Review by DragonShadow

"The next evolution in Strategy Combat simulations."

The next evolution in Strategy Combat simulations. The original WarCraft started it all, with WarCraft 2 and StarCraft each adding their own differences to the formula. StarCraft isn’t technically part of the series, but WarCraft 3 does use many of the lessons learned in that game instead of harkening back to WarCraft 2.

Graphics: 7

A little on the cartoony side compared to past iterations, but otherwise pretty nice. It runs a little sluggishly on my bare minimum 400 MHz sometimes, so if you have a faster computer it would probably look better since I’m forced to play it on the lowest graphical settings to make it run at a decent clip. Overall though it looks a bit polygonal (again, on my settings) and the character designs are slightly cartoonish, but otherwise it looks pretty good. Oh and the CG cutscenes are bar none some of the best I have ever seen anywhere on the planet. Everything bearing the Final Fantasy name is put to shame.

Sound: 7

Blizzard has been infamous for adding in humorous quips if you keep clicking on the characters over and over, and they don’t disappoint here. From the sultry suggestive complaints from the Sorceress to the sly witty quotes from the Ghouls, they are pretty humorous quite often. On the subject of voices, the voice acting is pretty professional and generally high quality. Some cliché lines (the infamous “What is this magic” or one of its many equivalents makes an appearance) don’t prevent the script from bearing its full impact. The music as well is pretty good, as good as any I can remember.

Gameplay: 8

In WarCraft 2, there were two races, Orcs and Humans. Each was identical with one races soldiers being the equivalent of those of the other race (Footmen and Grunts, Ogres and Knights, Mages and Paladins, etc. etc.). StarCraft introduced three races, each with their own distinct advantages and playing styles. WarCraft 3 takes this concept and applies it to a more fantasy based setting. There are four races, each with its own quirks and advantages, though perhaps none as extremely different as the Zerg from StarCraft (who seem to have been tapped for inspiration concerning one of the four races, the Undead). Thus far in my play through it’s been a tad on the easy side maybe. It seems the game focuses on fewer numbers of units on the field than StarCraft, which I think is a step back. Armies never grow as large as they did in the previous game thanks to a 90 food limit (90 food limit, not a 90 unit limit. And most units take 2 to 4 food units to produce. As I said, small armies) this streamlines it slightly so you can’t mass produce a giant army of ogres and roll over any opponent, but really, that was half the fun of the past strategy games. It may be for the best though, my computer has a tendency to slow down during these battles, ones on StarCrafts scale may just crash it completely.

Another gameplay tweak is the sharpening of the “hero” aspect. Started in Warcraft 2 was the idea of special units with unique abilities, but this has been far enhanced here.
Heroes not only have more power, but they gain levels, their own special commands and abilities, and they can even use items to manipulate the field of battle on occasion. Add to all of this more of the “adventure” type scenarios from StarCraft and you have a game that almost feels more like Baldurs Gate on occasion than a WarCraft game.

Controls: 8

One of my complaints about the old strategy games was the fact that selecting a varied group of characters meant you couldn’t access any of their powers or abilities until you selected them individually. This has been fixed however, Inside your mass selection you can choose a specific unit type in a kind of sub selection. In other words, you can choose/use a single units abilities and direct the entire group simultaneously. This is an addition that’s just been dying to be made, and I’m glad it’s finally made its way here. The screen scrolling can perhaps be a tab bit jumpy, but again that may just be my computer failing to fully recognize what’s supposed to be going on.

Features: N/A

I have yet to test out the multi-player mode, where you can fight it out with others over Blizzard’s dedicated server, Battle.Net. I have tried StarCrafts though, and if that’s any indication it should be interesting.

Story: 9

WarCraft 1 and 2 were basically just battles between the Orcs and Humans, with a glanced over subplot. StarCraft introduced main characters and a plot fit for a Hollywood motion picture. This kind of plot has thankfully been carried over here only perhaps more complex than that found in StarCraft. The story just as far as I am is nothing short of amazing and I’m really looking forward to playing again so I can see what happens next (and kick some Elven hiney). On a related note, StarCraft also introduced the idea of making you play through each race like separate chapters, which is also carried here. However, you can’t skip chapters here. Before you can play as Orcs, Undead, or Night Elves you have to beat it with the Humans, and then the Undead, and so on and so forth. This may irritate some people who would rather jump straight into some of the more interesting races, but I have a feeling this was done for the sake of the story (which would be almost incoherent if played out of order as you could in StarCraft) It’s an awesome story though, if each races section seems a bit short (the humans only have seven scenarios I think).

Overall: 8

The next evolution of the War/Star-craft franchises that just could point to some even better things in the future. Also one of the best PC games I’ve played, since the much mentioned in this review, StarCraft.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/12/02, Updated 07/12/02

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