Review by Excalinox

"Perhaps the most complete, refined real-time strategy game ever made."

After torturing us gamers for many years with trailers, screen shots, interviews, more trailers, a few more screens, and many a delayed release date, Blizzard's WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos is finally here, but be warned; this ain't your momma's WarCraft. With a fully 3D world for us lucky gamers to explore, two brand-new, completely unique races, and a few RPG elements thrown in for variety, WarCraft III is different from the WarCrafts of yore. Is that a bad thing? Noooo, my friends. Not at all. Let's discuss the greatness, section by section, shall we?

Graphics

Freekin' awesome. Next section...
Seriously, the graphics in this game are extremely solid. The pre-rendered cutscenes are simply breathtaking; after watching these, the amount of work put into making this game as polished and refined as possible is obvious. The in-game graphics are nothing to laugh at either. The game seems to have a twisted-cartoony feel to it; watch the sprightly humans battle the ghoulish undead and you'll see what I mean. The landscapes are superbly crafted - never will you be bored with the same dull sights thrown at you again and again. Instead, the world of WarCraft III is varied and exciting, complete with sky-scraping mountains and beautiful waterfalls. Also, the landscapes don't seem to have the cookie-cutter gridlike feel to it that most other RTS games have - perhaps it's because of the freedom of 3D. The transition to 3D didn't detract from the quality of the units themselves - each unit is easily identifiable from any angle, and when you're in the heat of battle, that's all that really matters. Overall, the transition to 3D was performed flawlessly.

Sound

Sound in RTS games is funny. I was about to say that the game had the same old sword clinks and orcish grunts as previous games, but then I thought; What else are they going to do? ''If it ain't broke, don't fix it'' comes into play here. While the sound effects do seem to be similar those in WarCraft II, that is not a bad thing by any means. The hilarious comments made by units after repeated clickings are still something to hear; ''MORTAAAR COMBAAT!'', the ready-for-battle phrase said by a human mortar team, is perhaps my favorite quote from any WarCraft game. The dramatic musical score is superb; you'll never find yourself wondering why a certain selection was used in an inappropriate place. The voice-acting is also fantastic (notice a trend here?). None of the characters are cheesily dramatic, and you can really hear emotion in the character's voice. On the in game cutscenes, the voices don't always match up with the lips of the character in the lower-left corner of the screen, so it sometimes ends up looking like a translated Japanese film, but it's nothing that detracts from the overall quality of the game. Once again, WarCraft 3 aces another essential category! Let's see how it does with....

Control and Gameplay

The meat and potatoes of any game. If the controls to the game are frustratingly complicated or unresponsive, or if it's simply no fun to play, then it's not worth buying. So how does WarCraft III stack up in the most important components of a video game?

What do you think?

WarCraft III uses pretty much the same control scheme as WarCraft II, which means that you should never have trouble controlling your army. The right mouse button is the utility knife of WarCraft III; with the right units selected, right clicking on a burning building will send the peons running to fix it; right clicking on some enemy units or buildings will order an attack, and so forth. You can assign groups to hotkeys, which makes ordering large scale attacks a snap. Zooming in and out is made easy with the mouse wheel - while zooming is basically a useless feature, it sure is cool to get in close and watch a battle unfold before your very eyes. Overall, the control scheme is intuitive and easy to learn; you never lose control of what's going on, and that is what's important.
As we all know, graphics, sound and the like aren't what makes a game; a 'good' game is one that is simply a lot of fun to play. And let me tell you something - WarCraft III is a LOT of fun to play. The single player campaign has a deep, involving plot, and as you play with each race, you'll see that they all fight for what they believe is right - none of them fight just to play the 'bad guy' or 'good guy' part.
'Hero' units are also available in all modes of play. Heros are unique units that are much more powerful than your standard soldier - think of them as generals or war chiefs. Heros can level up with battle experience, enabling them to become extremely strong and versatile units. Heros also have an inventory in which they can carry potions, scrolls, orbs that upgrade their weapon, and much more. A powerful hero unit can really turn the tide of the battle in your favor; just ask the Orc encampment I destroyed with my hero alone.
The single player mode isn't over when you finish all four lengthy, addictive campaigns; the Custom Game mode allows you to skirmish against the computer as much as you want. As if that wasn't enough, Blizzard threw in the staple World Editor, giving the player all the tools necessary to create professional-quality maps to battle upon. But wait! There's even more!! The legendary Battle.net internet multiplayer service comes with both versions (Collector's and standard) of WarCraft III, enabling you to battle against fellow War3-ers from all over the world. Combine all of these modes of play, and you've got a game with literally limitless replay value.

Final Thoughts

WarCraft III is, without a doubt, worth the slightly inflated price. Hardcore RTS buffs don't need any reviews to tell them to buy this game, as they probably own it. This review is just to confirm the growing suspicions that everyone else has - this game rocks. With crisp, exciting graphics, solid sound, an intuitive control scheme, and the best gameplay mechanics of any strategy game to date - this game has got it all. Without a doubt, this game lives up to the legendary WarCraft name. Blizzard, you've done it again.


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


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