Review by dragondance

"Warcraft III failed the expectations of many, but one positive result is apparent: By releasing this game, the competition in the RTS sector is back."

Although I now admit that my original score was given extemporaneously, it still doesn't change the fact that this game was a disappointment. Even with seventeen patches and numerous changes to the gameplay, there are still a lot of problems with Warcraft III, The Frozen Throne. I'll explain everything in this *updated* review.
Let me start out by saying that I still had faith in Blizzard even after their sub-par Diablo 2 and their downright insipid Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. I truly believed that the unbalanced gameplay of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos could somehow be redeemed from the depths of 'suckitude' by the expansion. Mainly because I was so deeply impressed with Starcraft, I treated Blizzard with a god-like respect and an almost unshakable faith. Thus, the first day this game appeared, I bought it and played it through the rest of the day. I searched and searched for good, but returned completely empty-handed Now, all that I had held Blizzard in ... including this ocean of reverence is evaporating.
Now, one year and numerous patches later, this game still disappoints. The gameplay, like before, depends on luck and the spells are still very unbalanced. With each patch, the problems solved only spawn more problems and imbalances.

The original Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos's main problem was its lack of balance between the races and its weak gameplay. The graphics and sound was excellent, but unfortunately, the two combined don't make a game. Warcraft III: the Frozen Throne only compounded the problem. The addition of new units for each of the races didn't help the gameplay at all because they only made more problems.

For all of you who do not know what an RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game is, I will give a brief explanation. In just about any RTS, you build up a base by harvesting certain resources- then make attacking units and attack the other person who is doing the same thing. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne is a hybrid between an RTS and an RPG. There are special units available that can gain experience and become stronger. These units are called heroes. The purpose of other units is to go with the hero during attacking and defending.

This game features four races (Undead, Night Elf, Human and Orc), each has their own units, structures, and heroes. In each game that you play, you must also ''creep'' or kill hostile units that belong to no one. These units give a bit of gold (reduced since the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos) when killed and give the hero experience.

The first problem comes in play here. Creeps give different items when killed. Sometimes, a person will get an unexpected item that happens to greatly benefit him. Though each creep gives an item of the same 'level', sometimes one item will help much more. The result is not knowing what to expect when you attack someone. He might have an item that generates a whole lot of extra units, thus making your scouting less useful (since you estimated that your army was bigger), he might have an item that makes his hero invulnerable for some time. You might attack his hero and find it invulnerable right before death.

Thus, the game depends on luck rather than skills, and you will see this even more when you read the next part.

A more serious problem is presented with a unit's attack power. All units damage in a certain range. For example, an Undead Abomination damages from 36 to 60 when fully upgraded. If your enemy's units happen to damage more, you can lose with better micromanagement and more units. I just don't get why they don't make every unit damage a set amount.

Some units also have the ability to avoid an attack, such as ''15% chance the enemy will miss''. Sometimes you can attack this unit many times and miss. Other times you always the attack always succeeds. Why can't Blizzard just reduce the damage slightly instead of making it count on luck?

Although I will admit that the problems above are relatively minor, the biggest problem is that this game is still not balanced, and with every patch only aggravates the imbalance. For example, Blizzard made the huntress weaker

The addition of new units in this game didn't help this imbalance. After taking all into consideration, the new units actually make the balance worse. Now, new dominating strategies are being formulated; eventually, everyone will have the use the same strategy again. No strategy is good against an army of casters, small units and a (certain) hero, except, of course, an army composed of the same types of units. I spoke to several players about this, and most agreed that problem here is that there are no hard counters to most of the strategies. This means that players don't usually get punished by repeatedly going the same strategy. The result, of course, is a remarkably monotonous gaming experience.

Large advanced units are practically no good. In former Blizzard games, when you tech up your base, you can make units that totally slaughter the primitive units in the beginning. This is not true at all in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Your army of small units will easily decimate your enemy's motley of advanced units. For example, Abominations, the most ''advanced'' ground unit for the Undead, despite the new patch which buffs them, are no better than the ghouls, the most ''simple' unit. In starcraft, on the other hand, Archons and high Templars (advanced units) easily decimate the enemy's zealots and dragoons (low-tech units), or Hydralisks and Zerglings.

A certain hero for each race is good in the beginning because of its high damage. For example, a Demonhunter damages much faster than a Priestess of the Moon. Thus, eventually, all good players make the same hero over and over again, because if you make a weak hero, the enemy hero will tear you apart when he sends his hero to your base. To date, I have never seen anyone good make a ''weak'' hero in the beginning (despite the advantages it might have in the end of the game). This further narrows the gameplay variability, which further weakens the game.

Battlenet in this game is also disappointing. Most games are known as ladder; they affect your experience (rating). When you join a ladder game, you are automatically placed in a random team. However, if you leave the game, even in the beginning you lose. Many times, your ally might lag very badly jeopardizing your score. Recently, the random team games have gotten even more absurd. Sometimes, you may get placed in a team with many ultra high-level players that usually totally slaughter you.

After playing this game a lot for more than a few days, you will invariably get bored. In fact, this as been proven by the minuscule number of players on B-net.

The graphics are cartoonish, unrealistic, but extremely detailed and 3-D. Units don't look real or high-tech like in Starcraft; they have a certain .. medieval feel. Units in this game look distinct, but a lack of realism seriously affects the graphics. One interesting feature of this game is that it allows you to better look at the battlefield, but this makes your micromanagement difficult.

The sketches and graphics before any mission or at the regular window are now very weak. Unlike SC, which had a few VERY good drawings giving the game an even more hi-tech feel (such as the beautiful satellites and the scary Zerg victory window), WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne has only a few very weak sketches which show up when you win or lose. Supposedly, the sketches took Blizzard several months, but I think that Blizzard is lying. How could something that takes a ten year old anime sketcher three or four hours take Blizzard several months to complete?

The sound is very well done. They are extremely realistic - such as the howling of the blizzards in Northrend and the voices of the units. Some sounds and voices are outright freakish, such as the Banshee's screams, but they simply add more effect to the game. The music also is extremely fitting. The battlenet (internet gaming) music was extremely good.

My reverence for Blizzard has ended. This game bored the **** out of me. After searching and searching for good, I found none. I played the missions, in my dreamy state, and felt none of the extreme excitement I had felt when I played Starcraft: Brood Wars. This game, if anything, emphasizes the fact that even Blizzard can make grave mistakes. One player summed it up succinctly by stating
Starcraft terminated the competition in the RTS gaming sector, and WCIII brought it back. Blizzard defeated Blizzard and did itself in.

I could never IMAGINE I would do this, but Blizzard didn't put its heart into this at all. They poured little energy into this, and this was an INCREDIBLY weak excuse for a game. The reign of Blizzard may soon be over.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 07/04/03, Updated 10/18/04

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