Wednesday, August 24, 2011

League of Legends lets me down, Dance Central 2 still looks good

The is the first screen you'll see on the battlefield in LoL.

My Age of Empires Online ambitions were swiftly and permanently curtailed this weekend upon discovering that the version of Windows XP to which I had access was pre-Service Pack 3 and so ineligible for an install. Not one to be put off, I moved immediately onto something else Windows-only: League of Legends.

Another free-to-play multiplayer game, League of Legends (often amusingly shortened to LoL) is an action real-time strategy sort of concept, apparently heavily inspired by Defense of the Ancients, or as you might better know it: DotA. I sunk maybe a good hour or two into the game, including the tutorials, and came out after feeling cold about the whole experience. I don't know if it was because I'm largely unfamiliar with modern PC games, or that the genre just isn't for me, but given the huge praise recently loaded on it, I was surprise that I disliked it so much.

MNC even borrows Team Fortress 2's cartoon visual style.
Further investigation into the genre of 'Action RTS' (read: DotA clone) led me back to something I'd forgotten all about: Monday Night Combat, a game I remember being interested in trying it out when it was released last year. Without missing a beat, I hit up the wonderful Xbox Marketplace, and grabbed the trial. Despite offering variety through a combinination of Team Fortress 2-esque class-based combat with DotA-style gameplay, I have to say that this seems to be the final nail in the coffin for my nascent interest in the world of Action RTS games. Certainly, I will confess that I sampled both of these genre iterations in single-player mode, but each left me largely unsatisfied in a way that I don't feel would have been remedied by adding other people into the mix.

This 'bonus round' section is a chance to gain
much-needed points over your opponent.
After having watched a gameplay demonstration of Harmonix' soon-to-be-released Dance Central 2, I am pleased to say that everything I had felt to be missing from the initial version looks to have been remedied and included in the upcoming iteration. The Kinect sensor seems to have been augmented somewhat too, or perhaps they're just being more honest with what it sees. What were vague blurs before are now eerily accurate three-dimensional shaded scans of each player. The gameplay is taking advantage of that by providing much more succinct criticism and training for the dance moves, encouraging you to tighten your abilities all-round. Dance Central is an interesting game to me, in that the skills it teaches you translate 1:1 into real life. You might not pick up a guitar after Rock Band and be ready to shred hard and melt faces, but get through enough Dance Central and it's wholly probable that you'll be deftly cutting up rug on dance-floors across the world in no time.

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