Review by CityHuntr
"Not the amazing thing people seem to think it is."
Let me begin by stating the most important thing of any of Blizzard's ''strategy'' games:
Only play it if you are an insane fan of War/Starcraft, or you have ungodly amounts of patience to actually win any games on battle.net
I will explain this later on, but for now, the typical review format.
Definitely, the most dramatic improvement has come with a transition from Warcraft 2's simplistic 2D engine to a 3D engine. This has allowed for new dimension in WC3's maps: height. NO longer are you blocked off simply by water, but now things such as cliffs can either impede or assist you in your battles.
Since being in 3D allows you to enter a greater sense of being in the world, you may rotate your view, and even zoom in. Zooming in can sometimes give you a great sense of being there, but it doesn't help much with the actual gameplay. Also, the rotation is only temporary. Once you let go of the button, the game will simply rotate back to the default. It isn't so bad, because rotating isn't really all that helpful anyway, it is more of a tool to select units that somehow have ended up behind tall buildings.
As for the graphics themselves, they are quite exceptional. Good attention has been made to making the models of all units and buildings look good, but also not be so detailed that your frame rate is murdered. There are also detail settings for many things in the game, which is a great help if you have a slower computer.
What about the gameplay, then? If you have played previous blizzard games, then getting into Warcraft 3 will not be a problem at all. As blizzard's games usually go, Warcraft 3 is very similar to warcraft 2, except for a few added units and abilities. If you choose to play as human or orc, then you'll be familiar with everything in no time. The new races, though, the Night Elves and the Undead, offer a few new features that wouldn't be logically possible with the Humans or Orcs.
Which the races certainly all seem unique in their own sense, they are also fairly similar. While the humans and orcs were pretty much the same in Warcraft 2, WC3 thankfully has a bit more variety between the races.
New to the series, and a popular addition, are the heroes. They are units which act, in some sort, like army leaders. They have experience points, and can gain levels by winning fights with either neutral monsters, or enemy forces. Heroes also have special abilities not found on normal units. For example, a spell-casting hero will definitely have spells that are much more powerful than a typical spell-casting unit. But because you are limited to three heroes at a time, managing your heroes can be a very tough task, especially if they become involved in very large battles. I believe heroes are not all that great, but they can add an interesting twist to any game when used well.
For people wanting a single player experience, there are the well done campaigns. They are stroy driven, but you don't need to watch any custcenes if you are not interested. The campaigns usually follow a certain hero, doing various tasks, such as building bases, or just accomplishing simple tasks such as finding things or people.
The game, of course, offers free multiplayer gaming through battle.net. Battle.net has improved tremendously since Diablo, and finding a game and friends on battle.net is quick and easy. There is a ranking system which works on experience and levels, much like a roleplaying game, and your level is used to determine who you can fight against if you find games using a match-maker type service.
In that service, you can define what type of game you want (1 versus 1, 2 versus 2, free for all, and so on), your race, and which maps you are willing to play on. Then you wait until battle.net matches you up with someone.
This is a great service, but unfortunately, you can't use custom made maps with it. If you want to play a custom game with such maps, you will have to use a battle.net game finding tool which is pretty much like playing games on Diablo. You are presented with a list of custom games made by players, or you can type in the name of a private room. Custom games are not ranked, so don't expect to become level 10 by winning them a lot.
Now, there are tons of players with varying skill levels on battle.net, but the typical newbie experience will be losing game after game after game. If you have a lot of patience, this will not be a problem, but if you want to win, chances are you will never do that on battle.net, unless you are already very good. I have the feeling that this causes many new players to avoid battle.net, leaving only the okay to very good players around. I suppose there are always new people coming and going, though. The point is, if you are not well skilled, you shouldn't expect to win very often, if at all.
That is all, I guess. It gets a 6, because there could have been a lot of new things done in such a hyped game, but it really is just more of an upgrade. Being a fan, again, helps you enjoy this game a bit more, but otherwise, you may only end up getting frustrated.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 08/04/02, Updated 08/04/02
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