Review by Variaz
So far, I really enjoyed all Blizzard PC games, starting with the very first Warcraft, which I found very fun. Then, I played Warcraft II, Diablo, Starcraft and Diablo II, and all of them were fun and enjoyable. Now, I recently bought this game. Having read various reviews with various opinions, I thought the game wasen't going to be that good. Then I played a little, saw some peoples playing it, and it seemed fun. So I bought it, and played it...I should have stayed to my original thoughts, as I found the game to be extremely disappointing.
The story is centered around the Burning Legion, a large army composed of demons and foul creatures, returning to the world of Azeroth. The Orcs, who have waged war with the humans since Warcraft I, are no longer under the demons control, and seeks to fight against their former masters. Two other factions have appeared, the Undead Scourge, a legion of savage and violent undead creatures, and the Night Elves, an ancient, magical race who lives in the forests of Kalimdor. Soon, all four factions will be confronted against each others, and war will rage...
While the story lacks some originality(Undeads and Demons as the bad guys, the elves as the good protector of nature, etc...), the story of Warcraft III is pretty good, and quite addictive. You want to know what happens next, and you will want to play the campaigns to learn more about what will happen to the characters. Too bad the other elements of the game aren't as good as the story...
The graphics are nice, and so are the landscapes. Nothing spectacular, but good nevertheless. However, the animations seems rather slow...a little too slow to be honest. It seems they were trying to make the movement of characters smooth and realistic, but in the end, the frames were just slow and rather boring. Other than that, I have no problems with the graphics. They do their job pretty well.
The music in this game is hardly heard during the gameplay, and when you DO hear it, it's nothing special. I remember the music of the first two Warcraft games, and it was a nice, entertaining warfare music. Now, in Warcraft III, you don't have that kind of music anymore. As for the sounds, the voice of the characters are nice and realistic, but the other in-game sounds are, like the music, nothing special. Overall, the audio doesn't add any fun or addiction to the game and this is bad since this is the primary role of audio in a game.
In Warcraft III, Blizzard tried to combine the elements of both RTS(Real-Time Strategy) and RPG(Role-Playing Game). In a RTS, you control large groups of units and use them to conquer the enemy forces. In an RPG, the game is centered around one or few characters, and you have a lot of customization over them. Warcraft III falls short in both areas, so I've decided to split up the gameplay review in two parts: the RTS part and the RPG part.
In all good RTS, you can build massive armies with various types of units and creatures, and send them to destroy the opposing forces. You have to use the right units against the right foes, and you have to organize them in strategic and effective teams. In Warcraft II, you could create as many units as you wanted too. This might have led peoples to create armies that were too large, so in Starcraft, they set up a maximum food supply of 200, which was enough to supply a large, yet not TOO large army. But they decided that it was not enough, so in Warcraft III, not only did they raised the number of supply needed to have units, they lowered the maximum food supply to a mere 90, and by doing this, they ruined everything that makes an RTS fun. The game is centered around the armies of the humans and the orcish horde. 30 individuals, what you will probably get in a normal game, is not what I call an army. With such a small number of units, it's impossible to make large and long-term strategies. In Starcraft, you could create a ground attack team, a scouting team and an anti-air team. In Warcraft III, you will only have one of the above. What kind of strategy can you make with so few units? You attack, lose your attack team, then make another one, attack again, and so on. Or you make a single, unbeatable team and crush your opponent in no time, turning the real-time strategy into real-time blood bath.
Another bad point of game is the way the units are made. They have way too much hit points, and their damages are too little. Let's see... you will do an average damage of 13 with a Footman. The Footman has 420 hp, so it basically takes 32 hits to kill a single footman with another one. This makes battles extremely long and boring. Even the simple, humble peasants have around 260 hp. I thought that after 15 hits from a sword, a simple peasant would be dead, but no, he still need 5 more hits before dying. So unless you attack with very large groups, which are impossible to create in this game, the battles are going to take some time, unless you have some abusive abilities...
...which leads me to the next point: heroes. In this game, you have units called "Heroes" that can gain levels and abilities(see RPG part for more information). However, some of these abilities are so powerful that you can basically destroy an entire base with only a few, high level heroes. For instance, the orcish Far Seer can cast a spell that will do extreme damages to buildings in an area of effect. The damages are so high that it won't be long before the entire base is crushed. Other abilities include turning a hero invincible, turning an entire group of units invincible, casting a deadly spell that will kill all enemies in a short time, etc... So, instead of being centered around creating a lot of units, it's centered around having the best little group of heroes.
Finally, and probably the worst part of the gameplay, is the overall speed of the game. The game is slow, even in fast mode. The units move slowly, and as I said before, the animations are slow as well. The units takes their time to strike each others, and there is a delay between each hits that is too long. There is just no action in this game. This, combined with the huge hit points of the units, quickly turn an entertaining battle into a slow-motion, boring battle that takes forever.
So as you can see, the RTS part of the gameplay is ruined by technical aspects of the game. If the game would have been faster, none or high supply limit and units with less hit points, it would have made an enjoyable RTS. But it's not the case, which is sad, considering their previous RTS, Starcraft, was such a great game... Well, that said, onto the RPG part of the game!
Warcraft III tried to be a RTS/RPG hybrid, and as I told you, they failed the RTS part. But what about the RPG part then? Yes, they failed that as well. The "RPG" part of the game involve the heroes being able to find items and gain levels. However, the hero system is VERY limited as far as customisation goes on. Each heroes can gain up to 10 levels, and upon each levels, they either gain a new skill, or make one skill more powerful. Upon each levels, you can choose what skill to learn or improve, which is nice. But that's about it. You have four stats(Strength, Agility and Intelligence), but you cannot choose how you will raise them. What's the point of knowing that each points of Strength gives your hero 25 hit points when you can't even decide how much points you want to spend in Strength? They tried to implement a stats and skill system similar to Diablo II, but it's nowhere near as good or customizable as Diablo II.
Next, the items! Yes, heroes can carry different items! But as you may guess, they screwed that as well. When defeating a monster, it may drop a random item for you to pickup. You can have up to six items, and they can make your heroes a lot more powerful. This is suitable for any RPGs. However, in Warcraft III, where the goal is to destroy the enemy base, having a hero that becomes too powerful becomes unfair for the other player. And since the items are random, you can't establish strategies around items. So if you're lucky, you're going to become a god, and if not, well, you will suffer the enemy god's wrath. Also, there is some weird stuff about items, like the ability to have six swords and axes, yet benefit from each of them at the same time. As far as I know, the heroes have two hands, and how they can use six weapons at once is beyond me. But I guess it made sense to Blizzard employees...maybe I should call them, and learn the secret of using six tools at once with two hands! :)
Finally, a good RPG has a deep and interesting story centered around the heroes. Yes, the story of Warcraft III is great...for an RTS. But for a true RPG, it's not deep enough, the characters lacks development. Some of the characters in Warcraft III looked very interesting, but in the end, little was known about them other than the general stuff. But then, Warcraft III uses an RTS engine, so it wasn't meant for the creation of deep stories like you find in a real computer RPG, or a console RPG like Final Fantasy. The story around the heroes could have been a lot better.
Overall, the game is not a good RTS, not is it a good RPG. It tries to take the best of the two world, and put them together, but in truth, they took none of the best, and the mix was unsuccessful. If you want a good computer RPG, try the Baldur's Gate or Icewindale series if you want a good story, or Diablo II and Morrowind if you like RPGs with less story and more action. And all the above RPGs are very customisable. If you want a good RTS, try the previous Warcraft games(which were much more fun), Starcraft, Command & Conquer, Cossacks, etc...there's a lot of them out there, and most of them will allow the creation of large and interesting armies.
REPLAY VALUE: 10/10
Well, I won't lie to you: the scenario editor of Warcraft III is great, and allow A LOT of customization over various game elements(including the removal of the food supply limit, but only for custom type games...). You can create new units, change their color, make them bigger or smaller, gives them new abilities, create new abilities, etc... Yes, the editor allow the creation of all kind of maps, and gives the game a great replay value...assuming you liked the game in the first place, which was not my case.
FINAL RATING: 4/10
Good story and great replay value is nice for any games, but it doesn't really make up for the poor gameplay. The graphics and audio could have been better as well. So, is it worth buying or renting? I don't know if there are places where you can actually rent it, if there is such a place, rent it first, or borrow it from a friend, and try it out. Buy it only if you like it. Otherwise, find either a good RTS or a good RPG, and have the fun with the best of each worlds, knowing that combining them is not always a good idea.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/04
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