War gets 3 times Craftier: a Warcraft 3 review by scotth266

scotth266

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Oh boy, I am gonna get bitched out for this one, but until one week ago I had never even laid eyes on Warcraft 3. It's strange really: the game was one of the most trumpeted RTS games of its time, and I happen to keep fairly up to date with the RTS genre, but I never heard a peep about it. Well, when I was strolling through the local Wal-Mart with the goal of getting a PC game when I noticed the Battle Chest sitting there, ready and waiting. Having played the first two as a kid, and enjoyed them both, I was eager to get back to killing some Orcs.

First things first: there are four factions in Warcraft 3: the Humans, their brutish green-skinned counterparts the Orcs, the Undead(a series of zombie-like beings and necromancers), and the Sentinels(forest-guarding night elves). The Undead and Sentinels were new additions to the lore when the game was released: but they don't feel out of place, or like a carbon copy of the other races. Each faction is VERY unique and has its own ups and downs. The Sentinels are a good example: their buildings are like Ents from the Lord of the Ring series. While they're rooted, they can produce units. However, they can uproot themselves and walk, allowing you to transfer most of your base to a new gold mine if the one you're at has run out. This doesn't mean that they're defenseless either: they can attack while walking, and eat trees to regain health (a bizzare sort of cannabalism, but it works.) Each faction has abilities that balance the game out wonderfully, and encourage you to try out many strategies in order to find the most efficient methods of taking down your opponent.


Ignore the large group of zombies assaulting this base. They're obviously no threat.

Hero units are a major new addition to the franchise as well. The heroes tend to come out in three types: a spellcaster, a supporter, and a melee fighter. Each one can level up by killing things in order to gain new abilities. These abilities have all sorts of effects: some deal area-of-effect damage, some summon minions, others allow you to spy on your enemies, and the best tend to be the ones that give your nearby underlings better stats. You're encouraged to send your heroes out as soon as possible in this game, as stronger heroes can practically turn the tide of battle by themselves, especially if they learn their fourth and final spell. Your hero can also equip items that you find around the map(often hidden behind computer-controlled beasts), so you're encouraged to send your hero out with a scouting party VERY early on in order to get a leg up on your opponent. This helps relieve the doldrums of early base building, and is a welcome addition in my book.

The campaign mode is an interesting one. You wind up playing through as each of the various factions as they try and save their race from the three D's of death, doom, and destruction. The main plot of the game revolves around the rise of the Undead, as all the other factions scramble to save their people and their homes. It's a very engrossing tale, and there are several interesting twists that throw you off. Some unresolved plot threads are there, but as they get wrapped up in the expansion, you won't mind unless you bought this game by itself. The mission types tend tend feel varied and unique for the most part, but there are far too many dungeon-style levels. These wind up being little more than gameplay-extending cannon fodder for your heroes to level up, and one mimicks the Mines of Mordor so much that I halfway expecting Gandalf to trod out at the end of the level. Another minor irritance is the occasional presence of an incredibly stupid or stubborn character that you KNOW will cause you trouble later. Those who have already played through the campaign ought to know what I mean. Blizzard also could've made the campaign better by having all of the cutscenes done outside the game's engine(only the ending cutscenes for each faction were made without it.) The in-game cutscenes can be a little hard to watch after a while, though the top-notch voice acting does wonders to add to it. It's just that the character models don't look as nice up close, and the portraits aren't lip-synched to the dialouge, which sometimes gives you the feeling of watching a old Godzilla movie with more knights and less Japanese people running around.


This pales in comparison to the sweet ending cutscenes.


The tactics of Warcraft 3 encourage maintaining small strike groups as opposed to making huge armies. Being on the defensive won't get you very far in this game: you have to go and attack your opponent to earn your victory. The game has an upkeep system that reduces the amount of resources you can collect when you have more units, which restricts your unit production. It's well implemented and makes the player try to limit his forces to preserve his resource intake rather than subscibe to the Starcraftian philosophy of the Zerg Rush. You're also constrained by the food resource(gained by purchasing certain buildings.) Units all have advantages over each other: artillery takes out buildings, archers take out mages, mages take out warriors, and so on. Flying units are always interesting to fight: sometimes you have to have a unit or two that is anti-air mixed in with your task forces to make sure that they can counter them, or else you'll find yourself weeping as your mini-armies are decimated by units that they can't touch. Nightfall is another interesting element: as time passes in-game, the enviornment changes from day to night. This restricts the sight of some units and gives others special abilities(nearly all the Sentinel foot soldiers can stand still during the night-time to go invisible, making ambushes a very lethal possibility.) It all adds up to an experience that encourages heavy planning and swift decision-making, something that draws the players in well and holds them there.

All in all, I give Warcraft 3 my highest recommendations. A good campaign mode mixed with balanced multiplayer makes this one of the best RTS games out there. It may be a little outdated graphics-wise right now, but it still has enough spunk and content to make it worth the price.


For the Horde! For glory!

EDIT: Since this review got bumped, and I didn't make a prior reviews section till later, please search for my Braid review if you want to see all my previous work. I'll edit my old reviews later to have the previous reviews section, but for now please put up with my sorry butt :D

EDIT X 2: Since this review got bumped (again), I suppose I shall stick the current list of previous reviews up.

Your Review And You. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.120165]
Jade Empire [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.119321]
Mega Man 9 [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.119167]
Deja Vu [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.117801]
Hooray For the New Blood: An Unofficial Article. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.117338]
Manga Mashup #2: Prepared to be Schooled. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.115803]
Manga Mashup #1: Attack of the A's [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.111313]
Braid [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.110777]
Max Payne [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.110027#1897580]
Indigo Prophecy [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.108202#1817369]
WarCraft 3 [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.107685]
Fallout 3 [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.105151#1683250]
Mirror's Edge [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/326.102291#1586312]
 

AkJay

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a bit... late to the party, but all in all it was a pretty good review of the game, and you touch upon some key elements I hadn't noticed before, you're a good writer, keep 'em coming!
 

scotth266

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You had damn well better give it your highest recommendations...
Proabably one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played.

And the review was pretty good too, and not just because I agree with it.
Though that last image doesn't appear to be loading.

EDIT: There it is, and it is hilarious.
 

Grand_Poohbah

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A great game definitely. The endgame cut scenes are beautiful. I wish a movie could be made out of them =\.
 

scotth266

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Dota and online games is the only reason it's still sitting there on my desktop.
 

scotth266

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AkJay said:
a bit... late to the party, but all in all it was a pretty good review of the game, and you touch upon some key elements I hadn't noticed before, you're a good writer, keep 'em coming!
Even if I am late to the party, I like offering up my opinions. Besides, I might persuade someone who hasn't played it yet to give it a try. You never know ;)

Grand_Poohbah said:
A great game definitely. The endgame cut scenes are beautiful. I wish a movie could be made out of them =\.
Oh, you and me both.

MaxTheReaper said:
And the review was pretty good too, and not just because I agree with it.
Though that last image doesn't appear to be loading.

EDIT: There it is, and it is hilarious.
Glad you liked the review: I've been doing reviews on a sort of weekly basis here as a lark. I also have one for Mirror's Edge and another for Fallout 3, if you'd care to take a look.

And it is indeed hilarity. Thank you Google Images!
 

stormcaller

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Allow me to say in a most proffesional and formal tone: I wuv you

Joking aside, great review but I find one thing pleasing and disturbing:pleasing- you didn't specifically mention the moral obligations of the races, bad thing: Not a freakin' word about the awesome that is the Horde, or Grom, or Rexxar.

Anyhow again great work, keep it up and can't wait to see more.
 

scotth266

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stormcaller said:
Allow me to say in a most proffesional and formal tone: I wuv you

Joking aside, great review but I find one thing pleasing and disturbing:pleasing- you didn't specifically mention the moral obligations of the races, bad thing: Not a freakin' word about the awesome that is the Horde, or Grom, or Rexxar.

Anyhow again great work, keep it up and can't wait to see more.
I didn't mention the moral obligations/details of the factions in order to prevent my personal bias from interfering. That having been said: I dislike the Night Elves: they tend to be WAY WAY too preachy and superior.

And I pay the Horde picture service at the bottom. I actually like the Tauren guy the best: "My old bones ache..." : right after he tears through a group of 10 guys all by himself.
 

microhive

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Scotth266, nice review and I agree with most of your points but I like the in game cinematic. :)

Anyway, you should add more information about the custom mapping part as it's the most popular part of WarCraft III.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQWkWTEKqaA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLA9eiRLuJw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW1UbuFOzxc
 

MrBirdy

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I really liked your review and you also pointed out some things i never took notion off. Very well done, and this you might know, but one of the funniest things in the game is that if you click a character repeatedly after each other they say the funniest lines imagineable xD.
 

Lncredible

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Nice, I was going to review this game simply because it has outlasted them all (in my collection). It also competes with "hours played" against Diablo 2.

A spectacular amount of fun has been had over the years on battle.net, though multiplayer matches are dwindling and dying... Custom modding is still top notch there though - you can play many games of a strange nature... Ill give you some of the games I enjoy.


-Uther party - Mini games competition

-Defence of the ancients - 5vs5 heroes with AI controller units attacking to reach and destroy the other base in 3 lanes.

-Kodo tag - One of the units in the game, called a kodo, chase after you with hilarious music playing and you must mine gold and build towers to stop you being caught.

SO MUCH TO PLAY!
 

scotth266

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MrBirdy said:
I really liked your review and you also pointed out some things i never took notion off. Very well done, and this you might know, but one of the funniest things in the game is that if you click a character repeatedly after each other they say the funniest lines imagineable xD.
I was thinking about sticking in a line about the easter eggs under the last picture I had planned, but the baby orkling just ruled SO HARD that I wound up scrapping the old idea in favor of it. The Sentinel archers have the best lines, except for the Undead spider minions.

redmarine said:
Scotth266, nice review and I agree with most of your points but I like the in game cinematic. :)

Anyway, you should add more information about the custom mapping part as it's the most popular part of WarCraft III.
I would stick that in, but to be honest most RTS games have that as a standard feature: I wouldn't have mentioned it unless it had been absent, which would have been a downside.


Lncredible said:
Nice, I was going to review this game simply because it has outlasted them all (in my collection). It also competes with "hours played" against Diablo 2.

A spectacular amount of fun has been had over the years on battle.net, though multiplayer matches are dwindling and dying... Custom modding is still top notch there though - you can play many games of a strange nature... Ill give you some of the games I enjoy.

SO MUCH TO PLAY!
My next trip to Wal-Mart may encompass some Diablo. That having been said, a review of it is still a LONG way off. I have lots of other stuff planned though :D

As for the modding/custom games bit, I try to stick to things that were only included in the original game in my reviews. Mods are just user-made bonuses, so unless a game is pretty much unplayable without them you won't hear me mention them save in passing.

On that note: Thanks to everyone who posted positive feedback. My next review will most likely be either Jade Empire, or a manga/anime review-fest. I might also do the next one a tad bit earlier than I have normally. Keep an eye out for my name on the review boards!
 

MarxonSR1

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Awesome review again, I've got a friend who has been pestering me to buy this game and for a startlingly long amount of time, as I unlike him am I great fan of the RTS genre and this happens to be the only RTS he plays on a regular basis. You may have finally persuaded me.

The only thing that puts me off playing the game though a minor thing is the idea of strike teams, I've played Dawn of War 2 and as far as strike teams go that's pretty good. This is a problem I have with some other games that attempt to please various different sections of the market. They end up annoying the majority who like extremes. I either like to be able like with Dawn of War 2 the ability to intricately control the actions of my army. Or like with Total War games launch vast and epic forces at my enemy.

However the tactical intricacies, like heroes and various special abilities sound awesome. Also having unique factions is an idea that many RTSs struggle with so go Warcraft. Just to say awesome review at the risk of repeating myself. So, thanks.
 

scotth266

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MarxonSR1 said:
SNIP

However the tactical intricacies, like heroes and various special abilities sound awesome. Also having unique factions is an idea that many RTSs struggle with so go Warcraft. Just to say awesome review at the risk of repeating myself. So, thanks.
No problem. I'm glad you had fun reading it.
 

oliveira8

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Warcraft 3...was there to say about it apart that is awesome!

Oh yes there is...focking Night Elves!! urgrgrgrggrgrgrgr! I only have hate towards that faction. I wished that Blizzard just..GAH! I HATE NIGHT ELVES!!!!!
 

scotth266

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oliveira8 said:
Warcraft 3...was there to say about it apart that is awesome!

Oh yes there is...focking Night Elves!! urgrgrgrggrgrgrgr! I only have hate towards that faction. I wished that Blizzard just..GAH! I HATE NIGHT ELVES!!!!!
They're just...so...ELVES! GAH! Can't live with em', can't have an army of archers without em'...
 

oliveira8

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scotth266 said:
oliveira8 said:
Warcraft 3...was there to say about it apart that is awesome!

Oh yes there is...focking Night Elves!! urgrgrgrggrgrgrgr! I only have hate towards that faction. I wished that Blizzard just..GAH! I HATE NIGHT ELVES!!!!!
They're just...so...ELVES! GAH! Can't live with em', can't have an army of archers without em'...
The first level is also heavily retarded...Its like Blizzard ran out of ideas and went with the first thing they came up with...

Blizzemplye1: uuur..Guys what untis should Night Elves start on the first mission?
Blizzemplye2: Urrr....Archers?
Blizzemplye1: Anything else?
Blizzemplye2: Archers are awesome right?
Blizzemplye1: Not really...
Blizzemplye2: Good! Put them in! The player must make at least! 50 archers if he wants to win the mission!
Blizzemplye1: Awesome! Lets make the archers severely underpowered agaisnt the Orcs and Humans base!
Blizzemplye2: Woohooo! We in a roll here!
 

scotth266

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oliveira8 said:
The first level is also heavily retarded...Its like Blizzard ran out of ideas and went with the first thing they came up with...

Blizzemplye1: uuur..Guys what untis should Night Elves start on the first mission?
Blizzemplye2: Urrr....Archers?
Blizzemplye1: Anything else?
Blizzemplye2: Archers are awesome right?
Blizzemplye1: Not really...
Blizzemplye2: Good! Put them in! The player must make at least! 50 archers if he wants to win the mission!
Blizzemplye1: Awesome! Lets make the archers severely underpowered agaisnt the Orcs and Humans base!
Blizzemplye2: Woohooo! We in a roll here!
*Hits self in head*

And I thought I was just doing something wrong when I got to the Night Elves... Seems like I'm not alone :D
 

oliveira8

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scotth266 said:
oliveira8 said:
The first level is also heavily retarded...Its like Blizzard ran out of ideas and went with the first thing they came up with...

Blizzemplye1: uuur..Guys what untis should Night Elves start on the first mission?
Blizzemplye2: Urrr....Archers?
Blizzemplye1: Anything else?
Blizzemplye2: Archers are awesome right?
Blizzemplye1: Not really...
Blizzemplye2: Good! Put them in! The player must make at least! 50 archers if he wants to win the mission!
Blizzemplye1: Awesome! Lets make the archers severely underpowered agaisnt the Orcs and Humans base!
Blizzemplye2: Woohooo! We in a roll here!
*Hits self in head*

And I thought I was just doing something wrong when I got to the Night Elves... Seems like I'm not alone :D
If you note the Night Elves are the only faction that starts with Build Base->Make army->Destroy enemey Base.

The other 3 start with a mission like Control bunch of units->Move around the map finding more units->Kills badies in map. It was simple! It introduce the player to the basic units and their mechanics and heroes. Unlike the night elves...
 

Steve Dark

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Ahhh Warcraft 3. Lotsa good memories with that game. I'd say it has aged very well compared to some other games. I will forever lament the fact that Blizzard made WoW instead of Warcraft 4, it just doesn't do the same for me plotwise...