Laser League

Twitchy, top-down laser sport beam­ing its way to con­sole

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - PREVIEW - Robert Zak

When a new sports game ap­pears on the scene, bring­ing with it a whole set of un­heard-of rules to learn, it’s good to kick things off with a com­par­i­son that’ll paint an im­me­di­ate neontinged pic­ture in your mind. Laser League is like Rock­etLeague (with­out a ball) meets Tron; a fast-paced mul­ti­player arena show­down that has an easy point of en­try, but a skill and strat­egy ceil­ing whose height will only be­come ap­par­ent when play­ers re­ally be­gin mas­ter­ing it.

Two teams of two, three, or four play­ers bat­tle it out from a top­down per­spec­tive to wipe out their op­po­nents. Vic­tory can be achieved in sev­eral ways. First, there are the spe­cial abil­i­ties of the six player classes, such as the Sniper’s lon­grange pot­shots or the dash­ing slash of the Blade class. It’s all one-shot kills, mak­ing each match a brisk bat­tle of re­flexes rather than at­tri­tion.

But the real strat­egy comes into play by cap­tur­ing nodes, which ac­ti­vate mov­ing walls of light cor­re­spond­ing to your team’s color, and evis­cer­ate your op­po­nents on

“The game can quickly be turned on its head with a power-up”

con­tact. Th­ese walls move around the screen in pat­terns, forc­ing you to learn their move­ments while evad­ing the at­tacks of en­emy play­ers.


Ev­ery­thing about the game, from the flu­o­res­cent vis­ual lan­guage to the min­i­mal con­trol scheme, is in­stantly scrutable. In con­trast to Roll7’s de­cep­tively com­plex 2D skater

Ol­liOlli, LaserLeague is de­signed for one-off ses­sions by novices as well as mas­ters. “Whether you like it or not, you def­i­nitely can’t ever be like, ‘I just didn’t get it’”, is how Si­mon Ben­nett, found­ing di­rec­tor of Roll7, puts it.

Roll7 wants to cre­ate a game of high skill. You can co-or­di­nate with your team­mates to set up laser-wall traps, or grab power-ups to swap your laser-walls around with the other team’s. Hav­ing more nodes/lasers in your color on­screen in­creases your chances of vic­tory, but the game can be turned on its head with a powerup or a plucky player who revives his team­mates against the odds. Like all great sports, it cre­ates con­di­tions for dra­matic turn­arounds.

With the re­fine­ment in rules and me­chan­ics a game like this re­quires, there’s a way to go un­til we find out whether its po­ten­tial gets re­al­ized. Ben­nett com­pares the process to bas­ket­ball: “It took them 88 years to in­vent the three-point rule, which is now cru­cial within the game”. At least we know that Roll7 are in it for the long haul (al­though they con­fessed to us that post-launch sup­port for 88 years may be a bit am­bi­tious…).

Above Yel­low walls kill blues, blue walls kill yel­lows. See? You get it al­ready.

be­low Roll7 are still work­ing on the vis­ual de­sign, so may yet add more comfy footwear.

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