World of Warcraft’ a world of fun

World of WarcraftBlizzard GamesMultiplayer online

Four out of five stars

Massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are reaching the point of many well-established video games genres. It’s a successful enough medium that has begun inspiring low-budget, low-creativity knock offs.

This is a bit more dangerous a trend than in non-online games, since if the game fails and gets cancelled, you lose all of your hard-earned character-building hours.

This is where “World of Warcraft” comes in.

The new MMORPG from Blizzard will be the last of the genre’s games that you will ever need.

The new incarnation of the beloved Warcraft game had perhaps the longest beta test of any video game in history-and it shows. Except for the expected occasional server crashes and the usual Internet-induced lag, the latest journey to the land of Azeroth comes across seamlessly.

Blizzard has addressed most of the problems seen in earlier MMORPGs, including the two biggest gripes from gamers: 1) Make death less crippling! 2) I get bored just killing monsters in order to level up!

Death in “World of Warcraft” is dealt with rather simply. You have to run a little ways to your body, but you won’t be weakened or lose any good equipment. Also you can be raised by certain classes, and if you don’t want to run all the way from the graveyard back to your corpse, there is a spirit present that can revive you. (You will, however suffer a temporary stat-drain if you use this method).

The leveling-up aspect is what sets this game apart from the Asheron’s Calls, Everquests and other MMORPGs of the world.

While it is possible to gain experience purely from killing monsters, it is much faster and much more entertaining if you undertake the game’s quests. And while some of them are the normal “find ‘X’ amount of arbitrary animal parts so I can make ‘X’ object,” there are a great many quests that are actually engaging.

A personal favorite was finding an old history book on a dead zombie. The story led to a journey all around the world following the travels and travails of a teacher who eventually succumbed to evil. The quest came to its end with a final showdown against the now undead protagonist.

It may not be epic storytelling, but for a video game that is required to have a broad appeal, “World of Warcraft” gets the job done.

The game features nine playable classes (Warrior, Druid, Mage, Hunter, Warlock, Priest, Paladin, Rogue and Shaman) and the ability to customize each one to your heart’s content.

When making your character, you must choose whether to be a hoard race or an alliance race. Choose wisely, as the two don’t exactly get along. Hoard races consist of Orcs, Tauren, Trolls and Undead. Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes and Night Elves make up the Alliance faction.

In addition to class-specific choices, you may also choose two professions to further flesh out your character. Some go together better with others, and it’s best to mix and match until you find a combination that works for you.

While it has a giant world and excellent graphics, Blizzard has worked hard to keep “World of Warcraft” from being a complete system hog. An 800-mgz processor with 256 megs of ram and a 32-meg graphics card are the minimum requirements, and except for a better video card, players should be fine with those specs.

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