Finally after years off putting it of, I try the biggest game of all time.
World of Warcraft is a unique beast. Never before has a game captured the attention or the imagination of the gaming public. This game permeates itself into the real world, with people buying and selling characters and items for real money and even getting lampooned by South Park!
Now with the release of its first expansion pack The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft is set to be the biggest game of all time.
Although 2 years old now, I had never actually played it. This comes down to my objection to monthly subscriptions for retail games. But I was given the opportunity to play the full game for the trial period for this review, so decided to give it a go.
It is hard to give a full impression of this game at first play, so I have decided to review it in stages. 1st impressions, 1st week and final review.
I am writing this as I go along, so read to the end before judging me!
First Impressions Day 1
Having torn apart the packaging, I was astounded at being faced with 5 cd’s worth of game (I hope there is a DVD version out there)!
So starting the install, I sat back and had a read of the very good manual.
Two and a half hours later (!!!!) it was time to play the game. Or as it turned out, time to be asked to download 450mb of patch.
Deciding that it was probable that The Burning Crusade had the latest patch, I went ahead and installed that as well. This time I was faced with only 4 cd’s.
This install lasted about an hour or so. Finally it was time to? download a 200mb patch?doh!
Finally after over four and a half hours it was time to get in and create me a character. On the advice of a die hard WoW playing friend, I created a Human Mage. At this point the choices for character creation were very impressive. With The Burning Crusade installed you get the option of 10 different races, each with up to 6 different character classes.
On entering the world I was truly stunned at the beauty of my surroundings. The map was alive with real people and NPCs wandering around doing their daily chores. It looked and sounded as real as a fantasy game can!
Having explorered my new surroundings, I tried my hand at some combat, finding a lowly wolf as my victim! I click on the appropriate buttons and sat back to watch my first fight. Not all that exciting, but at least it was intuitive.
Next it was time to try a mission, a simple go here do that affair that earns some XP for my character. Again not really that exciting.
I repeated this pattern for an hour or so then decided enough was enough and gave up.
So initial reactions to the game were mixed. A huge install time followed by an hour of really quite boring gameplay.
Day 2 brought about a bit more fun, still the same mission structure, go here, get / kill this return. But by now I was throwing fireballs at things and freezing things. The fight dynamic feels quite good, like a big game of Paper, Scissors, Stone. I was still in awe of my surroundings though, and swimming was almost worth the install time on its own.
Also day 2 brought me my first experience of groups and team work. It was fun killing things as part of a team. I have been told that this forms the basis of the most enjoyable parts of the game and I can believe it.
But overall I still have this feeling of boredom. I keep going back to it, because I spend so much time walking around not doing much, that I need to play longer to finally do something interesting.
The friend I mentioned earlier has assured me that after level 21 (At this stage I am level 8) things get more interesting. I really hope I get there before this month is over.
I can see potential, I just want to get to it soon!
Well here I am at the end of my first week of WoW. I have to be honest that I’m not really into it. That maybe just me, but it doesn’t float my boat. However this is very, very good for the genre.
I have played many of the free ones, like Turf Battles and Silk Road and this beats them hands down. The box boldly claims that the interface is so intuitive that you may never need to read the manual and to be honest the box was right! None of the previously mentioned RPG games are as accessible as this!
I am having fun in the game though. Once you are in a group the game really takes on a new dynamic. Killing the local wildlife as part of a team is much more enjoyable than solo adventuring.
I really can see why people have dedicated their lives to this game, there is so much here to do. Get a profession, choose non linear missions as and when you want, freedom in a massive world is very enticing!
When I started this review, I have to be honest and say I was sceptical. Never a fan of this genre (no matter how hard I have tried in the past) I really wanted to dislike this game. Now almost a month after my journey started, I stand before you, A level 15 (not played as much as I would have liked!) Human Mage. Proud of my accomplishments and with a nice pub in Stormwind city for a home.
World of Warcraft is a daunting game, the install is enormous and the initial gameplay is quite frankly tedious. But persevere and you will be rewarded with an alternate life that feels second nature to you!
It is not without its faults. There are the occasional graphics glitches and more than once I found myself stuck in the scenery! The mission structure at the start can get a little tedious. Go here, get this come back, has never been that thrilling.
But the real point of this game is the amount of variety it offers in general. You could spend months exploring the surroundings and fighting the locals. You could then spend months doing the missions. After that you could you could spend months as part of a guild warring with other guilds. Next you could spend ages making stuff and trading it, depending on what careers you chose (you can have 2 careers at a time). That is exactly what people have been doing for the last 2 years. Now with The Burning Crusades release, they can do it all again, with new races, new environments, new abilities and new adventures!
Add to this the fact you can have pets, minions, horses (or equivalent travelling beasts) and ever animals to fly around on and you can see that you will never run out of things to do!
So for me what were the highlights of the game and what were the low points.
The low points were the first week. I quickly became frustrated with the pace of the game. Killing defenceless wild life and running about giving letters to people was no that interesting.
Also I am not keen on the way you recover from death. When you die your spirit is take to the nearest grave site. Here you can either ask a spirit to resurrect you, costing you half of the durability of everything you are carrying, or you can walk back to your body. The trouble is, more often than not, I found myself getting back to my body, only to be killed again by the things that killed my in the first place!
The Highlights of the game came about a week after the low points! Once I had found my place in the world, got a few skills (like turning attackers into sheep!) and found people in the game that would fight by my side! I started to feel part of the world.
As you walk around you see people fishing, talking, mucking about. The world feels very real!
The bottom line though, is would I recommend paying the monthly subscription. Now despite myself, I would have to say yes, if after the first month of free play you are hooked. You will get years of game play from this title! If you have every tried a free RPG such as Silk Roads and thought ?This is great, but I want more? then this is also the game for you!
Will I be subscribing, no, I value my marriage to much!
A vast game, that once you get into will take over your life!
The Bad: Huge install times, boring for the first few days