9.1

Blizzard, in providing us with this great new game, has given us a huge world to enjoy.

As with any RTS expansion, several new units and heroes have been added. Each of the four races have received 2 new units, along with some upgrades, and a new constructible shop. Each race also now has one additional hero, along with addition of 5 new neutral heroes, which can be hired like a mercenary on certain maps. There is in fact an additional race, but it is simplified and only playable in certain missions of the campaign.

Concerning the campaign mode, there are actually 5 new campaigns. However, the two orc campaigns are not related story wise to the main 3, but they are still a nice edition, complete with voice acting and cutscenes found in the other campaigns. The overall length of the campaigns is comparable to the original. It would have been nice, however, if there were more cinematics, for there are only 2 new ones. The story continues where the original left off, and now focuses on Illidan and Arthas, two competing powers. Some of the earlier missions are rather bland, but as the game progresses and the story expands it becomes very enjoyable.

The main attraction of the game, however, is the rather popular Battle.net online play, found in most other Blizzard games. Several new Battle.net features have been added, such as clan support and automated tournaments being the main ones. Concerning the gameplay, Blizzard has almost completely overhauled the balance system. The entire armor/damage system has been reworked, along with some new types added. Your favorite strategies from classic are almost guaranteed not to work. This is a good thing though. As one can expect, several new maps have been added to feature the new TFT features and tilesets, and also a few goodies are thrown in, such as random creep generation. Overall, the new additions and balance system will revive your desire to play.

Another noteworthy change is the advancement of the map editor. Every limitation that you had with original map editor is virtually gone, allowing you to customize every aspect in the game. Spells can be edited, heroes can go beyond level 10 and have several more skills, custom tilesets can be created, linked maps allows for you to make your own custom campaigns as well. It should be very interesting to see what the expert map makers can now achieve.

On the technical level, the graphics are identical to classic. There are several new visual effects for spells, but they are no more spectacular than those in classic. Even so, the game still has good graphics among today's standards. The audio is virtually untouched as well, other than the new unit sounds, and additional few music tracks (which are descent).

It's the perfect expansion to one of the best real time strategies out there. For a low price, your Warcraft III experience with be lengthened much longer. Any owner of Reign of Chaos should pick this up, and even if you missed the original, you mine as well pick up both, because this is clearly one of the best RTS experiences out there.

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