Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne - PC - Preview

Attention all fans of Warcraft III Reign of Chaos! The adventure continues.

Warcraft III The Frozen Throne is currently testing in beta for the multiplayer options. GameZone.com was invited to jump into the fray and have a gander at the new features being offered in the game. Not only is the battle-weary world of Azeroth experiencing a new threat, but Blizzard has thrown some new features into the mix that will really fuel the imaginations of Warcraft fans.

Warcraft III is a real-time strategy game that involves elements of unit management and role-playing. It was the story of orcs and humans coming to an understanding about what the real battle was about. In Reign of Chaos, the enemy was Archimonde and the Burning Legions. Eventually, if all went well, players were able to defeat the evil forces.

Months have since passed, and trouble again looms. The Frozen Throne is the object of the search by Arthus (the paladin prince of Reign of Chaos) and Illidan, and is supposed to hold great power. Of course, the various races stand united to oppose that.

Some of the new features of Frozen Throne include one new Hero per race (such as the Blood Mage for the human/blood elf alliance; Shadow Hunter for the Orcs; Crypt Lord for the Undead Horde; and Warden for the Night Elfs), with an assortment of powerful spells, and Neutral Heroes that can be recruited. The single-player game has a new campaign, which follows the tale begun in Reign of Chaos, and a campaign editor to customize your game.

There are three new land areas to explore, new race units, and new multiplayer options.

In multiplayer you can play a one-versus-one, two-versus-two, or Free-For-All. Clan and tournament support will also be featured in the Battle.net gaming arena.

Because this was in beta, portions of the game ­ such as the single-player campaign ­ were disabled.

At first blush, it seemed that new units were big on AoE, or Area of Effect, spells, but delving into the races revealed some amazing abilities. The Night Elfs’ Warden is a melee-machine, who can teleport across the viewable area. Strategically this adds a whole to piece to the chessboard of strategic combat. Imagine having support missile attacks, behind the main combat because they are weaker units, have a melee specialist materialize in their midst. Can anyone say pandemonium?

Some of the AoE attacks are wonderful, but for the most part, the terrain features appear more or less the same as in Reign of Chaos.

There are also new buildings, or player shops, that can aid in the upgrade of units. Upgrading the town hall gives players new tiers in the player shops, which mean better potions and spells. One of the spells in the third tier will allow players to reset and reapply hero skill points.

In the battle.net, players can actually display clan affiliation and recruit players into their clans. When the clan-based tournaments become a reality, this could well provide a whole new aspect to the RTS game.

Because this game is in beta, several problems were encountered that need to be mentioned but will likely be ironed out. While there appeared to be more than 500 people involved in the testing late at night and early mornings, the host computer did have some lock-up problems The first was merely in getting past the main battle.net chat room, and others incurred when beginning a game. However, the group of people encountered when playing was friendly and helpful, and some well skilled in the strategic side of the game.

It appeared that the player interface may have had some minor adjustments, but the graphics were more or less the same ­ though obviously tailored to reflect abilities of the new units.

Reign of Chaos was a lushly rendered game, and Frozen Throne continues that trend quite well. However, to be successful in the multiplayer realm, players will really need to hone their skills ­ something the single-player campaign should help with.

Rather than just plunk out a new campaign and call it good, it appears as though Blizzard has put some thought into this game, and designed it to fill in gaps in the Reign of Chaos, while providing enough new material to draw fans joyfully back into the fray on Azeroth.

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