Review by Yoh_of_Izumo
"An Epic Classic"
Now then, I have explored the fields of the role-playing games, and I have also tried my hands at multiplayer games. But yet, have I combined the two so that I meet role-playing with multiplayer to get the awesome combination of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or MMORPG for short. When I saw that some of my friends were big into this type of gaming and that they heralded it the game that could last for an eternity, I just had to try it. Not only did I get to try the game for ten days thanks to my friends' lending me copies of their ten-day trial cards, but I even got to party up with some of them so they could help me out. It usually works that we work mutually together in school to get work done, and now we were finally cooperating with each other in a game that relied on compromise and not vying for the top spot.
As I started to dwell into this multiplayer madness, I easily began to see its raw power and noticed how I started to fall off the path and go insane with trying to level up my character, make friends, join a guild, and progress through the game. For the most part, despite my trial lasting only ten-days, I got to partake in this nice adventure. I was glad that I tried this game over the summer though, because had I tried it during the school year, it may have played havoc with my grades and jeopardized my spot in the top ten rankings, but nonetheless I noticed how influential this game had become in such a short time, and once the game's trial was finished, I had to get up and walk away from it. I did not want to spend the fifteen dollars per month to play it, and I did not want to waste my summer away at a computer when I could be enjoying my life, teaching myself about other more beneficial knowledge, reading the Bible, learning Latin, you get my drift? This was my break between going from high school into college, and I was not going to waste it on a game.
With that said though, I learned so much, and appreciated how game creators could make such a flowing experience through pieces of wire where people could interact quite diligently and true ties and bonds could be formed. The World of Warcraft game set down a foundation that can be built upon to make future massive multiplayer online role-playing games even more adventuresome and not as pricey on the wallet. Nonetheless as it appears that there is no competition with Blizzard's World of Warcraft it seems that this genre and its game will continue to dominate the market for some more years to come. It is a living and ever changing game allowing new players to easily rise in the ranks and catch up to those who have already played it for several years. With such gaming at one's fingertips, it is quite possible to leave the real world and join in a world purely of fantasy, where a person no longer needs to thrive on a continual supply of games, because unlike story games, a multiplayer game has no end and until the player himself or herself acknowledges a finite point.
With a wonderful game, comes a wonderful review, so here it comes
Now since this game is geared towards a multiplayer interface, all the sub-scores will tie ultimately into the massive multiplayer sub-score that contributes to half of the worth of this game, so if one value is lacking, it will also have repercussions in the multiplayer score to cause double jeopardy impact values.
The gameplay of the World of Warcraft is in my opinion as simple as it can possibly get from the numerous amounts of possibilities that are laid out for a player. The only problem is that with these numerous amounts of possibilities though, gameplay is sure to suffer, because simplification is harder to accomplish. In the beginning of the game, it is really easy to get accustomed to the twelve-option hotkey bar, which allows a player to enjoy casting spells, buffers, and combos to provide effective in-game battling. Since this is a role-playing game in the multiplayer sense, it is up to the player and the game creators to make the battle system as elegant as possible. Though as a player learns more and more moves, it becomes cumbersome to adequately put all the moves into the hotkey bar.
Though this problem is easily solved thanks to the many options provided in the heads-up display option that allows players to have much more room to place more spells in locations where they can easily be called upon, while having the most important in-battle spells and potions set up primarily in the hotkeys. Though it seems that with so many spells and the utter cluttering of the screen can be daunting to a person who has never played World of Warcraft, eventually, after so many battles and so many quests, the interface is actually a must, and many people may even add legally approved mods to the heads-up display to allow even more simplification. This is what can greatly improve the gameplay, because while Blizzard does forbid mods that give an unfair advantage to other players, mods that are merely to assist in navigational purposes and gameplay purposes are allowed and thus allow players to be more forward in a game that has many functions to perform at once. Most players do not enjoy the fact the map lacks coordinate points, but thanks to a download mod, players can enjoy seeing coordinates so players can find each other more effectively and locate quests points more efficiently. Sometimes it can prove rather a hassle to click through five combinations of spells to destroy countless enemies over and over again, but fear not, because a legal mod allows beginning players to enjoy exploring a world while not having to bore themselves with a logical pattern of moves.
The gameplay in and onto itself is very elegant once a person can get past some of the confusing elements of it. Though confusing to the newcomers of World of Warcraft, once a player can see past these nuances of confusion, it almost seems as though this slight blunders are a must. Just like in Microsoft operating system, there is elegance that is derived from a sometimes-hindering system, as opposed to the too overly simplified Macintosh, which may detach hardcore users. World of Warcraft tries to balance elegance, but at the same time allow many options for the player to adequately use. It is very straightforward and logical. All that a person needs to do, if he or she is lost in a game is talk to the players around them, and most will be more than willing to help. Though I have heard that those on the Horde side are mature and more willing to help a person out on a stranded quest then those stuck on Alliance side.
Though the elegance of this gameplay will now flow into the multiplayer aspect, because since this is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, it has hard to keep both the gameplay aspect, and the multiplayer component separate in two distinct areas.
Now let me not deter you from the game, just because I gave the aspect that is central to this game a deduction of two points from perfect, because it is not perfect, but it is awesome enough to maintain such a high enough level that it lives as possibly the only classic massive multiplayer online role-playing game to have ever graced the gaming world. I guess since most of my critique on the multiplayer aspect will cover its positive traits rather than its negative ones though, I will start with the more detrimental ones and culminate into the much more appreciative aspects of this game.
The first thing that comes to people's mind when they hear about massive multiplayer online role-playing games is the price of the game and is it worth it. Now this is opinioned based, but if you plan to hang onto this game for years, expect not to have many dimes in the wallet to spend money on other games that might pique your interest. Not only is a person required to pay for a registered copy of the game, but a player must also pay monthly fairs ranging from $13 to $15 (depending on what pay plan a person chooses) per month in order to continue to play. Now if you believe that this game will be the game you plan on planning for several months and could care less about playing other games that enter the market, then this might be okay. The fact that this game does not require much hardware demand, that it is fairly stable, and that it is constantly being updated may be perfect. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the monthly fair justifies the means of gameplay content. The only thing that is truly noticeable in the game is that it is usually update several times throughout the year. Though that is all that occurs. That the servers are kept open, and that patches are added to the gameplay. There is no new game content, and if a player wishes to have access to the additional outlands, he or she must pay more money for the expansion pack. Now I understand that a living and breathing game must be paid continuously to keep it alive, I do not believe that the price justifies what is being delivered, and had this game had a monthly fair of about $6-$7 per month, it would be well worth it. Let us face up to this fact, with all the money combined, it costs about $200 per year to run this game. And that $200 could be going somewhere else for other gameplay content out there, but if this game were less than $100 a year, and even better, only about $50, then I believe that my marginal utility would definitely be worthwhile in this game.
Now besides the obvious moral dilemma of whether the price justifies the game itself, there is also the constant updates and server downtimes that plague the system. When I was playing this game with my friends on their computers and on my own computer with the ten-day trial, my multiplayer experience was limited at least three times thanks to the numerous amount of server downtimes. When I play a game, I want it to be reliable, and I do not want to have constant server downtimes. Now I can understand a server downtime happening once per month or even once every fortnight, but when I have to deal with server downtimes that occur three times in a ten-period and with the fact that when the servers go down, they are down for six hours or more at a time, then I am truly missing out on my multiplayer experience. I am thankful at least though, that the Blizzard team informs players of when the servers are going to be down, but when they do go offline, I feel that it is really kick in the multiplayer experience. When a game claims to be multiplayer, it is the necessity of the game creators to make sure that there are as little flaws in the programming to make sure that players are not distraught by the experience due to pauses in multiplayer access thanks to glitches or buggy programming or servers.
Though those problems are easily forgotten when players turn there eyes and ears and the rest of their senses to the wonderful world that the Blizzard team offered in this massive multiplayer online role-playing game. The game itself is so epic and wonderful it is amazing and mind boggling to those who have only played one side of the multiplayer or role-playing game coin and not both smeared on one side of a slice of bread.
Unlike regular games that have a story to them, the campaign part, World of Warcraft possesses a multiplayer aspect that flows like a story, but it is up to a player to make it. Everyone's multiplayer experience will be different based on the very beginning decisions they choose to partake in. At the very beginning, a player must choose which alliance he will join: will he join the Alliance or will he join the Horde? Let it be known that in my experience that those who wish to have a more mature experience will choose the Horde over the Alliance, but sometimes a player will encounter mature Alliance players. Now there is nothing negative attributed solely to their name, because if you have played previous Warcraft games, such as Warcraft III, you will learn that the Alliance has more dark elements than the Horde has. After choosing which of the two sides you are going to be on, you must choose from the four distinct species (five species if you have decided to also get the expansion pack). Finally after choosing which species you are going to become, you have to finally choose what class you are going to be. Based on the species of creature you chose, you can vary between paladins to a holy priest. I chose the Horde, undead priest. Though, you are not out of the gauntlet yet, because you also have to choose a name for yourself, but luckily they have a name creator system to help you with that. For this game, you should actually try to read the terms of agreement license, because it is quite comical which names you cannot use to name your character with. I am not sure why they are so serious with the naming business, but it is rather childish in my opinion.
Finally after leaving the pre-configuration setup screen, you can finally enter the game. After you get your side's introductory story, you will be thrown into the World of Warcraft and it will be up to you make friends and join guilds and be the most powerful creature you can become. Oh, how could I forget, there is also a server you must choose to join. If you want to play with your friends, you have to choose the server they play in or you will never see them in your world. Also, when choosing a server, there are two main types of server: player versus environment and player versus player. Player versus environment is a lot easier to play on for beginners than player versus player, because only the environment can attack you (the creatures that lurk around). Player versus player maybe for the more hardcore user that wants more of a challenge, but many feel that the nonsense dealt around un-sportsmanship combat in player versus player somewhat detracts from the overall gameplay.
So, you are finally walking around the World of Warcraft, and you do not know what to do? Well luckily, there are clues given to all players, to help out users with the interface and the interaction with people. And if you are lucky enough to have a friend on as well, I am sure he or she will be able to point out some other nuances to make the multiplayer experience even more enjoyable. In order to level up, a player must defeat creatures, but what is even better is if a player defeats these creatures to fulfill a quest. Once quests are partaken, a player can fulfill certain objectives, and once completed, the player can enjoy a lot of experience points that go towards leveling. Some classes are harder to level than others, but in the end, those that are harder to level can sometimes be the most appreciated of classes. There is no point going into a raid full of tanks if there are no people in the raid capable of healing, because the raid is just going to get fully wiped clean.
Inside the building foundation of your character, you must choose spells to learn, and a technique tree also must be constructed. This technique tree determines whether your priest will be holy or shadow or a mix in-between. For other classes, it will also have two flips of the coin. While shadow priests are very effective to level up a character, a holy priest can sometimes prove more vital in raids when mass healing is necessary.
Let us not forget items and other specialty classes a person can take a part in with this game. In this game as well, you can choose two primary skills to help out your needs and keep you alive, but also earn some money if necessary. Besides the primary skills, there are three secondary skills to help you out on the quest as well. For me, I chose Alchemy and Herbalism. Usually there are two skills that complement each other and these are the two for this. In order to make the potions for alchemy, I must be able to harvest the plants from the ground in which to mix them in. There are also the secondary skills first aid, cooking, and fishing, which help a person survive if he wishes to explore more of the wilderness. It is always nice to sit down next to a pond or lake and fish a little bit.
Now then, on a final note in the multiplayer area, I will expound upon the necessity of teamwork. This is truly a game where people must make friends and corporate if they wish to attain the level 60's (level 70's with the expansion pack), go on the raids, and rake in the very tasty weapons (orange-level, now that is what I am talking about). Unfortunately I never got to go on the epic raids, I watched as my friends did it, and how if they were not in-tune with each other how the bosses wiped them easily and without delay. Though if they followed more closely to the strategy and stopped being liberal, they could defeat the bosses in a raid. The same thing happened when I was doing the first easy adventure into range-fire chasm. There was no way my teammates and myself could have gotten through there if they did not kill the enemy and at the same time I healed them. It is truly a game where individualism and cooperation must join hand and hand to prosper.
Finally there is an issue about the massive world, and let me tell you it is massive, and it is seamless. I never had to deal with issues of waiting for long and boring loading times. And when I walk from one piece of land to another, I get to enjoy it for how it continues to flow and not how it chocker blocks like a Myst III game. The only times where loading come into play is when you first enter the game, if you go off on raid-like adventure, or if you cross the ocean or the landmasses with the blimp. Other than that, enjoy a massive world that could take hours to walk from tip to tip. Cheating is not an issue, and those who cheat are eliminated with ease. The only noticeable problem may be the occasional bot that spams for gold selling, and they are usually taken care of. But despite the sometimes rude person, the multiplayer experience for World of Warcraft is the best I have seen in the past and in our contemporary era.
Since this game attempts to make its field of players viable to everyone, it does sacrifice some graphical power. Yet this can be seen as a good thing, because in a world that must interact with so many other players and must constantly live through a high-speed connection line, graphics must be toned down a little or else gameplay would suffer. It is not difficult for the computers of the current day to easily max out the graphical levels of World of Warcraft, and at its maximum setting, the World of Warcraft world still looks quite pleasing to the eye. The spells, the creatures, and the environment itself have been well done and the epic amount of landscape and city architecture that had to go into this game creation was sure brilliance. It is really hard to judge the graphics of a game that has continued to live on through the several years and has had to cope with the ever-changing technological world of video graphics and the hardware inside machinery. In my opinion, the graphics do this game justice, and had they been better done, well, it would just be extra icing on a cake that tastes quite good already. When looking from the blimp or looking into the eyes of other characters, there is a sense of diligence that the game creators put into this game, and when a game weighs in at over 5 gigabytes of installation material, you know that some hardcore programming was put into this game. I love this game for its sheer breadth, and it will take more huge leaps in gaming design to surpass the level of gaming that this game has accomplished.
The musical sense of this world is pretty calm and it matches basically the atmosphere of somebody actually walking out in the wilderness and when someone is walking around in the city. When somebody is walking in the wilderness, it is quite serene and calm and the sound is actually only that of a player's character walking over the ground. Now when a player enters a city, he or she is greeted by the cities nice up-beat music, which can be quite a change for a player who has been lulled by the easygoing music on the outside. The sword and spell and grunt effects sound good, and when characters talk there is some decent voice acting. The sound and musical quality is great, but there is nothing classical about it it just gets the job done, and hey, I am fine with that. In a world where characters have to do battle and continue on quests, sound is probably the least of a player's concern and is merely an afterthought. Other than that though, it fits well, and does the game justice. If I wanted to add some suggestions for future massive multiplayer online role-playing game music, I feel that while walking around there should be some nice catchy tunes like subtle radio music, but while in the heat of battle, automatically tune them out so players can focus on defeating the enemy. Probably my favorite music in this game is during the login page and when the credits for the game are rolling, very nice commendations to the choral groups, because you sing awesomely well.
With this game being a multiplayer genre of playing, it offers so much in terms of replayability that it basically never ends. The fact that people make friends so that they can fulfill goals is quite the lasting touch on this game. While it may take a character a few months to max out at level 70, that is only the beginning. The quest to get the best armor and weapons for every character in a raid guild only begins to emphasize the longevity of this game. Remember when people used to help you when you asked for help? Well now that you have been helped, it is time to help others. And even though this helping and charity happens in a fantasy game, the feeling of contribution still feels benevolent and well rewarding. The replay value in this game is so huge that I have heard the many stories from my friends of how they played over twenty four hours of this game straight, where they woke up at 7 o'clock in the morning, played through the day, played through the night, only to realize that it was noon of the next day already and they still wish to continue more, but then all of sudden their brains shutdown and fall into bed. This game is a game that can consume a person's life and a person's vacation. I give this warning to everyone that usually the best multiplayer games will do this to a person, and since this is a role-playing game tied in with multiplayer, it is a never ending story that forces people to keep playing to see what will never be scene over the ever expanding event horizon. This is the type of game that is possible to destroy people's relationships with other people and with their academic or professional worlds, so I beg those who wish to try this game, that this game will probably require the most restraint in a game as possible, because it is just too satisfying to drop, and the need for more is never ending.
Using my rating system for a massive multiplayer online role-playing game:
15% Gameplay, 40% Multiplayer, 20% Graphics, 6.25% Sound, 18.75% Replayability
Overall Game Rating: 8.725
OVERALL RATING: 9/10 - Classic
Suggested Action: A must try for all people who consider themselves gamers.
Final Comments: This is a game that will invoke the attention of anyone who truly loves games. Whether you are an advocate of role-playing games or multiplayer games, this game will surely engross all gamers, because the content and interaction with other players is unbelievable. Usually a role-playing gamer will interact only with the artificial intelligence of an unchanging storyline, and usually the multiplayer gamer will only enjoy the satisfaction of eliminating the opponent after a nice headshot in a first-person shooter game, but put the two elements together, and something epic is drawn that is one of the best complements to each other: role-playing and multiplayer. With the fact that this game allows people to try it for ten-days before deciding on whether to buy it, it should not be an excuse to anyone not to try this game. For those wishing to try it, as I strongly suggest it, I request that you try it during a non-turmoil time such as during a two-week vacation from school, during summer vacation, or during a time when you know that a game that could eat the hours of your life away will not hinder your life in the outside world. It is my personal opinion that many people could easily live off this game for two or three years without the need to purchase another game, because there is so much content in this game that even after maxing out all the components of your character, it is just a never ending cycle. And even when you do maximize everything, you are still missing the other half of the story you chose the Horde, well then, try the Alliance for a change. This game is so epic that I have run out of allocated memory to keep talking about this game, but surely through playing this game you will learn its true essence and not through merely plain words. I am sure that many have wasted their life away at this game, but be diligent and strong-minded and this game will truly prove a testament to how far the possibilities have come in gaming elegance and power have truly met to produce a classic.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/25/07
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