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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Blizzard

 

Developer

Blizzard

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

-Same great real-time strategy gameplay Blizzard is famous for
-Engrossing story
-Improvements to multiplayer options
-Interesting role-playing-style mini-game

 

 

-Graphics are same as original, not really enhanced at all
-Some missions are too hard and can get frustrating

 

 

Review: WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (PC)

Review: Battle Realms (PC)

Review: Warrior Kings (PC)

 

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WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne

Score: 9.4 / 10

 

More. It's just a one-word description, but "more" so aptly fits in describing the The Frozen Throne, the excellent new expansion pack to last year's award-winning PC masterpiece, WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos. More great real-time strategy gameplay that developer Blizzard is famous for, both single-player and multiplayer through Blizzard's Battle.net servers. More of the same nice visuals seen in the original. More stellar movie-quality (and hilarious at times) voice acting. More magnificent music. More of the wonderfully entrancing story intertwining the Azerothian world of humans, Orcs, Night Elves, and the undead Scourge. So much more WarCraft greatness crammed in that it almost qualifies as a full game all by itself instead of merely an expansion pack.

 

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Stow plenty of thermal undies in your suitcase, because the return trip will have you visiting the coldest regions of the fantasy WarCraft world of Azeroth. The Frozen Throne picks up from where the original game left off. It's just a few short months since the events of Reign of Chaos. Achimonde and his Burning Legion buddies have been vanquished.

 

But the pesky Lich King, Ner'zhul, who had been entombed and imprisoned in a frozen throne in the artic land of Northrend, is brewing up a nefarious plan to escape and regain his rule. The Lich King lacks a physical body, so it's his soul, and all the evil power contained within, that's been put on ice. Two Azerothians are looking to free the Lich King and use that power for their own needs: the blinded renegade Night Elf Illidan and the badder-than-bad traitorous Death Knight Arthas, set off on a race to reach the Lich King's icicle coffin before the other. The story culminates in Northrend and features a relatively surprising ending that hints at a possibility of another WarCraft III expansion pack or maybe even WarCraft IV. Like all their WarCraft titles, it's just another great Tolkienesque story devised by the fine folks at Blizzard.

 

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The Frozen Throne isn't just a bunch of new missions added to the original game. Even though fans of the game would have just been happy with all 26 new missions if they had no enhancements whatsoever, Blizzard throws a lot of new goodies into The Frozen Throne. Again there are missions just as in Reign of Chaos where you get to play adventures with the different races of Azeroth. The Orc missions stray from the 

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classic RTS gaming of WarCraft however, and instead are presented as a mini-RPG that is a showcase for the great new world editor available in The Frozen Throne that not only allows you to create your own maps, but entire campaigns complete with customized cut-scenes and voiceovers.

 

Each race features new legendary Heroes, and significantly-influential-to-battlefield-glory new units featuring powerful attacks that require developing new warfare tactics. There are also new mercenary Heroes throughout Azeroth who you can hire for your cause and
sometimes can change the tide of war during epic battles against hardcore opposition.

 

Also added are plenty of multiplayer upgrades for WarCraft III gamers. Battle.net, the excellent and not to mention free online gaming server for all Blizzard games, provides plenty of maps to play and even better, new clan and tournament support for the increasingly clan-based world of competitive online gaming.

 

No matter if you partake in The Frozen Throne's single-player campaigns or multiplayer mayhem, expect an ogre-sized challenge. You won't breeze through The Frozen Throne's campaigns quickly, in part because the missions are long but also in part because of the long-lasting, grand-scale battles that take place against the many Azerothian citizenry. Expect 30 hours or so of gameplay. That's a good amount for a supposed expansion to an already hours-upon-hours-of-gameplay-packed original. But that's what you get when you buy a Blizzard title: plenty of challenging gaming goodness worth every cent.

 

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Sensually, The Frozen Throne doesn't tread any new territory beyond the Reign of Chaos, which is understandable since it's an extension of that game. WarCraft III was in development for a long time, and the graphics had a dated look last year that has carried over into The Frozen Throne. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that the visuals of Reign of Chaos actually were impressive to a degree. Give Blizzard a truckload of credit for creating such a diverse amount of unique-looking creatures and denizens to fill the land of Azeroth. There are a gluttony of bestial monstrosities, elvish beauties, and no-fear Heroes throughout in different shapes and sizes that give the WarCraft universe its Tolkien-type mystique. That goes for the great variety of lands you'll visit. From forests of fear to underground labyrinths, and finally the frozen tundra of Northrend, you won't be visiting the same landscape too often in your Azerothian travels. In short, The Frozen Throne will please your eyes, but not with a beauty queen intensity that other newer titles can.

 

Musically, not too many games can match the orchestral magnificence of The Frozen Throne. It's pure unadulterated great music. The voiceover work also is high quality. It can seem a little over the top, but if you have seen the two Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies, then compare it to that overzealous acting and you'll know what The Frozen Throne has in store for you.

 

I was disappointed in only a few small instances with The Frozen Throne. Despite blood-drenched fields of warfare, humor has been a trademark of any WarCraft game. Throughout the WarCraft series, every time you click on a individual unit to issue an order, they always would elicit some rib-tickling and usually smart-alecky response to your command. It throws a light-hearted jab into the mix of the seriousness of the death and destruction of combat.

 

But in The Frozen Throne, some of that humor has been seemingly lost. You'll still get plenty of chuckles along the way by clicking to your heart's content on particular units, but because of the darker and more nefarious mood wafting throughout the storyline, The Frozen Throne just doesn't have that some level of jocularity. It has no effect at all on the enjoyment you'll garner out of The Frozen Throne, but any fans of the funny experienced it at a higher level in the previous titles. Quite honestly, The Frozen Throne probably has the same amount of hilarity, but there's so much going on that you don't have the same amount of time to goof around clicking on individual units to see what they say next.

 

Because The Frozen Throne technically is an expansion pack, I can deal with the fact that the incredible cinematics present in Reign of Chaos are only here on a much-more scaled down basis. I know I was just spoiled by the wonderful movies that are in Reign of Chaos, but I felt a little shortchanged by the much-shorter cinematics given to you in The Frozen Throne. Again, that has nothing to do with the overall stellar quality dripping like a melting popsicle on a hot, hot summer day all over The Frozen Throne.

 

Just like clockwork, Blizzard has yet again created an excellent gaming adventure with The Frozen Throne that is a fine and worthy addition to the lineage of the legendary WarCraft series. With so many hours of new gameplay just in the single-player mode, not to mention the multiplayer and customization upgrades, it's shocking to realize that this is really only an expansion pack. As evidenced by The Frozen Throne, among fantasy real-time strategy titles, WarCraft is in a lofty stratosphere of excellence few games
in the genre ever attain.

 

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(July 27, 2003)

 


A Word on the Strategy Guide

There's just something about Brady Games' PC strategy guides.  For starters they fit on your desk easier.  This is the case with the strategy guide for WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne, another jam-packed guide.  As usual, the various strategies work, especially for the "bonus" stages and for finding all the items and events you may have missed, like visiting the Penguin King.  You also get the full breakdown of the new units with their advantages and disadvantages.  If you're getting schooled by Frozen Throne, the guide is a good investment.


 

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