One of the big differences this time around is the introduction of heroes. In trying to step away from the generic build up and smash stereotype of the RTS genre, Blizzard has given the player one or two key characters in the story while playing, that will gain items, abilities, and levels to make that one particular hero a leader of sorts. You can take optional quests, which usually advance the hero more than the plot. These quests stray off from the main plotline, and attempt to give the players a sense of depth to the game and feel a part of the world. Unfortunately in my eyes, it really didn't achieve that outcome. I mostly did the optional quests because they made the main quest easier to finish. For example, there will come a time when you need to rescue 2 Goblin Zeppelins. In the meantime though, you are being bombarded by 5 separate camps of enemies. The optional quest is to wipe out those 5 camps, when you pretty much have to anyway to build up enough forces to get all the way across the map without dying to invaders. The hero topic is rather stale and left me without a sense of accomplishment when I did level that hero. Basically the hero just turned out to be another warrior in the mix of battle, with a couple special abilities that didn't really separate them from anyone else in my attack force other than they were equipped with some nice spell effects. What they should have done, was give a player a penalty for letting this hero die. In the end, you just rebuild your hero like you would any other character in the game.
Say hello... to my little friend...
The graphics and sound in Warcraft 3 are top notch. Everything runs smoothly, with nice spell animations. Of course, Blizzard is notorious for giving funny lines to the characters once you click on them numerous times, and they do not fail here. With lines from Star Wars, an orc singing "It's not easy being green", and other one liners that will make you laugh for hours. Unfortunately, sometimes you might get so carried away with hearing those one liners, you forget about the advancing enemies about to kill off your entire town. And you bet, I speak from experience! Nothing like laughing your tail off clicking away on characters like a lunatic, when all of a sudden you get a "Mission failed" on your screen. After being spoiled rotten with music in Morrowwind and Neverwinter Nights, the music while playing the game itself felt pretty stale and used up. The times I did like the music was when the game shifted into the chapter cut scenes, in which the music was fabulous.
There are some downsides to this game that make it frustrating, and sometimes just annoying. One factor is, no matter how many different wrenches you try to throw into the works, this is still an RTS at it's core. Most of the strategy lies in building up enough forces to overthrow the other forces. And while they have some unique scripts and missions to force a deviation, it doesn't do the trick. In the end, the missions become the same, and most of the time you see yourself just going through the motions for the only reason of seeing the next segment of the storyline. Some of the missions are just downright tedious. For example, you have to fend off invaders while collecting 15,000 lumber. Yes that's right. 15,000. It took me about 30 minutes to get 4,000 with holding off the invaders. Maybe I am missing something and not thinking outside the box. Also, everytime your hero dies, it doesn't do you justice to care. Just throw in another 400 gold and re-summon him, without any penalties to that hero for dying. So more or less, the hero serves no other purpose other than a strong character to fight with.
"585 trees on the wall 585 trees... make a grunt, chop the stump... 14,414 left to chop down"
In line with other Blizzard games, replayability is a must, and they do not fail here. Blizzard does another great job of coding their game to work fantastically with Battle.Net. Of course, you also have the ladder tournaments where players can pit strategy against one another in hopes of reigning the top of that ladder. Without a doubt you also have the world editor. From here you can create any of the maps you wish, import and export MP3's and wave files, (Bioware... what gives?), edit the tech trees to limit how far players can advance, etc. It's a very nice tool set, which Blizzard will not support. There is a disclaimer saying that they are not responsible for it, and it is all up to the player to figure out most of it. They also will not offer technical support in conjunction with the editor, but I am sure that will not be a problem given the almost bug-free launches we have seen come out of this company.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Blizzard has the best reputation to date with releasing the most stable games in history. Everything from Warcraft, to Diablo, to Starcraft has been nothing but top notch. Not only as far as the quality of the game itself, but the pure fun factor.