Review by Graysoul

Reviewed: 08/07/02 | Updated: 08/07/02

Realistic Review of Warcraft III

Gameplay - Warcraft III severely lacks in the area of gameplay. For starters, unit AI is poorly done. The chief example of this problem is that units will not autocast certain useful spells - i.e. Priests do not autocast Dispel magic when engaging Water Elementals, etc. For a second example, units do not always respond appropriately to attacks. When a building or unit is attacked, only units in the IMMEDIATE vicinity respond. Idle troops more than half a screen or so away do not respond to the attackers and must be manually ordered to defend.

Rather than create a pure real-time strategy environment for the game, Blizzard entertainment decided to make Warcraft III a sort of hybrid between RTS and the role-playing game (RPG) genre. Special units called Heros gain experience by defeating both enemy units and neutral units. This system has two unfortunate side affects. First, players are forced to focus on and level-up individual Hero units rather than concentrating on building armies and using large-scale strategies. Second, the Hero system unbalances the game. One experienced hero and a small number of supporting units can easily defeat much larger armies.

Some gamers have expressed a like for the Hero system, but I find that RTS/RPG hybrids tend to be much less enjoyable than their purebred counterparts. The strategy and tactics that make RTS so enjoyable are diluted, and the rich character development that makes RPG so enjoyable is virtually absent.

Tactics are not very sophisticated in Warcraft games in general, and Warcraft III is no exception. Although terrain actually affects combat and other aspects of gameplay, the game lacks the true strategic play and depth present in other games such as the Kohan series. The whole of Warcraft tactics seems to be: place your support units behind your melee units, build and level-up Hero units, and charge your enemy.

Sea combat, unfortunately, has no place in Warcraft III. Both ground and air combat are implemented, yet no sea-going vessels are found in any of the four races' tech trees.

On the positive side, the controlling of large amounts of units is implemented via standard real-time strategy methods - control key grouping and action hotkeys. One particularly useful feature is the sub-group icons that appear when you select a group. Sub-groups icons select all units of a certain type - such as all footman - within the selected unit. Units can travel in formations but do not recieve any combat modifiers for doing so (other than the obvious benefit of having support units kept out of the reach of enemy melee units). 4/10

Story - Warcraft III's story is a rather direct continuation of Warcraft II's story. Four campaigns (one for each race) each tell a part of the overall story. Events pick up after the defeat of the Orcish Horde by the Human Alliance in Warcraft II and continue from there. Two new races enter the fray (the Night Elves and the Undead Horde). Although it is fairly well written, the story is not outstanding in any way. Those who are not fans of the original games may not enjoy the game nearly as much as Warcraft veterans. I particularly dislike the poor portrayal of humans in the Warcraft world. Without the genius of the Dwarves (all technologically advanced Alliance units are Dwarven-based) and the magic of the Elves (all magical Alliance units are Elven based), the Alliance would be useless. With the exception of the Paladin Hero, human units are regulated to the role of soldiers such as the Knight and Footman. 6/10

Audio/Video - The graphical engine upon which Warcraft III was designed is amazing! The game is set in an almost fully three dimensional world, complete with fully tiltable view. Unfortunately, the view screen displays only a very small portion of the map and has no zoom in/out feature. Also, the graphics and art in general are annoyingly cartoon-ish and unrealistic. The characters sometimes look like a series of polygons pieced together into a moving statue. Units are not realistically proportionate to each other; some differentiation of size is present but on whole is unrealistic (example: the Steam Tank is only slightly larger than the average size unit). The graphics should set a dark mood appropriate to a massive fantasy war but instead set a mood akin to a Saturday-morning cartoon show. In-game sound quality is well done for the most part but tends to suffer from a light-hearted feel and extremely stereotyped voiceovers. Some units have VERY annoying voices and scripts (example: the Human Peasant - his mopey voice either complains or tells you how hard he'll try to do your work). 7/10

Replayability - The multiplayer function alone makes the game worth replaying many times. Despite my complaints about the game in general, I enjoy the multiplayer aspect immensely. Even the worst of games can often be fun when played with friends. Warcraft is no exception to this rule and can be very fun on Battlenet or via LAN. I find myself in doubt, however, that anyone would want to play the campaigns more than once or twice. The custom scenarios can be fun when friends aren't available. You can battle up to 3 computer-controlled players (I believe 3 is the limit anyway) on a number of fairly interesting maps. 7/10

To buy or to rent? - Worth renting if you're a fan of the originals or an extreme fan of fantasy. Real-time strategy gamers in general may disappointed (see above notes on gameplay). Not worth buying in my opinion.

Personal Tilt - Reading this review, one might suspect that I am an overly negative reviewer. I assure you that this is not the case. By focusing on the game's many negative aspects, I have tried to cut through the massive hype generated by long-time Warcraft fans and create a more objective overview of Warcraft III. Aside from the multiplayer mode, I find the game extremely lacking and do not reccomend purchasing it. Rent it or borrow a friend's copy before buying the game.

Overall Rating - All factors including personal tilt included, I rate Warcraft III - Reign of Chaos an overall score of 5/10.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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