Review by Zork86

"Warcraft III may have been a departure from usual RTS games, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a shot."

The Warcraft series really launched the RTS genre into fame causing its popularity to explode on the PC. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans started it all back in 94, with that game came out Command & Conquer, a nice alternative to Warcraft and a very good series in it's own right. Warcraft 2 : Tides of Darkness and it's expansion Beyond the Dark Portal came out in 95 and set the PC gaming world on fire once more but Warcraft and RTS games in general became even more popular after this. After that game Blizzard was busy creating other titles such as Diablo, and were working on Starcraft, a space based RTS. There was also a graphic adventure they were working on called Warcraft: Lord of the Clans which starred the Orc people's savior of sorts, Thrall, this game however was canned and there wasn't another Warcraft game released for about seven years.

Nearly a decade later Blizzard hit its fans with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. War III was very different from its progenitors and even Starcraft. War III had an RPG like element to it, where each of the four races had three hero classes which were sort of like generals if you will, but the hero was no ordinary unit at all, the hero would gain experience, collect items to make the hero more powerful and level up in order to gain new abilities. It had really seemed like Warcraft had taken a pretty different direction and that the game focused a little too much on heroes, some people didn't like it but others embraced it.
I'm here to tell you that Warcraft III is a very good game.

Presentation

War III has a very informative display in the game. The very detailed tool tips can really help people who don't want to take time to read the manual and they even tell you a lot about the various spells and abilities in the game. The commands are not confusing and neither are most of the abilities or the order that all of this stuff is placed in. One nice thing that Blizz implemented was how you can change the camera angle during the game while you're playing, as always you're in a top-down view but you can zoom in on the battlefield and get an up close and personal glimpse of the action below, you can also move the camera around left and right. This game also has a very deep storyline full of twists and turns which is a great plus along with the good gameplay, if you're going to play campaign mode that is.

Score: 9.8 – Amazing

Gameplay

There are four races to play as, each with their own distinct strengths and weaknesses. Humans are usually more strong suited for defense, Orcs are have better offense in general but are more strong suited to the ground, Undead strength is the numbers game much like Zerg only it takes a bit longer, and Night Elves have really good rushing capability (not counting hero rushes). Each race also has three heroes at their disposal usually consisting of a warrior like hero, a spellcaster, and a cunning hero which can be a hybrid of the two or very physically weak but pumps out lots of damage, or is just plain unique. Sometimes you may think that the whole Hero focus is kind of lame but honestly a hero without troops is nothing. Yes the core focus of the game is heroes and that can get annoying, perhaps Blizzard put far too much emphasis on them.

One bad thing about this game is that sometimes when you advance further in the tech tree a lot of old units may seem useless and a waste of money, Starcraft wasn't like this but somehow they managed to revert and yes I think the hero system had a little bit to do with it. Thankfully no hero is useless at all…wouldn't that be ironic. One thing that really downs me about the game is the insane amount of micromanagement skill required to actually be good at this game online and besides that hero rushing is just boring…come on at least draw the game out a little. If you're more into playing RTS games by yourself or you like playing custom games more you won't really experience most of the above problems.

Score: 8.5 – Great

Graphics

The graphics have somewhat of a cartoony look to them. It's nothing bad at all but it's certainly different, it seems that Blizzard has taken to the whole “cartoon” look of games recently. One great thing that Blizzard hasn't moved away from is the great CGI movies. Blizzard does some of the best cut scenes in the business and in my opinion they are very realistic looking and movie quality.

Score: 8.6 – Great

Sound

Blizzard has still kept the aggravated unit speeches which have always been amusing. The sounds of battle are great as well, you can hear a hammer smack against armor or bare flesh, swords clanking and axes cutting, the crackling force of lightning from a caster's fingertips electrocuting enemy forces, the magically induced rage put onto a Orc Grunt by his Shaman brother, all the sound effects are great. The voice acting in the story is also very well done. A real highlight of course is the music, the tracks really do fit in well with the races that use them. Blizzard has always performed well in the audio department and has still yet to disappoint.

Score: 9.4 – Awesome

Replay

Well this is an RTS game with custom games, a map editor, and an online mode so you'll be playing this game for quite a bit if you like it. The map editor is very deep but it gets much deeper when you buy the War III expansion, The Frozen Throne. If you decide to play online test your mettle against some other players in real games, the thing says it matches you up with players according to skill but that is actually a lie…who knows though, if you do well maybe you should keep playing normal games. If you don't do well I would play Custom Maps, these are usually pretty creative and fun…you'll know what I'm talking about if you've played Starcraft.

Score: 8.5 – Great

Overview

While Warcraft may have taken a different direction and has pushed away a section of its fans that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try this game…unless you are one of those fans. The game's new idea is pretty nice but I feel that it has messed with the balance a little bit and it has taken a step back in some areas, especially with tech trees and unit worth. Small problems aside, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is definitely worth looking into, especially with its low price and the expansion's low price.

Overall Score: 9.0 – Great

Score modified to 9/10 for Gamefaqs.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/14/06


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