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    Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos
    Author: Drew Lanclos   Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment   Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
    Date Posted: August 1st, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 9.5/10
    Bottom Line: It's a marriage from heaven: Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something...um...green.

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    Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
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    Gameplay

    Like most of Blizzard's sequels, they prove to be both evolutionary and revolutionary. There's plenty of both aspects to cover, so we'll start with the new.

    Starcraft introduced a multi-level battlefield, where units could have a height advantage when using a cliff to attack units underneath. Warcraft III turns this on its head with a fully-rendered 3D display, including terrain. Generally speaking, the rolling hills and whatnot will only affect the vision and visibility of your units, though. I would expect that ranged attacks would have a slightly longer range when shot from a higher vantage point.

    One thing the new 3D engine affords is the ability to move the camera around, but the depth to which you can do that is limited to panning down onto the battlefield from a side point-of-view. Not terribly useful, since it makes unit selection more difficult, but it makes for a nice dramatic feel to watching a battle that you're either sure to win, or sure to lose. You can also pan the camera around a scene to get the best angle, using the Insert and Delete keys.

    Of course, the biggest change in Warcraft III, gameplay-wise, would be the inclusion of heroes. Now, the concept of heroes is far from new - Both Warcraft II and Starcraft had special role units with names and boosted stats. The key difference between Warcraft III's heroes and the prior iterations is the use of RPG elements not unlike what are present in Diablo. Heroes can pick up items on the map that are either hidden as treasures, or dropped by foes. These items can be equippable stat-boosting items, such as a Mantle of Intelligence, consumables like spell scrolls and potions, and tomes which give a single permanent stat boost. The use of these items make heroes a good deal more powerful and versatile - you can effectively custom-configure your heroes as you need them.

    An even bigger benefit of the item model is that the relative strengths of a hero are no longer obvious by examination. A Night Elf Demon Hunter, for instance, could have a massive amount of intelligence-boosting items, and while you're preparing for a strong melee attacker, he could instead stand back and start casting spells. These kinds of change-ups make for very interesting tactical battle scenarios that weren't possible before.

    Whereas Warcraft II had three types of resources (oil, lumber, and gold), Warcraft III strips the oil away and replaces it somewhat with experience. Not only do your heroes gain items from battle and have inherent stat boosts, but they also gain experience in battle, and when they level up, they gain points to use in their individual skill trees, as well as more stat boosts. Another interesting addition is that gold mines are no longer the single source for obtaining gold - Gold is also won from battles with map creatures. And, just to settle the complaints of the purists - I don't consider food to be a resource, since it is not "gatherable".

    Warcraft III no longer uses static maps with a couple of critters tossed here and there. The maps are now populated with neutral buildings and hostile unaligned creatures, called creeps. A wide variety of monsters exist on the maps, from red dragons to wendigos, from gnolls to kobolds, from spiders to centaurs. The maps are also dotted with shops where you can hire mercenaries and purchase items with your heroes, and also shrines and fountains, all of which operate as they did in Diablo II. These make for some useful battle camps when you're halfway to an opponent's settlement, and can often be points of control that turn the tide of battle.

    Finally, the game even has a day/night cycle. At night, the visibility and visual range of units is modified, mostly dependent on race. Night Elves (naturally) have an easier time during the nocturnal hours than the other races, and even have a racial upgrade that makes visual range independent of time of day. Creeps also sleep during certain hours, so if you're trying to slip by an unfortunately-placed blue dragon encampment, you may want to wait until dusk. It also naturally affects the visibility of certain races and units strictly by how they blend into the environment. A very clever adaptation of an obvious idea.

    Gameplay (cont.) Go the the next page
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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction/Background
    2. Gameplay
    3. Gameplay (cont.)
    4. Gameplay (cont.)
    5. Graphics & Sound
    6. Multiplayer
    7. Conclusion/Rating Breakdown

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