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WarCraft III Review

/ Jul 9th, 2002 No Comments

From the creators of the #1 selling action/strategy game of all times comes a new generation of chaos. Cunning, sinister, and seemingly unstoppable, the demonic Burning Legion prepare to launch their long-awaited assault on the mortal world. Survival is a matter of strategy, as the Reign of Chaos begins!

Storyline

It has been nearly fifteen years since the war between the orcs and humans ended. An uneasy peace settled over the land while, for years, the drums of war were silent. Yet the kingdoms of men grew complacent in their victory – and slowly, the defeated orcish clans regrouped under the banner of a new visionary leader. Now a darker shadow has fallen over the world, threatening to extinguish all life – all hope. The drums of war play upon the winds once again – rising urgently towards the inevitable hour when the skies will rain fire – and the world will tremble before the coming of the Burning Legion.

WarCraft 3 Review

The Day of Judgment has come… Armed with distinctive units, magical abilities and weapons of war, the Orcs, Humans, Undead and Night Elves clash in their renewed struggle for dominance.

Two New Nations of Warriors The Warcraft universe grows with the introduction of two new races for players to control. The Night Elves are mysterious, shadowy beings and are one of the eldest races of the world. They have emerged from centuries of seclusion to defend the world from the coming apocalypse. The Undead is a plague-ridden army known as the Scourge that has come from the frozen wastelands of the North to topple civilization in its darkest hour.

PC System Requirements
Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
400 MHz Pentium II or equivalent
128 MB of RAM
8 MB 3D video card (TNT, i810, Voodoo 3, Rage 128 equivalent or better) with DirectX® 8.1 support
700 MB HD space
4X CD-ROM drive

MAC System Requirements
Macintosh® OS 9.0 or higher/ Mac OS X
10.1.3. or higher
400 MHz G3 processor
128 MB of RAM
16 MB ATI Technologies or nVidia chipset 3D video card
700 MB HD space
4X CD-ROM drive

Features

A World in 3 Dimensions- Blizzard is powering Warcraft III with its own 3D engine, providing a fully interactive world that incorporates non-player characters, wandering monsters, neutral towns, strongholds and temples, and environmental effects.

  • Multiplayer Mayhem – Expanded multiplayer options over Battle.net® (including team play and questing) and new game matching and tournament options.
  • High Resolution Support – Warcraft III offers support for multiple resolutions and will take advantage of many features included with the latest 3D cards while supporting as broad a range of older cards as possible.
  • Legendary Heroes – Legendary Heroes lead powerful armies while they complete quests, gain experience and acquire special items. As the core of each race’s force, Heroes have the ability to advance in levels, learn new spells and abilities and confer special benefits to nearby units.
  • Special Items and Equipment – Legendary Heroes can carry up to four special items in a small inventory. The items can turn the tide of battle as they grant the Hero the ability to cast offensive and defensive spells, heal units, utilize special abilities or gain bonuses to specific statistics.
  • Neutral Buildings – Several types of Neutral Buildings exist, each with a different function. From selling Hero Items, hiring out Mercenaries, to healing nearby units of hit points, these structures confer a wide variety of strategies and surprises for even the most veteran of players.
  • Neutral Units – There are numerous Neutral Units – known as Creeps and Critters – that inhabit the world of Azeroth. Creeps are hostile units that relinquish Mana Stones when killed and sometimes guard valuable resources or Neutral Buildings. Critters are friendly neutral units such as sheep or seals.
  • Huge Spell-casting System – Many types of spells are available to the clever player, including Offensive spells, Defensive spells, Counter spells, Modal spells that are cast automatically, Auras, and the extremely potent Ultimate spells.

Installation

WarCraft 3 Beginning Screen

Installations on our computers went very smoothly. Our main system we “game” with is:
Test System Specifications:- AMD 1800+ XP Processor- XFX GeForce4 Ti4600 Video Card- ABIT KR7A Motherboard- 512 MB RAM- 40/12/48x TDK CDRW- Windows XP- DirectX 8.1- nVidia detonator drivers, version 29.42

The installation of the game is very painless … stick it in your CD drive and install. It takes up a robust 700 MB of hard drive space , but the game is only ONE compact disc, which is wicked – no swapping!

CAMPAIGN

Since I was on the beta, the thing that most intrigued me about the release of Warcraft III was the campaign. I loved the campaigns of Warcraft II and StarCraft … so this game (after seeing it with Battle.net manager John LaGrave at E3) offered some great gameplay hours with the campaigns.

Veterans of RTS (Real Time Strategy) games will have no issues picking this game up and running with it. There are some quirks with the hero system that will freak people out at first. The idea of “building up” a super-unit and picking out what spells to upgrade is a novel one that brings an added bit of depth to the RTS genre. Leave it to Blizzard to continually reinvent the genre it made popular!

The first two missions are basically tutorial missions using the Orcs, and most specifically Thrall, the main Orc character. These missions get you up and going through the game.

The first set of missions in the campaign are the Human missions. These missions mainly deal with Prince Arthas, a pompous and powerful prince who stops at nothing to save his homeland … but at what price? I won’t spoil it for you. Gamers will enjoy the human missions from a gameplay perspective and a cinematic standpoint – the story really becomes engrossing from the very beginning. Blizzard does a wonderful job in the opening campaign for laying the groundwork and premise for the entire game.

Next, players move on from the Human missions to the Undead Scourge. I really like the Undead , maybe its just my fascination with being the bad guy! The Undead missions will definitely delight your need for mayhem and wanton violence!

Thirdly players go through the Orc missions which continue the great storyline of the game where the Undead left off. The Orc missions get decidedly harder than the previous two campaigns which seems fair enough. There are two missions in particular which I found quite challenging. I like the Orc campaign – really!

Finally the last campaign deals with the mysterious Night Elf race. The Night Elf missions are particularly fun and a lot harder than any of the other campaigns in the game. You’ll find the last four missions to be excruciatingly hard … the help of Brady Games’ hint and tip guide should offer assistance for sure!

WarCraft 3 - Gameplay

Overall the campaign for Warcraft III was absolutely awesome. The thirty-four (34) missions were fun, and none (played on Normal mode) were too easy. I do suggest that hardcore fans of StarCraft and Warcraft II play on hard mode … when you fail a mission it gives you the option to replay the game on an easier setting, so if you get frustrated you can get buy without banging your head against a wall. I’d estimate that the total running time for the 34 mission campaign totaled in and around the 35 hour mark for myself … you have the option of just completing the “main quest” but “optional quests” come along and I could never pass those up! So expect 30-40 hours of gameplay from the campaign, which again, was a blast to play through.
world editor

I can’t spend too much time on this subject since the world editor is anything but easy to get a full grasp of. I can say by deconstructing some of the maps that come with the game I was able to put together the most pathetic mission in Warcraft III history – complete with introduction cinematics. So feel free to download my VERY simple creation and let me know what you think. I do have to say the prospect of making campaign missions complete with cinematics and sound is awesome!!!

MULTIPLAYER

We were fortunate enough to play through every which way imaginable with multiplayer. As the norm with Blizzard the game was released right when I celebrate my birthday – so for July 4th I had some close friends over for a Warcraft III LAN party! I brought some of the computers back to my place from the office in anticipation of the greatest LAN party ever! We hooked together three systems – the test system you saw before, a PIII 600 MHz with an XFX GeForce4 Ti4400, and a Dell Dimension 4100 PIII 1 Ghz system.

The LAN capabilities of Warcraft III are AMAZING. The game supports up to 12 people in the same game … I couldn’t imagine having that much fun. We set up three people and played through many of the maps supplied by Blizzard with the game. All of the maps were a ton of fun to play through and with the right graphics settings every single computer played the game wonderfully. We played co-op missions, we played free for all bloodbaths, we laughed, we cried, we hurled – you get the picture. Anyway after 24 straight hours of no sleep, food, or bathroom breaks we were convinced that Warcraft III might be the best RTS game to play on a LAN – bar none.

Now, for those of you that are Battle.net fans, Warcraft III does NOT disappoint. The Battle.net features are really easy to use. Signing up for a nickname takes 12 seconds, and by simply hitting “Play Game” players are automatically matched with a player at their given level of experience in a melee game (build up and kill). Depending on whether you win or lose you gain or lose experience points in the Battle.net ladder ranking system. The system itself is updated in real time, so right after you win or lose a game you can see how that affected your standings on the ladder.

Another GREAT feature of Warcraft III on Battle.net (which is a FREE frickin deal) is the team play with fully supported records. So team up with your best friend and be matched up much the same way the “play game” is done for single player melee contests – just buddy up with someone as a team and hit the play game button and Battle.net will pit you against another team of similar experience. The co-op games are a ton of fun to play and a great way to extend the life of the game beyond campaigns and single player battle.net experiences.

One strange shortcoming of the game must be mentioned here – the single player “Custom Game”. I’ve enjoyed a skirmish or two against the computer in my day in various RTS games ranging from Warcraft II, to StarCraft, to Red Alert II. The very funny (odd? disappointing? strange???) thing about Custom Game in Warcraft III is the inability to pick the level of skill of computer players. You simply “play the computer” but there is no way of making that computer AI player a great player or a bad player or whatever. This shortcoming was very, very disappointing … I hope Blizzard can address this issue with a patch in the future.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Undoubtedly readers of this review have seen more screenshots of Warcraft III than people have downloaded Cindy Margolis pictures. Nevertheless the demand for those screens speak for themselves – this is one nice looking game! For RTS fans, the thought of 3D has always been dancing in our heads … and now it’s here. I compared this title to Westwood’s release (about a year ago) of “Dune Emperor” which was a solid title on its own. The graphics of Warcraft III aren’t jaw-dropping … however the graphics “work” within the frame of the game. The units do look badass to say the least, and the explosions and animations are fantastic. The great things about the solid graphics of the game is that it won’t require you to go out and buy a $3,000 computer system just to play this game.

If you have a decent computer – like a PIII 600MHz and you have a very solid video card, like a GeForce4 Ti4400 , then expect to run the game fine in and around the 1280×1024 resolution levels with most of the options turned to high. With our test system (AMD 1800+ XP chip and a GeForce4 Ti4600 card) we tweaked the game out as high as possible, 1600×1200 and everything set to high, and the system didn’t bat an eye. So overall the graphics are great yet not resource consuming – a best of both worlds scenario.

The sounds of Warcraft III are really what set it apart from other games. We’re lucky enough to have a sound card that is EAX 2.0 compliant, fulling maximizing the enriching sound experience that this game has to offer. If you have a 5 speaker setup (or even 4) then the surround sound features and crisp sound from the battles and environment will really blow you away. I love cranking up the sound on this game … the sounds are just so realistic!!!

OVERALL

Warcraft III is a game that is light years in the making. It is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated and well publicized games in the history of the industry. Blizzard had already set itself a standard that some critics in the industry said they couldn’t live up to. Well this reviewer says they have once again revolutionized the industry and a genre. Not only have they scored in the hearts of RTS fans everywhere, but I can’t think of anyone who owns a Mac or PC system that wouldn’t benefit from owning this title.

Compulsive gamer and contributor to Gaming Illustrated, “Doppler” Dan Culver comments, “Much more fun than the impending baseball lockout, and more rivoting than lifetime’s television for women lineup. it’s blizzards much anticipated sequel Warcraft III … Continuing with the tradition of excellent gameplay, storyline, graphics, and overall appeal Blizzard once again after months of anticipation sets the gaming world on fire. Being a Diablo and Starcraft freak myself, I was enticed into playing Warcraft 3 at a LAN party with my two best friends … Little did I know that one of them had been playing the game for 3 weeks solid on the beta. Let me tell you there is nothing more exciting than watching your town go up in flames 5 times in a row. The fact that it was mentioned that I “die well” didn’t help my ego any. Being familiar w/RTS games I found Warcraft 3 very easy to follow for a newbie to the series. I found out very quickly how hot keys and strategy play such a crucial role in the development of a battle. Previous tactics in other games such as “tank diplomacy” and “Infantry Invasion” don’t work too well. After a while I found it best to develop heros and teams of units each of which gave different supporting roles to the whole. ”

From the engrossing storyline, to the variety of units and sides available, Warcraft III is a game that will go down in history as being a benchmark for future titles. There’s nothing any of the people here at Gaming Illustrated didn’t absolutely love – from the LAN experience to Battle.net to the campaign missions … everything was just plain fun. People buy video games to get away from real life and be entertained – Warcraft III is the perfect solution.

The Final Word: This is what most likely will be the game of the year for many publications. For the fans, its the must buy game of the summer, no doubt about it!

FINAL SCORE : 96/100

Editor's Choice Award

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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