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League of Mages

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Weak magic

Product: League of Mages | Developer: SMS Services O.o.o | Format: iPad | Genre: Casual, Multiplayer | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
League of Mages iPad, thumbnail 1
Is Harry Potter still a thing? I mean, do kids still want to be an apprentice magician as opposed to a zombie or Justin Bieber's BFF?

Being thoroughly off the pace in all matters of 'tween cool, I have no idea. But League of Mages is going for that magic-school vibe all the same.

Unfortunately, missing the zeitgeist is the least of the game's problems.

Gee wizard

League of Mages positions you as a would-be sorcerer under the tutelage of a wizened old, eh, wizard.

Rather than hit the arcane books and take part in theory tests, though, it seems the best way to magical mastery is to be pitched into a series of one-on-one fights with your fellow students. Which is what school's like up north, I imagine.

The twist here is that each student is a real human player -but the developer completely fails to capitalise on this fact in any meaningful way.

Physics defying

The first considerable downer is the battle system itself. Presented with a static first-person view of your opponent, the idea is to grab floating runes with your finger and flick them towards your rival.

As you unlock new magic spells you'll be able to combine the various elemental runes to launch more powerful attacks - two fire runes for a basic fireball, for example.

IAPs explained
You are awarded golden coins to purchase supplies, albeit in relatively small quantities.

Unless you're happy to grind, you'll need to splash real cash, and 69p / 99c will only get you 500 coins. That's enough for two basic items such as healing pills.
All the time you must tap your opponent's attacks to lessen the impact on your health bar.

The trouble is that the process of grabbing and flicking spells just feels sluggish, and the lack of a convincing physics engine leaves the results feeling detached from your actions. There's no sense that your physical flicking motion is actually achieving anything other than initiating a preset animation.

Utter hogwarts

Battles are enough of a repetitive trudge that the whole multiplayer element feels redundant. You're told that you're fighting someone real, but the core combat system is so flat and limited that it's impossible to tell.

The result is a lack of satisfaction when you triumph. It doesn't help that there's a strong incentive to spend real money on stocking up on power-ups to hinder your opponent or heal yourself. Victories earned this way feel - and, of course, are - hollow.

The game also suffers from niggling performance issues, with long loading times when starting out or jumping back into the game from sleep or multitasking modes.

The developer has also made a mistake in not allowing character customisation from the off, as the result is a string of bizarre doppelganger fights early in the game. Such a lack of attention to detail is typical of the game, unfortunately.

League of Mages is a bright and reasonably breezy multiplayer zap-'em-up, but it lacks any semblance of spark or magic, and any spell cast by its premise is quickly nullified by the drudgery of its combat system.
League of Mages
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 31 July 2013
League of Mages pits you into one-on-one magical combat with real players, but its flat grind-heavy gameplay lacks any hint of magic
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