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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 400 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 700 MB    4x CD-ROM

WarCraft III
July 15, 2002 | Eddie Park

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Few computer games have been heralded upon their arrival as much as Warcraft III. On the eve of its official arrival, several store chains held midnight parties that included prizes, special edition copies for sale, and the opportunity to wait nearly 2 hours in a line just to get oneís latest purchase signed by the creators. Gamers lit up the forums with early impressions, mothers everywhere groaned as their kids begged for their own copy, and game store owners across the country rubbed their hands in glee as gamers old enough to have both money and transportation eagerly shelled out their dough and went home with goofy smiles on their faces.

In short, it was a Good Time in the annals of geek history.

Following up on the tremendous success of StarCraft, a title so widely popular that it is still heavily played around the world, WarCraft III (WC3), the heir apparent to both StarCraft and WarCraft II, has a lot to live up to. Considered by many to be the undisputed king of real-time strategy (RTS) titles, Blizzard certainly had a lot to live up to, both in playersí expectations and their own critical standards. Being the great group that they are, Blizzard not only instituted a long player-driven beta testing period, but they actually listened to the corresponding input and implemented it in the final version. Not only that, but they have surely won major brownie points in the hearts of Mac fans everywhere by releasing a simultaneous Mac/PC hybrid disc.

However, all of this doesnít mean squat if the title itself doesnít fill the size 35 shoes that were laid out for it even before it could walk. Now that the game is out, one might wonder if it can truly live up to the hype. Being asked to review this title, I can at least offer one manís opinion on the subject, and hopefully encourage complainers everywhere to immediately deluge me with hate mail that points out my gross inadequacies and dubious lifestyle habits due to their differences of opinion.

The rumors of war begin to circulate once againÖ
WC3 has both a history and a storyline so rich and detailed that it takes fully half the instruction book to cover the introduction (and believe me, the book is quite thick). Given the fact that most gamers donít have the patience to read through such voluminous work unless they have nothing better to do (a possibility virtually eliminated by the book coming with a brand-new copy of WC3), Iíll sum up the pertinent details here.

The storyline of WC3 takes place following the savage war between the Orcs and the Humans on the world of Azeroth. The Humans, along with their Elven and Dwarven allies, have finally conquered the Orcs, destroyed the portals that brought them into their world so long ago, and have interred their remaining number into internment camps. Eventually, internal power struggles within the Alliance leads to the High Elves severing their ties to the Humans and retreating to their own lands. The Dwarves, while also tending to their own matters, uphold the Alliance and swear never to forget the debt of honor they owe to the Humans.

On the Orc side, their past reveals a culture much unlike the fierce berserkers encountered on Azeroth. Their original culture was based largely on shamanistic principles, with honor and valor in combat being highly prized character attributes. Their downfall, however, came in the form of the Burning Legion, a race of demons who seek only to destroy worlds. Harnessing the power of the Orcs, they corrupted the Orcís blood with their own, turned them into frenzied instruments of war, and unleashed them upon the Humans. Once the war was over and the Orcs were imprisoned, the demonic possession they had labored under faded, and they gradually became lethargic and uninspired, confounding their Human captors, who were ignorant of the Orcís tragic past.

The Orcís salvation, however, comes in the form of a young warchief named Thrall. Raised by Humans, Thrall discovers his shamanistic roots, breaks away from the Humans, and rallies his people in an attempt to free his enslaved brethren and find a home where his people can revive their culture of old.

Meanwhile, in the icy lands of the North, rumors of a necromantic cult are starting to spread. Unbeknownst to either Humans or Orcs, an Orc shaman by the name of Nerízhul is still under the sway of the Burning Legion. Turned into the Lich King by his demonic masters, he is charged with continuing the destruction of Azeroth. Quickly drawing followers, he forms a mighty army of the Undead, known as the Scourge, and goes forth to carry out his masterís bidding. Deep within his consciousness, however, the Lich King desires to be free of his own enslavement to the Burning Legion and seeks a living vessel that he can inhabit.

Also revealed are the Night Elves, the race from which the High Elves the Human race allied with originally came. Being the oldest living race on Azeroth, the Night Elves originally defended the world from the Burning Legion ages ago, giving up magic and turning to nature to grant them both immortality and special powers. Well adapted to living under the stars, the Night Elves live out their lives in peace and guard the World Tree, originally planted in order to save and heal the world.

The Burning Legion, using the Scourge as their frontline army, are planning on returning to Azeroth to finish what they started so long ago Ė the destruction of the world. Unless the various races of Azeroth can band together to combat the demonic threat, their entire world may become no more than a memory in the days ahead.


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