System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7, 2.4 GHz quad core or better CPU, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB graphics card, 3 GB hard-drive space, DirectX 9-compatible sound card, DirectX 9.0c
ESRB rating: Not rated
Release date: Available now
Games with leaderboards and ranking systems fascinate me; I’m not sure what it is about them that keeps me coming back. Is it the thrill of passing the person ahead of me in kills, or is it just taking a leader down a notch? I’ll never really know, but it’s likely you could tell me there’s a leaderboard for a non-existent Curious George MMO and I would be the guy slugging it out with the PBS Kids age bracket for glory. Land of Chaos, developed by Alaplaya, helps curb my competitive cravings with third-person shooter, RPG and RTS genres impressively blended together to keep up with my ever-shortening attention span.
Land of Chaos Online (or LoCO for short) is a free-to-play MMO with a new spin on the Defense of the Ancients style of gameplay. For those of you who are unfamiliar, you choose a hero character and engage in matches with other players’ heroes in a team-based setting, in the end looking to slice through an enemy team’s base until their headquarters is destroyed. As you cut through NPCs or even dispatch enemy players, you gain gold, which you can use to purchase beneficial items in the match and experience to level your hero, increasing their abilities and stats. The differences between LoCO and DoTA lie in character control. It’s no longer a point-and-click situation; the controls are based on WASD for movement, like those in a shooter game.
Each hero has a background story you can find on the Alaplaya website. There is a darkness overcoming the land, and most of the heroes and villains have a fate that is somehow intertwined. It’s not very clear to me, but I’ve gathered that a man in black and his agents are to blame for the stirring of darkness through the realm. Your choices of the heroes range from your typical good knight character to a man cursed to become a beast and a witch whose heart was made evil by the denial of her affections. Each of these heroes has skills, whether they be group-oriented or damage-related, that can make them each have a purpose in a match. If you’re one of those people who like to make their heroes pretty, there is a cash shop with costumes to change the look of your heroes to something more aesthetically pleasing.
I’ve been told by some players that the models aren’t very impressive, that they look like toys. I think the graphics are just perfect for this style of game; I put together a new PC originally just to see how good LoCO would look on a proper system, and I was very pleased from models to particle effects. It’s an action game; I could care less if the models have wrinkles on their faces or not. As long as they move fluidly, I’m pleased. Gameplay is just about as quick as I remember, with matches generally running from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on if a team chooses to surrender or not. New players can play a “novice” match against either computer or player-controlled heroes to learn the ropes. I admit when I first played this game to get used to it, this feature was a big help. What I enjoyed the most was completing the mission boards. Think of them as a weekly achievement list; if you complete the tasks on the board, you’re rewarded with useful items from gold to armor. These mission boards made me go from playing a single match in a sitting to multiple matches so I could obtain a boost to my hero for an extra edge over my opponents.
When you join a match, you enter a waiting room; when this room is filled, the match begins. You have a couple of different options. The one I’m not a fan of is the “quick match,” in which the teams are supposedly made by the computer to balance them out, something that I feel is hit or miss. Maybe it’s my snobbish attitude towards things like this; I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way. The opening tutorial also is worth a mention—it’s dreadfully boring. I found playing through the novice matches to be more useful than the tutorial in general. One of the major problems with most MMOs is the music, and LoCO is no exception; at first it’s pretty charming, but eventually you get tired of that same old song playing in your headset. My main gripe about LoCO is that you have to purchase some of the characters to be able to use them, which upsets me, being a somewhat frugal gamer. To end the bad points with a good one, during my original playthrough there were quite a few bugs in some of the key skills of characters and the interface that bothered me; it’s nice to see they were cleaned up a bit. There are still some flaws in there, but they’re hardly as noticeable anymore.
Land of Chaos Online is my favorite guilty pleasure. I’ve enjoyed playing it on and off in the past few months, getting in a match when I can. It’s one of those games I can come back and play without really feeling like I missed a beat along the way. If you like to compete for boasting rights or play strategy games like this, I recommend taking a look; it’s a free-to-play game, leaving you nothing to lose. Most players of the strategy genre can very well compare it to League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth, but I have my choice in DoTA-inspired games and this without a doubt is mine. So far I’ve managed to rack up 23 kills in a match…as a girl.