| Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
||Reviewed by William 'Jericho' Shaver
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
Release Date: 7/03/02
is a real time strategy game based
in the fantasy world of Azeroth. Unlike the previous Warcraft
games, Warcraft 3
features a new fully 3d engine. The single player
campaign follows in suit with Blizzard
's previous title, Starcraft,
in that each races' campaign is a portion of an ongoing story; starting with
Humans and ending with the Night Elves. Will this stand up to the task of pleasing
followers of this series? We will see.
ago when PCs weren't as popular as they are now, a small game development company
decided to make a strategy game in real time. This became Warcraft: Orcs
. This follows the exploits of the first war with the Orcish
Horde as they began to sweep across the lands of Azeroth in their campaign to
claim the world as their own. Following its success, Blizzard
created the masterpiece that is Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
and its expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal
. Tides of Darkness followed
up with the Human inhabitants of the lands of Azeroth fleeing their homeland
to the neighboring kingdom of Lordaeron, and with the assistance of an Alliance
of Elves, Humans, Gnomes, and Dwarves, they set about retaliating against the
Horde to prevent it from taking full control of the known world. This ended
with the Humans destroying the Dark Portal which the Orcs used to enter into
The Expansion: Beyond the Dark Portal, follows up when the Humans realize the
rift between worlds was not sealed. Here again, the Orcs find a way to enter
into the world of Azeroth and steal artifacts of great power. With this, an
Orc Shaman conjures a portal of great power into yet another world. This portal
was unstable and caused the Orcs' world of Draenor, to implode upon itself and
the few Orcs who escaped into the Human world of Azeroth or through this new
portal are now orphaned, their homelands forever gone.
This is where Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
10 to 20 years after Warcraft 2: Beyond the Dark Portal
begins with the visions of the new Orc War Chief, Thrall, as he witnesses
a great battle and the coming of a new threat to the world. He awakens to find
a Prophet beckoning to him to go to the ancient western continent of Kalimdor;
long thought to be a myth. Thrall is told that Kalimdor is where the salvation
of his race can be found. Finding this warning troubling as well as his visions,
Thrall makes ready his army and sets sail across the vast oceans, hoping to
find Kalimdor as requested by the Prophet.
The story of Warcraft 3
is both immersing and well written. The
"interludes" and cut scenes done with the game engine are well crafted and directed.
Oddly they suffer from frame rate drops when the game's camera angle changes
from its default birds eye view to a more ground level view. The plot twists
as it progresses keeps you guessing as to what's going to happen next. In fact,
players will find themselves trying to beat the missions just to see the next
cut scene of the story. Plus having the occasional cut scene when in mid-mission
only adds more to the anticipation. The movies played at the end of each campaign
are well mastered and played in a very high quality.
when a company takes a game originally set in a 2d sprite design and transfer
it to a 3d landscape, something is often lost. Be it look and feel or the theme
of the artistry. None of this happens here. Warcraft 3
stunning detail in the new 3d engine it uses. This can be displayed in Open
GL or Direct 3d.
The units of Warcraft 3
all sport a low polygon, cartoon feel.
This in no way degrades their animation quality. Blizzard
painful steps to make sure these units looked and animated perfectly on screen.
Of course, the low polygon use is for a reason as well, when two or three armies
clash, the frame rates are sure to drop if they are of any size. On higher end
systems, though, I don't know if this is a problem. Buildings as well keep this
motif, having low polygon use but well textured designs. Some are humorous like
the Night Elf Tree of Life dancing as it creates wisps, and others are for cosmetic
reasons, like the working clock on the Human town hall. These finer features
help add to the realism of the game world.
From the game's default overhead view, the game nearly looks like it's a 2-d
strategy title just like its older incarnations. The map designs use fully 3d
terrain with the highly detailed texturing on the geometry; you hardly can tell
it's a mesh of 3d polygons. In fact the map terrain looks like it's a 2d landscape
similar to Starcraft. This does make for some interesting things when larger
units lean to contort themselves onto the landscape, making them stand at 45
to 60 degree angles.
The camera angle you can pan but only temporarily. Blizzard
the games camera at a single angle to help maintain the original feel of the
games. So panning the camera is purely for cosmetic
or screenshot purposes.
sounds and music to Warcraft 3
fit perfectly with every other
aspect of the game. Blizzard
spared no expense to make sure the
voice acting was done and done well. Each voice for the units is unique and
mixes perfectly with the ambient sounds of the landscape. The ambient sounds
themselves fit perfectly with the creation of the world of Azeroth, making it
feel more lifelike than before. Birds chatter in the Ashenvale Forest, and volcanic
vents explode in all their glory when underground.
The music score is just as diverse as the races. The Humans having near orchestral
march-like tunes while the Night Elves have more Celtic themes. The Orcs make
war with their driving epic battle themes, and the Undead's rather unique, enigmatic
music serve to make them feel that much more spooky. Of course, Blizzard
continued their long history of funny unit comments when you continuously click
on them. All units have several comments they make when you bug them in this
manner. A personal favorite is the last line of the Night Elf Dryad.
gameplay of Warcraft 3
is, to say the least, rock solid. As with
their previous strategy titles, Blizzard
incorporates hotkey commands
for everything to constructing buildings to unit abilities and commands. Features
from Starcraft also entered into the mix such as unit cueing, race specific
features, and race specific units.
The addition of unit damage and armor types also increases the strategic thinking.
This creates a strategy, counter strategy format which allows one to build armies
specifically to counter or attack certain units. This also assists and hinders
each race in ways since each race as a target play style.
Another new inclusion into the game is the use of Heroes. Heroes. are super
units which gain levels, have unique abilities, and have inventory spaces. Each
race features three heroes which range from heavy melee fighters to archmages
and archers. The addition of Heroes. only further adds to the uniqueness of
each race. There are also shops which your Heroes. can visit. These shops range
from item sellers to mercenary camps for hiring of units. This provides some
level of consistency to the races in a minor way. For one, no race has its own
transport unit, you have to buy them from a Goblin Laboratory. The trick, getting
to it before your enemies do.
The incorporation of day and night during gameplay as well affects your units,
night reduces their vision radius. This makes it easier for sneak attacks. Currently
though, there is no option to enable only day, or only night time play.
single player game takes place in various locations ranging from lush forests,
deserts, inside cities, and cold wintry lands. The missions you are given are
as diverse as the landscape. They range from simple kill all your enemies to
protecting a caravan as you pass through a desert and securing specific objectives
within a limited time frame using only a hand full of units. This makes the
missions both varied and difficult depending on what you are doing. Gladly,
at the start of each mission that features a new unit, you will be greeted with
info about the new unit so players know exactly what it is and how it's used.
A new feature in this mix is difficulty level. You can select to play the game
on normal or hard difficulties. Plus, if you get defeated on a mission you can
chose to replay the mission on easy difficulty. This let's just about anyone
be able to finish this game. Though for advanced players, normal may seem a
As with other strategy titles, there is a custom game or skirmish mode players
can access to combat against a computer player. The included bundle of maps
range from a few ported classics from Warcraft 2
and many originals.
On the down side, there isn't a difficulty setting for the computer AI in custom
for Warcraft 3
can be played online with Blizzard
service or on Local Area Network. For people who
own other Blizzard
titles, a new account will be required for
. This is required since Warcraft 3
new gateways. The new ladder system which Blizzard
enables anonymous matchmaking for games. This allows players of similar skill
levels to compete against each other and hopefully learn and get better at their
preferred race. Sadly, this system does place new players vs very experienced
players, and we can all guess how that ends. Players can also set up arranged
teams with friends for similar matchmaking.
There is of course the custom game option for direct team Vs team play or one
Vs one matches. These games, however, do not count on a players ladder ranking.
Custom games on Battle.net
can also allow for a large number of
observers to view the game in action. As with Starcraft, Warcraft 3
has the option to save replays of the game on the scoring screen. This allows
players to see what strategies their enemy employed and gives the player the
chance to find a method to counter. This also allows for highly experienced
players to save matches between themselves and other experienced players, and
show the world how good they are. Again, lesser experienced players can learn
from these replays and improve their skills. Custom games do, however, suffer
from more connection related problems than the matchmaking games. Especially
when there's either a large number of players or large number of observers.
3: Reign of Chaos
is a great game which mixes in the artistry of 2d
graphics into a 3d world and doesn't lose a bit of detail. The RPG elements
of the Heroes not only adds replay value for multiplayer, but also adds a bit
of depth as their skills can turn the tide of battle very easily. The controls
are easy to learn and use. The use of Blizzard
service for multiplayer makes it easy to find players to combat with online.
The only downfall, you might need to upgrade something in your computer to see
this game in its fullest detail.
- Free online play through Battle.net.
- A perfect transition into a 3d engine.
- Well animated artwork with great implementation.
- It's a Blizzard game!
- If you didn't like Blizzard's previous strategy titles,
you may not like this one.
- Price is a bit high.
- No AI selection for skirmishes.
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