Land of Chaos Online Review - DotA With A New Perspective
By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Land of Chaos Online (LOCO) is a multiplayer online strategy game hosted by Alaplaya that mixes RPG and third person action to create new gaming experience like never before. While LOCO is unique in several ways, many gameplay elements from LOCO are inspired by DotA (Defense of the Ancients) style games such as League of Legends or Heroes of Newearth.
Even though I'm personally not much of a fan of these games, LOCO made it easy enough for slow witted strategists like me to keep up and deep enough for full-on DotA masters to show their stuff.
LOCO begins with you choosing between heroes that range from completely standard to absolutely insane. You have access to brawny warriors, loli wizards, berserk monsters and more. Each hero has different stats, skills and weapons to work with, so you'll need to choose wisely.
Once your hero is made, the tutorial will begin to explain the main gist of LOCO's main game mode (battlefield) in fine detail. Controls are handled FPS style: WSAD keys for movement, spacebar to jump and left mouse button to attack. You can also use Q key to block and TAB to switch weapons. This tutorial will take you about 20 minutes to run through and there are videos available after the tutorial to give you some extra pointers.
From there, the lobby opens up where you can chat with other players, manage your heroes, shop for new skills, equipment, cash items and other different functions.
You can join a game automatically using quick join or search for games from the room list, although as a beginner you'll constantly be nagged to play only on the novice map for a while. Play options for creating rooms are fairly limited and active rooms that are not in session will not start until all player slots are filled up, which sucks if you're just looking to get in a quick game, but instead you'll be waiting quite a while before a match begins.
Now LOCO only has two main modes of play: Annihilation, which is your typical team deathmatch and Battlefield, where DotA elements come into play. Annihilation mode is very straight forward, so I won't go into that, but just to give you a quick idea of how DotA games work: Two teams go head to head to see who can destroy the opposing team's base. Before your team can destroy the enemy base, you'll have to kill enemy players and NPC monsters (called creeps) to level up your character and gain new skills. Along the way, you can also purchase items that can be combined with other items to create even more powerful items to use in battle. Attacking them enemy's base must be done in a specific order (such as destroying the base points first, then the healing fountains, etc.) and then the headquarters can be destroyed which will earn your team a victory.
That's basically how most DotA style games work and in turn so does LOCO. The main difference between LOCO and other DotA games is that LOCO uses a third person perspective, rather than top down, plus it plays out like a third person shooter where you must aim at your targets instead of point and clicking. While this aspect seems nice, DotA style strategy is still the main driving force behind LOCO's core gameplay. Skill usage is very important since you must choose between several normal skills and one of two ultimate skills to use. These skills have considerable amounts of cooldown after each use, so you'll need to use them when the time is right.
Despite that LOCO's visuals are powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3, they look somewhat dated, even with the texture sliders set to high. All the character models look as if they were made out of plastic, as do the buildings and NPC units. The character design of the heroes all fall under the categories of generic, bizarre or creepy. Environmental visuals are far superior with detailed terrain and scenic backdrops to gaze at while you're on the battlefield.
The voice work done for each hero is to say the least, poor. The majority of the voices don't fit judging by the physique of the heroes. The music, while short and repetitive is very nicely constructed.
LOCO's gameplay options made it easy for a non-DotA fan like me to be able to jump in and have a ball, thanks to the beginner or expert mode selection before matches start. Playing in beginner mode allows the game to automatically handle the selection of new items and skills for you character for each time that you level up or earn a set amount of gold. Playing in Expert mode lets you select your skills and items manually, so pro players can devise their own battle styles during matches. Beginner mode was a total godsend for me since it throws out most of the guess work and allowed me to focus solely on the battles at hand. No matter if you're a casual or hardcore player, using either beginner mode or expert mode will not give you any major advantages or disadvantages.
I was somewhat disappointed with the third person action in LOCO because I felt as if it was simply just for show. The combat felt way too loose for my taste and aiming the targeting reticle did not have any real importance other than turning the camera in direction of your enemy. Not only that, you can lock-on enemies using right mouse button or R key, so it might make you wonder why aiming is available in the first place. Even with cooldowns set on every skill and item, spamming is very possible. Also: I'm not fond of the way heroes are currently balanced. Some heroes can stun enemy players or set immunity up towards particular attacks so they have an early advantage. While some heroes have stat and skill advantages early on, most other heroes can only become formidable in the late game if they're built up properly with equipment.
LOCO contains an interesting mix of genres made solely for DotA fans, but from the general looks of things, it doesn't have much of anything different from its influences and the third person shooter aspect should hold a lot more value. Still, tweaks and updates are constantly being made to balance and improve over every aspect, so with that alone I think DotA fans will happily move over go loco over to LOCO.
A mix between TPS and DotA style RTS action
Several heroes to choose from with more on the way
Play settings for both casual and hardcore players
Very limited amount of modes and maps to play on
Seemingly dated visuals
Doesn't play much different from other DotA games
Third person action is just for show