Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Waging War

…but only digitally. I’ve decided to install “WarCraft III” (plus Add-On “The Frozen Throne”) again on Monday.

Knowing I will not be buying the new “StarCraft 2” (because of the copy protection that would force me to stay online all the time), I was longing for some good Blizzard real-time strategy. As I don’t have the original “StarCraft” at home at the moment – I wanted to sell it, but I will definitely take it back now, 2D Zerg are better than none at all –, I opted for my favourite fantasy RTS.

Personally, I prefer the Undead to the other three parties in the game. Their creatures may look really strange (yes, stranger than Nightelves, Orcs or Humans, definitely), they are slow at building up their base, but I like them, nevertheless. You can rush early with them, because of the cheap ghuls (not very strong, not very fast, but you can build them early in the game and overrun an enemies base – only on the multiplayer maps, though). They have quite some interesting heroes (every fraction has three of them, plus one with the Add-On) and I get on well with the cursed ground they need for building most of their buildings.

In addition, “WarCraft III” is the only game to which I keep my savegames – because this way I re-install it, copy my ‘save’ folder into the directory and don’t have to play all of the levels again, but can replay them at will. I can also watch all the cut-scenes and videos in the game (my favourite is the extro of the Human campaign, in which Prince Arthas – the only guy you play twice, in the Human and the Undead campaign – kills his own father).

Even today, the game is still great, for various reasons. The first and foremost is one it shares with “StarCraft”: It’s damn well balanced. All fractions are different to play – so it’s not just like chess, where the only difference between black and white is that white starts the game (if I still remember it correctly). Humans are well balanced between ranged attack and close-quarter combat, Undead are a bit slow, but still well balanced in attack, Orcs are mostly close-quarter fighters and the Nightelves are specialised on ranged attacks. In a RTS that can be played in single- or multiplayer games, that’s very important, because this way nobody gets a bigger or smaller chance at winning (provided they know what to do).

Another thing which Blizzard has been great in since “WarCraft II” is storytelling. Even though the main thing about a RTS is beating either the computer or the other player by having better strategies, I like it to know why I’m doing it. “WarCraft III” gives me the story of Prince Arthas, who loses his soul (while, basically, doing what’s right), kills his own father and turns from a Paladin into an Undead Knight. I also enjoy the story of Thrall, the leader of the Orc clans (there’s a great novel about how he became the leader, called “Lord of the Clans”) who leads the Orcs to another continent – only to be followed by the Humans and then teaming up with the Nightelves to stop the destruction of the world. The Nightelves campaign is the story of a secluded race of immortal beings suddenly being faced with the harsh reality of a changing world.

The comic graphics of the game have aged, of course. It originally came out in 2002, eight years ago. That’s ages when it comes to computer games. But, to be honest, they look less aged than the graphics of other games. Comic graphics don’t have to look realistic.

So, I’ll be waging war (currently on the Humans, because I’m replaying the Undead campaign) for quite a while now, I guess.

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