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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Review

publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
developer: Blizzard Entertainment
genre: MMORPG

PIII 800, 512MB RAM, 10GB HDD, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jan 16, 07
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February 08, 2007

It has been a while since my first impressions article. In the meantime, I have reached level 70, gotten my flying mount, about to finish the Karazhan pre-quest and move into what is commonly known as the end game content grind. Or raiding. Whichever you prefer.

As I write this, the Arenas aren't about to start for another week or so, so the review will mostly focus on wrapping up the points I've made in the first impressions article regarding the PVE (Player Versus Environment) content.

My biggest initial gripe, which was the grinding nature of the quests, has been somewhat alleviated with a few pretty interesting quest chains; one being a long one in the Blade's Edge Mountain involving Rexxar - The Champion of the Horde, and another in the Shadowmoon Valley, involving the Burning Legion invasion. Overall, the leveling to 70 has been pretty satisfactory from 65 upwards and looking back in retrospect, I can only be amazed by how much additional content quest-wise, is available in the expansion.

After all, one mustn't forget that Burning Crusade *is* an expansion pack and not a full-featured sequel (even though the game packs more stuff than most full game releases).

Regarding the instances, things are picking up quite nicely with fun encounters in places like Shadow Labyrinth and Botanica. As a Hordie, I am getting increasingly annoyed with all the Paladin loot I'm seeing, but finishing The Black Morass Caverns of Time encounter with a Paladin as the main healer was truly a fresh experience - I haven't had the Blessing of Kings on me since the days I've played my Alliance Druid on the Khadgar US realm. So let's turn a blind eye to the dodgy lore here and be thankful there is another option for the Horde when tackling hard raid bosses.

For people wanting end game stuff, it is quite clear that Blizzard has learned a lot about being prepared for the fast leveling, utter hardcore nature of a segment of their player base. There are so many possible rep grinds that you simply might get lost in trying to get all the good loot you could get by being exalted with a faction.

I have recently gotten the Auchidion heroic dungeons key (requires "revered" rep with the Lower City), and now the old instances become new again, as each 'heroic' boss drops an epic badge, which you can later cash in in Shatrah city.

Combine this with the fact that (in my case - I play a Warrior) new weapon blacksmithing plans allow for a casual gamer to slowly work towards their above-average purple loot, and the fact that Arenas are clearly not based around the quantity of encounters, but rather your winning percentage, and it would be safe to say that Burning Crusade is a lot more casual gamer friendly than the original game ever was.

Granted, as my guild works its way towards the 25-man stuff, the PVE loot is going to get increasingly better, but the upside for casual gamers in this case is that each new Arena season is likely to bring even better rewards - leveling out the loot progress on the PVE side. Essentially, this means that, this time around, Blizzard has paid attention to end game content from day one, making the transition from leveling to raiding a lot smoother than it ever was.

Class-wise, some class unbalances still persist, but delving into the realm of such discussions would inevitably lead to the dreaded "nerf " and "buff " posts, which should remain under the close watch of GMs on the World of Warcraft Class Forums. Point is, class talents, skills and strengths are in a constant flux, and I'm sure as time goes by (and new patches appear), a class that once was whining will be gloating again, and the other way around. It is a vicious cycle that is simply a part of this game.

I have already mentioned that the art in the expansion pack is absolutely superb. Burning Crusade is a true testament of art over technology, as the lack of more advanced 3D effects is clearly overshadowed by the awesome work that the talented folks at Blizzard have done.

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9.2   Excellent

Superb art, incredible amount of content, geared towards end game from day one, fun instances, flying mounts, and much more;

Certain glaring class unbalances, no flying in Azeroth, price of $40 bucks for a subscription-based expansion pack.


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