Review by Gary_Ridgeway
"World of Warcraft solves all of the common problems of MMORPGs while introducing several new ones."
World of Warcraft is one of the newer massively multiplayer online role playing games, or MMORPGs. This type of game is fairly new, and it is far from perfect. World of Warcraft is an important step in perfecting this new type of game. It eliminates the need to grind, makes crafting easy, does a fair job of balancing classes, and offers several different ways to get more powerful. Unfortunately, the fact that it is plagued with a huge imbalance between the two opposing factions, lacks end-game content to keep higher level players busy, offers horrible customer support and has one of the worst communities forces me to rate this game a eight out of ten (which is low for me).
In nearly every MMORPG, players gain experience through a process that has become known as grinding. Players stay in the same area killing the same monsters over and over again until they gain a level, in which case they move to a new area and kill the same monsters over and over again until they gain another level, and repeat. World of Warcraft introduces the quest system, in which players are assigned quests with different goals, such as killing X creatures, gathering X items, fighting a boss, exploring an area, escorting someone to safety, delivering something, etc. As a reward for completing the quest, they gain a significant amount of experience that eliminates the need to grind. While some of the quests may seem repetitive, it's a vast improvement over the previous system of spending hours killing thousands of the same monsters.
Another accomplishment of this game is allowing players to craft their own items. Whether it is cloth robes, odd gadgets, or potions, players can create them themselves instead of buying them from a store or getting them from a monster. While the past few MMORPGs have featured this, it has not been worthwhile. In Star Wars Galaxies, you would have to craft tens of thousands of one item just to advance in your crafting skill, in which case you would craft tens of thousands of another item. World of Warcraft eliminates this need by making it quick to improve your skill in crafting, and enables players to actually create things they can use while at the same time improving their skill. People like to be able to craft useful items, in for the first time it has been made easy enough so anyone can do it.
Blizzard (the producing company) has also managed to get a good start on balancing the different types of characters (classes). In most games, it has been common for a couple of classes to be far superior, while a few are beyond useless. Although the classes in this game are still slightly unbalanced, for a game that has only been out a month they are fairly even, and Blizzard has already improved a few of them and has demonstrated that they will continue to do so. For once, a players ability to outperform other players is determined not by his class, but by his skill at the game.
Finally, Blizzard offers multiple ways of getting stronger. There is no direct path for players to follow. Players can level up in the desert, and if they suddenly get sick of the desert they can move to the mountains and level up there, move to the forest once they get bored of that, and then move back to the desert. Quests can be skipped, meaning that if a player just doesn't feel like gathering ten raptor hides or whatever, he doesn't have to. Because of this, World of Warcraft never gets boring.
Unfortunately, Blizzard ruined the perfect game I just described. First of all, there is a huge imbalance between the two opposing factions, the Horde and the Alliance. The Alliance greatly outnumbers the Horde on 83 of the 88 servers. Blizzard, while they don't have direct control over where they players go, could have at least done something once they realized from their beta tests that everyone was choosing the Alliance over the Horde. But now that the game has been released, it's too late. After the Alliance repeatedly destroys major Horde towns it gets rather depressing.
Second of all, Blizzard fails to provide level 60 characters, who existed under two weeks after the game had been released, from having anything to do to keep them occupied. So what do they do? They destroy lower level towns and kill lower level players, of course. Blizzard plans to implement a system that encourages honorable player vs. player combat, but for now, there is nothing you can do when a level 60 character walks into your city and kills everyone, you included.
Third, Blizzard provides horrible customer support. Have you encountered a glitch in the game? Well then you'll have to wait a millennium or two (realistically about 72 hours) just to get a response from an administrator. This game is absolutely fantastic until you find a problem, in which case it takes way to long just to get a response, and even longer to get a solution. Blizzard has said they are in the process of hiring more administrators, and let's hope they do. Otherwise, customer support will basically continue to be non-existent.
On top of this, World of Warcraft inherited the immature community from Diablo 2, and a large number of other players who are jerks, to put it best. The in-game chat channels will either be flooded with questions by people who are too lazy to consult the manual, and in which case will be flooded with responses such as sHuT teh h3ll uP n00bz0r. While Star Wars Galaxies is one of the worst games, they had a very nice and helpful community. In World of Warcraft, hope to get into a good guild, or else you'll have a hard time finding anyone who cares about someone other than himself. Although Blizzard doesn't have much control over this, the community is still a large part of the in-game experience.
So, the real question is, should you get World of Warcraft? If you don't like MMORPGs, don't get it. Otherwise, as of now, this is the best one available, even with all its faults. Most of the problems that I mentioned can easily be fixed, and knowing Blizzard, they probably will do their best to fix them. So, go out there and get this game (and create a Horde character to help balance the population).
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/27/04
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