LASER LEAGUE The cut­ting edge of the fu­ture sport genre

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - REVIEW - Koenig­inKatze

Well, it’s all come down to this. In the swel­ter­ing heat of Doha, Qatar, we are up against the Fal­cons. We’re tee­ter­ing on the edge of com­pla­cency, as an ear­lier round ended when both of the Co­bras at­tempted to make a break for the bor­ders and got taken out in one fell swoop as the laser nodes out­lin­ing the map’s edges re­ac­ti­vated. The match point is tense but we get cocky; it ends with our last man stand­ing sent fly­ing into one of the va­por­is­ing laser walls. But with two all, it’s still every­thing to play for. This is Laser League, an in­tense con­tact-based­fu­ture-sport drenched in neon and, as you might have guessed from the name, fond of a lib­eral help­ing of lasers. It’s a game where de­feat nor vic­tory is ever a cer­tainty, un­less you’ve put in the prac­tice to grasp every nu­ance of its bal­anced abil­i­ties and are­nas.

You can choose from a mix of of­fen­sive and sup­port abil­i­ties, each trig­gered when your abil­ity me­tre is full by press­ing u. The sword is the most ac­ces­si­ble abil­ity, and one that can kill other play­ers di­rectly, al­low­ing you to cut through matches. (But only with pin-sharp pre­ci­sion and tim­ing.) The smash abil­ity, send­ing foes fly­ing across the map and more of­ten than not into a deadly laser node, and will also be­come a fond team favourite. Snipe’s tele­por­ta­tion-based at­tack will take more time to get to grips with, but also proves de­light­fully lethal. I per­son­ally found the sword abil­ity the most ex­pe­di­ent, but play­ing with the rest of the OPM team shows that there is some­thing for ev­ery­one and def­i­nitely makes me ap­pre­ci­ate the va­ri­ety on of­fer – en­forc­ing the need for team­work.

BE A SPORT

You spend matches chas­ing the op­po­si­tion, all the while equal parts ac­ti­vat­ing and avoid­ing laser nodes your­self. It’s fast, fre­netic fun and keeps you on your toes with con­stantly chang­ing maps. Power ups ma­te­ri­alise at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals and can be used to turn the tide in your favour though care­less use can also give the other team an un­wit­ting ad­van­tage. For in­stance, ever the keen bean, I duck and weave for every white-out­lined hexagon that shows up. How­ever, more of­ten than not my team will be dom­i­nat­ing the map only for my over en­thu­si­asm to bite us as I hoover up some­thing that switches all of our ac­ti­vated lasers to the op­po­si­tion’s colours. Ouch.

Every match de­mands your full at­ten­tion as a vic­tory in reach can quickly turn to de­feat if you don’t ex­er­cise proper map aware­ness. This makes for some en­joy­ably tense face-offs, though you still have to take

“FAST, FRE­NETIC FUN: KEEPS YOU ON YOUR TOES WITH CON­STANTLY CHANG­ING MAPS.”

care – there’s no point rush­ing to re­vive a downed team­mate only to charge head­long into your own doom. Luck­ily there’s no up­per limit on how many times you can res­ur­rect your fallen com­rades.

The 20 maps on of­fer now are split into four core cat­e­gories: Con­trol maps re­volve around seiz­ing key laser nodes in or­der to pile pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion, bat­tle maps aim to pop­u­late the stage with many lasers and make for hec­tic en­coun­ters, the key to vic­tory in ro­ta­tion maps is con­trol­ling their cen­tre, and then fi­nally there are the flow­ing maps, which grant specif­i­cally more stun and lock­down power ups. Even as I strug­gle to match­make on­line with non-AI part­ners (though by the time this is in your hands there should be more play­ers on­line), there is plenty to get stuck into thanks to this va­ri­ety. Af­ter all, on the off chance I do get paired with an­other player, I want to be sure I’m bring­ing my A-game.

FRONT RUN­NER

Laser League presents a com­pelling com­pet­i­tive vi­sion. What’s here is a strong of­fer­ing, whether you’re play­ing against mates on your sofa or with AI that are out to give you a run for your money (at least they don’t com­plain when they carry you to vic­tory). While matches are un­pre­dictable, each loss or vic­tory feels fair due to the strength found in its sim­ple core set-up. The rules are easy to pick up but what’s built on those foun­da­tions con­tin­ues to sur­prise and im­press us many matches on.

VER­DICT

This fan­tas­tic fu­ture sport is easy to learn but dif­fi­cult to put down, and the very agree­able price point makes this a ti­tle that you won’t want to leave on the bench. Rocket League has a ri­val. Jess Kinghorn

You’ll be con­stantly mov­ing, ei­ther avoid­ing or ac­ti­vat­ing nodes and at­tacks.

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB 505 GAMES DEV ROLL7

Be­low The match ends when all mem­bers of a team are down.

Right Matches are ei­ther over in an in­stant or be­come in­cred­i­bly tense un­der­tak­ings.

Above left Vic­tory is sweeter if op­po­nents bow out in a par­tic­u­larly funny way.

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