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Gemakai 08-04-2005 12:18 AM

World of Warcraft Review
 
World of Warcraft
Genre: MMORPG
Game System: PC
Rating: T

In the world of Azeroth, Order and Chaos battle like two Gods fighting for supremacy. On one side of the war, the Humans, Night Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes unite to wage war with the other races, Orcs, Trolls, Undead, and Tauren (A minotaur-like race). Who will come out on top? Will Order prevail and keep the darker races under like they belong, or will Chaos reign supreme, bringing down the human Alliance to ashes? You, as well as thousands of other players, will be the ones who steer the direction of this war.

Story
It’s been three years since the events of the third war, Warcraft III. Three years since the Human Alliance, Night Elf Sentinels, and the Orc Horde banded together to battle the Burning Legion and their undead minions. Now, with tensions rising once again, the ultimate alliance has all but evaporated. Now the various leaders of each race must recruit their people to battle the opposing side as well as evil bandits, vicious neutral monsters gathering together, and dark cultists that draw the minds of both sides. It’s not gonna be easy, yet it’s not terribly difficult.

The story is composed mainly through quest boxes and random discoveries that you’ll find throughout Azeroth, yet it has its fair share of surprises and turning points, one of which I discovered accidentally by letting a friend guide me through a difficult dungeon. Even with this, the story is captivating, whether you’re a vicious undead, a noble human, a elegant elf, or a brutish orc. 4/5.

Game Play
But what’s a story without gamepay to support it? In most MMORPGs you go around the world, clicking on a enemy and watching your avatar cut up the monster with little interaction involved and level up, occasionally using special methods of transportation to get from one place to another more quickly. In World of Warcraft, it’s the same to an extent. You still travel around the world. You still battle monsters to gain experience and level up. You still use ships and zeppelins to get from one continent to the other, and Gryphons or Giant Bats to travel across said contintent. But the battles are where the most interaction occurs. From the get-go, you have useful skills that can easily bring down the early enemies. As you progress through the game, you can learn new skills and even improvements of your current skills from the various trainers scattered throughout the world and for a price. It’s also these skills that can tip the balance in your favor against other players. Race isn’t terribly important when creating your avatar. You could have a midget warrior gnome if you really like and still kick ass. What really matters though is your choice of class.

There are nine different classes, some acting as hybrids as others and some completely original on their own, but each one has their share of weaknesses and strengths. The Alliance Paladin, for example, is a Warrior/Priest hybrid that although it have spells that can strengthen him for a period of time, he doesn’t have many skills that deal heavy damage in a single blow like the Warrior. Also, while he can resurrect players, his healing magic isn’t as advanced as a priest would be. Another fault of his is that he can’t use long range weapons like bows or rifles and furthermore his defense is weak to magic, so as long as a mage opponent can keep his distance and throw spells at him, the Paladin can be defeated. At the same time, the Mage’s strength is limited to the amount of mana he has and he must remain still to cast a successful spell unless it’s instant cast. Regardless, if the mage is unable to keep the Paladin away then he’s in trouble due to his low health. You see what I’m getting at? Each class has their own band of skills and certain classes, namely the Warrior and the Rogue, use Rage and Energy respectively for their various abilities. Most spell casters have long range abilities that either do direct damage or DOTS (Damage over time spells). Meanwhile close range fighters have skills that amplify their strength or do more attacks. At first, skills are cheap to come by but as you learn more advanced abilities, the price becomes dramatically high. If you’re hoping to learn everything you can like me, don’t be too surprised that the 10 gold (which is quite a bit of money) you’ve been saving for that one weapon you’ve wanted quickly falls down to less than 1 gold after purchasing your skills. Just a warning. However I’m not saying that all skills are available to you to purchase immediately. You’ll need to level up.

And level up you will. For most other MMORPGs, leveling usually comes through the slaugher of hundreds of giant rats, rabbits, and rabid livestock. For WoW, it could be done that way, though you won’t be fighting rabid wolves for long. For most players, you can be walloping a yeti-sized creature in your first sitting. The creatures and enemies you’ll fight range from bandits to overfed pigs to a undead abomination sewn with corpses to serpent warriors to raptors to spirits to satyrs. There’s a whole lot of variety in this game, though some enemies you’ll encounter are stronger versions of previous kind but meh, one can’t complain too much about it. Monster strength is determined by the color of their level. If it’s yellow, it’s around your level and can be defeat with some skills. Green: Under you and easy to defeat. Orange: Over you and though it can be defeated with thought out strategy, it’s best to get a party member for these kind of enemies. Red: Impossible to defeat on your own, best to avoid. Grey: Leave this #@$% to the weaker players, it’s not worth your time. The stronger the enemy the more experience you’ll receive, needless to say, but this method of grinding is really no way efficient in leveling up.

The most effective way is through the tons of quests given to you throughout Azeroth. This quests have you battling forces that threaten the world or are simply pestering the crap out of the country folk. Either way, you always get a experience reward for your toil and in most cases, there’s usually a money reward or a item reward, sometimes a really good weapon or pieces of armor. Along with acquiring weapons and armor through quests and picking them up off dead enemies, you can buy them from shops or the mostly used area for buying and selling: The Auction House. Many times you’ll find yourself heading to the auction house just to check to see if there’s anything within your money reach or to sell something that doesn’t give a crap’s worth of cash to you at NPC controlled stores. When you win a auction or buy out the item, it’s mailed to you (which takes about an hour) and even if you don’t win, the money you betted is still sent back to you, so it’s a functional system that works. However, because there’s only one auction house for each side, which can result in intense lag, but still it works well enough that the pain will be worth it.

I could go on for paragraphs about the gameplay, but there’s just so much well thought out systems in this game that it’s hard to describe it all. It’s worthy of a 5/5.

Sound
The music is very medieval-ish, and each area has it’s own theme from the Orc Barrens’ tribal music to the Human Farmlands’ peaceful theme to the Night Elf Forests’ celestial-type melody. Sometimes, it’s just a treat to wander around the country side just to listen to the music fill the atmosphere. There’s no battle theme but frankly, the music integrates itself so well into the atmosphere that you won’t mind at all. From the lurky ghost towns of Silverpine to the tranquils fields of Elwynn Forest to entering Stormwind for the first time with its prideful horns welcoming you, you’re filled with atmosphere and it brings you further into the game.

As for the sound effects, each one sounds and feels just right. The burning explosions of a fireball striking your opponent (or hopefully not you) and the gutsy sound of your (or someone’s) blade cutting through flesh and bleeding enemies. Plus the addition of little sound emotes from your character add a bit more personality to your otherwise speechless avatar. For some fun: when you make your character, type ‘/silly’ for some jokes that you may (or not) get. In a nutshell, the sound quality is excellent. 5/5.


Graphics
I know what you’re thinking. But Gem, all you’ve been saying is nothing but good stuff about this game. Surely, there MUST be something bad about it. Well, to me, Graphics don’t make the game, but that’s the case for some people. If you’re one of these people then you will most likely notice the graphics to be… well… not AS good as say Everquest 2 or Guild Wars. Models (both character and scenery) aren’t too “curvy,” but are quite polygonal. What this provides however is a smooth gameplay and even with the pointy graphics, there are many things that will ‘Wow’ you. No pun intended. Yet where the game lacks in graphical smoothness, it more than makes up for in creativity. Each area is well designed and the dungeons that I’ve been to are some of the best and wonderfully drawn out that I’ve ever been in a game.

The armor and weapons are no exception either. While you’ll start with what everything else has at first, by level 20, you’ll have a (mostly) unique set of armor that other beginners looking up to you in awe. Even then, looking at level 60s, you’ll be encourage to get stronger so you can find just armor as awesome looking. The weapons meanwhile are just as beautiful and can be imbued with enchantments to make them even more glorious.

Furthermore, the short cinematic is beautiful with Blizzard-Quality animations. The first model you see starting it up is a Dwarf staring into the distance. Personally, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that that dwarf was real because the graphics in that scene (as well as the rest) are so good. In the end, while not the most realistic looking game in gameplay, it’s the most creative looking and will make you realize (hopefully) that you don’t have to beat the graphics in other games in order to be a good game. 4/5

Flaws
-Not as good graphics, but still very creative in appearance.
-An occasional lag when loading into a area with a lot of characters or NPCs.
-While most bugs have been fixed with the long delays, there are still a few creeping around, but you’ll hardly notice.

Overall
Like Ninja Gaiden, World of Warcraft was a game that had us waiting for the longest of times, but the many delays came with great reward. As a forum poser once said, “Would you rather have the game come early with a ton of bugs, or wait til the game is in perfect quality?” In this case, that poster has a good reason behind his question. The game is fun, easy to play, and much can be earned through just one sitting of playing. In short, no other game is as deserving of the abbreviation than World of Warcraft. WoW.

Final Score: 4.5/5. Excellent game and a must buy.

Freshgrease 08-04-2005 01:12 AM

Where does this game compare to Guild Wars? I just bought GW for the reviews and free online play.

spiral_vortex 08-04-2005 01:51 AM

luv the guildwars graphics better. the bad thing bout WOW is u cant manually dodge projectiles like GW. the storyline is good way better than BW. the bad thing bout WOW is the ksing. in GW u have the whole map to urself and party members so noone will ks of you

Gemakai 08-04-2005 11:19 PM

I don't really mind KSing (that's Kill stealing for those who don't know), but I much disliked having the map to myself in GW. It just didn't feel as... well... Massive.


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