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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment    Genre: Strategy & War    Expansion For: World of Warcraft
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
February 7, 2007 | Alex McLarty

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The winds of change
Blizzard never fails to impress with the execution their games. They manage to cater for the seasoned player but also the casual one. Raids have always been the best way to achieve reputation, gold, and loot, but the ability to participate in raids is usually reserved for high-end players with access to a guild full of more high-end players. Most raids take hours or multiple times to complete. Their difficulty often lies not in the challenges inside but the inability to get enough players of a certain type or to maintain a consistent group for a long period of time. With TBC, Blizzard has introduced the people-friendly 25-man raid. Not only are the raid groups considerably smaller but most dungeons have wings that can be completed one by one. Although raids are still for the more seasoned players, Blizzard has shown their willingness to change game mechanics to appeal to a wider audience. A common complaint from high end players before TBC was the lack of content post-level 60, even though Blizzard claimed that the game started a level 60. Although TBC doesnít introduce any new content or features that will stop this from happening again, reducing the time and player numbers for raids will hopefully allow a greater number of people to enjoy them.

Some items in TBC now have the ability to be customized via socketed items. Similar to enchanting, Jewelcrafting allows players to create items such as necklaces or rings, but more importantly add items to armor. WoW has long suffered from the basic problem of blandness regarding character customization. Your character can be customized through their talents and the items they wear, but usually not to any hugely different degree. If you come across a Druid for example, generally they will be a Feral Druid (one that can take or dish out damage), a Balance Druid (one skilled with magic) or a Restoration Druid (one that can heal). The customization is fairly limited compared to skill based options in a game such as Eve Online. Eve Online allows so much customization through skills that every player has different strengths and weaknesses that have to considered. WoW has tried to replicate this somewhat with socketed items. Higher end armor can be modified to enhance certain statistics which in turn will increase damage output, enhance the playerís ability to heal, or modify some other basic statistic that allows for a greater difference between players of the same class. Expect PvP battles to be trickier, especially against your own class.

Once at level 70 players can purchase a flying mount for use in Outland. Unfortunately these mounts cannot be used in Azeroth, as this would require a complete re-design of all areas. Certain areas in TBC can only be reached by flying, quite literally adding a new dimension to gameplay for the few that can afford them!

Itís impossible to list all the additions to the WoW universe but Blizzard have kept the same sense of humor in this expansion. Be it the aptly named Area 52 in Netherstorm, an NPC called Pinkus Floydus, or a grey quality item called The Stoppable Force, a link to a pre-TBC rare mace called The Unstoppable Force that will now be pointless because of the higher level of items.

TBC does not introduce any new gameplay, it simply builds upon a winning formula that has worked and still works for millions. As one player I spoke to today said ďif it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ. Players who want more of the same well thought out, well produced stuff will adore this expansion. The community have accepted TBC with open arms, some even playing for 28 hours straight to reach the new level cap of 70.

Many reviews have commented on the difficulty of reviewing WoW, or any other persistent multiplayer universe. The community is the main attraction and it drives the heart of the game, but reduced to itís most basic premise, WoW has no clear aim. This lack of content at higher levels has caused many players to leave, but on the other hand 8 million active subscribers say the exact opposite. The aim of any game is to enjoy yourself. If you find yourself groaning at the thought of grinding 500k of experience, give TBC a miss. If Azeroth has been your home for the past two years, mount up, don your best armor and prepare to venture to a wonderfully magical place, just donít expect a revolution.

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
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