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Holiday Buyer's Guide 2002
December 16, 2002 | IMG Staff

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The holidays are now upon us, it’s time for joy, cheer and presents, SO MANY PRESENTS! Some people are easy to shop for; a necktie for dad, a pair of slippers for mom and little sister gets a dolly, no fuss, no muss. Yet, there are other people who specifically crave certain items, elusive items, Mac gaming items. With so many games and peripherals, it can be quite tricky to pick out the right gift for a special Mac game fan.

However, wouldn’t it be nice if somebody could lend a little advice on choosing the right gift for a Mac game freak? Well, we here at IMG are prepared to do just that! Our staff has spent countless grueling hours playing games and testing peripherals in order to give our readers the best advice on what to buy this holiday season. It’s hard, sickening work, but by Steve Jobs, somebody has to do it!

Real-time Strategy Fun
Michael “Snow Elf” Phillips

WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now; Warcraft III (WC3) IS the GREATEST game Blizzard Entertainment has ever produced. In WC3, the war between the Orcs and the Humans has ended, thus creating 15 years of uneasy peace between the two mighty races. However, such peace cannot last forever, where there is light, there is always shadow. A strange plague sweeps across the land, turning those infected into the walking dead, while a young Orcish war chief has a horrid nightmare of fiery demons raining from a burning sky. Indeed, the Reign of Chaos is fast approaching…

Warcraft III allows players to take control of 1 of 4 powerful races (Orcs, Humans, Undead and Night Elves) in epic battles across breathtaking 3D landscapes. That’s right, WC3 is full 3D RTS, replete with copious amounts of OpenGLgoodness™. This game is absolutely gorgeous! Environments are full of hills and valleys, ice and snow, and lovely running streams. The many characters in WC3 are also very nicely animated, right down to little flies buzzing around the Undead’s most powerful melee unit, the Abomination.

Of course, beauty is nothing without substance, just look at Jennifer Aniston. Gameplay in WC3 is top-notch. Combat centers around Hero characters that possess special powers and abilities. Heroes gain strength by earning experience points through leading their army into battle. As the Hero gains experience points, he (or she, there is a chick Hero!) will “level up”, thus acquiring new powers. For instance, the Human Arch Mage may summon powerful Water Elementals to his aid. At level 6, the Hero gains an Ultimate Ability that can be devastating to foes. I particularly enjoy the Night Elf Priestess of the Moon’s Starfall ability, but I shant spoil the surprise here, as Starfall is best enjoyed first hand. Heroes aren’t required for an army to mount an assault, but that’s not something I’d recommend.

Warcraft III also boasts an excellent single-player campaign in which players take the helm as leader of each of the game’s 4 races. The game’s story unfolds in both in-engine and cinematic cut scenes, complete with superb animation and great voice acting. Anyone who enjoys fantasy tales will surely love the story told in WC3’s single-player campaign. However, single-player isn’t enough to make a game go the distance. It is intense multiplayer action that has kept me playing Warcraft III at least once a day since July 3rd. Multiplayer WC3 is handled via Blizzard’s own game matching service, or LAN and supports up to 12 players in 1 game.

All in all, Warcraft III is an outstanding real-time strategy game that will surely make any fan of the genre giddy as a little schoolgirl. There is, however, one caveat to all this joy. Warcraft III has some steep system requirements, don’t bother buying this game for anyone running a fruit flavored iMac or iBook.


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