World of Warcraft Review

Harsh penalties for death: Experience debt, lost loot, long treks to recover your equipment … death can be a real pain in an MMORPG. In World of Warcraft, though, it is more of a minor inconvenience than a major setback. When you die you’re returned to the local graveyard as a ghost and given a choice: you can return to the site of your corpse and resurrect yourself for no penalty, or you can resurrect instantly at the cost of damage to your equipped items. These items can later be repaired for a cost, so in essence you’re paying for the resurrection with some of your cash. Since there are graveyards in every zone, you’re never all that far from your corpse. If you died in a particularly nasty area, you don’t necessarily need to worry about being struck down immediately after you return to life. You do not need to resurrect yourself on the spot where your corpse lies, but within a set radius of it. You also specify when you want to resurrect, so you can pick a relatively safe spot, wait until the coast is clear, and then return to life and make tracks for a safer location.

Screenshots
The only way to fly.

Slow recovery times: Blizzard realized that players don’t like sitting around waiting and doing nothing while playing games. This simple realization is not universal among MMORPGs, though, because after a fight you’re stuck sitting around and waiting for your health, mana, stamina, or what have you to slowly recover until you’re capable of fighting again. This can be particularly annoying during quests that require you to kill a set number of enemies – you spend more time recovering than you do actually fighting. The recovery times in World of Warcraft are quite fast, giving you a chance to catch your breath before heading into another fight rather than forcing you into dead time during which you can not do much else other then waiting for your health to recover. The recovery time can be accelerated further by eating foods or drinking potions, both of which are quite plentiful in the game.

Load screens: Has this ever happened to you in an MMORPG? You walk over a bridge or through a door and enter a new area and are treated to a long load screen, only to realize that you forgot to do something before leaving the last zone? Isn’t it frustrating to know that you’ll have to sit through that load screen two more times before you can continue on your way? Well this won’t happen to you in World of Warcraft as there are no load screens in the game. You can cross into new areas, enter cities, buildings, and dungeons, and the transition is always completely seamless, without a load screen in sight. Not only does this remove an annoyance factor from the game, it adds to the feeling of immersion you have while playing the game.

Not only are a lot of the annoyances of MMORPG gaming smoothed out, World of Warcraft does an amazing job of crafting its game world. The graphics are straight out of Warcraft III and make use of the same brilliant colors and stylized, comic book-like characters and locations. Each of its zones has a unique color palette and its own feel, but the whole time there is no doubt that you’re in a Warcraft game. There are also plenty of touches that Warcraft fans will appreciate, such as logging camps with human peasants busily chopping wood and bringing it back to a gathering point. Speak to one of them and you’ll hear the familiar unit acknowledgement phrases from the game’s real-time strategy inspiration. The world is packed with details that help bring it alive, water flows in streams and cascades over falls, birds fly through the air, and benign fauna can be seen in the wilderness. While the game’s open spaces are certainly impressive, the cities are simply incredible. They are complete cities, filled with streets, alleyways, parks, shops, and everything that you’d expect to find in a city. The architecture is often remarkable, such as the monument-lined stone bridge that leads to the gates of the human city. When you first enter one of the cities, you’ll feel like a tourist and will want to spend some time walking around and taking in the sights.