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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.7


World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria
November 9, 2012 | Ted Bade
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Requirements:

Mac OS X: 10.7 | CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 25 GB | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or ATI Radeon HD 2600

Review:

Blizzard Entertainment has once again updated their World of Warcraft MMO, adding another continent to quest in, a new race (Pandarens) and a new class (Monk) to play, and a new level cap of 90. Mists of Pandaria, as with previous expansions, offers updates and modifications to other aspects of the game as well. This is a fun update for dedicated players. Although many of the quests might be classified as “more of the same, in a different place”, the newer zones do offer some interesting changes, creatures, culture, places to explore, and provide several interesting moments.

The Pandaren culture is a cultural mix of Asian (Chinese and Japanese mostly) with a sprinkle of Buddhism thrown in (This cultural mix is how it appears to me as a member of the western culture, I have no idea how it appears to players who are actually part of the many Asian cultures in our world). In the English speaking version, the accents of the Pandarens is a Chinese/Japanese accented English. Pandarens are a relaxed race with very strong interests in food and drink. This is reflected in the new cooking abilities that come with the expansion.

There is a lot to this game, even when only considering this expansion. I will cover some of the things I found interesting. I say this because there is bound to be something I didn’t cover that someone else found interesting and things I found interesting that others might not. World of Warcraft is huge, getting to everything can be a tough task. My experience with the release is through the eyes of an Alliance Dwarf rogue and a new Pandaren Monk.

Pandarens are humanoids that resemble the pandas of our world. The new continent is called Pandaria. The starting zone for players who choose to create a new Pandaren, takes place on the back of a giant sea turtle travelling through the sea, who luckily never goes below the surface of the water. It is a typical starting zone with simple but often interesting quests. It also serves to introduce the Pandaren culture. Toward the end of this area the new Pandaren is introduced to the main factions, the Alliance and the Horde. The player needs to choose a side to continue with after this starting area. Then, I am sad to say, the Pandaren has no choice but to return to the well worked zones of their chosen faction. Granted, the previous expansion made some major changes to these zones, but it is still the same old places.

Since the new Pandaren can choose to be either Alliance or Horde, people who have a tendency to play one side or the other can run a Pandaren and bring him or her to their favorite side. Of course, I have heard that there are some dedicated Hordies that think Pandarens are just “too cute” to be members of the Horde! I lean toward the Alliance myself, so I am ambivalent on this point. I think Pandarens are cute and wouldn’t mind having one as a friend. Having a single new race that can join either side was probably less work by Blizzard then creating the traditional two new races.

In the level 85-90 zones, both Horde and Alliance members work with the Pandarens that live there, as they try to sway them to joining their side. There are a number of quests (at least on the Alliance side), whose purpose is to help the Pandarens and the other sentient species in these areas, in an attempt to convince them to join the Alliance or at least that the Alliance has noble intentions. I am sure that the same is true for the Horde side. As far as I can see, Pandarens stay neutral, allowing Pandaria to become infested with Horde and Alliance base camps, each working to do good deeds for Pandarens while still being at odds with the other side.

There are a number of the standard video sequences that relate the story or explain aspects of what is going on in this new area and to provide history and background. A careful explorer will also find books and manuscripts that provide a narrative of Pandaren history and culture. This includes statues and other buildings that can be clicked on to provide some history or background about the Pandaren culture.

While the majority of quests are pretty much standard, Blizzard made some attempt to create new and interesting quests. For instance, there were some quests where the player interviews NPCs to hear of their adventures. Rather then just an animated video or a lot of text, the player gets to play, for a short time, as the NPC, to experience first hand what happened. You don’t get to loot, but you do get experience. It’s a rather fun way to learn of the story.

The new continent offers several areas to level in offering a wide variety of quests and different enemies to defeat. Questing is part exploring and part assisting the new “friends” of your faction. Many of the quests involve the Pandaren culture which is steeped heavily in food and drink and elemental beings. There were a couple of fun/interesting quests, like the one where you help a city boy trying to be a farmer, the one where you capture yaks and bring them to the yak wash (think car wash), or the one where stone guardians re-animate every so often, so you can choose to destroy frozen stone ones or animated ones. There are many places to go, sites to see, and rewards to accumulate. I am a fan of questing and overall I can say I have truly enjoyed my time in this new area. I have tried a few instances as well, they are fun and as always, rewarding.



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