Review by Incoherent
"Some companies make SEQUELS with fewer changes."
Well, after all of the hype and misinformation and lies and such about what Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne would be like, it's available in your local electronics store. Since this is an expansion, I'm just going to focus on the changes rather than the game itself. (Also, TFT refers to the expansion, while RoC refers to the original game, Reign of Chaos.)
Bleh, it's your average Blizzard campaign mission. ''Here, we'll give you 10 units and/or a pathetically wide open base, and you have to go kill this enemy hero over here behind 3 fully built up bases filled with towers and units of every description. And did we mention you don't have access to the top 1/3 of your techtree?'' That said, it's not awful. The story at least tries, and most of the missions are at least beatable. That, and there are still plenty of easter eggs and optional quests in the missions for you non-linear types. And then there's the Orc campaign, which is very cool except they limit you to level 8 (out of a possible... 18?!) and the last two chapters are yet to come. I feel like I'm playing Golden Sun again.
Game Mechanics: 9/10 (Notice these are the CHANGES that I'm rating.)
Around the first of April, Blizzard put out one monstrous patch for the beta, which revamped most of the cost structure of RoC. Subsequent patches raised the food limit as a result of the greater emphasis on lumber and tweaked some of the numbers, but the damage had been done. We had on our hands a brand new game with the same graphics and some of the same units.
In short, Blizzard changed the structure of the game 3 or 4 times in the BETA ALONE. Just about every unit in the game has had some sort of change, be it damage, armor type, ability tweaks, or even name changes. (I'm still wondering about some of the name changes... I mean, Wind Riders?) The units are now organized more or less into a ''paper, rock, scissors'' configuration: melee beats ranged, which beats air, which beats melee, and so on. Casters technically counter melee, but do so little damage as to be practically impossible to effectively mass without another type of support. Heroes also had several changes: creeps give less gold at low levels, heroes cannot gain experience from creeps after level 5, heroes can gain experience without being present (if no other hero is there), and having a single hero at higher tiers gives an experience bonus. (Phew.) It seems to have worked: single heroes are more common and more powerful than before, and ''creepcraft'' is discouraged, so the old ''tech to tier3 and ultimates'' won't work.
The game in general is faster, more balanced, and more varied, as each race has 4 unique and 5 neutral heroes to choose from. The balance isn't anywhere near perfect, and people still complain that TFT doesn't have the appeal of Brood War, but it's pretty close, and all in all it's a great expansion in terms of what it brings to the game.
You're looking at me funny, aren't you? Although this technically isn't TFT exclusive any more, Blizzard made a number of very useful interface changes to Battle.net as well as the game itself. For those of you using Keycraft, you can now edit hotkeys through the game. (Well, sort of. You can only change unique skills, so you can't make an exact QWERASDFZXCV key mapping.) Battle.net enhancements include built-in clans, tournament support, a Quick Game button which uses your last settings, and the ability to chat while looking for a game. Oh, and did I mention custom game filters? (The only use I have for them is finding obs games, but they're there.)
In the game itself, you'll notice icons for units inside a building (transports, entangled mines, orc burrows). The game also notifies you with a message telling you what building or research item was just completed. Tooltips now work with units in the building queue, and the queue can now hold units and research items at the same time. You can now tell peasants to waypoint buildings, and buildings about to be built appear as a transparent outline. The minimap also shows creep camps with colored circles. Oh... and now everyone else looking at your messages can see their recipients... [All], [Allies], [Private], etc. OK, I'm tired of listing all of this stuff. It's very, very useful, let's just leave it there. I'm a bit unhappy at the custom key option, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?
Although TFT is great, and the new World Editor (which I don't have nearly enough skill to use) is amazing, you still have to deal with the smurfs, the hackers, the flamers, all of those staples of Battle.net. I think it's worse now, because everyone is starting over at level 1 with the new expansion. Ah well, just the ramblings of a level 7 solo player... and did I mention they applied most of these changes to RoC? That was a mistake. Most of the changes are set up to go along with the new units, which are mostly anticasters and counters to existing RoC strats. I'm going to stop rambling now...
Warcraft III isn't a perfect game. TFT doesn't change that by any stretch of the imagination, although it is an amazing testament to how much you can change a game from original to expansion. If you have RoC, get TFT. Period. If not, wait for the Battle Chest to buy both.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/17/03, Updated 07/17/03
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