League of Pain
League of Pain is a cybersports game that pits you against the computer or a friend in an enclosed arena; once there, you must charge up a sphere and shoot it at a goal above the play area. This early version can be put in the same league with Blast Chamber and Grid Runner as a fun, engaging game. The dark, moody Blade Run-ner-esque graphics and move-able camera should help propel the League of Pain to the forefront of cybersports for the PlayStation. No pain, no gain.
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League of Pain is a barely above-average cybersports title that combines elements of basket-brawl and hockey in a game full of goals, punches, and horrendous camera angles.
Your team competes in an arena divided into halves with a spherical goal hovering over midfield. The object is to charge the ball in your end of the stadium and shoot it into the goal from distances that are assigned various point values.
Controlling your players is at times difficult, mainly because both the charge and pass options are executed with the same button, causing you to sometimes lose possession.
Graphically, the main problem is the lack of good camera angles. Some of the views are too dose, limiting your play perspective, while others are too far removed, making it difficult to see exactly what's going on.
FIFA-style crowd chants add excitement, but the announcers quickly become repetitive.
League of Pain is fun at times, especially with two players, but the camera angles and sometimes frustrating control doom it to strictly rental status.
- Your opponent can't score if he can't charge the ball. Block his charger at all costs.
- Use the forward slide to ram opponents and steal the ball.
- If the ball is in an area with a neutral color, go after power-ups rather than the ball.
- When you have an easy shot, take it--if you try to back up for more points, you're liable to lose possession.
We've seen plenty of sports games get translated to the video screen. Between all of the football, basketball, hockey and baseball games, it would seem that all the bases have been covered, so to speak.
Still, there's a lingering sense that something is missing. What about that arena-style sport where players must lob a glowing ball into a hovering goal? When does that game get its due? Okay, there may not actually be a game like that in real life, but with video games, you can do anything.
Enter the Professional Underground League of Pain (or P.U.L.P. for short), Psygnosis' twist on the typical sports game. P.U.L.P. combines elements of hockey, football and basketball into a totally unique sport set in a futuristic arena.
A P.U.L.P. team consists of six players. Of these six, only four are in play at once. The other two sit on the sidelines and are there if substitutions are needed. Each of the layers has his own individual statistics, which vary in such attributes as accuracy, power, speed and stamina.
There are three modes of play to choose from in P.U.L.P. There is a Friendly Mode if you are just looking for a single, quick game and the League Mode is where you play out an entire season of the sport. Perhaps the biggest mode of them all is the Tournament Mode. This is where you play a series of games against other teams, in a step ladder-style tournament. The winners of a pair of games play against each other and so on until one team bests all the others. In Tournament Mode, you can adjust the number of rounds, and, depending on the number of rounds, you can have up to 16 players controlling teams competing in the tournament. Like any good sports game, you can play against the computer, or, what is generally more fun, a human opponent.
No matter what mode you play in, the basic rules of the game remain the same. An entire match is divided into two five-minute halves. The game ball is a sphere of energy that needs to be "charged" before it can be thrown into the goal that hovers in the center of the court over the players' heads.
Charging the ball is actually quite easy. When you gain possession of the ball, you must run to the opposite end of the court and hold it near the ball charger for two seconds. After that, you are free to shoot it. If you lose possession of the ball and the other team gets it, they must charge it up again.
During gameplay, you can do just about anything to get the ball from the opposing team. That's right. In P.U.L.P., there are no fouls, so feel free to check and punch and do whatever you need to get the ball in your hands.
After you've had enough of the 16 teams in the game, there is a Team Edit Mode where you can create your crew of sports combatants.
Overall, P.U.L.P. has a dark, gritty feel that complements the style of game that it is. The graphics are excellent with the ball being the most impressive element. Seeing the glowing mass bounce off the walls, lighting up the court as it moves is an effect you have to see to appreciate. If you've been looking for a sports game that's unlike any you have seen before, Professional Underground League of Pain may be for you.
One of the better features in PU.L. R is the Team Edit Mode. This gives you a chance to create your own team of six super athletes with the attributes you want them to have. You can change the name of the team manager and each of the players, so you can have you and your friends competing for real. Player attributes (accuracy, power, speed and stamina) can be changed at will. There is a separate team power meter that fills up when your lower individual player's meters and lowers when you raise the player's stats. With careful handling of the meters, you can create a perfectly balanced team or a team with one super player. The possibilities are endless.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
- THEME - Sports
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-8
Looking for that action-intense sporting title with a cutting edge that other titles have been afraid to touch? League of Pain is your game. The title is set in the dark future where only the game exists. It is based in a circular arena with a standard goal in the middle. The two teams of two players, each try to battle for control of the glowing ball/sphere. Their goal is to try to get it into the single hovering goal in the center of the arena before the opposition does. It's simple in concept but a lot harder in practice.
At this time in its development, the title is still excessively dark. Keep in mind that this is needed to convey the dark and evil competition that this title is based on. The brightest object in the whole arena is the white glowing ball that is the heart of the title. Everything considered, this title works well with the darkness, even though many players' first reactions will be that it is too dim to notice the small details. Little touches in this area that spark additional enthusiasm consist of moving spotlight effects, as well as cheering crowds among others.
Another notable feature about League of Pain is the number of teams the players can choose to select as their own. This again helps the diversity of the title reach the favorable side of a wider audience range.
In most games, play must revolve around the rules. In League of Pain, the rules revolve around the game. As soon as the player realizes the evil fundamentals of the title, they will enjoy it that much more.
Pushing, charging and rocketing players across the flat arena floor are just some of the competition involved in this great title.
One ball, one goal and four players battling to be the best-it's the perfect makings of a title with enough intensity to ruin a few friendships. Players need to hold on for just a short time now until this game finally makes its debut in the U.S. market and abroad.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-8
Psygnosis is throwing a new futuristic sports title into the Playstation arena. League of Pain is being billed as a blend of hockey, basketball and bare-knuckle brawling. 16 teams make up the worldwide league of underground professionals. The league has no referees so, naturally, there are no rules or penalties. Let's take a look at how it all got started.
It's the year 2078, and people are bored with the old sports that we love today. These games are far too tame for our future descendants. Many of the long-time sponsors of the old games have started pulling their money out and started backing the League of Pain. Salaries have started exploding in what was once a league where competition was the main focus. All around the world, sports that we all know and love today are vanishing. The League of Pain is here to stay.
League of Pain is another in the recent trend of futuristic sports games. This one is a four-on-four competition with the objective of getting the ball in the revolving goal in the middle of the playing field. One small problem: There are four players on the other team that will do anything to stop you. Oh yeah, you can't just shoot the ball in the goal. That would be way too easy. You have to make your way through the opponents' defense and charge the ball in a little plasma charger at their end of the field. Once the ball is charged by your team, it will change color. When the ball is your color, you can score. If the opponent shoots the ball in the goal when it is still your color, you will get the points. Of course this goes the same for you if you shoot in the ball when it is charged for your opponent.
There are three values of goals that can be made depending on your location to the goal. Similar to basketball, you have a 3 point ring, 2 point ring and 1 point ring. Since the basket is in the middle of the field, the point rings are complete circles around the basket. So the scoring, in terms of how many points you get, is quite simple. The scoring was one area that I found frustrating. Sometimes I would try to make a long distance shot and the ball would just go in the direction of the goal like I was passing not shooting. Other times, the ball would shoot up to the goal. I just couldn't figure out why it worked sometimes and not other times.
There are a couple of different game modes that can be played depending on what you want to do. The first mode is called friendly. Be careful. The name is kind of deceiving. The only thing friendly about it is the quick and easy route to start the game. The competition is anything but friendly. The second mode is the League. You can pick a team and play a full season of 30 games. You will play each team twice during the season, once at home and once on the road. The final mode is the tournament mode. This is a single elimination that can be played over two, three, or four rounds and include up to all 16 teams. Losers walk in this one.
League of Pain also has a team editor. This allows you to assemble a team that meets your liking. The first thing you can do is change the manager's name to your own. Next, you will cycle through all of the available faces you can give your player. Once you pick the face of your player, you must assign their skills. Now, if you are like me, the first thing you will try to do is crank every category up as high as possible. That is great except that as you increase a player's skills in a particular area, the overall team energy decreases. So what happens is you have one player that is good on a team full of lame-o's. This is a good way to keep you from artificially inflating your team so you dominate.
Now that you know what it is all about, the real question is if it is fun or not. The answer...Well, ummm, geee, hmmmm, well, ahhh, sort of. The idea behind this game is very cool, but the gameplay itself just does not hold up. I found it very difficult to get into the game. I was never on the edge of my seat with excitement or anticipation. I am going to take the old "compare it to another game" approach. The closest game on the market to this would be Pitball, a more enjoyable game because the players had personalities. They had different abilities. You could distinguish between them. In League of Pain, everyone looks the same. You don't know who is who, and each player has different attributes but I was hard-pressed to find any difference in the players except for speed. Another thing that I found very frustrating was charging the plasma ball. You have to be right on top of the charger for it to work. Since the charge button is the same button as the pass button, I would constantly get real close to the charger and hit the button, causing me to try and pass. This made it very difficult to charge the ball and was very annoying.
The game is not all bad. It does have some fun aspects and is very challenging. I got stomped on my first five or six games before I even had a game that was close. Once I started to get the hang of playing and realized that I needed to be completely up to the charger and not even a half step away, it got a little easier.
Graphics and Audio
Almost every Psygnosis title available is known for the excellent graphics. I was disappointed by this one. The graphics are dark and it was difficult to actually tell what was going on. The only thing that saved the game was the different camera angles you have to choose from.. There are 23 to be exact. After experimenting with all 23, I found one that made the game look better and easier to play. The default mode just makes it too difficult to get your orientation and tell what is going on in the game. I was also a little disappointed in the fighting. I expected to see some punches and kicks being administered. All you get is a fist thrown in the direction of the player who will almost always immediately drop the ball. It could have been so much better.
Let me add that I have rarely come across a game with announcers that annoy me more than the announcers in League of Pain. The heavily accented announcer is very repetitive and rarely has anything to say that is worthwhile. He is supposed to be a retired player and makes lame comments about how a play looked like what he used to do. I actually played this game with the sound turned down.
League of Pain was definitely a disappointment. I really enjoyed some of the other futuristic sports titles, on the market but this one adds nothing new to the field. It may have received a higher score if it were the first to hit the market, but since there are others to choose from, it lost some of the appeal for originality. I'm sure that the developers were developing this game before any others hit the scene, but this may be a case of too little too late. If you really enjoy the futuristic sports games, I suggest you rent this one before buying and decide if it is worth your money.