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World of Warcraft Review
Mannox Riversedge, 2005-03-08

Let me start out by telling you a little more about myself. After all, who am I that I should review a game? What qualifications do I have? Well, I have no English Degree, no formal journalism training, hell I never even worked on my school newspaper. What I do have is a LOT of gaming experience. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1978. I still play this game table top now. I have run boxed adventures and created my own content for my players. That was the starting point of my gaming career. Since then I have played no less than 50 pen and paper RPGs. Then in the mid to late 80s I started playing online. There was a service called QuantumLink. They were like AOL but only for Commodore users. I played a D&D clone online there called the Red Dragon Inn. Eventually this lead to playing Vampire:The Masquerade on AOL for 4 years. Then someone told me about a game called Underlight. It wasn't 3D but it was graphical. After that I moved on to play Ultima Online (UO) when it released. Then EverQuest (EQ) came out and I played that for 5 years. Then Star Wars Galaxies came out and I played that for about 6 months. Now we come to today where I am playing Word of Warcraft. So after 27 years of pen and paper RPG experience and 20 years of playing games online I feel like I am qualified to give my opinion on this game.

World of Warcraft (WoW) was a very highly anticipated game. People clamored for the chance to be in Beta. There was a lot of hype about WoW and how it would be the EQ Killer. Back in the day everyone complained about EQ and how one daya game would come along and knock EQ off it's proverbial throne as King of the MMORPGs. EQ had it's flaws for sure but it is now and always will be a classic. Like Doom, Halflife or even Halo EQ is what MMORPGs would measure themselves against. Now in my days playing EQ the doomsayers would predict EQ's demise with every game release or rumor that hit the Internet. At its heart that is the problem with hype and anticipation it always falls short of expectations... or does it?

I played in the stress test beta and the open beta. When the game released I waited a month or so to let things settle a bit and then bought my copy. In the Stress Test I thought to myself how much better this game was than EQ was at its release. Then the open beta came and there were changes but they were all positive. Now the game is finalized and been out for some time and I am here to give you the what for and here to about it.

Game Play

Display full imageThe game is smooth. It runs great most of the time. Sure there are some lag issues now and then. I seem to run lag free though for about 95% of my game time. I don't have the best video card in the world (Geforce 2 MMX400 64MB) but what I lack in video game power I make up for in memory (1GB of DDR RAM). I live in the Pacific Northwest and I have a cable connection. My latency is usually about 130ish. I will cover the graphics in a later section.

You start this game like you do most any other MMORPG by creating a character. You have a moderate amount of customization, more than the original EQ but not nearly as much as City of Heroes (CoH). You don't tweak your stats. You pick a name and submit it and then you are in the game! This process is quick. This may disappoint those of you out there who are crazy about tweaking your character out but trust me the game is worth it!

Now you are on Azeroth in a starting area, each race has its own and even on Player vs. Player (PvP) servers these areas are blissfully free of those who would cause you harm (griefers, gankers, and thugs oh my!). As you look around your surroundings you will see many other players and NPCs. Some NPCs have a yellow exclamation point over their heads. These are the NPCs who have quests or tasks for you to do. Quests give you experience and sometimes items and/or money. Quests usually, in my experience, give you more experience than if you simply hunted for the same amount of time. Not only do you get experience for the mobs you kill but you get the bonus experience of completing the quests.

There are a few basic types of quests in WoW. There are the collection quests, go out and get me xx number of the quest item. Sometimes you get these items by killing and sometimes you get them by simply picking them up off the ground. There are the killing quests, which ask you to kill xx number of a specific mob. There are escort quests (though these don't usually come in till later levels) where you are asked to escort soandso from point a to point b. Last but not least are the delivery quests. Bring this package to suchandsuch in Anytown.

You also gain experience for exploring your surroundings! As you move around it will tell you that you have discovered a certain area and grant you anywhere from a handful of experience to a few hundred experience depending on the level of the area you found.

Display full imageAs you run around and talk to NPCs you will find all walks of people. Some are vendors who will sell you supplies such as food, drink and ammunition. Some are the quest givers I mentioned above. Some are trainers. The trainers will do everything from train your class skills to teach you how to make armor, potions, weapons, just about anything really. There is a catch though. You can only have two primary skills. There are two types of primary skills. Collection skills allow you to collect the raw materials needed for Crafting skills. Crafting skills allow you to create items from raw materials. Certain skills go together well like skinning and leather working or mining and blacksmithing. Which skills you choose are entirely up to you. When you get high enough in a crafting skill you will need to choose a specialty. There are too many to list here so I will give you an example. When you get high enough in Leather Working you will choose weather you want to do Dragonscale Armor, Tribal Leather Armor or Elemental Leather armor. All these specialties allow you to make different types of armor. Each is very powerful and has its own pros and cons.

There are also secondary skills these are things like First Aid, Cooking and Fishing. You can have as many of these as you want and there are no specializations.

Like any other MMORPG the lower levels tend to move quickly. Sooner or later you will need to move beyond the area you started in. WoW has an excellent transportation system. You can travel by foot, boat or air. Air travel is along pre-determined routes and only between certain cities so you can not jump off in mid trip. The same holds true for boats as well. The number of destinations is good and you can get near most anywhere you need to be at. As you enter a town or city you go see the Gryphon Master and they will fill in the routes for you.

Display full imageEventually along your journeys it is sad to say it but you will die. When you do though take heart because the system implemented here is just as good as the rest of this game! When you die you will appear as a ghost back at a graveyard. You have two options now. You can either run back to your corpse and resurrect yourself, you take no experience loss or extra damage to your equipment and can continue where you left off. Or you can resurrect at the graveyard. If you choose to resurrect at the graveyard you will have all your equipment but it will suffer 25% damage (all equipment has its own health rating and when it reaches 0 it is rendered useless until repaired) and you are given resurrection sickness (lowered stats for 10 minutes). Over all the system makes death a bad thing but doesn't make it so bad it ruins the game. Equipment can be repaired by NPCs but not other players yet.

Overall the game play is friendly and engaging. It is highly addictive as well. Sometimes high population servers have queues in order to log in. This does frustrate players at times as they do pay to play and should have access to the game. I don't know why Blizzard chose to implement this particular solution but it is a downside. I play on a medium population server and have had to wait in queue less than 5 times in 3 months.

How does it compare to EQ? I think it blows EQ out of the water. How does it compare to EQ2? Again I think in all aspects of game play it beats EQ hands down!


Display full imageThe graphics are very well done. The environments are incredible from the snow peaked mountain home of the Dwarves to the forests of the Elves to the desert dwellings of the Orcs. The scenery is immersive and flows smoothly. The water effects are awesome both from outside and inside.

You can see most items that your character wears. Chest, arms, wrist, head, hands, legs, boots, cloak, weapons and shields are all visible on the character. In addition to this if you are a member of a guild you can wear your guild's tabard. A tabard is a symbol that the guild leader has created to symbolize the guild. This is like a crest from the middle ages.

The world is vast and the graphics support that. When flying over a jungle you can see the treetops go on for what seems like miles! When you cast a spell the effects are visible and do not cause lag. I can only attest to the graphics as far as the limitations of my graphics card so I don't see the waving grass and such but over all it is impressive!

Overall they didn't seem to have done anything outlandish or ground breaking. What they did do was combine solid graphics and performance. It seems that the graphical detail automatically adjusts to what your individual card is capable of and this makes the game play very smoothly!


In conclusion the game is a superb piece of software. I will be doing more detailed breakdowns in coming weeks on various aspects of the game including classes, races, and more detail on game play and graphics. So please stop by weekly for updates and to see what's new in the World of Warcraft!

The Verdict
Graphics (10%) 90%
Sound (10%) 95%
Control (10%) 98%
Community (15%) 95%
Game World (15%) 100%
Fun (40%) 100%
Overall 98%

The ups and downs:
Smooth Game PlayQueues sometimes
Lots of QuestsLag in Auction House
Good Death Penalty
Solo or Group Content
Raid friendly
Nice Group Options

Reviewer's System
Version: Release
CPU: AMD Athlon 1.5 GHz
Graphics GeForce 2 MMX 440 64MB
Sound SB Live!
OS: Windows XP SP2

Average Reader Ratings: 7 (45 votes)
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