with an insatiable competitive appetite, ranked queues are where you'll find your home.

If you don't find the initial Summoner's Rift map appealing, you'll be glad for the other vibrant battlefields on offer. Crystal Scar, Twisted Treeline, and Howling Abyss maps each stamp League of Legends with their own unique marks. Crystal Scar is a five-versus-five map with a focus on capturing territories in order to damage the opponent's nexus. Twisted Treeline plays mostly like Summoner's Rift, but with a limit of three players per team. And Howling Abyss, affectionately dubbed "Murderbridge" by the community, pits teams against one another in a single lane, with the queue for that map randomly selecting an available character to assign to each player in the game mode referred to as "ARAM" (short for "all random, all mid").

It's difficult to resist the constant thrill of the game's diverse battles.

Differences between League of Legends and Dota highlight LoL's focus on a cleaner learning curve for new players as well as the (normally) healthy competitive environment. The unintuitive mechanic of denying, in which you kill a minion or tower on your own team so that the opposition may not earn gold, does not exist. Although this slightly reduces the control you have over the lane and where minions meet, it also frees you up to focus more on interacting with the opposing champions, rather than with the minions. Additionally, randomized elements, such as a chance to do anything (critical hits excepted) have been removed from League of Legends, ensuring you have a greater ability to predict the outcome of a given situation.

Riot displays its eSports support with pride during major tournaments.

The game is still expanding, with a new playable champion being introduced roughly every month. Riot is highly proactive in keeping the game as balanced as possible as new gameplay trends are discovered and rise in popularity. For instance, a robust spectator tool and multiple game modes have appeared over the game's four-year history. The only missing feature that could be labeled a staple for competitive games is a replay feature, but even that is currently in development, with an iteration available for testing on the test realm.

League of Legends is a fantastic game with something for players of all skill ranges to enjoy. Although it's better to play with friends, you are not left to your own devices if you tend to keep to yourself. The early hours can be frustrating as you learn the ropes, but once you are swept away by the ebb and flow, it's difficult to resist the constant thrill of the game's diverse battles. Once League of Legends has its hooks in you, don't be shocked to find you've spent a few hundred hours seeking digital fame in one of video gaming's finest battlegrounds.

The Good
Tense, explosive gameplay makes every match a thrill
Large number of champions leads to lots of diversity and flexibility
Rich customization options
Fair free-to-play model
Spawning creatures further spice up the competition
The Bad
Experienced players on new accounts skew matchmaking
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tyler Hicks likes to wave his cane at new-coming MOBA titles, recalling tales of "his day" when the StarCraft map Aeon of Strife and its spin-offs were the only creep-slaying game modes around. He's played several hundred hours of League of Legends, and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Discussion

416 comments
maximoos98
maximoos98

The game surely is not bad,but it is not that good either,with massive server unstability and about 1/2 of total champion pool being underpowered champs,endless bugs and garbage community,9 seems too much for it.

i've played this game for about 9 months,On my first days most players seemed pretty offensive and unhelpful but i thought it was ok because i heard people take ranked seriously,But when i finaly reached level 30,I discovered the harsh truth that ranked is not any better,People flame you for not picking specific champions or lanes,Banning champions is also pretty repeatitive due to the fact that overpowered champions are obvious.

Finding good people to play with is almost impossible,with the bad first impression you get from the official-outdated troll fest forums discussions on the game are pretty sick and people end up flaming each others hard in forums.

Only my personal opinion.

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

Loving Jinx, got 26 kills with her in an epic normal game. ;DDDDD

Azuirte
Azuirte

Another thing people don't like about LoL is the champion unlock system... sure this one is more respectable, but in my opinion, I think is really fine how it works, giving a newbie such a huge amount of content for him to experience may be extremely overwhelming, sure this is not always the case, but the newbies must be respected, and the way the unlock system works is the best way for new players to keep on playing the game.

Chrystsown
Chrystsown

Thank you for this review! I've only been playing for a couple weeks now, and I'm finally beginning to get the hang of things (thanks largely to a great friend helping me learn the ropes), and this review has shed even more light to some things I didn't know about Summoner's Rift. Great review of a great game!

Azuirte
Azuirte

These DOTA2 fanboys seriously piss me off. I mean, their arguments don't even make sense. Easy? Bad graphics? Bad design?
If I'm not mistaken, the death timer on DotA 2 is a lot longer, but that doesn't make the game "harder", it makes it more boring and punishing, with less chance of comeback. I'm probably mistaken, but that's how I saw it. 

Oh and, bad graphics? Sure LoL doesn't have the best graphics out there, but I dont think Dota 2 is any better. 

And the most bullshit statment of them all; Bad design? WOW really? REALLY? then what the hell are games like Team Fortress 2, Portal, Mario so acclaimed for? Sure those games are completely different from LoL or DotA but the design statement stands, it makes it look a lot more charming and more memorable. 


I'm not bashing DotA 2, don't get me wrong, but the huge amount of shit coming from the fanboys of that game just annoy me


Sorry about my bad english btw

theguythatiam
theguythatiam

Good on Gamespot for updating the review. Regardless of what the score is or could have been (the game has it's flaws), it definitely was higher than the 6 it was given upon release 4 years ago. LoL taking over the world is proof all by itself. 

Voice_of_Wisdom
Voice_of_Wisdom

they've released a new review? LOL  i think Kevin van Ord may not be much happy with that...

WillyWynn
WillyWynn

How this game got 9 lol. Dota 2 is much better then this! Dota 1.5 ops i mean League of legends is very unbalance and is not that fair! 

nicecall
nicecall

i think i'd suck at this game.  especially if its only multiplayer.  i'm average at best at rts games even though i've played them for years.

Trevor Merrill
Trevor Merrill

They forgot to include "psych, gotcha!" at the bottom. People will mistakenly believe that this is actually a good game.

partybro
partybro

They did a review when this game first came out.... they gave it a 6/10, now that is popular they review it again and gave it a 9/10, i find that funny, theres no point in doing a review if ur just going to change it because the game gets popular, great journalism gamespot!!!

DomZeal
DomZeal

DotA 2 is pathetic. You spend 2 minutes on matching.

Derpalon
Derpalon

I'm glad that they've given this game an updated review and relegated Kevin VanOrd's old one to a secondary opinion, as this game has come a long way since launch and offers a lot more content now.

Colin Frazier
Colin Frazier

"Something for players of all skill ranges to enjoy." Nice try, but the community is utter garbage and doesn't welcome unskilled people at all.

Brandon Kief
Brandon Kief

This game didn't deserve the nine. Maybe an eight, it still has way too many bugs and inconsistencies and the reviewer should have been someone that hasn't logged several hundred hours. It's something to be said when the original reviewer doesn't revisit it for fear of LoL in-game backlash. The review spent way too much time acting like narrative and not critically approaching the aspects of the game. I don't take issue against Hicks personally but this review felt more like the sweet-nothings of lover.

PIzo93
PIzo93

good review and good game that sucks you in, the variety in characters you choose makes you play it infinitely

E-Major
E-Major

@Azuirte  Also; and this may just be me; using IP to unlock champs gives you something to strive for adding extra meaning to each win. It also means that you value the champ more when you do get him/her/it

E-Major
E-Major

@Azuirte  hmmm gotta agree. Was a HUGE DotA fan back in the day but was starting to get frustrated with some of the mechanics long before LOL even came out. (Things like denying and how easily a character can snowball and the fact that the characters didn't feel as unique or complex due to the fact that pretty much everything that a character can do can be bought in an item, etc etc). When I heard about LOL I actually started playing it since it seemed like DotA with most of my complaints addressed. Don't get me wrong i LIKE DotA, I just prefer LOL

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@WillyWynn Only if you don't know how to play the champs. They all have weaknesses and sometimes you have to see a champ a lot before seeing how to beat them. Also I think you wanted "than"

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@nicecall I wouldn't really call it an rts though. It's very good at easing in new people. You should def try it out! It's free, what do you have to lose?

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@Jeff Prowler Haha...wait are you serious? LoL and other MOBA's are nothing like Dungeon Crawlers. That's like saying you won't play Command and Conquer because it is a Halo clone.

Skiveron
Skiveron

@partybro The game has gotten constant patches and is much improved since then. It has now the biggest e-sports presence, and is one of the most played games in the world. It would be weird if someone wants to try the game now and wants to check out the gamespot review and sees a old review that is no longer relevant. I agree however re-reviewing games should be kept to a minimum but in this case its very justified.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@partybro Actually the game has been improved a ton and considering it's an online game that's going stronger than ever doing this review makes complete sense because the rating of 6 is no longer valid and will only give people who don't know any better a false impression.

  LOL use to have a bunch of problems that didn't make it the best game but those problems are gone now and unlike most games that fade off it's still being played so the rating should be helpful not uninformative    

JustArtificial
JustArtificial

@DomZeal You spend 5-10 seconds in a stun, which essentially mean it's game over for you if you get stunned. At least in LoL you can shorten, remove, and dodge stuns.

AlmostUndead
AlmostUndead

@DomZeal That automatically makes a game pathetic is one thing. If you play more games and check more modes you can get into a match in 45~ seconds or so. 

This is why people hate LoL players.

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@Brandon Kief When is the last time you logged on? I've been on for 2 years and I have yet to see any bugs in the game, just the occasional troller every once in awhile.

robertpas
robertpas

@5000man @Azuirte Oh boy, where do I start? Frost arrow wasn't an original concept to begin with. It has been used in other games and people never complained until now. Furthermore I do not think you know what copy means... it means an exact duplicate of it. Having one skill in common doesn't make it a copy. I don't see Drow Ranger having a global ultimate that stuns people, do you? Or an arrow volley for that matter.

And if you think in this particular way : "Omg, but Ashe looks the same as Drow Ranger. It's stolen" then I will kindly remind you that Drow Ranger is "stolen" from Sylvanas Windrunner in Warcraft 3.  In my country we have a saying that translates to this "The thief is crying thief" . If you are going to make an argument make sure it works both ways.

If this "stealing" of skills would prevent game development there would be no fantasy games. Why not? Because Dungeons && Dragons did it first. By your logic everything is stolen from there.

Azuirte
Azuirte

Hero stealing? Are you serious? Do you know Guinsoo? If I'm not mistaken, he probably was the main creator of the Warcraft III mod, DotA, and nos he is not making DotA anymore, he is a LoL designer, sure his presence on the community is not as big as, say, Morello or Xypherous, but still, he works at Riot providing more LoL, and not just him, but there is also plenty of people that formerly worked at DotA are now making LoL. 

If you don't believe, just go to LoLwiki or search for the LoL announcement or release trailer. Again, sorry about my bad english

E-Major
E-Major

@Skiveron @partybro  would just like to add that gamespot would have gotten a LOT of flak if they didn't Re-Review it because people would see the original review, play the game, and then come back here and call gamespot liars.

theguythatiam
theguythatiam

@uglypinkmoose Yeah, it definitely wouldn't have made sense to someone who hadn't been in the MOBA scene yet. They'd be thinking, "Why is this game so popular when DOTA got a 9?" Now, both games having that score makes it more about the small differences between games, rather than one having a 6, making the superior choice obvious.

partybro
partybro

@uglypinkmoose @partybro well no shit it got better, after making millions of dollars did u think it would get worse? did u ever watch the oringal review? they took it off, but they though that the matches were too long and that the gameplay was weak, as far as i know both have gone unchanged, i just find it funny that they gave one of the most popular games an "OK" review before it got popular, now that its so popular they give it a great review... next there going to up-date the last of us and give it a 9.5/10 (which is what it deserves), the point is that when u make a review, stick with it and provide evidence. 

AlmostUndead
AlmostUndead

@JustArtificial @DomZeal You can do the same in Dota with removal of stuns and dodge. Please play the game before you comment on something like that. 7-10 is in extreme cases the most.

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@AlmostUndead And saying things like that doesn't contribute anything to your original argument and makes people hate Dota players.

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

@partybro Also millions of dollars do not always make good games. Also you forget that LoL is free to play and you do not need to spend any real money to be successful in the game. Any money that they earn from the game was given to them after installation. Last of Us and many other games rely on the game sales at the time of release. 

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@partybro The gameplay was weak it was unbalanced as all hell. The long matches still exists but with good gameplay that's not much of a gripe.

They will never change the rating for The Last of Us it's not an evolving game by any means. 

FF XIV is the same exact situation the only difference is it was published with a new name after they fixed it and guess what? 

Everybody rated it again with much higher marks.

Should they have changed the name and re-released LOL after they fixed everything?


E-Major
E-Major

@AlmostUndead @JustArtificial @DomZeal  Wait a second a 10 SECOND stun.....It obviously has been too long since I last played DotA cause that is ridiculous. An entire teamfight in LOL can take 7-10 seconds

League of Legends More Info

  • Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    League of Legends combines elements of role-playing and strategy genres with addictive battle action that brings accessible, replayable and competitive gameplay into a whimsical universe that deepens with the player's commitment.
    8.1
    Average User RatingOut of 3164 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate League of Legends
    Developed by:
    Riot Games
    Published by:
    TransGaming Inc., Riot Games, Garena
    Genres:
    Strategy, Free-to-Play, MOBA
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco