Review by casuhaku
"The Ultimate Challenge or Not?"
Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne isn't just a normal expansion; it is a Blizzard expansion. Everyone knows that Blizzard is one of the best RTS game creating companies that people praise, adore, and even worship. It is also known to make spectacular games and fantastic expansions to boot. I'm wondering if that applies to this game too.
True, the original Warcraft 3 game is above par, but its expansion just seems too hollow, and thats just putting it lightly. Having played Warcraft II, I can easily say that Blizzard has taken a huge step forward from that time, although I'm afraid that the step has missed its platform by just a few inches. I hate cliches as much as the next person, but nice graphics and ambient sound doesn't make up a game anymore. People just expect the cover to look nice and the game itself to look nice. Having that in mind, if the game has nice music, is 3d, and has voice actors, its is pretty sure to be a crowd pleaser. Look, the point I'm trying to make is that all of the above doesn't make an actual game. Without a good plot, gameplay, or intuition, its just another popular 3d game on the shelf. Warcraft 3 and its expansion stands out from the crowd, but it certainly isn't the best of the best. I often find myself wondering about the story of this game. Can you sum it up in one sentence? I can. And I thought RPG games were supposed to have a good and convincing storyline. In my opinion, the storyline of Warcraft 3 is unique, but hardly interesting. It never even gave me a reason why I should care for the characters, and never became attached to them, like I should in a supposed RPG title. I have read the entire storyline and found it difficult that Blizzard had hired professional writers to write it. It is filled with common cliches and is the basic "kill the baddie, reap the rewards" or "escort character C from point A to point B" type plot, no matter how many forks in the road you may encounter and no matter how many characters you control. Though generally a good game, Warcraft 3 and Warcraft3x can definitely use more improvements.
Gameplay, the most important aspect of a game. Warcraft 3: TFT differs from its prequel since many new units and heroes are added. You are also now able to play with neutral heroes. You can "hire" these heroes in taverns, and control them just like you would normally control other heroes. Besides this and other small(some insignificant) addins, the gameplay doesn't take a full 360. Generally, I can safely say that the gameplay is better than most real time strategy games out there, if not a tiny bit clumsy(this can be changed with gameplay settings), but you can always customize your own keys to fit your playing style. Besides that, you can play this game three ways. The first is campaign, the second is custom and the third is on Battle.net. The campaigns in TFT are quite straight forward and they won't put you in too much of a hassle. Come to think of it, the campaigns are quite fun and you'll want to know what happened next(you probably won't care much for the characters though). Also keep in mind that there is an option to which you can keep your current campaign level if you decide to uninstall the game. This option is useful if you get tired of the game, which you most likely will, but then want to play it at a later date. Speaking of growing tired of the game, you will after about 2 or 3 months of consecutive game play because of repetition. The Offline custom mode, on even the easiest settings, can quickly overwhelm a beginning player, so I wouldn't suggest playing custom right after installing the game. Battle.net is full of players with different skills and difficulties. I highly advise you to play there if you want to become better at the game.
If anything this expansion lacks, then it is a good story. The expansion's cover box antagonist was no big surprise since there were big fat metaphorical arrows pointing to him in the original game. You had to be blind to miss it. The basic storyline of the game is so shallow and lacks any form of depth. Its like I'm playing the same game over again, except with a handful of changes and addins. I expected so much more from blizzard. It took them a year or so to market this expansion and this is the best story follow-up that they could come up with? Maybe they should have worked on it for a few extra months. That might have helped out the story line. I think Blizzard is losing its golden touch so maybe they need to re-hire some of their past employees to think up of more enthralling and convincing story lines for expansions. If this game didn't fall into the RPG category, then there would be no need for a good story line.
No other RTS game that I've played has looked and sounded this superb. I must give props to the graphic and sound teams of Wc3 and Wc3x for doing such great jobs. The environment blends in very well and nothing stands out unintentionally. The ambient sounds of birds and other creatures can be heard while playing. You can also see lightning strikes across the sky when there is a thunderstorm. This is how it should be done, folks. In addition, the spells are very well animated. The only bone I have to pick is that sometimes things aren't so perfect in large fights, especially in 4v4s. You can become confused in the turmoil and even a standard computer can sometimes slow down. But otherwise, it plays perfectly smoothly. In regards to the games, there isn't much difference in graphics between the two. There is a new background in multi player that goes well along with the theme, but I suppose that's about it. In regards to the voice actors, they did a pretty good job. Sometimes I felt the lines were forced to the point of over exaggeration. Other times I felt the lines had no enthusiasm at all.
It took me about one week to finish the TFT campaign, being that I am a casual player. Others might finish within a couple of days. Other than the campaign, single player is hardly anything to brag about. Multi player will offer some interesting options for you to play with friends and will more than likely keep you hooked for a while. For instance, there is an option that is called "arrange team". Basically, you get to choose whoever is on your friends list and invite them to play a teamed game with you. There are hundreds of players who have created custom maps for your enjoyment. These can range from battle arenas to defence games. The single player mode will not keep you coming back for more, but the multi player mode definitely will.
If you're sure that this game is for you, then by all means buy it and have a blast. Definitely try this game out if you can. Still can't make up your mind? Then download the demo and come up with your own conclusion. The demo can be found on the official website. I don't necessarily regret buying the game, because it was a fun experience for me, and still is. Get all the information you can about this game, then go out and buy it if you have made up your mind. This game has entertained me for a while and I certainly can't deny that it isn't fun, because it is. If you are new to RTS games then I suggest you give it a try. But, if you are the old school type, then you should try before you buy. The overall rating is 8/10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/10/04, Updated 10/12/04
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