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World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Review
publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
developer: Blizzard Entertainment
PIV 1300, 512MB RAM, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 13, 08 (released)
|» All About World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King on ActionTrip|
Viruses are not your friends. This, incidentally, has nothing to do with the fact I'm writing this on December first, also known as Aids Awareness Day. Viruses are not only not friendly (you wish you could write this well, don't you?), they are downright bad. Sure, they are bad in their digital form, but it's the flesh-nesting ones that can really sting.
Viruses are also proof that modern medicine is a joke. There is no cure or prevention for a virus; it's up to you and your body to tackle it. If you abuse your body, you'll be less able to handle it. Therefore I accuse Blizzard of giving me a virus - a flesh-nesting one. Metaphorically-speaking, it all begun back in 2004, but what's even worse is that I'm not really speaking metaphorically. Due to the recent release of their latest World of Warcraft expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, I have lost countless hours on leveling. This, in turn, means I have been most likely abusing my body. This is something that a completely random virus has taken advantage of, nesting itself in the warm and squishy insides of my intestine.
OK, I should probably stop now. Note, however, that I fully blame Blizzard for making you read this nonsensical intro as well. When you are as successful as they are, legions of almost minion-like followers are likely to relish in any crumb you leave in your path while they grunt and grind their teeth in what should be a semblance of disapproval and even protest.
In reality (and what I'm trying to say here), it's completely irrelevant what I'm going to put in this review. The minions will go out and get their spoon full of sugar. It doesn't even have to be sweet; or not entirely sweet at least. For that matter, it doesn't have to be sugar.
In some ways this was rather evident in the amount of whine I heard from my fellow players in the early stages of leveling in Lich King. "I hated the crappy space-like feel to Outland," they'd say. Yet they would spend their days and night in that "crappy" setting before the new x-pac hit.
It simply does not matter what I am going to say.
That said, I might as well take a shot at outlining a few general observations that caught my attention as I reached level 80 and slinked my teeth into the PVE content.
Artistically, Wrath of the Lich King takes a clear departure from the (indeed) outlandish feel of the Burning Crusade. The environments as well as the equipment feel grittier, earthier and harder. The shifting of focus towards a more Norse-like Conan-ish ambient has been a welcomed change. Blizzard being what they are, however, made sure not to remain too linear in this approach, and, so, dungeons like Halls of Lightning and Azjol-Nerub are brimming with visual panache and innovative dungeon-design solutions.
The music is certainly complimentary to the often awe-inspiring landscapes. The main "theme" of Grizzley Hills is one of the best VG tunes I've heard in years. It's so good I had to turn the Music Loop to 'on' every time I'd quest in that area. The other day, my guildies and I were clearing Halls of Lightning. It's on several occasions that I heard references to "great film music."
Just to take a step back from the specifics, looking at the overall design of this latest expansion, it's as if Blizzard has a different team working on each of these expansions. It's either that or they are truly able to reinvent themselves with each new release.
If I was to point out one main shift in the Irvine company's design paradigm, it would have to be the very blatant leaning towards the casual gamer. Simply put, video games are a business - a very lucrative business at that - and as such, your goal is certainly to cater to the widest consumer demographic possible.
Phenomenal questing system with fantastically incorporated story elements; art and music, smoothness of launch, current code and an elaborate achievements system (a huge time sink for people with nothing better to do);
High-end might feel too easy for some; consequently gearing up doesn't mean as much as it used to; lack of more high-end content right off the bat.