Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Better known as the beginning of World of Warcraft"

Warcraft is a household name these days in terms of online gaming, though the RTS games, which spawned the MMO juggernaut, are not as talked about. Warcraft III is a prime example of setting up an epic story and then following through with lore and characters that would shape online gaming as a whole. Although this particular genre has never been my favorite, I played more for the story and to see how the events of World of Warcraft shaped up. With several characters, distinct stories and the backdrop of loss, evil, insanity and twisted redemption, Warcraft III is more for story than it is for its game play.

Warcraft III takes place just before the great Scourge invasion in which the Lich King goes against other forces of evil in order to create an army to rule the world. Arthas, a prince of Lorderon, begins his quest to fight the Scourge, and in the midst of the turmoil and death, he begins to lose a grip on his sanity. Consumed by hatred, the once proud prince gives his soul and in the end, becomes what it was that he was sworn to fight. Other portions of the story give more background into the main premise of Arthas with the Night Elves, Dwarves, Blood Elves, Naga, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls and the Forsaken.

You will fight...or you will die...

Warcraft III is little more than a standard RTS in which you create units, train them, build bases and collect resources in order to fight on and win the battle. The units have attacks and counter-attacks and work well for somethings and badly for others. As you progress through the upgrades, you'll find that your units, while weak to start, become much more powerful and able to dish out more damage while taking the least amount of punishment. Once you have a good handle on what the strongest all-around unit is, then it's a resort to pumping out as many units as you can to take down your enemy with sheer numbers.

Campaigns is what makes up the meat of this title and will take you a few hours to complete them all in order to get the full story. At any point, you can save your game and exit out cleanly without having to wait for a long pause. The multiplayer is a nice feature, but I was never able to really get into it due to my pure dislike for Battle Net and the way that they have no control over players. There is no fun in getting wailed on by someone you can't kill and it holds true here as well, though local networking with friends is a ton of fun on any of the larger maps.

Different races have different abilities and the Heroes that you're eventually able to call to battle have different skills that set them apart from their counterparts. All of the different factions have a certain playstyle to them and all of them will fit a particular attitude. As you progress through the different factions, and play through their stories, you'll find that the richest portion of the game is not in creating massive armies and then wiping out everything on the map, but to find out just what made them who they are.

Venturing through the maps will sometimes reveal trinkets and items that you can equip to your Hero character in order to increase their stats, have magical attacks, heal themselves, etc. Finding these items requires a little bit of exploring, but nothing too far out of the way from the mission at hand. Most of these require a little bit of combat with creatures, or just completing certain objectives to open up more parts of the map. Once you have these locations memorized, it'll be easier to find them again when playing on a harder difficulty.

The difficulty level here seems to scale and is dependant on what you're doing. Occasionally you think you're doing just fine and then all of a sudden a mass of oncoming enemies will overwhelm you and force you to start over. It's annoying, but it also teaches the meaning of strategy, which alot of the RTS games these days are starting to miss out on. The different factions also have their weaknesses as well as their strengths and those all play a huge role in how easy the game will be.

You look like a strange one...

The character models, while a bit on the cartoon side, seemed to fit the overall theme of the game pretty well. All of the models had something going on with them and weren't just prone in place of where they were spawned. The infantry units check weapons, the undead wander around a little and the vehicle units have a life all of their own. To me, this is important in helping me to keep up with the story, and even though the game looked slightly like a cartoon, the dark overtones and the full motion sequences at the end of each campaign truly looked good.

Pawns on my chess board...

Moving your units around is a simple click and drag and you can pull most of your units in one shot instead of having to manually click them over. The only real unit that you have to worry about or even control in the least is the Hero and that is because of the abilities and items. Once you have a good line on how to use these abilities and the items, you shouldn't have a problem running through the map at a fast clip knowing when and where to hit what you need. The key map is adjustable and pretty extensive, though you can whittle it down to nearly nothing and keep only what you absolutely need.

The sounds of Elune...

The one thing that struck me about Warcraft III was the fact that it had excellent voice acting and the script was well written. Though some of the voice effects were a little dull {such as the Peon's}, I did enjoy the intricate cutscenes in which characters spoke the story instead of just throwing up text and leaving it to my imagination. The musical scores were well done in my opinion and really help keep the atmosphere of the game in whatever faction that you decided to play.

Azeroth and places beyond...

Warcraft III set the tone for World of Warcraft and even more of the story can be found in The Frozen Throne. Although the RTS formula is pretty tired by this point, the story, the visual detail and the audio melodies kept me in the game longer than I would have been otherwise. If you're an RTS fan, then you might just like this for the RTS formula, but if you're a World of Warcraft fan and haven't played this game, then it's almost a must to understand more about the MMO that you're playing.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/12/06

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