Review by RoninWind

"It started out great..."

Warcraft III is a real time strategy game(rts for short) made by Blizzard Entertainment.
Why a 6 you may ask? Don't gasp, but I was actually leaning towards a 4 or 5. I initially had thought that this game was going to be spectacular(I woke up at the crack of dawn on release day to head to the nearest Best Buy with my friends, and I have an action figure to show for it woo hoo), but I found myself uninstalling it the other day to make some more hard drive space. I WILL probably end up reinstalling this for playing with my friends, which is where the problem begins.

Gameplay 7/10
The controls remain fairly tight, unless you're online and lag begins to creep up on you. Even running on dsl I've ended up running almost a full second behind what I'm telling my units to do and them actually doing it... and due to the shift from macroing (using large groups) to microing (managing small groups to maximum potential) this can be disastrous online.
The races all have distinctively unique feels and approaches to them. I won't go into too much detail about this, but they are fairly well balanced and each can be deadly in it's on unique ways in the hands of a master.
The single player campaign, I feel is drastically underrated by many. It is interesting enough to pull the player into the story and to keep you playing mission after mission just to find out what happens next. It also keeps a staple blizzard rts tradition of only one new unit per map. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Blessing-This makes the game very newbie friendly and you are not overwhelmed with a plethora of units to figure out and try and combine into attack forces. Curse-If you've played rts before, you probably want to zoom up the tech ladder and get to fighting right away. However, it's also of note, that story line is sometimes related into the units granted and a good job is done of it.
Here is where the game begins to detract, multi player. Battle.net has gotten some much needed upgrades. The ladder matches and even the teams can be or are randomized. This solves the old Starcraft ladder issues of win trading that allowed people to soar into the impossibly high 4000 rating range. However I've found that randomness can play against you. Playing solo random I am constantly mismatched against people that have played probably 40 more ranked games than I have, easily. The example of this is the level system used for ranking, at level 1 I was put against a 6, a 7, and an 8 all consecutively... which lead to frustration and many losses. Perhaps a future patch can help fix this.
A second issue arises when playing with a random partner on team games, they drop a LOT or surrender prematurely, or in some cases you get the mix match like in one on one. You can be a level 6 with a level 1 partner vs a pair of 5's. As good as you are when it's 2v1 (either due to them dropping way early or you partners failings) the game is quickly going to turn ugly for you. Starcraft had a built in feature where if you left the game in the first two or three minutes the game didn't count, however this isn't true in Warcraft III so far as I have observed. Implementing this would be a godsend for random teams players.
And don't get me started on what happens on 3v3 arranged teams, it's always nice when you and your buddies who play once in a while play a game and the three you play against all have clan prefixes and are all 3 the same race.

Graphics 9/10
Earlier I gave reference to some cinematics. The in between mission cinematics are gorgeous and bright, or dark depending on the mood.
The in game graphics are also sharp, but they leave you wanting more compared to the cinematics. However they are also sharp and vibrant and some players have already made neat looking shots of towns and forests and temples using good camera angles in the map editor.

Sound 8/10
All of the sounds in this game are clean and crisp. If you hit someone with a sword, it sounds like you hit them with a sword. The denizens of the land and beasts you get to control also have interesting and enjoyable sounds. Also there is the hilarious part of clicking on units a lot many of you may remember from previous Blizzard rts titles. The only complaint is that some of the voice acting is lacking in the cinematics, as some characters seem to have the same tone irregardless of the situation; even when their personality accommodates that mood altering their behavior.

Music 4/10
In the cinematics the music is just as complementary to the mood as the lighting. However in the game, you rarely hear the music, at all. Sometimes it's so subtle it's not even noticeable. I really like music in my games, which is why for many of them I do enjoy I have to implement winamp or the radio, this game is one of them.

Replay Value 5/10
The single player scenario is good for playing once through, or maybe twice if you have a friend that likes to come over (I have 3, and I'm sick of hearing the same story over and over and over...)
Now the juicy part would be the online play, but you can see some of my complaints there. The game is great for playing with a friend, but less then great unless you're a pro (which many of us are not, since we didn't have beta experience, or 12 million hours a day to practice) it will probably be a source of frustration 50% of the time, and a source of anger 10% of the time when the randomizer mix matches you and you get the beating of your life. However, with just a few teaks and patches this could be made more enjoyable.
I also feel the map editor has tremendous potential. Once people begin to really get a feel for this, and take a stab at innovation (away from all the StarCraft type Use Map Setting maps like: rpgs, zone control, madness, etc.) we can have tremendous amount of variety, fun and challenge unseen before in user made rts maps.

Overall 6/10
I'd say it's worth buying if you've got a bunch of friends that want to also but it, or already have. If not, it may be in the near future, I'd watch the battle.net forums and see what the current patches head. Hopefully some other people will notice the few points that lead to the battle.net experience being a living nightmare a good bit of the time.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/28/02, Updated 07/28/02


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