Microsoft’s Game Pass has been with us around a year now and It has gone pretty much unnoticed until January of 2018 when it was announced that all new triple A Microsoft titles would be coming to the game pass as part of your subscription. Microsoft pushed this very heavily with the launch of Sea of Thieves and myself and tons of other gamers I’m sure rushed to get our subscriptions. However the launch didn’t go exactly to plan and Sea of Thieves has taken a lot of flak due to lack of variety in its content. This has led me to think is it worth my £7.99 a month when we don’t have a date for crackdown yet. Thankfully we have State of Decay 2 coming any day now but that is only one game. So my job here is to write a series of reviews on the Game Pass titles to see if there are any other little gems in there which may be hidden away in the catalogue.
First up is Laser League which has been recently added to the service and promises to provide rocket league levels of competition within an 80’s looking tron style battlefield. As you first boot the game up the tron comparisons become very apparent with even the title screen bearing a striking resemblance to the classic movie franchise, now this is in no way a bad thing as I absolutely love tron and the 80’s is very in style at the minute with the progress of Synthwave music and shows such as stranger things. This is further reinforced at the main menu, where the UI has just about enough neon to make your head explode. My first impressions at this point are I just love the retro yet futuristic look to this so let’s get a team together and get stuck in!
The premise is pretty simple in Laser League, you battle it out in team of up to three people in games and sets of best of three. There are little pins or nodes that appear with lines coming out of them showing laser direction and you activate these by running into them, this causes a laser wall to shoot out and restrict the other teams movements. You can run through your own laser colours but not the other teams if you do then you “knock” and your teammates need to run over your icon to revive you. Points are scored by eliminating the entire opposing team.
Now upon first play me and my friends as you do completely ignored the tutorial and just went for it. You are given the choice of various character classes blade, shock, smash, snipe, ghost and thief. At first play it doesn’t seem like these will make a huge difference and we all just picked whatever and got going running around picking up the nodes and getting the odd power up here or there and winning some games mostly through chance and luck.
Laser League is one of those games that at first glance should be pretty boring you just run around collecting nodes and only have shoulder button to use to perform your class characters move and after 30 mins or so of us playing we thought ahh it’s a bit meh. Nice to look at but no real filler, but this is the most important part of the review so take heed. GIVE IT TIME! Thankfully we pushed on through that grey zone you get when you first play it and we explored how the characters work. Each one has a different move and while it’s only one move it gives the game so much more depth and the way each character interacts with the other classes on the team can give some awesome plays which then start to make the game really addictive.
When in duos our favourite at the moment is shock and blade, teaming up with penning a player in with lasers shocking them and while incapacitated the blade player goes in for the kill. Or using the smash character to charge into an opponent and launch them across the area into a freshly lit node that your teammate has just activated. Then there’s the team factor. Camping a downed enemy to stop him being revived brings a new level of tension as you begin to taste the point to be scored. Also there’s the power ups that appear from time to time in the middle of the arena which can fully charge your ability instantly, reset all the nodes or even switch them around. This brings a bit of frantic game play when you are smashing the other team with the amount of lasers you have and then switch appears and you have to try and make sure they don’t get it or the lasers all switch colours.
I shouldn’t enjoy Laser League, as at face value it seems like a really shallow indie title. But instead I love it! The game play really gets under your skin and you find yourself screaming at the TV and shouting plays to your team while you try and work in tactics and leaving you wanting to play it more and more. I take my hat off to 505 games as they have struck it on the head with this game the neon is delightful to look at and the levelling and cosmetic items come along at just the right pace. The only real gripe I have is that the arenas can get a little samey after a while as you only have one arena type. So if they added in different shapes it would add so much more as running through the walls to get to downed teammates or stealing nodes would be a bit more complex to work out if the arenas were odd shapes, But I suppose that’s an easy add in.
Overall I am really glad I downloaded it now and even more glad I gave it a chance. So if you haven’t played it yet stick with it for the first little while or if you only played it for a short space of time go back to it as it has a far greater level of depth and complexity than it first seems.