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The Superheroic MOBA

Michael Bitton Posted:
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I’m always up for a good MOBA, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m someone looking for something to break the mold. As a League of Legends fan, I don’t mind the derivative games out there, as long as they’re interesting in their own right and put their own wrinkle on things.  Games like SMITE change things up from the League formula by offering a unique third person perspective, but you don’t necessarily have to change things that much to create a satisfying experience, and that’s where Turbine’s Infinite Crisis comes in for me.

I’ve spent a little time with Infinite Crisis over the past few weeks and I have to say I’m enjoying the game. The thing is, it’s incredibly familiar; practically League of Legends clone familiar. But is that really that bad? I don’t think so. For me, it’s simple: Infinite Crisis is basically League of Legends with DC Comics characters. Honestly, as a fan of a number of DC Comics characters, that’s kind of enough for me.

That’s not to say that Turbine did nothing to spice things up with Infinite Crisis. For one, the game’s version of your standard MOBA game types feature many small differences. Something as simple as Infinite Crisis’ version of Summoner’s Rift being completely horizontal seems like a small difference, but it changes the entire feel of the map. You can also buy items at towers, which was a nifty change I noticed. One of the larger and more appreciable differences is in how Infinite Crisis allows players to interact with the game world. If you’ve got the right Stolen Power (Summoner Spell) slotted, you can pick up objects in the map and throw them at other players. It’s pretty hilarious to see a guy walking towards you with a police car over his head in a MOBA. Speaking of Stolen Powers, each champion has its own version of one of the base powers and these can be unlocked for use on any character by ranking up the champion to level 5 or purchasing them with the game’s equivalent of IP.

Probably the most curious thing Turbine did was design the game’s primary mode as a copy of League of Legends’ Dominion. Dominion has a dedicated, but fairly small, community in League of Legends. It was hardly the success Riot Games hoped it would be, so it’s a bit odd to see a Dominion-style map front and center in a new MOBA. The funny thing is, I much prefer playing Infinite Crisis’ version of Dominion than the actual thing.

One of the key differences in the map is the game’s central point. In Dominion, there are powerful buffs available in the center of the map, but in Infinite Crisis’ version, you’ll find an Orbital Cannon platform that can be captured every couple of minutes. Capturing this platform fires the cannon at a number of areas of the map, sends out powerful robots to each contested or neutral capture point, and even acts as a sixth point for score purposes for a minute after its capture. You can be playing the most passive match ever, but every couple of minutes everyone will rush to the center for a massive fight over the Orbital Cannon and it can get really crazy.  Depending on how things go, this can completely turn the course of the match. Another neat bit about the cannon is the fact it can only be fired a few times per match before it explodes in a massive shockwave of energy that shoots across the entire map. The explosion renders the center of the map impassable, which has implications on the sort of map movements you’re able to make, changing things up yet again.

The items and characters should feel familiar to anyone who has played League of Legends or SMITE. I mention SMITE here because the item system uses upgrade tiers in place of recipes. The characters fall into your typical MOBA archetypes, ranging from tanks and assassins to support. However, Infinite Crisis’ support characters often seem to encourage building them towards offense. Harley Quinn, for example, is a support character that builds like an AD carry would in League.  The support aspects of Harley come through in the significant amount of utility available in her kit.

Infinite Crisis is in open beta at this point and it’s certainly nowhere near as polished of an experience as League of Legends is now, but things feel pretty good overall. The game is responsive and many of the characters are a whole lot of fun to play. I also love the interaction between the characters. Playing Harley with my buddy’s Joker often results in some amusing banter between the two as we cruise around the map causing chaos wherever we go.

My two major complaints with Infinite Crisis at this point lie with the game’s pricing and roster. The rate of Merit Point gain (the game’s version of League’s Influence Points) seems a bit stingy and that coupled with the steep Merit Point cost for many characters makes purchasing new champions to play feel a bit unrealistic for someone unwilling to drop cash on the game.

As for the roster, I don't really understand Turbine’s obsession with the inclusion of Elseworld characters in Infinite Crisis. There are three versions of Batman in the game (Prime, Nightmare, and Gaslight) while fan favorites like Deathstroke, Bane, Martian Manhunter, Lobo, etc., are nowhere to be found.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the addition of these Elseworld characters, but I feel like the DC Comics bench is deep enough that the addition of these characters doesn’t need to come at the expense of pushing out many Prime characters that are currently unavailable to a later date.  Turbine just recently added Nightmare Superman (with Prime and Mecha Superman already in the game). I won’t mince words: I really don’t care about these characters and every single person I’ve introduced to the game has been equally perplexed by the game's lineup. I’m sure there are fans out there who want to see these alternative versions of their favorite heroes and villains in the game, but I doubt they would want to see them before the prime versions of the characters are added.

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB