Review By: Cameron Morris
|# Of Players:||1-12 online|
|Accessories:||Online/LAN deathmatch, custom game modes, Tournament Rankings|
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is, by now, one of the most venerable and respected Real-Time Strategy games on the market. By now you probably own the game if you’re ever going to, but having recently played it for the first time myself I have to go over it. If that helps you decide whether or not to buy the game, hey, all the better.
The concept behind Reign of Chaos is simple: in both the campaign and multi-player you play as one of four factions who are pretty much constantly at war with each other. You have to manage your resources by gathering lumber and gold, watching how many troops your can support with the amount of food you have, and carefully spend your resources to build new buildings or get upgrades for your existing troops. This is pretty standard RTS fare, but it’s still handled very solidly.
One thing that will immediately jump out about Warcraft III’s campaign mode is that it’s very character-driven and story-centric, with the events in the game focusing around the exploits of a few key characters for each faction. Missions in the game are built around the scenarios that come up in the story, and range from sieges to defending yourself against waves of invaders to wiping out enemy bases to Diablo-style dungeon crawls, which are really intensely interesting once you sit down and play them. Again, the missions aren’t exactly unique for the genre, but the story and mythology behind the game really help it to stand up and stand out as a particularly strong entry in the genre. You won’t identify with every character in the game, but you’ll be enthralled by their exploits almost without fail.
The game’s graphics are nothing to write home about, exactly, but they’re still easy on the eyes and perfectly functional. Abandoning the sprite-based style of Starcraft and Warcraft II, Blizzard opted for deformed polygonal models that manage to convey their own style and a sense of seriousness that goes beyond their rather silly appearance. Colors in the game start off bright and cheery, much like the beginning of the game itself, but as you go further in you start to see the full range of what the artists and designers are capable of, desolation and beauty and some really great art. Textures are fairly crisp and model designs are easily recognizable at a glance, so you won’t have any problems micro-managing your army from a bird’s-eye perspective. At first the visual style of the game is off-putting, but after a while you really start to appreciate it.
Music and voice acting and sound effects in the game are all great and fitting, with the voice acting in particular coming off as very professional and well-done. There’s a huge amount of dialogue in the game, which makes it better that every actor really seems to know what he or she is doing with his or her role in the game. The sound effects are nice too, with different sounds for the attacks of different units and little death cries and booming explosions and running water and all kinds of things. There’s good ambience in the game’s sound, too, especially when you get into the last campaign and take in the sound of the woods all around you.
It’s not exactly fair to call Reign of Chaos purely standard RTS stuff in terms of gameplay, The addition of the game’s Hero characters is doubly important because it adds a certain RPG elements to the mix and helps increase the depth of the strategy involved in combat. Heroes, in the campaign mode, are story-centric characters who are considerably more powerful than any one soldier, who start off fairly strong and become far stronger as the game progresses. With each battle they’re in they gain experience, leveling up and learning new techniques like in an RPG, and the techniques you give to your Hero character can greatly affect the outcome of subsequent battles by granting your other soldiers special abilities, crippling the troops of your enemy, or just using really powerful magic to destroy anything in his way.
Heroes are important in another way because, as they help to drive the story so much, they’re primarily responsible for all of the sidequests you’re able to go on in campaign mode, which help flesh out the story while giving your Hero some much-needed experience and maybe even some nice items to use. Suddenly realized you can more efficiently destroy your enemies by wiping out a den of harpies and releasing the prisoners so they might aid you? On of your Heroes probably got the idea. I don’t think I really have to bring up the fact that when you go through one of the dungeon-crawling missions it will be your Hero who pulls most of the weight. All of this manages to help keep Reign of Chaos keep from playing exactly like every other RTS game on the market, but it’s not just going to bowl you over with its uniqueness and originality.
Posted: 2006-05-02 17:19:20 PST