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     " I'll gush for days. "

      Title: Warcraft III by Blizzard

      Format: Real Time Strategy for the PC

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: How long has Blizzard been telling us about this game? I've lost track! Still, they've always delivered the goods before… Anyway, what we finally have here is the sequel to the multi award winning Warcraft II. The Orcs and Humans are back. And this time, they're joined by the Night Elves and the Undead. Play through a crap ton of missions against the demonic Burning Legion. Discover the roots of the horde; find out who's your daddy. Much was promised over long development, here's the review.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Many games have made the switch to 3D over the past several years. This is Blizzards first foray into the medium. I must say they managed it with aplomb. The game definitely retains its distinctive feel. The character models look great and their animations play out well. The camera, at default, is placed in the old familiar position, looking down from the heavens. The camera can be temporarily rotated, or permanently zoomed. The level of zoom really lets you feel like you've gotten inside the game. It's an up close feeling never available with the Blizzard games before. The buildings and environments are all quite good looking. The game ranges from underground to green summer to frozen north and the entire environments look awesome. The levels are really quite well designed. Intricate placement of enemies, proper placement of expansion gold mines, its all here. There is some great design going into these levels. And can I just say I'm happy as hell that they brought dungeon maps back! That was one of the best parts of the first Warcraft. The move to 3D has been really good to Warcraft. Don't even get me started about the cinematics. I'll gush for days. Suffice it to say I don't feel silly cooking up some popcorn before I watch them. 5 out of 5

      Sound: The sound quality for this game is superb. The music is unobtrusive but brilliant (if you get a chance to listen to the soundtrack alone, do so). The voice work is just fine. Although, you may get a little tired of hearing the "okay" response from your units as you order them around, but it will take a while. The sounds of buildings and general city sounds are well done. Battle is rousing as ever with all the thwacks and thumps that we know and love. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: This is still a real time strategy game. The basic premise is still to build units and use said units to pummel your opponent. Blizzard has added in some elements to make the old formula a bit more interesting for us, though. First off, the game has four different playable races. Like Starcraft before it, each of the races is different but balanced. Each gives a different feel of play and requires a different strategy to use properly. Whereas the Night Elves focus on ranged attacks and using nature to their benefit, the Orcs are all about beating you to a pulp where you stand. The other element added in is that of the Hero. Warcraft III really focuses on the hero. In previous games you might get a special unit with enhanced statistics, but really nobody used them, because once they were dead, they were gone. Here we have units with enhanced statistics and special powers (which you can develop over time, RPG style). Best of all, thanks to a special building, these units can be resurrected at any time. Now we have a truly special unit. The game is filled with items for the heroes to use or equip, items that enhance abilities or possibly give a beneficial instant effect. Don't go thinking that the hero can do it on his own though. Blizzard has done a great job of balancing things so that your best bet is with a mixed army and no one unit wins out over the others. Warcraft III also tries to focus more on the small army, by putting a Starcraft style food limit on your army. Moreover, the more units you have the higher your "upkeep". Basically, you have so many units that it costs gold to keep them active, thus you start to mine less gold. It's an interesting new step and one that presents interesting strategies. Since the game is all about interesting strategies, I'd say that's a good thing. No RTS easily gives up its stratagems and secrets right off the bat and Warcraft III is no exception. Still, the game has several tutorial levels to help you through and you should have the gist before too long. Veterans of the series will feel right at home here and should have no problems getting back into the old flava'. The game doesn't require a huge amount to run properly and generally runs well. 4.75 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Multiplayer is hosted via Blizzards and runs quite smoothly. Heroes have required changes in the old tried and true method of rushing, but the ever-present net crowd has kept up. Finding a game is quick and easy and should give no problems. There are around 35 campaign missions to beat and each of them can be beat on different levels of difficulty. The end credits actually change slightly depending on the level of difficulty you beat the game on. Most of the replay value for this game, however, will come from the multitude of multiplayer maps and the world editor. Giving you the same tools that Blizzard had, you can make any map your little heart desires. Combine all of this and you end up with a game that can potentially carry you on for ages. 5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: If there's one thing Blizzard knows how to do (after making a good game) it's writing a great story. They've filled in all of the blanks since the Second War (Warcraft II and its expansion). Essentially, the Humans won WCII. The remaining orcs were placed into internment camps and held captive. Somewhere in here Warcraft Adventures takes place (a game that was never released, but that still holds much of the storyline for the Warcraft universe). We rejoin the story as a mysterious figure appears before various factions to let them know that they need to move on, danger's coming. Blizzard learned something from the previous Warcrafts. Before, the games featured storylines that took place along side each other, forcing Blizzard to choose which one actually happened. In this game, the campaigns play out in an unfolding story, so that everybody's campaign "happens" (much like Starcraft). The story definitely has all the right dramatic twists as the forces of good fight against the Demon invasion and the cinematic cut-scenes are the icing on the cake. 5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Warcraft III is a true gem. Once more Blizzard has proven that its games are well worth the wait. They've added enough to the formula to keep it feeling fresh, while leaving the stuff we know and love in tact. This is a definite recommend to any RTS fans out there.

      The Good: All the old Warcraft flavor, back in action. New elements to an old genre.

      The Bad: Does causing sleep deprivation count as a bad thing?

      The Overall Ugly: If you like pina coladas and trolls, then buy this game. If you like cinematic DVDs, get the collector's edition.

      What it's Worth: Pay the $50, it's worth it.

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