Review by Xenon

"Takes Warcraft III to the next level"

So, the much anticipated Frozen Throne expansion set to Warcraft III has finally arrived. What's been changed? What's been added? Is it worth it for current Warcraft III owners? For those who don't own Warcraft III, does it make the original a worthy buy? Read on…

Basically, there are two basic things to an expansion set. Gameplay tweaks and New content. As such, there are two basic sections to this review.

Gameplay Tweaks

When you make a game such as Warcraft III, there are undoubtedly going to be things that you are going to want to go back and fix and or change. With the Frozen Throne, Blizzard gets just such a chance. I'll give you a list.

-First of all, there are price changes. Certain units cost more, some cost less, some just have there lumber and gold values messed with.

-The addition of a new attack and armor type. Now you're units can use a magic type attack, and units can have an ''unarmored'' armor type.

-You can now queue upgrades as well as units, or mix and match. Before, you could either queue units or start ONE upgrade.

-In general, buildings cost less than they did before, this helps speed up gameplay.

There are also some other minor additions, things you probably won't even notice but DO make a difference, such as AI changes. These tweaks make the game much more enjoyable to play, but they don't make TFT a must buy. You see, the majority of the tweaks were included in the 1.10 patch for Warcraft III. So, you can get most of them by just going on to battle.net and downloading the patch.

New Content

THIS is much more substantial. I'll start with the New heroes.

Each race has one new hero, but there are also five neutral heroes that can be found at a tavern and added to your army.

The High Elven Blood Mage is a good addition to the Humans army. While near useless on low levels, Flame Strike can do severe damage on level 3. And, since it attacks an area and not a unit, it's wonderful for taking out huge groups of enemies. Unfortunately, it doesn't distinguish between ally and enemy. Banish is a two-edged sword, it makes it so the enemy can't attack and is weak to spells, but you can't attack it either. Siphon mana is good for replenishing the Blood Mage's Mana AND for reducing the enemy's. On level 3 Siphon mana takes a whopping 55 mana per second. That's enough to shut down any enemy spellcaster. The Blood Mage's ultimate, Phoenix, summons a Phoenix that possess a magic attack and damages all enemies around it. It also damages itself constantly, but when it dies, it turns into an egg that will rehatch another Phoenix as long as the egg isn't destroyed. Unfortunately, units with spell immunity are immune to the Phoenix, but it does very good damage and makes a nice addition.

The Orcs gain a more defensive hero, the Troll Shadow Hunter. Healing wave heals is like a reverse chain lightning. By level four it's healing quite a bit of Life and jumping through several allies. Hex is a little less impressive. For 70 mana it will change a unit into a random critter, completely disabling them. The problem is that this is almost exactly like the Sorceress Polymorph ability. While it's not that bad, don't you think they could have come up with something more original? Serpent Ward is a nice little ability that places a ward that shoots at nearby enemies. More levels increases that life and damage of the ward, and by level 3 the ward is doing a LOT of damage. Big Bad Voodoo, the Shadow Hunter's Ultimate, is very nice. It makes all allies around the Shadow Hunter invincible as long as he's casting the spell. The only weakness is that the Shadow Hunter is NOT invincible, and as soon as he's taken out, the rest are soon to follow. Of course, with a potion of invincibility…

The Undead get the Crypt Lord. While it IS Nerubian, and looks just like a beefed up version of the Crypt Fiend, the Crypt Lord is something completely different. First of all, it's short range. The Crypt Lord's first skill is Impale. Impale hits all enemies in a line and stuns them. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a whole lot of damage, so you're mainly using it for the stun effect. Spiked Carapace is a passive ability that adds armor to the Crypt Lord and returns a percentage of the damage that the Crypt Lord loses back to his attacker. Carrion Beetles is a skill that enables him to summon a special beetle from a corpse. The Crypt Lord can summon up to five of these beetles and they stay until they are killed. More points increases the life and damage of the beetles. The Ultimate ability of the Crypt Lord is the impressive Locust Swarm. Locust Swarm summons a swarm of flesh-eating locusts around the Crypt Lord. These Locusts will constantly deal damage to the enemy and restore life to the Crypt Lord. VERY nice, too bad the other abilities aren't this good.

The Night Elves get the powerful Warden. The Warden is the second much needed Melee hero, and may replace the Demon Hunter as the hero of choice for many. Fan of knives deals damage to all enemies around the Warden. Blizzard toned the damage down by 15 for the first two levels in the 1.10 patch, but it's still very useful. The Warden's Blink ability allows her to warp in and out of places at will, well, at least at level three. On level one, Blink has a 10 second cooldown and costs 50 Mana, level two takes the mana down to 10, and level three takes the 10 second cooldown down to 1 second. My personal favorite Warden ability is the Shadow Strike. Shadow Strike deals high initial damage, and then deals additional damage for 15 seconds. The higher the level, the greater initial damage AND greater addition damage. At level three you get the very nice 225 initial and 45 damage per second! Plus, Shadow Strike's poison cannot be dispelled! The Final Warden skill is the very nice Vengeance. This summons an Avatar that will summon ranged attackers from the Corpses of units, ally or enemy. This can easily overwhelm the enemy, similar to the Necromancers of the Undead.

The Five Neutral heroes are the Naga Sea Witch, Panderan Brewmaster, Beastmaster, Dark Ranger, and Pit Lord. The Sea Witch is a ranged semi-spellcaster, the Brewmaster is a decent fighter, the Beastmaster can summon about forty bajillion types of units, the Dark Ranger can make summoned units, take life, stop spells, and take control of any unit barring heroes and level 6 or higher monsters, and the Pit Lord is a massive fighter with an absolutely amazing Ultimate that kills anything.

Whew! But, wait! There's more! More new units, that is!!

Humans get the Spell Breaker and the Dragonhawk Rider. To start out with, the spell breaker is immune to magic and has the feedback ability, which makes the spell breaker's attack burn 20 mana of the enemy's to damage him extra. The spell breaker can also learn spell steal (which takes enemy buffs and gives them to you, and takes negative spells and puts them on the enemy) and Control magic (which allows you to control a summoned unit for a mana cost equal 30% of its life). The Dragonhawk Rider can cast Cloud (a la Disruption Web from Starcraft) and Aerial Shackles, which damages an aerial enemy and prevents them from moving or attacking.

Orcs have the Troll Batrider, which can suicide Bomb other air units, and has a burning attack against buildings. VERY useful for destroying enemy towns. Following the defensive trend, however, the Orcs also gain the Spirit Walker. The Spirit Walker is a spell caster that can become ethereal at will, use Spirit Link, which shares the damage between several units, disenchant, which is a area Dispel magic spell, and Ancestral Spirit, which allows the Spirit Walker to resurrect a Tauren (not a chieftain, though).

The Undead only get one REAL new unit, but that one has two forms, which are so different that they're considered completely separate (like the Guardian form in Starcraft). The Obsidian Statue has an area healing spell, and an area mana restoring spell. Unfortunately, they only hit the area around the statue. If you learn the Destroyer form upgrade, you can change the Obsidian Statue into the Destroyer. Destroyers a powerful flying units with powerful skills, however, the Destroyer's mana is constantly depleting. That's why it has the Devour Magic and Absorb Mana skills. Devour Magic destroys all magic buffs and damages summoned units while restoring life and mana to the destroyer. Absorb Mana takes the mana from an ally unit, and the Orb of Annihilation skill adds damage and makes the attack splash.

Night Elves gain a specialty unit and an awesome defensive unit. The Faerie Dragon is able to shut down enemy spellcasters using mana flare, which damages units that use spells. The Mountain Giant has well over a 1000 life, can learn Hardened skin to reduce physical damage, Resistant skin to reduce magic damage, taunt the enemy into attacking him, and pick up a tree to use for siege type damage. They're great!

More new stuff! Each race can now make a shop type building and has new upgrades (such as being able to roar in bear form for Druids of the Claw or a new tower for humans and Undead).

The New campaign that is included with TFT is very large and allows you to explore the new heroes. They've also included a custom campaign and a Bonus Campaign. Blizzard threw in several new maps, too, giving you more variety for your playing pleasure. Speaking of variety, there are new items and creeps. A LOT more. Arachnathids to Polar bears to Walruses! There are new attack orbs and non-combat items. It adds a lot to the game.

The final new point is the World Editor. The New and improved World Editor gives you lots of freedom. A LOT. Not only are you now able to create custom buildings and units, but you're capable of creating custom abilities! You can make heroes go beyond level 10, too. There's also a AI editor, which allows you to mess with the capabilities of the AI and give it specific instructions, such as new heroes. For the more industrious of you, the campaign editor allows you to virtually create your own game.

Summary

Well, there you have it. An extensive overview of the new features to The Frozen Throne. Does it make it worth it? Definitely. If you own and enjoyed Warcraft III, then you owe it to yourself to pick up the Frozen Throne, as it will make your gaming experience much more enjoyable. If you don't already own Warcraft III but are a fan of the Strategy genre, then The Frozen Throne makes Warcraft III into a much better game, and you should take a look. However, if you didn't like Warcraft III, then no, The Frozen Throne will not change your opinion of the game. The core game is still intact, but now it has additions and changes for your gaming pleasure.

A great job by Blizzard, once again.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/03, Updated 07/13/03


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