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World of Warcraft

What is there to say about World Of Warcraft that hasn’t already been said? Well, for what it’s worth, this is my view.

WoW is an astonishing success. It’s a subscription based Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) based on a fantasy universe populated by elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, humans and the like. At the last count there were over 11 million people wordlwide inhabiting the world, each paying a monthly fee. Yep, it’s a massive moneyspinner for Blizzard – the developers.

There’s a lot to love about WoW. There’s a very rich history and mythology created from the original strategy titles, through books and guides, right up to this online installment. And there’s a gigantic world to explore across multiple continents and dimensions, with every terrain from lush jungle, barren desert, marshland, populated cities, mountainous domains, magical wastelands and the like.

You start the game as a lowly level 1 in whatever race and profession you choose, so you could – for example – be a Human Warlock, a Gnome Theif, or a Dwarf Warrior. Or whatever takes your fancy. You choose a name and use some basic customisation options for your looks, and away you go. You also choose a faction to play for, Alliance or Horde.

You’ll soon hit the quest system. Because quests are pretty modular in nature, you’ll discover they only take a few basic types. Most are pretty simple, kill x amount of a certain monster, or recover some treasure, or escort a charcter through some difficulties. At their best some quests are told with panache and are pretty memorable – but at their worst they are mere “grinds”, a stepping stone to advance through the levels.

And it’s this grinding that plagues the game. In order to advance you need experience, which is derived mainly from killing monsters and bosses or completing quests. Some people choose to play by following these quests and advancing the story, while others will take the shortcut of simply killing endless poor monsters without remorse. Whatever rocks your boat!

Along the way there are extras to enhancement your playing experience. You can learn professions, for example, to create weapons, gadgets, jewels, or whatever. And you can even go fishing, mining and herb picking and other “gathering” skills.

The main problem with games of this nature is that there’s no real end. Sure, there are interim targets: for example, you’ll want to reach level 40 to get your mount, then level 70 to get your flying mount and hit the level maximum. You may aim to conquer certain parts of the world, or seek out an elusive treasure, or build up massive wealth. Some people say hitting level 70 is just the start of the game – as then you’ve reached the “end game” and can really start playing.

However, in the latter stages WoW just becomes a numbers game. You only play to increase your stats, perhaps conquer certain dungeons where the end reward is the fact you’ve gained an extra +5 advantage to your combat scores. It can become a full time job working out strategies of what equipment to carry, what spells and abilities to learn, and what skills and professions to foster.

Wow has been criticised for being addictive, sometimes going by the humorous moniker “World Of WarCrack” 🙂 This is certainly true for some people, the endless search for a better character can take an extraordinary amount of time and patience. And people who are active in guilds – groups of like minded players – even set their calenders and lives around in game events, such as raids on dungeons or enemy territories.

World Of Warcraft isn’t going anywhere soon. One massive expansion was already released (The Burning Crusade) and another is imminent (Wrath of The Lich King). These serve to keep interest in the game with extra lands to explore, higher experience levels to reach, and new professions to learn.

But the fact remains: World Of Warcraft faces a difficult balance to appeal to the casual gamer who wish to invest a few hours a week in their advancement, and the hardcore gamer who is willing to spend all day online and become “the best”, however ephemeral and ultimately worthless that accolade will be. There has to be enough content to appeal to both, a solid advancement process you can follow, and enough strategy and skill involved so that game has a real sense of acheivement when you face down a difficult boss.

Ultimately, WoW succeeds. It’s by far the most popular and accomplished of the MMORPGs around today. Because of it’s longevity and popularity (the title has seemingly been in the games charts forever) it’s difficult to see how others can topple this titan and take it’s crown.

WoW only requires a modest PC by todays standards to run. Graphically, it’s attractive – even beautfiul and times – but it’s by no means state of the art. Sonically, background music and sound samples help to immerse you in the experience.

Whether you want to play solo or seek to join in partys and guilds of other players – or even battle them in player vs player realms, arenas and battlegrounds – WoW hits the mark. But those who like traditional games with a real, scripted path and a definite ending may look to look elsewhere.

Rating: 9.5 / 10 – at least until bordeom sets in!

I don’t play much anymore. But if you do see an alliance human warlock called Essjayar or a horde tauren druid called Wreck on the Ghostlands EU realm, be sure to say “Hi!” 😀