This much anticipated title has finally come, and, unlike many such titles, it lives up to the hype. Now in a 3d perspective, a la Myth, the game takes the genre of RTS adventure to a whole new level. Blizzard, being the perfectionists lot they are, have produced a rock solid game that is great fun to play and will keep you occupied for a long time.
You play all the races in the game as you figure out how to face a threat from the stars. The storyline contains treachery, murder, greed, pride, and stubbornness. You get to play human, orc, undead, and night elves. The difficulty is well measured so that there are very few levels that are really hard. In many cases there are two different ways to do things, one RTS, another more RPG like.
It is very much a hero based game, but there is unit control, as well, there are times when it advisable to split your group into two and have them behave seperately. This is possible by a very good pathfinding system which allow multiple tasks to be set up. It means it is no longer necessary to take care of each unit in a frenzied manner away across the entire map. You play a certain hero through different stages of the game, guiding your troops’ minions through the adventure by building them a small town, suppliers of necessary items, and leading the troops into battle. Some scenarios require little building and function as merely questing. Most levels include mini quests in which you can find extra spells, supplies, or other goodies.
Graphically it looks pretty immpressive, with graphics that are far and above that of Warcraft II. On a good monitor the game is stunning to behold. The major cutscenes are even better than those of Diablo II. The human cutscenes are especially impressive. The game is a great pleasure to look at whether playing or sitting through a transition.
Gameplay is very good, with excellent scrolling with adjustable view via mouse wheel. Even on the lowest of machines the game plays smoothly and accurately. There is no skipping, freezing, or crashing. In over 40 hours of playing with WCIII (two complete play-throughs & various random maps) WCIII did not once crash. There are very few games in existence for the Mac that can live up to that level of stability. Requirements listed on the box are a very generous, I have found the game to run fine on a G3 50 mhz below required in OSX.
Once you have completed the game on both easy and hard, there are several other options to keep you busy. It is possible to play online and over a LAN. Those wishing to continue to play alone will be kept amused by the random maps in the game. As with multiplay, all sorts of options are available ranging from the size of the map to the type of races in the game. The maps vary in difficulty and terrain as well. They make an excellent training ground for multiplayer and can be challenging. Those of you who own both a Mac (X & 9.1) and a PC will be pleased to note that the game is cross-platform in one box. Frequently it is possible to find the game with the PC games at a cheaper price than in the Mac section.
I would be amiss if I did not mention the credits to the game. They include “outtakes” and “deleted scenes” from the game as if it were a movie. They are worth watching for all the subtle gags in them as well as certain teasers. Should you become really bored there is a world editor as well, with a high level of customization allowed.
Blizzard has once again made a genre-defining game. One that combines RTS with RPG in a compelling storyline that will keep the gamer occupied for hours on end. Blizzard may not be the most prolific of game designers but they certainly make their output worth the wait. WCIII is a highly recommended title that deserves a place in every Mac gamers collection. I am sure this will keep the most avid gamer busy until the release of their next title, World of Warcraft.
(***** out of *****)