WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (Windows)

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WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos

Windows - 2002

Alt names Muoshou Zhengba: Hunluan zhi Zhi, WC3, WC3:RoC, WarCraft 3
Year 2002
Platform Windows
Released in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States (2002)
Spain, United Kingdom (2005)
France, Germany (2007)
Austria, Germany, Switzerland (2009)
Genre Strategy
Theme Editor / Construction Set, Fantasy, RPG Elements, Real-Time, Steampunk, War
Publisher Automation Electric Company (Wuhan) Limited, Blizzard Entertainment Europe, Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Developer Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Perspectives Bird's-eye view, Free-roaming camera
4.71 / 5 - 24 votes

Description of WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos

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There's no better introduction to help summarise what Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos means to PC gaming than disclosing this simple tidbit: 4.5 million initial orders. This game was already a bestseller the day it was announced, seeing as Blizzard Entertainment is truly the only development studio in the industry that can sell games on its name alone.

Curiously beginning life as a cartoon-style point-and-click graphic adventure that followed the story of a young orc raised by humans, practically all of the work put into the game's original design was scrapped back at the turn of the century. Blizzard instead decided to revert to Warcraft's roots and the very thing that made the company huge in the first place: real-time strategy. The concept of the orphaned orc Thrall was salvaged, though, and this particular character plays one of the many key, "starring roles" in this summer's PC blockbuster.

Blizzard has two enviable luxuries when it makes its games: first, the designers can spend as long as they damn well please on them, and second, they can work in a bubble, ignoring much of what is happening in the industry all around them. 3D engine aside, when you first load up Warcraft III, you could almost believe you're playing its 1995 predecessor. Same screen layout, same space-hogging interface, same vidscreen with animated unit portrait, same keyboard shortcuts. Of course, this makes sense. It's believable that a majority of the large anticipation of sales is coming from gamers still hooked on Starcraft or even the re-released Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition, though arguably superior titles have released since.

This is not to say that there aren't improvements - there's plenty! Climbing the evolutionary ladder from Starcraft's three unique races, the game now features four very distinctly different sides whose balance has been fine-tuned in that inimitable Blizzard way. There are the familiar humans and orcs, plus the ghastly undead scourge and the tree-lovin' night elves.

The interface and controls have also enjoyed some tweaking, including the ability to set spellcasters to auto-cast, peons to auto-repair, quick-select idle workers, use smart formations (range attackers stay behind melee), and the most useful of the bunch: subgroups. You can group units in the usual CTRL-# way, but now hitting TAB cycles through the unit types in your group for quick, easy access to different special abilities.

But all of these changes are minor in comparison to the additions of heroes. Okay, commander units aren't exactly a new idea, but they've been implemented well in Warcraft III, specifically in the single-player campaign. Every controllable hero is a character that gets a lot of screen time and dialog in the game's story, so you'll always have at least one unit on the battlefield whose motive is clear and well-being you want to protect. To use the Star Trek analogy, it's the difference between killing off Kirk and killing off a Red Shirt (you'd actually shed tears for the Red Shirt).

You also get a small but significant say in how you want your hero to develop. Heroes gain experience in battle and eventually level up, acquiring skill points to assign as you wish. Ultimately, they'll have access to everything anyway, but the climb up is always fun. The RPG element is accentuated further in that heroes have a six-slot inventory for items you find either from slain creatures, inside crates (yes, crates!) or even to buy at merchants scattered around the maps. Items either passively increase your stats when held or can be cast to summon help, award health or lay traps. Blizzard were able to pull this off to make it more than a simplistic gimmick, but not too complex to be worthless in the fast-paced combat of RTS.

All the races have a greatly different set of units, but generally function in the same way to be easy enough to pick up. They all have their form of workers that gather gold and wood -- with the only difference being the night elves "spiritually" capture the resource from the trees without chopping them down -- all have a "farm" structure to increase population limit, and all have various barracks to produce military. None quite differ as much as the Zerg did in Starcraft, who had units as farms and no barracks, just auto-spawning, morphing larvae. The undead are restricted to building on blight around their base (Zerg version of creep) and summon in new structures instead of building them (like the Protoss). Night elves' structures are all living trees that can be uprooted and fight when the base comes under attack.

While the advancement of the campaign is completely linear, the missions themselves follow Starcraft's trend of unpredictability. In-game cutscenes interject game action frequently, yet not intrusively, and usually end with new objectives given - or "quests" as they're called here, swaying again towards the RPG camp. Many missions also include hidden subquests that are optional but always reward you with something that can either help achieve the primary goal or offer trinkets to keep until you need to use them.

The style of play required is also unusually diverse for a real-time strategy game. Around a third of the missions actually have no base building in them at all, and become almost Diablo-like in nature, as you "dungeon crawl" the terrain with a handful of units, breaking down gates and doors, ransacking for treasure and trying to keep your party alive. The unit exploration missions were a trait of Starcraft, of course, but it's advanced upon by often featuring two completely separated areas of the map where you have multiple parties with their own objectives; for example, in one mission, you have to prevent your base in the bottom-right from being overrun, while your hero and his group on the left has to advance upwards to retrieve a special artefact of typically insane power.

One of Starcraft's most unique and praised qualities was its sequential campaigns that advanced the storyline, while giving you the perspective of every warring side. Warcraft III does it again for all four races, and again features tales of betrayal and corruption. It's amusing that despite their titles, many of the main cast end up as anti-heroes, but that's what makes the whole campaign so fascinating to see where the story turns next and understanding everyone's motives. Like any fantasy yarn, the rules are obviously made up as you go along, but so few games in this genre manage to get you even remotely interested in the characters, so it's a definite triumph.

Warcraft III's 3D graphics engine isn't quite the cream of the crop with some rather blurry textures and jagged, low-count polygon models. Zooming up close to the action isn't anywhere near as bad as Empire Earth, but it's surpassed by Dungeon Siege, and we could do with a good deal more freedom with our camera axes.

But what Warcraft lacks in technology, it makes up for with the flair, imagination and careful attentiveness from its art designers. Anachronox springs to mind as another example of a game providing original and shockingly good aesthetics with an ageing engine. Environments are lush, colourful and alive with ambient creatures, running streams, moving trees and great weather and night/day effects. There are some huge, fantastic creatures like the upper level demons and gigantic flying dragons that are breathtaking. The overall style continues the cartoony tradition of its predecessor, especially in the bouncy manner that creatures are animated.

Productions values have become almost a self-fulfilling prophecy with Blizzard. People expect it a certain way, they produce it that way. There's the film-quality CG cutscenes between campaigns that started with Starcraft and Diablo, wonderful voice acting and rousing musical scores. Blizzard trademarks are present, such as the exploding sheep and the usual helping of offbeat, pop culture referencing humour that so starkly contrasts the deadly serious, sweeping epic Lord of the Rings-style fantasy storyline. (You go from lines like: "Only there can you combat the shadow and save this world from the flame," to a dwarf ranting: "And this one time, at bandit camp...")

We've actually figured out exactly what has delayed Warcraft's release the past few months: the hilarious end credit cutscenes that would make even a laborious game worth finishing. This company is full of quirky talent; they desperately need to make a comedy of some sort. Remember, no vertices were harmed in the making of this game.

Multiplayer setup is as flawless as ever and a shining example of what every game should provide out of the box. Click "multiplayer", click "battle.net", login to free account, click "play game", choose a game type, map and race and incredibly within seconds you're matched up with a player or players of equal skill who made the same or similar choices. Never has entering a peer-to-peer multiplayer game been so joyously easy. The random opponent matchmaking also serves as the perfect method for keeping the ladder ranking system honest. And for those who like to play with friends, you've got a buddy list built in and everything laid out simply to get a game going with minimum fuss.

As for the multiplayer action itself... well, even factoring in the new elements like upkeep (limits resource intake as your army grows), creeps (powerful neutral creatures often placed near unclaimed gold mines), merchants, heroes and the game speed reduction, it's still a frantic game of claim the most resources and be the first to make a bigger, badder, "rushable" army. But that's RTS, that's what makes Starcraft the most played strategy game online and that is undoubtedly the formula that will probably make Warcraft III supersede it.

In the bizarre dimension Blizzard has created for itself, a parallel world where development time is irrelevant, you have 4.5 million raging fans breaking down your door and you only need to reuse the best features from your own games to please them, Warcraft III is the ultimate succession to its series. Sure, they fixed only a few micromanagement issues and ignored outside ideas hailed as innovative in the genre over the last five years. But so what? Conversely, an endless supply of wannabe clone makers ignores Blizzard by pumping out games with no style or personality, so they're just as much to blame. With a lengthy, compelling campaign, challenging and diverse missions, fascinating heroes and races, and trustworthy multiplayer, Warcraft III is a yet another winner. Unless you're severely opposed to Blizzard's style of fast-paced, small skirmish oriented RTS, then its latest creation is worth adding to any fantasy strategy gamer's collection.

Review By GamesDomain

WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos has an addon available: WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne, don't miss it!

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Comments and reviews

Kyle 2023-08-01 0 point

Hi Andy,
The classic warcraft 3 runs perfectly in window 10. Just need to install the official patch from Blizzard.

andy 2023-07-13 0 point

Great. This game doesn't count as abandonware, even though it literally is. There is no way to be able to simply play the original version of this game....

Duukn 2023-03-23 4 points

Ain't no soul on this earth that prefers the reforged edition over this one. Why no file added to it? Purchasing it from blizzard will only give you the reforged version. This is literally abandonware.

Chuck 2023-03-01 -5 points

1. I hated this game when it first came out. It felt all around terrible.
2. The expansion was worse than the base product.
3. Hidden drm, it even collected telemetry with no way to opt out.
4. It sold like modern Windows, had too many editions.
5. Reforged nailed the final board in the coffin.

biodtox 2022-12-01 7 points

The game IS abandonware. The version available for purchase is not the same as the original game.

BleakWatcher 2022-07-10 3 points

I Agree with Shira, there are modes in the original not in the reforged edition

Subta 2022-02-20 -7 points

Look for the CD-ROMs on eBay...

Shira 2021-12-09 10 points

This is NOT the game blizzard is selling...... Some of us are just old fashioned enough to prefer this version and now that you have removed it we can't get it.

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