Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Review

The AI in Warcraft III is, for the most part, well-programmed.  The pathfinding is excellent, and mixed unit groups can easily find their way around a map while maintaining a cohesive formation the entire way.  You'll never face the frustrating task of babysitting your units as you move them along in small increments if you want to have any hope of fielding a cohesive force when they reach the front lines. However, in larger battles you'll have to monitor your units because they don't always go where they need to be.  If you don't keep an eye on them, you can find yourself in the situation where your frontline troops may be taking a beating from enemy towers, while your siege weapons become preoccupied with taking out a blacksmith's shop at the rear of the battle.  The enemy AI is sound tactically, but not so mush so strategically.  Attacks usually come piecemeal, and you don't have to worry about feints or have to face multi-pronged attacks too often.  However, the computer is adept at using combined force attacks and also at threat assessment, knowing on which of your units to concentrate or where to direct its fire.  As always, you'll find your toughest opponents to be other people.

In apparent attempt to discourage rush tactics or the reliance on a mass of one type of unit, Warcraft III introduces the concept of a food cap.  Certain buildings produce a certain amount of food, which allows you to build a larger army.  However, all races are capped at 90 units of food, no matter how many structures are built.  Also, larger units consume more food, forcing you to think strategically when creating units.  You won't be able to ramp up production to a high level and just crank out unit after unit like you can in a lot of other strategy games.

Also new to Warcraft III is day/night cycles.  The time of day has an effect on the game: human and orc units heal during the day, while night elves gain stealth capabilities at night.  Also at night, neutral monsters will go to sleep, allowing players to sneak past them without having to take them on in a fight.  Visibility is also reduced at night, reducing the range of vision of most units.

Once you've completed the campaign, you can compete against the computer in skirmish games or go online to take on other human players.  Warcraft III comes with a variety of maps that allow up to eight players to compete against each other in multiplayer mode on Blizzard's free Battle.net service.  In skirmish mode, you can compete against up to eleven other computer opponents.  In both modes, team play and allied victory conditions are supported.  Battle.net now offers a quick game matching option that lets you specify the type of game, map, and race in which you are interested in playing.  It will then search for other players looking for the same type of game and match everyone up automatically.  You don't always get the exact type of game that you wanted, but it makes it easy to jump right into a game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 96%.  Warcraft III is the yardstick that will be used to measure strategy games for some time to come.  While a little short of perfect, it will provide you with some great gameplay and entertainment.  If you're a strategy gamer, this one is a no-brainer.  If you're new to strategy, you owe yourself to give it a try and see strategy done right.

System Requirements:  Pentium II 400;  128 MB RAM;  8 MB Video RAM; 4x CD-ROM;  700 MB Hard Drive Space;  Mouse.

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