warcraft3Little known fact for all you World of Warcraft players: before it was the massively multiplayer online hit that it is now, Warcraft was a real time strategy series that, while it may not have been the cultural icon that its online cousin is, it was just as critically acclaimed. In fact, Warcraft 2 (along with Command and Conquer) are credited for establishing many of the 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) concepts prevalent in most RTS games, and many of the events in WOW are based on Warcraft 3, which is collected in this box. Like the Starcraft Battle Chest, the Warcraft Battle Chest contains Warcraft 3, its expansion, strategy guides and manuals for both games, and a 2 week trial for WOW. If you played Starcraft, then you should feel right at home, as many game mechanics here are similar.

Warcraft 3 centers on the threat of the Burning Legion and the continued conflict between humans and orcs. However, two new races are added to the mix: the Night Elf Sentinels and the Undead Scourge. Many of the events alluded to in WOW have their origins here. You’ll see Arthas’s decent from noble hero to the new Lich King, the attack of the Burning Legion, the rise of the Night Elf Sentinels, and the human alliance and orcish horde join forces against the demons. Each faction has its own abilities and perks. The humans are a middle of the road faction, with a health mix of spellcasters, technology, and infantry. The Orcs favor strength, as their spellcasters are amongst the strongest in the game, the undead can harvest the corpses of the fallen in order to use them as weapons, and the night elves favor strength and speed, and since all their buildings are living trees, they can uproot themselves to relocate the base. Warcraft 3’s hero system is unique as well, giving the game a bit of an RPG-style flair. Heroes have their own inventory and they can level up to learn new spells. They can also purchase items and hire mercenaries at various shops scattered around the map. Each faction even has a building where they can revive their hero if they are slain. This is great, because in most other RTS games, one would be too afraid to use their hero unit because they risk getting them killed and failing the mission. While there are still missions which can be failed if a hero is slain, they are done thankfully in such a way that they are easy to get through. There is a greater variety to the missions as well. Some levels even have exploration and puzzle solving elements.

While this game is familiar to anyone who has player Starcraft, unfortunately a few of Starcraft’s faults are also present here as well. I can only select 12 units at a time, and if I assign them to a hotkey, then they won’t show the number I assigned them. Thankfully it is a tad easier to navigate around this though. All my currently selected units are grouped together by portraits on the command bar, and if I need to use an ability, all I have to do is click on the portrait. If I need to use a healing power, then all I have to do is select the spell and click on the portrait of the unit I want to use it on. Since everything is in 3D, I have less of a chance of actually getting my units stuck behind one of my buildings.

Along with main game, Warcraft 3 also includes the Frozen Throne expansion featuring new units, an all new campaign, and the Naga Quasi-faction. You can also playonline over Battle.net, and a mission editor is included for those of you who like modding, so there is a lot of cool stuff in this box. WOW gamers who haven’t played it yet will want to check it out just to see the origins of the online game, and RTS fans should play it for its solid action and unique spin on the genre. If you like Starcraft, you’ll love Warcraft 3.