Review by Sunjammer
Im not an avid RTS gamer, tho i did play and enjoy both previous installments of the warcraft trilogy as well as Starcraft and Command & Conquer. I still think my opinion matters however, as any game should be able to stand on its own regardless of genre and comparisons. I'm big on three things in games these days: Storyline, options and originality. Warcraft 3 doesnt really have anything special to offer in any of these three.
The four campaigns, Human, undead, orc and night elf, have to be played in that order. That means you basically have to play through the entire single player campaign to get to play around with some of the most powerful night elf units without spoiling anything for yourself in multiplayer mode, where teching up and gaining experience and levelling up your hero characters its a far quicker affair. I liked the starcraft approach, where you could pick any one campaign and take the blame for spoiling the plot for yourself. That option would have been great here. I never liked playing as Humans, and the Undead campaign had some dull as dishwater missions. In starcraft whenever i got stuck on a mission, i'd fire up another one of the three campaigns and keep it up from there. Wc3's campaign is strictly linear in that way. The missions range from typical ''destroy his base'' to some incredibly inane objectives, like doing pointlessly evil things simply because your hero is supposed to be an utter cad. Im sorry Blizzard, but just because the plot says so doesnt make it feel right to actually have to do it. A lot of the missions had objectives i honestly couldnt care less about. All in all, im not very happy with the single player campaign. Its alright, but its nowhere near as good or as driving as the starcraft campaign or the previous warcrafts even. For me the big appeal of starcraft was the multiplayer and the skirmishes against several cpus, no holds barred, and Warcraft 3 certainly delivers on that account. The AI has been boosted to hell and back in this game compared to starcraft, and while this is guaranteed to give the most avid players a solid challenge at any time, its unforgivingly brutal against beginners. I wish blizzard had included an option to change the AI level of the computer opponents, so that you could play a 2v1 game with you w. a weaker AI against a superstrong AI, or you against several weaker AIs etc etc. No such thing in wc3 tho, and the ridiculous efficiency of the AI has turned a lot of friends of mine off this game. For multiplayer though, this is the biz. Its basically starcraft, but with a halved max unit count, stronger, more expensive units, an upkeep factor that lets you harvest less the more units you have, strong hero units with some rpg-style elements, and finally my biggest gripe, a *huge* emphasis on micromanagement.
To say warcraft 3 is a game of small things is a *huge* understatement. To be truly successful you need to be able to control your troops down to a single unit, as the huge number of special abilities and the like you can give them as well as the deadliness of such things as taking higher ground and the like will leave people who simply group units and attack devastated by superficially weaker forces. Now this is all nice and dandy, but doing this kind of micromanagement at the same time as handling your base building and unit training is the kind of crap you see world championship players do, not your average kid looking for a quick game. There is an awful lot of work involved with playing wc3, so much its tiresome and most people i know take breaks from wc3 far more often than they would from any other game. Its just a *lot* of stuff to do at any given time, which to me makes the game more about tactics than about strategies. Its hard to plot ahead, and mainly its the skill at controlling the actual numerous battles that sway the conflict.
Another thing is that there is really nothing new to warcraft 3. Upkeep has been done before, heroes has been done before, the mousewheel tilting of the terrain is straight out of battle realms, the right click to set rally points is straight out of battle realms, there is just a feppload of stuff that youve seen before here, and very very little new. even the interface looks the same as it always has (pick any other blizzard rts title). The 3d engine is quite pretty from time to time, but its nowhere near impressive, and the up close cutscenes really show off how limited the models really are, another flaw we saw in battle realms. The music ranges from bearable to not even there, and the voiceovers range from bearable to passable. There is nothing here you havent heard before, its all just very nice and appropriate.
The only graphical aspect of wc3 that impressed me was the truly astonishing prerendered cutscenes youre rewarded with from time to time in the single player campaign. We're talking hollywood quality, and these things well and truly impressed the ¤#''/)(/''% out of me again and again. Blizzard knows their stuff when it comes to flash, no doubt about it.
All in all, if youre hot on sitting down writing down unit stats and memorising how much damage your level 4 paladin could do with claws of attack +6, and figuring out new and inventive ways of using ghouls to obstruct enemy movement, this is probably a game for you. The combat is fierce and unforgiving and itll take some serious devotion to get good at it. If youre into it for sheer fun and a quick blast once in a while, i'd recommend getting something else.
If you liked starcraft, be prepared to get your ass whupped in wc3. NONE of the same tactics apply here, which is painful because there are so many similar units and feats.
While wc3 is indeed the best rts title to come out in a good long while, its also just a rehash of the classics, refined to the absurd, and if you didnt like it back then youre not gonna like it now. Maybe next time Blizzard will try something new. *sigh*
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/07/02, Updated 07/07/02
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