Review by bluefusion

"The most breathtaking RTS ever created!"

OK. I'll start off by saying that the WarCraft series has always excited me. Sure, I was younger at the time, but the tales of war and vengeance and the seemingly unstoppable Orcish Horde inspired me... In particular, WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness had music that posessed a cinematic quality I'd never heard, before or since, in an RTS. StarCraft's MIDI music was just really crappy, because it was supposed to be all futuristic. I always felt that WarCraft, although the graphics were cartoony, had a grittiness to it that I always missed in StarCraft. In SC you send out thousands of people, keep building them, sending them out.. but you have no respect for any of them at all.

WarCraft III is a broad mixture of games. It's primarily an RTS, but it's so much more.

Games like Myth focus specifically on tactics and formations, where each unit is a BIG part of the game. WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos does not attempt to do this in an RTS setting, as it would be pretty absurd. But they do come close.

Then there's Blizzard's own Diablo series, which focuses on a single unit (and allied characters) who gains skills, spells, etc. Again, WarCraft III does not FULLY utilize this in an RTS, as it would also be pretty absurd. But again, they do come very close.

WarCraft does not try to be either of these games. What emerges is a masterpiece of blending together three distinct genres of gaming into one utterly PERFECT whole.

I'll say this, for the record: WarCraft III is the best game I have ever played. And I've played a lot of them.

Where to begin? With the first thing anyone ever notices.

Graphics - 9/10

WarCraft III's graphics aren't absolutely flawless, but they are incredibly beautiful. The cartoony look doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would, and Blizzard's use of a cinematic camera perspective over the 3D engine for in-game cutscenes really shows off the terrain. WarCraft III is a three-dimensional game, there's no doubt. The particle effects, magic spells, and the units movement have an unbelievable realism. And of course, scrollwheel zooms into the terrain, revealing how great everything looks. Even buildings are formidable and unique-looking, even if they aren't to scale with the units (to make the units easier to see). There is absolutely nothing like watching a big battle erupt, looking on at ground level, on a smooth, flowing river. There are times in WarCraft where I have to stop looking at the terrain and concentrate on the game :)

WarCraft may not have the best 3D graphics of any game out now, but it's certainly got the best graphics for an RTS, and it shines through every aspect of playing the game.

Sound : 9/10
WarCraft III's sound is absolutely amazing. It's actually one of the most breathtaking parts of the game. The voice acting is UNBELIEVABLE--you find yourself caring about each character in the story because they are so REAL, so vivid in your mind. Even units have great sounds. I get shivers every time I hear a Night Elf speak in their native language... the Demon Hunter's ''Anatoleva'tolv'' sounds straight out of a fantasy series, while even units like the Night Elf archers say ''One shot, one kill...'' with a serene, calming voice. Then there are of course the Undead, whose voice acting can't be overlooked. You liked the Hydralisk sounds? Wait until you hear a Ghoul. One of the creepiest of all is the Banshee: ''YOU.... BROUGHT.... ME.... BACK?'' Geez, the way she says it is so... angry. Humans have great voice talents like the Sorceress, whose ''What'll it be, hotshot?'' has the tired, faded voice of one who's spent their whole life locked up in a room studying magic. Perfect. And last but certainly not least, the Orcs, who've made a big vocal comeback since the days of ''Daboo'' and ''okaey''. One of my favorite voice talents is the Headhunter. ''Who joo wann me keeeel?'' :)

Likewise, the music is also pretty good. It doesn't quite have the catchiness of WarCraft II's (I was humming ''The Theme of Azeroth'' for months, at random times), but a few pieces stand out. One in particular is a Night Elf theme, with a sort of Middle-Eastern flute-type thing and drums, that I haven't been able to get out of my head for three days now. The music is lush, orchestrated perfectly, and very fitting to each race's identity. The Night Elf music is serene and uplifting, the Human music is very noble and ''King Arthuresque'', the Orcs have battle music, and the Undead have sort of creepy music much like the Protoss in StarCraft had. I only wish there were more extremely memorable songs... there are only really four I can think of.

Gameplay: 10/10

WarCraft III's gameplay is really nothing like StarCraft. Sure, it looks the same, but the game is fundamentally different with the addition of Heroes. Anyone who liked StarCraft SHOULD like this game, but you'll have to get used to your familiar tactics not working at ALL. Rushing quite simply doesn't work. Also, the games take a lot longer than StarCraft's, because Heroes level up all the time. In addition, expanding (getting another gold mine) is an expected part of the game--incredibly early on. In the single-player campaign, however, the missions never get too boring, as they're always pretty varied and exciting. Discovering new units is a great deal of fun! :)

The Heroes are the main change in WarCraft III. A Hero is a unit who gets experience points for kills, and can use those experience points to level up, gaining new spells in the process. Like Diablo, Heroes can find items that increase attack damage, armor, or even place ''spying wards'' in certain areas. WarCraft III is, quite literally, Diablo tied to an RTS, but it's that tie that makes it such an intriguing game.

Another main difference is the 3D engine itself affecting the gameplay. Hills provide better range (for real this time, not the ''every couple shots is different based on range'' from StarCraft), hills and trees limit vision, moving up hills takes a bit longer... and believe me, the mousewheel scroll (to change perspective) does get used a LOT, when you need to see one individual person on one individual plateau and tell them to attack what they can see from up so high. In any case, it's quite a different game, and one I feel is much more original and exciting than other RTS games that have come before it.

Humor: 10/10

To put it rather bluntly, WarCraft IIII is HILLARIOUS. You can tell that these guys had a lot of fun making the game. In standard Blizzard RTS style, clicking on units multiple times elicits funny little one-liners (and sometimes very long speeches) that are just great. Undead Shades sing, ''IIIIII... got no booooooooody!'', human Peasants say ''YOU'RE the King? Well, I didn't vote for you. Hmmpfh.'' Night Elf Huntresses say ''This is my Owl. There are many like it, but THIS one is MINE'' while Orcish Headhunters, after a bunch of sort of ''Whoyouwanmekill?'' kind of things, randomly asks ''You wanna buy a cigar?'' This came RIGHT at the moment I thought, sheesh, this guy sounds like a drug dealer or Cuban cigar pusher on the street.. hehe.

in any case, the hidden responses, as well as the hillarious ''Outtakes Video'' (which I skipped all the levels to see, as I had heard it was great) doesn't disappoint. Re-enactments of WarCraft II cinematics using the WarCraft III engine, but with really funny little mini-stories in between... like ''WarCraft Football'' where they made a football stadium and got everyone to fight in it. It's funny little touches like that that make you realize how much Blizzard cared about making this game--it's great to know that they liked it as much as you do! :)

Well, that concludes my WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos review. It's a great game that suceeds on nearly every level. My complaints are: not enough great music (sort of quiet a lot of the time), doesn't run well in OS X (but fine in OS 9), and the scroll wheel only works when the mouse cursor is within the main view (I'd like to be able to zoom down regardless of where my mouse is). Other than that, this game is literally flawless, and I CAN'T STOP PLAYING it! :)

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/15/02, Updated 07/15/02

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