Well, back from vacation and straight to the grind. If you've been a loyal reader of the site for the past year or so, you'll know of my addiction to WARCRAFT III: REIGN OF CHAOS. Literally speaking, I played the game from its release in July of last year until February. I got on the beta for THE FROZEN THRONE about then and really haven't looked back. No doubt about it, THE FROZEN THRONE is the perfect add-on for one of the best games of 2002.
Adding to the tried and true formula that made WARCRAFT III a hit, THE FROZEN THRONE continues with the Real-Time Strategy format mixed with Role-Playing elements. Basically, the storyline picks up directly where REIGN OF CHAOS ended, with Illidian vowing to get revenge on everyone and Arthas, now leader of the Undead armies, is out to take the Frozen Throne. In other words, it is up to the Humans and Night Elves to stop him (the Orcs storyline is a bit different).
Unlike most traditional RTS games, WARCRAFT III is really story-driven. There will be a lot of missions during the game where you really don't build anything - you just take what the computer gives you at the beginning of the mission, and you go do your duties, leveling up your heroes and units along the way. The game sports 26 new missions and you begin with the Night Elves and move along to the Humans after completing a couple of them. You'll also get to be Undead a little later on, but the Orcs are a different story. Since they really don't tie into the main story (they're off rebuilding an orc civilization), there is a separate side quest available from the beginning if you wish to choose it.
Unit wise, there are new heroes for each race and there are also five new heroes that you can hire from shops scattered around the maps. Of course, each race has numerous new units, such as the Night Elf Mountain Giants, giant rock creatures that can take a serious beating before crumbling, or the Human Spell Breakers, a unit that can basically steal positive effects that your opponent is using and use them on your own units.
Of course, what Blizzard game would be complete without Battle.net support? Blizzard once again comes through with the best multiplayer support anyone could ask for. Throw in tons of new maps and the ability to make your own Clans online and you can't get much better.
Graphically, the game is just a little bit of an improvement over REIGN OF CHAOS, but this isn't a bad thing considering that the game was one of the prettiest RTS games of all time. The new music added to the game once again fits in perfectly with the game, and the voice tracks, while simple and corny, can be downright hilarious at times.
In the end, WARCRAFT III: THE FROZEN THRONE is more than just an expansion - technically, I think the game could be considered a sequel with all the depth that is in the game. If you have REIGN OF CHAOS, this is a must buy for you and RTS fans everywhere.