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PC Review - WarCraft 3 : Reign Of Chaos

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on Aug. 24, 2002 @ 10:58 p.m. PDT

In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, players revisit the war-torn world of Azeroth a generation after the end of the Second War between the Orcs and the Humans. The fragile peace that had since settled over the land is now on the verge of being shattered, for a dark power has returned after thousands of years to carry out its nefarious plans.

Genre: Real Time Strategy
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: Jul 03, 2002

Introduction

Hailed as one of the defining titles of the Real Time Strategy genre, Warcraft strikes back with its latest installment, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Voted number 1 on the list of most sought-after Vaporware, many were beginning to wonder if it was ever going to see the light of day. When it was finally released, it broke sales record across the board and looked as if it was going to be one of the greatest releases of the summer. I was excited as well, and it was worth it. Let’s get started, shall we?

Install

Anxiously waiting for it to complete. I expected to be bombarded with game art and screenshots but was greeted with a plain gray box that shows the installation progress. Those Blizzard folks love to tease you.

Game play

A major weak point is that Warcraft 3 plays the same as its predecessors. There is really not much to explain here; you are still limited to the amount of units you can have in a group. Your total unit limit is linked to how many farms you have, and your resources are dependent on your peons. One thing to note is that some of the races limit the number of “peons” who can work at a gold mine, requiring you to expand faster in order to supplement your income. I am extremely pleased by the low upkeep feature. You no longer can build large armies extremely fast to rush an enemy, however with the right units and leveled hero you do not need a big army to rush which I think is kind of a hindrance.

Rushes are also prevented by the map itself, which is a cool feature. The map is not only inhabited by you and the enemy, but there are a substantial amount of neutral units placed throughout each map. Some of them are shops where you can hire units or buy potions or other items. You can also acquire extra items/potions by killing the neutral units throughout the map, which I think encourages you to explore.

Blizzard implemented a role-playing element in Warcraft 3 which is comparable to "Warlords: Battle Cry II" and a few other titles, and that is the hero unit. The hero unit is the pinnacle of your army; it has the ability to hit the hardest, move the fastest, and can be the most dominant unit on the map. You can only have three “hero” units at a time, and they are diverse in their roles. There are subtle differences between each side’s heroes, but for the most part, it is a combination of casters and melee units. Your hero must be leveled if you want him to be the ultimate fighter, and this is where the neutral units come into play. Basically, you take your hero and some units around the map looking for those neutral guys to kill, and level your hero. With each level comes ability points which you can put into your unit's special abilities to give them an extra edge. With melee units, you get a compliment of either extra defense spells or additional damage modifiers to you or your surrounding units. With caster units, you can acquire spells that range from devastating damage spells to unit-assisting healing spells. One other thing to note is each hero has a mega spell that you can only acquire at a certain level, and trust me, it is well worth the wait. For the most part, each side is equally balanced in all aspects.

There are still only two resources that are required to be collect to fuel your army, wood and the ever-popular gold. Each side uses approximately the same amount of each resource so there is really no point in explaining why. There are 4 sides in Warcraft 3: Humans, Orcs, Night Elf, and the Undead. Originally, it was supposed to be Demons, but Blizzard removed them from the playable side. Many of your old favorites have returned to aid the war effort for the Humans and Orcs, while the new breeds (Night Elves and the Undead) have emerged wielding new and radical magic. All in all, I don't see much change in the game play since Warcraft’s inception many aeons ago, but if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Game Modes

Blizzard always promises the goods, and nothing has changed for Warcraft 3. Single player, multiplayer and skirmish modes are all present and accounted for. Multiplayer is via Battlenet (no surprises there), and single player mode is one of the best stories -- if not the greatest -- that I have ever played. It was well thought out, and everything fit together fantastically. The way the story intertwines is something to behold: you play just about every race, and what is done in one mission echoes throughout the rest. You versus the computer in a no-holds-barred fight to the death: build fast, build strong, and win! I am glad to see this in Warcraft 3, because it definitely adds to the replay value, and also coupled with an editor, what more can one want? I applaud Blizzard for a phenomenal story that kept me interested and wanting to go further. Skirmish and instant action are quintessential parts of any Real Time Strategy game.

AI

In a word, tough. In two words, very tough. The AI doesn't really show its power until you are pretty far into the single player mission or playing in skirmish mode, but once it does, it keeps you on your toes through effective use of the hero’s. The AI never rests; it just keeps going and going. Excellent AI, props to the programmer.

Graphics

Oh yes, the graphics. Blizzard is once again dominating our senses. Beautifully-modeled characters at a high resolution and original building designs give this game that god-I-love-this-3D-eye-candy appeal. Not only does it look good, but every unit has a full range of motion, whether it be running, walking, fighting, or defending. There is none of the 3-frame-repeating-making-my-legs-appear-to-be-moving-but-really-aren't garbage. (Excuse the excessive “in one breath” statements ;)) One other cool feature to note is the zoom feature. Tired of the top-down view? Just zoom in and view things from the ground level (which may slow down some computers if done during a large battle). Top notch graphics, no complaints here.

Conclusion

Outstanding story, above-the-bar graphics, and outstanding replay value. This game rocks in every aspect. The comedy has also carried over in the form of exploding thermo nuclear animals, slapstick humor of some single player scenes, and hilarious responses from your units. There is no doubt that this game is worth every penny, and I've deemed it worthplaying.

Score : 9/10

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