Warcraft III is Blizzard's first foray into the 3D World. It will be an RTS with some elements of RPG such as heroes with XP and Inventory and NPC's like merchants and mercenaries which will be important in every game. It was formerly labelled an RPS, Role Playing Strategy, but Blizzard apparently dropped some of the RPG elements and went back to calling it an RTS.

The game is set one generation after the orcs first invaded Azeroth and 15 years after the end of Warcraft II. It assumes that the humans won in Warcraft II - The Tides of Darkness (which in turn assumes that the orcs won Warcraft I). There are still orcs in Azeroth but there is now relative peace. The orcs are being united under Thrall (from the cancelled Warcraft Adventures game) and returning to their original shamanistic, noble, and not-so-evil culture (it turns out that all their evilness and invading Azerothness came from the corruption of the Burning Legion), while the Alliance is suffering from infighting and disunity.

One day multitudes of fiery meteors rain from the sky. These are carrying the invasion force of the Burning Legion, the Daemons from the other two Warcraft games. Since they failed to destroy the world by proxy through the orcs, they attack themselves bringing with them the Scourge, an undead army formed from the orcs who went into the Twisting Nether at the end of Beyond The Dark Portal. (No mention is made of what happened to the humans who went into the Twisting Nether.)

There are also Night Elves, the first race to arise in Azeroth. 10,000 years before, they had unleashed the Burning Legion into the world through unrestrained use of magic, and barely survived. Their homeland of Kalimdor was destroyed in the battles. They became secretive and hid themselves off from the rest of the world, and outlawed the use of magic. The elves in Warcraft II were exiled from the Night Elves for using magic. Now with the return of the Burning Legion, the Night Elves have to fight again.

There were originally going to be six playable races, but one was dropped for storyline reasons, and the Burning Legion was removed as a playable race because it was too hard to balance them while maintaining their flavor as an extremely powerful invading demon army.

The game is 3D, but has a fixed camera angle (IMO a mistake - if you have played Homeworld a good deal of the fun was viewing the battle from different angles and close-ups) and an interface similar to the Starcraft and Warcraft interfaces. The resources are gold, mined from gold mines, and lumber, from trees of course. (There used to be "mana stones" obtained by interaction with (killing) neutral units, but these were removed. Lumber was also removed but has been replaced.) Trees can also be cleared or grown for strategic reasons. There are no sea units (Blizzard's other mistake - naval units added a great deal to Warcraft II that will be missing now) but there are air units. The game will have weather effects (that are only visual) and a day/night cycle (that can affect the gameplay).

There are some very good cinematics at http://www.blizzard.com/war3/movies/. Be sure to download the 2001 E3 trailer, which I think has the best CG work I have ever seen, achieving photorealism in a few places. Unfortunately, the gameplay movie is crap. It is about 320x240 and compressed to the point that you can barely make anything out.

Warcraft III Cheat Codes

Here are the Warcraft III Cheat Codes! They can only be used on single player missions however, so don't worry about cheaters in networked games. When correctly entered the text "Cheat Code Enabled" should appear on the screen. Enter the codes in the normal text box by pressing Enter, then typing in the cheat code, then press Enter to enable the cheat.

Many of the cheat codes have interesting cultural references. They are correspondingly pipelinked.

WarpTen - Speeds construction of buildings and units

IocainePowder - Fast Death/Decay

WhosYourDaddy - God mode

KeyserSoze (amount) - Gives you X Gold

LeafitToMe (amount) - Gives you X Lumber

GreedIsGood (amount) - Gives you X Gold and Lumber

PointBreak - Removes food limit

ThereIsNoSpoon - Unlimited Mana

StrengthAndHonor - No defeat

Motherland (race) (level) - level jump

SomebodySetUpUsTheBomb - Instant defeat

AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs - Instant victory

WhoIsJohnGalt - Enable research

SharpAndShiny - Research upgrades

IseeDeadPeople - Remove fog of war

Synergy - Disable tech tree requirements

RiseAndShine - Set time of day to dawn

LightsOut - Set time of day to dusk

DayLightSavings (time) - If a time is specified, time of day is set to that, otherwise time of day is alternately halted/resumed

It may be interesting to compare these cheat code names with the Warcraft II Cheat Codes.

This is a PC real-time strategy game from the famed Blizzard Entertainment that was released in July 2002. It is the third installment in the Warcraft series, and has similar gameplay to both its predecessors and the immensely popular Starcraft. Players control an army of one of Warcraft III's four Tolkien-inspired races from a top-down 3-D perspective, gathering resources, building bases, and leading attacks on enemy warriors in a game that will awe RTS-diehards and neophytes alike. Get ready to get medieval.

The game's basic concept is identical to that of Warcraft II. Players utilize specialized worker units to collect resources and construct buildings that collectively form a base. Each structure costs an amount of gold and wood to produce, soldiers and other units also require food that is procured from farms. Certain structures either train troops, research new technologies, act as defenses, or peform a combination of the three. After amassing a sufficient number of soldiers and spellcasters, a player will attack the base of the opponent in the hopes of destroying it. By carefully balancing offense and defense and expanding their resource-gathering operations to areas outside their main base, players can deny their enemy the gold necessary for gaining more troops and defenses and secure victory. In Warcraft III, however, combat is more complicated. One now has the option of commanding heroes, uber-tough special units that can turn the tide of a battle with a well-placed spell or special attack. Each race has three unique types of these special units, and it's possible to summon one of each type per game. A hero receives experience points after killing enemies and can level up RPG-style, gaining new spells and abilities. Defeated neutral creatures known as "creeps" sometimes drop treasure that can be added to a hero's six-slot inventory. These can be either passive stat-increasing items like armor, or consumable scrolls and potions which have from one to three uses. If they are killed, heroes can be resurrected at a special altar reminiscent of Sacrifice. In single-player, each campaign revolves around one or two heroes whose inventories and experience levels carry over from mission to mission. These powerful characters add a new dimension to gameplay that hasn't been present in any of Blizzard's other RTS titles.

Warcraft III features an engaging single-player campaign composed of about nine missions for each race that follows a continually unfolding story in a similar manner to that of Starcraft. I found myself wanting to beat the missions in order to discover the plot twist the next cutscene would reveal, a rare experience in RTS games. Players first command the humans, who seek to find the cause of a plague called the Scourge that turns its victims into the undead. They next control the undead, who are spreading the plague to pave the way for a demonic invasion. The second-to-last campaign is fought by the orcs, who search for their race's destiny under the leadership of their warchief Thrall. Finally, the night elves struggle to prevent the invasion of the Burning Legion, an unholy army that sent the undead to pacify the realm before their arrival. Newcomers to real-time strategy will find the single-player campaign challenging, but never frustrating on the Normal difficulty level, making it a perfect introduction to the genre.

Online multiplayer is facilitated through Blizzard's free Battle.net service. A random matchmaking function pairs players of similar skill (based on win-loss ratios) for one-on-one or team games whose result is recorded on Blizzard's ladder page. Players gain experience points and levels by winning multiplayer games, and the top 20 players for each of the four Realms, which represent gamers in the East U.S., West U.S., Europe, and Asia, are displayed on the official web site.

As in the other Warcraft games, players collect wood and gold to finance their army's exploits. This time around, however, I was annoyed to find that I also had to pay a tax called "upkeep". This is an amount of gold deducted from one's treasury to keep the troops properly equipped, and increases with the army's size. In multiplayer this prevents players from rushing by limiting the number of troops they can sustain toward the beginning of a battle, but it didn't seem to serve any purpose in single-player. At times I could neither expand my base nor train new troops, and had to wait for long periods before building anything was possible. Although upkeep adds some realism to Warcraft III, it should have been scrapped in single-player for the sake of improved gameplay. In a related problem, mines collapse when they run out of gold, and they contain far too little. In one four-player game in which I took part, the strain of upkeep and continued base expansion resulted in the map's entire gold supply being drained in less than an hour. We were forced to call the match a draw. Denying resources to an opponent is a viable strategy, but games shouldn't end prematurely because the map design can't support longer games. Hopefully, this issue will be addressed by a patch or map creators within the game's community.

Minor complaints aside, Warcraft III is great for any fan of real-time strategy and a good introduction for newcomers to the genre. Gameplay is an improvement upon that of Warcraft II and is enriched by Blizzard's sense of humor, which is evident in each unit's speech responses and little easter eggs (click on a sheep or pig twenty-five times and see what happens). The well-designed single-player campaigns are just a prelude to the competitive multiplayer scene on Battle.net, which promises to become as popular as Starcraft's. Whether you're an RTS aficionado or a newbie, Warcraft III is a must-purchase.

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Not too RPG, not too RTS... just wrong.

Mid 2002 Blizzard released its long awaited and much anticipated sequel to the award winning Warcraft II. It was, of course, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Taking advantage of 3D gaming engines, Blizzard produced a Warcraft title that stayed true to the tradition with the classic Orc vs. Human battle, with another two races thrown into the mix - Undead and Night Elves. However, this is where the similarities to every other Warcraft title end (except Warcraft II: Heroes).

Graphics are mediocre, and that's being generous. It is truly a dissapointment, after the fluid and brilliant (for its time) animations of Starcraft, and the mindblowing FMVs, I still sit here scratching my head several weeks after completing the game. Graphics are bloated and cartoony, character portraits are horrid beyond explanation; primarily due to the fact that when they talk their jaws seem to dislocate and flap all over the place, and they move their heads around so much its as if they're headbutting the camera. The 3D engine they utilised is stiff and rigid - an outmoded camera form back from the first days of the 3D gaming genre. For the most part, you won't even move the camera from its static 3rd person view. Angle can be adjusted 90 degrees either way, and from the angled top down view one may change the pitch to ground level. The camera immediately snaps back after you release the respective buttons, however, and even if it didn't, the available angles really don't make things any easier to see as Blizzard chose to make the camera unnecessarily close to the ground.

The interface is a bad joke as well, as it is grossly oversized, and scaling ensures that no matter what resolution one chooses there is still an obnoxious oversized interface. The fact that the interface chews up around 30% of the screen, and then the camera is ridiculously close to the ground, there is very little scope on the world. Its hard to keep track of what's happening over one side of your base while you are trying to manage resources on the other, or fight a battle on another side. This is a serious let down, as it makes defending your base, and even attacking an enemy, quite a frustrating experience. However, Blizzard was not satisfied to stop there, they wanted to waste more of your precious screen space by making units massive things - especially heroes (which I shall explain later on). Sometimes it is hard to keep your entire (diminuitive) army on screen.

Yes, armies are diminuitive. You have a piddling population limit of 90! And the majority of units take up 2 or more population! Then, with your heroes, which eat up 5 slots, and any subsequent heroes that do the same, you have a very small army, often only numbering in around 20-30 units (it may even be 10-20 depending on how many resource gatherers you have). Now many of your better units are very weak attackers, but instead cast very powerful spells, which is fine, however most of these spells you must select and cast yourself. This would still be acceptable, however you often have multiple spellcasters with varying spells - and then you have to worry about your hero(es). Warcraft III is largely based around the use of your hero(oes). They have potent abilities that boost your own units and hinder enemy units. They do not, however, start with all abilities available as they did in Starcraft and Warcraft II, or even other spellcasters in Warcraft III; and they don't gain new ones from research like others either. Instead, they gain experience and level up. They also hold items that bolster their abilities.

But it has been said, "It is not an RPG without a paperdoll.", and Blizzard would have done well to heed this when designing their heroes. At best they are a cheap novelty that helps suspend belief that this is indeed an RPS (Role Playing Strategy). Now, the computer automatically manages its hero(oes) spells and all its spellcasters, creating a potent mixture of hinderances for your forces and boosts for their forces. Only problem is, its complex and time consuming to cast all the spells, and for a mere human, virtually impossible to manage several spellcasters in the short space of an encounter, while directing the encounter itself. This leads to one of two things - a frustrating battle that you manage to fight well, but lose because you didn't take full advantage of your spellcasters, or a frantic, chaotic mass that is poorly directed, thus lost, as you try to take full advantage of your spellcasters.

Of the other units, there is a plethora of new additions, including the ability to hire mercenaries and other neutral units. This hiring method can also be used to cheat the population limit by hiring them after reaching the cap. The ability to do this hiring of neutral units also offers a new stratagem, and indeed many aspects in the game seem to have been designed to introduce various strategic oppurtunities. Therefore, it puzzles me as to why the ever important strategic device of Oil and sea warfare has been unrighteously deposed of. This, IMHO, has despoiled one of the great aspects from Warcraft II. While this may sound insignificant at first, it truly detracts from what could have been a terribly important strategic factor.

As I just mentioned, I am upset at the loss of Oil gathering, as it was an important strategic device from Warcraft II - securing oil and preventing your opponent from doing likewise. However Oil is not the only resource I am disgruntled about. Lumber is gathered far too slowly for starters, but the much greater concern at hand is gold. Goldmines have such miniscule amounts of gold that they quickly collapse and one must travel the map like a pack of locusts, consuming the resources and leaving after doing so. This is a much greater problem in multiplayer games, as two sides often come into many skirmishes attempting to defend/attack said resources and in doing so, spending much gold, and once all the resources on the map have been consumed there is not enough for either side to secure a victory. Also, an irritating upkeep has been imposed when you start to gather up a medium or large force (which still isn't large compared to other games). This is meant to prevent rushing, and isn't such a problem in Multiplayer, simply a hindrance. In Single Player, however, the computer seems to have limitless resources and manages to attack with an immense force less than ten minutes into the game. The human player, however, is stuck with a massive upkeep penalty just for trying to build up forces quick enough to defend. This means that it is virtually impossible to expand and secure more resources to counteract this penalty, as one simply doesn't hav e enough to expand and consolidate simultaneously.

Game mechanics aside, I am terribly partial to a good storyline, especially in an RPG, I believe it can ultimately save a game. But Warcraft III fails on all accounts. The game begins with the ancient rivalry of Orc vs. Human, but it doesn't end so! IMHO, you cannot have Orc and Human working side by side, it does not work. For me this was the stake through the heart that slayed the Warcraft III storyline, however there were many more factors contributing to its downfall. As I mentioned before, the fluid animated FMV sequences from Starcraft (and perhaps even Warcraft II, for its time) are pretty much dead, only having FMVs as a before game intro, one before each campaign and an end game one, and instead replacing all others with pre-rendered cinematics produced with the exact same engine as the game. This doesn't help suspend belief in the least, and the horrid scripting and voice acting only acts as a catalyst. The story itself is cheesy and full of holes, it really doesn't stand up. And last, and definently least, the flimsy RPG elements thrown in are so miniscule they are not even worth mentioning - but let me say that they don't help make the game an RPS.

To sum, the graphics are behind their time, the interface infuriating, the game mechanics poorly designed, and there is simply not enough RPG or RTS to classify it as anything other than a dud. This is a seriously dissapointing game, considering the massive potential it had, and I sincerely hope this plague doesn't spread to Starcraft II (if it does, by god as my witness, I shall never buy another Blizzard game). If you must buy it, then do so, but I reccommend you save your money for something more worthwile. If you wish to "get medieval", as Darius75 says, I would reccommend Medieval: Total War.

Final Verdict:

Graphics: 3/5
Sound: 4/5
Gameplay: 2/5
Playability: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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