Review by Relle
"No, this game is not about an Antarctic toilet"
Return to the world of Warcraft in this excellent expansion pack to one of the best games of 2002. Frozen Throne brings back the excellent storytelling of Warcraft 3 with a few notable improvements to extend its life even farther.
It's hard to rate this, because nothing has changed, really. The character models aren't more detailed (unless you've got a Geforce 4) but considering this game can be run quite fluidly on even a low-brow system like mine, I have to give props to Blizzard for thinking of us folk stuck with a Geforce 2.
The voice actors for all the returning characters are back, so rejoice as they fill your ears with tails of war, treachery and deceit. The regular sounds are back: all the smashing, slashing, explosions and magical 'woo-woo-woo-weee!' I can't say the music struck me as epic, but I'm not complaining. It seems they've also changed the sounds for some buildings and units. Besides, how can you not love Blizzard's comical one-liners?
There's been enough gameplay changes to warrant making this expansion a fully-fledged sequel. Let's start with my favorite, merchant shops. These were the source for mana or health vials back in the original. Now, you can buy all kinds of stuff, including some very powerful weaponry for a large amount of gold. There are also voodoo shops where you can buy those oh-so-nice books to boost a hero's permanent stats.
Now on to the actual game. I could ramble on for a few pages on how Blizzard's tweaked the units and their abilities, but needless to say you'll have to relearn a few strategies now. Naturally the game still focuses on small, effective units rather than the massive armies of Starcraft, so you'll have to be careful on how you manage your units.
There are only three story campaigns this time, but there's also one bonus campaign that focuses on the now-peaceful Orc Horde. Thrall's led his people to a peaceful existence, so you take control of half-orc, half-ogre Rexxar. At first all you do is simple fetch quests made complicated by the many hostile critters in your path. Soon after, you must deal with a mysterious human presence on your borders. This campaign is much more RPG-like rather than RTS, since you start and remain with under a dozen units at your command. Blizzard really pushes the 'small army' idea in this campaign, and they manage to make it very fun. It becomes fairly tedious near the end, since you pretty much become unstoppable thanks to experience and a number of good items. But, how can I complain when Blizzard's promised two additional campaigns, free for download at a later date? Free, man!
As for the regular campaign(s), they bring back the epic storytelling and devious characters of the original Warcraft 3. It starts out slow, but quickly bumps up the plot with more backstabbing and treachery than Survivor. And all through it you've got some of the best maps on which to build, train, and conquer. Add to that a multiplayer experience that is rivaled only by Blizzard's other gem, the almighty Starcraft, and you've got one hell of a game on your hands.
No real reason to go through the single-player campaign more than once, unless you're like me and enjoy reliving the game from the beginning. As for multiplayer...it's Blizzard, man! Battle.net! If you've ever played Starcraft online (or still play it) then prepare to invest that many hours and more into Warcraft 3. Add to that one incredible map editor that lets you produce your own studio-quality levels, and you've got a lot to do before you're done.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/04/03, Updated 07/04/03
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