I remember buying WARCRAFT: ORCS AND HUMANS the week it came out, and also remember how hooked I was on it. I played it constantly alone, and then played with a friend over a modem connection just about every night. I also remember when WARCRAFT II: TIDES OF DARKNESS came out. It was like being hooked all over again. I even bought the BATTLE.NET EDITION of the game when it came out a few years ago, just so I could play it over the Internet with other people. Now, Blizzard Entertainment has finally released the third game of the WARCRAFT series, REIGN OF CHAOS. And once again, I can't put it down.
WARCRAFT III: REIGN OF CHAOS basically takes place a generation after TIDES OF DARKNESS, or "The Second War", as characters in the game call it. But this time, a something called the Burning Legion is threatening to destroy the world, and it's up to the races of the world to unite and destroy it.
Unlike the other WARCRAFT games, where there have only been two selectable races, WARCRAFT III now supports four races: humans, orcs, undead, and the night elves. The human and orc races are fairly familiar to anyone who has played WARCRAFT, but the undead and night elves are not, and are extremely weird to newbies, and even to seasoned veterans of the series.
WARCRAFT III is possibly the best looking real-time strategy game I've seen in some time. The game is now fully rendered in 3D, which you can tell by the landscapes, lighting, and even unit designs. If you roll your wheel on the mouse, you can even take a closer look at what's going on in the game, as you are brought down closer to the action. At this point, it's possible to see the beautiful designs and hard work that the folks at Blizzard put into this game.
For those who have played the series, the gameplay is a bit different this time around. Blizzard, in an attempt to stay away from a duplicate of WARCRAFT II with updated graphics, decided to throw in some role-playing game elements. Those elements come out in the units called "heroes". The hero units are basically RPG characters that are able to level up, collect items, and learn new magical abilities. You will always have a hero unit during the single player missions, and he or she will greatly help in your fight for survival. But other than that, the game plays very similarly to its predecessors. You still, for the most part, have to build a base and destroy the enemy's base (although some missions are recon missions and others you just have to survive until help arrives). I think Blizzard added a lot of fun into the game with the hero units.
The races are also evened out for the most part, as to not give one race superiority over any of the others. The orcs, while they may be stronger than any of the other races, cost a lot to build, and gobble up tons of food from your farms. The elves, while relatively cheap and their farms provide more food than the other races, are weak if not in huge numbers. I've found the humans are about the best race to go with for a beginner, because they probably are the "in the middle" race.
As with STARCRAFT and the DIABLO series, one of the main draws for WARCRAFT III is its multiplayer modes on Blizzard's free multiplayer server, Battle.net. I'll be blunt: I play WARCRAFT III every night on Battle.net for hours. I haven't been into a video game this much in years. And you know something else? I get killed almost every night. I think of myself as a pro in WARCRAFT II, but I get slaughtered on solo games on the internet. Now, that doesn't mean it's hard, it just means that there is extremely good competition on the net. Besides the solo game, you can also play two vs. two missions and four vs. four missions. Blizzard has made it very easy to find opponents on Battle.net, and can even team up with your friends to take on unknown players.
As far as I can tell, WARCRAFT III doesn't have many flaws, if any. It's actually the best game I've played in a long time, and I haven't been this hooked on any video game in probably two years. They always say that the third time is the charm, and while the other two games were great, WARCRAFT III: REIGN OF CHAOS is the best WARCRAFT game, possibly the best strategy game, released yet.Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.