Sunday, September 13, 2009

Words Go Here? Seriously!? Go Figure.

So its been quite some time. Lets talk about games. Good games of course. I'd love to be able to dissect horrid games, but I'm just not going to pay money for games that are bad.

So lets talk about games I have played. Street Fighter IV & League of Legends (finally NDA was lifted!).

First lets get Street Fighter IV out of the way. I'm playing it on the PC with a keyboard. Which is interesting, because it falls somewhere between the gamepad, and the arcade stick, certain moves are very easy to pull off once you get the finger motions down, while some are very hard, (I'm looking at you 720-ish degree spins). However my limited time (according to Steam roughly 10 hours) with game has revealed several things to me.

1. Damn I suck at Street Fighter IV. 

2. Damn this game is very beautiful. So much love and care went into making the visual fidelity of this game stunning. The filters are a nice touch also.

3. Damn this game is basically a simpler version of DotA or rather AoS (Aeon of Strife) styled games are basically team oriented real-time strategy versions of the fighting game genre. Much of your success in both genres is based upon the amount of knowledge you have going into the match, and from there quickly analyzing your opponents' play style to figure out an effective counter style. In Street Fighter it consists of learning every character in the game's moves and combos and how to effectively avoid/block or otherwise negate such moves. In DotA exact same thing; you need to understand what skills each hero has, what items complement and counter those skills and further you need to understand map layout, how the fog of war breaks lock-ons during chases and so on. It seems to me the AoS is a logical extension fighting game principles applied to a RTS game where the only function is a competitive multiplayer environment. The core difference being the team environment contrasted against a fighting game's simply One versus One. The sheer strategy and fine skill that is involved in both is surprising. But then any competitive really ultimately falls into requiring effective strategies and sufficient skills to obtain victories so I suppose this is more of a general statement of human competitions in general rather than merely an observation between fighting games and DotA clones.

So, if you enjoy Fighting games, you will probably find Street Fighter IV a worthwhile purchase. Too bad the sale on Steam already ended. Oh and Sagat needs a nerf. What do you mean fighting games don't get patched?

Next up, since I've gone on and on about DotA clones it seems appropriate to move onto League of Legends. So the game functions like DotA, two sides smash grunts at each other forever. Each side gets 5 champions and they vie for their side's victory. They level up gaining more skills and gain gold for grunts, champions and buildings destroyed. The player functions as the summoner. A benevolent god-entity who exists to order his Champion around. You as the summoner are granted two skills that usually have cooldown timers of 2-6 minutes. You also possess runes and masteries. For masteries think WoW talent trees. Slightly buffing your champions stats and abilities. Runes are basically swappable meta-game items that further buff the stats and abilities. You can have 3 pages of rune setups.  For quick swaps of various builds based on what character you use for that match.

The game feels like a logical extension DotA. Which makes sense because the brains behind League created most of DotA as we know it, Mr. Guinsoo, if you will. The game plays out largely similiar to to DotA, with a very similar map to DotA's. Albeit with some subtle changes, shrubs can be used to hide in, which are great for ambushes. Perhaps the most notable change is the shift away from hero kills = team win which very much dominates DotA. Very rare is it possible for the carry to rise up and lead your team to victory as is the case in DotA. Rather effective use of pushes and team defends of your own base are essential to your victory. It is possible to dominate a team through kills, but often unless there is a follow through with a strong base push, champion killing serves little purpose beyond fattening the wallet, although not especially well. 
Further the art of last hitting has been greatly reduced. Denying is out. Although last hitting enemies grunts is still viable to slow passively slow your attack. Towers are absolutely devastating in the League, making assaults very risking without extensive grunt support or having exceptional items are the purpose of tanking.
And the item system. It is probably the best method to use DotA's item recipe system and have it make sense to newcomers to the game. It gives you nice flow charts of what items to buy, lets you skip buying smaller parts if you already have the raw cash, and most items allow you to build your champion in a diverse way. They have stats that boost everything about your Champion: cooldowns, spell power, attack, attack speed, dodge, movespeed, hp, armor, magic armor, dodge, if you want to boost it, odds are there is an item that will grant it.

The style of the game falls directly into comedic hilarity. Which is an interesting choice. Because the game has no desire to make you feel connected to some realistic scenario that might play out in some mythical realm. Simply put the game is aware it is a game and doesnt try to convince you otherwise. Sure they do right up Champion descriptions detailing who these figures are, but really, they don't matter. 

At the end of the day I like it. There are some changes I would like to see with match making; mainly just that the only mode of play available for legitimate matches is the Blind Pick option, whereby you can not see what champion the opposition has chosen until the match has already begun. I want to see all random, drafts, and no duplicates modes made available. This is a very minor gripe that I have though, and largely just works to keep things interesting long after the game has been out.The gameplay is very solid, the controls are tight, lag is non-existent in my experience for well over 90% of games played. All this adds up to game that when it actually launches will keep me coming back for more. Now I just wish I had some friends to play it with.

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