The first thing you will recognize about this game is that it is very large. Even the starting areas are quite large and when you flick to your world map and look at the sheer size of the world, you can easily feel quite overwhelmed. It’s not really as large as you may think at first glance, especially when you are high enough to ride a mount. Either way it will most likely still be larger than most game worlds you may be used to. After all any in-game world which needs its own transit system must be BIG! The scenery and character details does look nice. There’s nothing that seems out of place and everything tends to mesh quite well together. Every piece of armor that you have (wrists, legs, belt etc) will change your characters appearance when you change them and there are plenty of pieces of armor to acquire. You will find that the more popular instance items are very common and you mind find others that look very much like yourself. Which brings me to the next point, the character customization in this game is very good. You can select your hair style and color, your face and your skin color as well as other aesthetic details such as piercing or tusks. The game has a very good back story which will develop as you adventure. The story is interesting; however, probably wouldn’t compare to other games such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in terms of drama and development. However, it is enough to keep you interested in the game world and its characters and events. Character development is pretty much standard. As you levelup you gain attributes (you can’t choose where they rise) and after level 10 you gain talent points which can be used to unlock new abilities or enhance certain aspects of your character (attributes/skills). The customization comes in at the talent build level and the equipment level. For example, two rogues can perform and act entirely differently based on how they are customized. One could be a dagger build which focuses on damage (and would have agility as its primary attribute) whilst another may be more of the stealth variety. World of Warcraft truly is a lifestyle. If you are at least mildly addicted to the game you will quickly find yourself thinking about it when you’re not playing it or trying to learn more about it. You may find yourself reviewing the new patch details while on the school computers or text messaging your guild leader for the next available raid time. Very quickly you can find that World of Warcraft can begin dominating your lifestyle. This becomes especially noticeable when you have reached the end of the game and have begun raiding. Organizing twenty to forty (and perhaps more when the expansion is released) people and getting them to work together is no easy task. And it makes it all the more difficult to inform your guild leader that you can’t make raids or that you need to leave unexpectantly part way through an instance. To make matters worse raid leaders will often implement a point-system which will tally points earned in raids. It is not unheard of to incur penalties in these points (DKP) if you need to leave part way through a raid or if you make mistakes during the raid. This is all amounts to way more pressure than you need when you’re playing a game. Especially when the purpose of the game is to have fun and ‘relax’. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the various funny ‘Hitler-like guild leader’ movies: “Minus 50 DKP for not knowing what the **** to do!” Sure it’s funny while we’re talking about it now (and it often is when you’re replaying it to all your guildies on your teamspeak/ventrilo server) but the reality is that this environment of organized gaming can quickly become stagnant, boring and on occasion unhealthy. It’s a lot harder to put down the game when you have thirty nine other players relying on you then it is when there isn’t and this just escalates the addiction. If you haven’t already then you may want to check out these two videos: Pure Pwnage Episode 7 which makes fun of World of Warcraft addicts and South Park Episode 8 Season 10 which also makes fun of World of Warcraft. The message is pretty clear: excessive amounts of this game is NOT good for you! But…perhaps I’m being a bit hard on World of Warcraft. There are plenty of great things about this game which enthralled me when I first started playing and there continues to be great new content added to the game monthly. If you find that you are the sort of person that WON’T get addicted by World of Warcraft (such a person exists?) and you can play the game in moderation (I couldn’t) then there is a lot to see and do in the world of Azeroth. In my opinion the BEST way to play World of Warcraft is to simply create ‘one’ character (perhaps one on each side) and simply enjoy the game. Sure, play with others, levelup as fast as you want, compete in PvP, but at the end of the day always make sure that you are doing what you WANT to do and not what someone else wants you too. I would steer clear of the end game raiding environment completely unless you can find a guild which is willing to do it, but casually and are fairly laid back about the whole experience. At the end of the day just know this: this game is highly addictive and should definetly be played in moderation. It is a one of kind of experience which most gamers should probably go through in their lifetime but I would not recommend that you play this game for extended periods of time as it may destroy your life!