|Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.3 CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz RAM: 512 MB Hard Disk: 3000 MB Graphics: 64 MB VRAM|
If anybody I know was murdered at 12:30 AM on November 23 of 2004, I’d totally have an alibi. What sort? Was I out on a hot date? Was I out fishing? Was I home, productively writing reviews for my Inside Mac Games overlords? Nah, nope and nay… The fact is I was on a daring quest at a nearby 24 hour Wal-Mart to pick up one of the year’s most hotly anticipated games, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (WoW), which as it turns out is the GREATEST massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) EVER. The mere thought of World of Warcraft was enough to drag me and about 11 other lunatics out into the dead of night on a sacred pilgrimage down the Wal-Mart Way. This is a game that inspired one eager dateless wonder to shove me and several others aside in order to seize his copy before it even graced the store shelves. Sure, one could read on and on as I highlight the finer points of WoW, but buying is far better than reading. Heck, I wish I was playing WoW RIGHT NOW, but out of love for those skeptical readers, I press on.
Gameplay: Let There Be WoWSo, I arrived at game review HQ (aka my room) and immediately began the 4-disc long installation process while sipping a mug of cocoa. Can I get anymore geeky? Oh yeah, just wait. Installation was a snap, albeit a tad lengthy. I then hit Blizzard.com to register my account. For those unaware, World of Warcraft is played entirely online, hence the term “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”. For a monthly fee, players can login and explore the vast lands of Azeroth with thousands of other players both cooperatively and competitively. With the initial purchase, players get one month to crawl through dungeons free of charge, after which they can pay $14.95 for each month thereafter. There are also bulk-pricing plans available which save gamers in the long run by allowing them to pay for several months upfront. Some may say that $14.95 per month is too pricey for a game, but such naysayers have never played this game. WoW has amazing depth that I’ve never seen in an MMORPG.
After creating an account and launching World of Warcraft, the player is presented with a server selection wizard, which helps to select the desired gameplay experience. For example, there are 3 server types: Normal, Player vs. Player (PvP) and Role-play (RP). On a Normal server, gameplay is mainly cooperative against various beasts and other evildoers around the world. All PvP activity is consensual, thus one need not worry about being ganked for no good reason by other players. Normal servers are perfect for casual gamers or those new to MMORPGs. However, PvP servers are a horse of a different color. In WoW there are 2 factions; the Horde and the Alliance. On a PvP server, players may only create characters from a single faction. No one can play both sides of the war. Aside from the usual quests and monsters seen on the Normal servers, PvP servers play host to all out war between the Horde and the Alliance. With the exception of a few newbie areas, players can expect to be attacked by enemy players anytime, anywhere. One should also expect to see ever-popular phrases like, “OMFG I OwN3D j00 n00b!”, after every death. WoW’s RP servers are basically like Normal servers, except that players are asked to remain “in character” as much as possible. So, one can’t name their character “Newbssuck” or “HawtMacGurl”. Furthermore, in order to promote a level of high fantasy while in public chat, players mustn’t say things like, “Dude, Druids suck like CSPAN” or “Oh man, that ring is uber bling”. In WoW, one has plenty of options to suit their server needs.
In the first 24 hours of World of Warcraft’s existence, 200,000 players registered accounts and began adventuring, shattering all other day 1 records for an MMORPG. This also meant that all of Blizzard’s 40 original servers were filled to capacity, rendering the game lag-ridden and basically unplayable. Having played every other Mac MMORPG (even the sucktastic, yet oddly compelling Clan Lord), I expected WoW to run like mud for at least a week. What I didn’t expect was how quickly Blizzard would tweak their existing servers, as well as launch 40 additional servers in order to give the masses a home. Within 3 days, there were plenty of lag free servers to go around.