Review by sheppyboy2000

"High fantasy has just raged war..."

It's very rare that I consider a game close enough to perfection to warrant a perfect score. Consider this one of three in my collection of 631 games. It's that good. But before I get ahead of myself....

One of the first things a player will otice from boot up is that no option is there to install a spawn. Disheartening as it is, it still makes sense. This is the one and only complaint about the package I have to comment on. If you wish to play multiplayer with one copy, hacks from the web are needed. This is a byummer to players who wish to try the game before commiting to the hefty (for PC even) cover price of $60. If you are even remotely an RTS, RPG, or Fantasy fan though, there is little choice. You need this game.

Graphics
While I would love to say it completely destroys FFX and Halo, it doesn't. Nor is it menat to. Minimum requirements are a 500Mhz PC for crying out loud. The game does look beautiful but the graphics are definately toned down. This, however, remains an issue hardly mentioning because of the sheer number of units and the high perspective the game normally plays at. Having said that, there are a lot of areas that Blizzard made major leaps above their usual style.

-Fully animated building sequences. Watch as the beams come into place and the banners get hung. It's a small touch but it's definately more interesting to watch than a Zerg sack pulsating it's entire sequence or the three inbetween stages for a Keep's creation in Warcraft 2. This bring a bit of joy into the world of base creation.

-3D models portraits. Some of the animation in this regard is clunky but it has it's own unique charm. Not to mention the fact that the portraits make the harassment of a Peon so much more interesting when he gets a sad look upon his face. The stretch facial animations are reminescent of Naughty Dog's in hits like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. Fortunately, the animation isn't as over the top as in the above mentioned titles.

Those are the two major areas players will notice, the rest screams of classic Blizzard so much that players will have to be actively searching for differences to notice them. The jump to 3D was definately well-planned and welcomed among those who have been graced by this game thus far.

Gameplay
This is the area that they took both major and tiny leaps. Player new to Warcraft will be happy to know that several of the starting missions are designed to help you jump into the gameplay. Veterans, however, will consider it an insult alothough an easily tolerate one as they enjoy the massive leaps forward on old conventions that this game dictates.

The single player remains the typical missions except for a few main differences...

-Dependant upon mission, units not killed in last scenario get carried over. This has both good and bad situations. The good news is that if you're the kind who prepares the final assault with a massive army, chances are, a lot of that will carry over. If you are the kind who builds as needed rather than stockpile your forces, you'll find yourself left with few units at the end of a mission. I find dwindling the opposition down to a couple units and building away tedious, but profitable in the longrun....

-Heroes advance, gain levels, learn spells, and become and bigger center than ever before. The simple old tactics of keeping Raynor behind your base lines may have worked well in Starcraft, but in this game, it does the player well to send those protection units on the front lines to gain the experience needed. Players also get items and weapon upgrades for these heroes indicating a much more RPG feel than RTS fans are used to.

-Optional sidequests, nuetral units, and exploding sheep. Okay, the exploding sheep are old but it's still fun. But the other two lead to some interesting issues.

SPOILER ALERT
These spoilers are early in the game and in human levels......
On the first mission, players run across a farmer who's deed has been stolen by bandits. You don't have to do anything but if you do, you'll obtain addition experience and even a Tomb of Strength.
On the 3rd mission, players will usually exhaust their first goldmine. Another is boldly displayed on the map despite Fog of War. An attempt for this mine by Peasants will quickly reveal several very dangerous optional battles that will easily destroy the pitiful humans. Thus sending out war parties to explore before sending Peasants becomes neccessity rather than good sense like in Starcraft.


Multiplayer remains the same beautiful multiplayer Blizzard has provided for years. In other words, questioning it will get yo mouth smacked, yo!

Sound
This is another place where the game shines. The music fits so naturally that you hardly notice it unless you play the soundtrack (more on that later). The charging of your troops and even the voices make Warcraft 3 and audio delight. It blends so well together than hardly anything is worth notice. However, as per usual, sometimes there will be audio gaps between lines. Hardcore are used to it, casual will notice immediately.

Story
As per Blizzard usual, not only do players get to enjoy an engrossing and interesting story, but the further adventurious get to learn all about the back stories as well with the manual. The story areas are huge and definately worth reading as they hold plenty of names and clues that gamers will pick up on as they play through. Top notch job here....

Choosing your package
In a completely rare ocassion in game releases outside of Japan, Blizzard offers a collector's edition that is perhaps the best one released in the US. It has close rivals of course, mainly from Working designs, but it's definately the best.

The typical edition will run gamers $60 and features 4 different covers highlighting the four different playable races. This no perks package includes the game and a manual.

The collectors edition will run Gamers a whopping $80 and has plenty of features. It of course comes in a very pristine package of thick cardboard. In fact, players will wonder why in the hell it's so heavy and big. The answer to this is findable when they actually open the package. The first thing they'll notice is the beautiful ''Art of Warcraft'' book. Those like me will enjoy looking over this and seeing how conceptual artwork became game models and where alot of the designs based themselves from. This is not some puny ''preview'' edition like in the Episode 1 collectors package (VHS) or just a small companion, this is a full fledged 175 page commendum who's size is not too much smaller in size of the cover of the box itself. A package like this would normally run gamers $25-45 alone. After that, they'll notice the slightly smaller Lithographs in an envelope highlighting the artwork used for the four standard edition covers. See, you don't miss out! After that, they'll notice a Tech tree sheet and a Blizzard catalog. Nothing too major. Below that, they'll notice a pristinely wrapped DVD highlighting interviews and all the cut-scenes in the game and beautiful 5:1 DTS surround sound. Below that, they'll see the instruction manual. Same as the other except for the Spine and the back which has copies of all development staff signatures. Then they'll notice the game itself. Resisting the urge to just say ''Screw it'' and playing the game will reward them finally with a Soundtrack of the games best tracks. As I said before, this package is the best Collectors package ever offered in the states, possibly the world. Now gamers must ask themselves, is all that worth $20? You'd have to be schitzo to say no.

Closing
This is definately Blizzards finest and definately the best RTS game of all time. And thankfully, no ''Dimplehorn the Yak-Milker'' style characters in this game which normally turn people off from high fantasy. This package is further completed with Monty Python references, large doses of comedy, and a full fledged world editor. Starcraft ruled your world, prepare to give that world to Warcraft....


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/02, Updated 07/05/02


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