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 Review: World of Warcraft

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Zoneris
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PostSubject: Review: World of Warcraft   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:56 pm



Genre: Adventure / MMORPG
Age: 12
Release: November 23, 2004
Platforms: Windows
Players: Online


Note: $14.99 / month. (Cheaper if you buy more at the same time)


Though massively multiplayer online role-playing games have been around for years, it has taken this long for the genre's breakthrough hit to finally emerge. Here is the online role-playing game you should play, no matter who you are. This is because World of Warcraft brings out all the best aspects of this style of gaming, if not many of the best aspects of gaming in general. It also features many of the specific characteristics that have made Blizzard Entertainment's previous games so entertaining, memorable, long-lasting, and successful. Of course, the company's past track record did not guarantee that World of Warcraft could have turned out this well. Such high quality simply cannot be expected, nor should it be missed.

In World of Warcraft, you create your alter ego by choosing from a variety of colorful races and powerful classes, and then you begin exploring, questing, and battling in Azeroth, the fantasy setting featured in Blizzard's Warcraft real-time strategy games. Fans of those games (especially Warcraft III and its expansion pack) will spot tons of references here, and they will be impressed at how faithfully World of Warcraft translates so many of Warcraft's little details and even some of the finer points of its gameplay into such a seemingly different style of game. Meanwhile, fans of other online role-playing games will be impressed at the sheer breadth and volume of content on display in World of Warcraft, whose setting seamlessly connects a bunch of wildly different-looking types of places and somehow makes them appear as if they all belong as parts of a whole.

World of Warcraft is superficially similar to numerous other games that came before it, and it clearly draws inspiration from some of them. The fundamentals are all here, such as fighting dangerous creatures (optionally including other players), exploring the countryside either alone or in the company of other players, undertaking various quests, gaining experience levels and new abilities, and acquiring powerful items. However, directly comparing World of Warcraft with any of its predecessors would be almost like pitting a professional sports club against a school team. With all due respect to the other online role-playing games out there, World of Warcraft is in a league of its own. The game clearly benefits from not being the first of its kind, as the design issues that plagued previous online role-playing games are handled extremely well in World of Warcraft. In addition, the game's own subtle innovations turn out to have a dramatic impact on the flow of the action from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and beyond. So the particulars of the game's design--along with its incredibly vast, beautiful, majestic world--translate into a one-of-a-kind experience that seems fresh and original in its own right.

Fortunately, the game is very approachable. World of Warcraft is a complex game whose complexity is carefully disguised by a simple, highly legible, uncluttered interface and an impressive 3D graphics engine, which delivers high performance on a wide range of systems while not skimping on pure flash. The game's interface is so slick and easy to learn and understand, and the gameplay itself is so quickly intuitive, that there isn't even a tutorial to wade through; there are just some helpful, optional pop-up tool tips, as well as an excellent printed reference manual that goes into specific detail about most of the various aspects of play. It's also important to point out that World of Warcraft runs fast and smooth. You can go from your desktop to being in-game in just seconds, and it's virtually just one great, big, seamless world. Loading times are as rare as they are brief. They only crop up when traveling across the game's enormous continents or entering some specific higher-level zones that are instanced for each player group, which guarantees you a fresh challenge.

So World of Warcraft is painless to get into--with the possible exception of you needing a credit card or prepaid game card to create an account, as well as initially deciding on which sort of character to play, since so many of the options seem like they could be interesting. And it turns out they are. So why not try them all? The game lets you create multiple characters on the dozens of different available "realms," each of which is a unique instance of the gameworld that is capable of hosting thousands of simultaneous players. Some of the realms cater to role-playing fans that prefer to play in character the whole time, while other realms are custom-tailored for player-versus-player action. Regardless, World of Warcraft's realms are nicely (if not densely) populated already, and the unfortunate issues with login and lag that plagued the game when it first launched were mostly taken care of in a matter of days. The game just has a solid feel to it that's uncharacteristic of the genre, and for an online RPG, World of Warcraft is surprisingly responsive. Actually, no qualifications are necessary: World of Warcraft boasts the tight control and polished presentation that's desirable in any kind of game.

After countless hours spent playing, the great first impression doesn't wear off. This style of gaming is notorious for being a time sink and for effectively forcing players to engage in repetitive, monotonous gameplay for hours on end in order to make progress. But in contrast, World of Warcraft will keep throwing variety at you, and the combat system at the heart of it features fast, visceral, action-packed battles that are fun and intense, whether you're fighting alone or in a group. Furthermore, World of Warcraft finally achieves that long-sought-after goal of many massively multiplayer games, which is to make the player feel rewarded regardless of how much time he or she invests in a single sitting.

This is due to several key reasons. For one, World of Warcraft has a nice, brisk pace to it, and the fast-loading, seamless world obviously has a lot to do with this. But, in addition, recovery times between battles are minimal, as even those characters without healing spells can still easily recover from their wounds by using bandages, eating a quick meal, or just from natural healing. The battles themselves are quick, too, and they scale nicely so that higher-level encounters don't just seem to drag on. Yet the pacing of the combat seems to strike a perfect balance, because it's not so hectic that those unaccustomed to fast-paced action games will feel overwhelmed. You can also look forward to facing some fairly intelligent foes that will do such things as flee when injured, tag-team with their comrades, and use some dastardly special abilities against you.

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PostSubject: Re: Review: World of Warcraft   Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:55 am

It is a very classical game indeed, but very Addictive.

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