Written by  :  kbmb (435)
Written on  :  Jul 11, 2003
Platform  :  Windows

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Quite possibly the best expansion pack ever released.

The Good

I wrote a review for Warcraft III a while back, and by reading it you can assume I wasn't very impressed with the game. In fact, I was disappointed and annoyed with what was the game I anticipated more than any other game. And while the game seemed to offend me in every aspect, one part I thought was not only done "right", but done "exceptionally well," and that was the single player campaign. It brought us a great, original story, with not-horrible voiceovers, traditional "Blizzard-style" RTS gameplay, and four races to play through with ten or so missions in each campaign.

I did not have high expectations for Frozen Throne. Not only because of how Warcraft III disappointed me, but because expansion packs typically suck. Most publishers think they can get away with adding two or three new units and charging you thirty bucks for it. Let me tell you...Frozen Throne is no 'typical' expansion pack!

Not only does Frozen Throne add more to the game, it nearly doubles what the original game gave us! It adds a ton of new units, new items, new tilesets, even a few new races that you can control! And best of all, it brings us a brand new story, bringing back some of your favorite characters from Warcraft III, and it's almost every bit as good as WC3's.

The levels in the campaign are much more varied than in the original campaign, but only a handful are typical "build base and destroy enemy base" style missions. While this may disappoint some people, I thought it was great. Levels range from dungeon-crawling expeditions that don't involve base building at all - in a few missions you must even escape from a collapsing dungeon! - to a sort of "tug of war" game in the Outland. One mission you must massacre several villages not letting any peasants escape, and another you must annihilate two bases while its inhabitants sleep, and there is even a "turret defense" secret level. Your goals are reasonable, and almost never feel burdoning, and every level begins and ends with a rewarding in-game dialogue exchange/cinematic.

And speaking of cinematics, the two CG cinematics you'll find in the game, while not quite as wonderfully detailed and exhillerating as the original campaigns, are very, very pretty and I've watched them more than once. One thing that I found quite pleasing was an in-game cinematic in which two Heroes battle it out over a frozen wasteland, and it doesn't look in-game. That is to say, it's rendered in-game using in-game units, but not typical in-game animations.

There is a "bonus campaign" that plays more like an RPG than an RTS game. Actually, you might say it was obviously influenced by the countless "RPG" maps created for Starcraft over the years. It works very well, and it was very fun to play, and while not completely finished, Blizzard has promised two free episodes will be available to download from their website.

Also one thing that I was very happy and surprised to see was that you're not just playing "Night Elves" or "Undead" this time - but a general alliance instead. Several missions will require you to utilize two different races' bases at once, including the Naga and the Blood Elf races.

Heeyyy food limit was bumped up to 100! Not quite the 200 most people want, but you can get that extra unit or two now.

The ending credits is hilarious.

The Bad

While the entire game campaign was quite good, I found the first campaign to be sort of boring. Perhaps it's just because I don't like the setting it took place in, but I just really wanted to finish it to move on to the next race's campaign.

There's no Orc campaign! Well, there is, kind of, but it's a "bonus campaign" and not part of the expansion's story! The Orcs have always been my favorite. Why couldn't they have played a crucial part in the story, like in the original campaign?

The in-game cutscene I mentioned, while pretty cool, annoyed me how it was set up. It looked more like a Dragon Ball Z anime short than an in-game cinematic. The sword arking down the screen with lines flying around behind it just looks stupid. In fact, the whole anime influence in the game is altogether annoying and really detracts from the focus.

The Naga and the Blood Elves come with their own semi-unique set of units and buildings - why can't you play them in multiplayer?! Four races is pretty cool and all, but six would be even cooler, don't you think?

The in-game story was kind of vague, I think. First of all, the game's campaign seems to pick up and drop side-stories every few chapters, and it's not really enough for you to 'connect' with what's all going on. You don't even understand what's going on or why it's even called "Frozen Throne" until about the last campaign. While everything leading up to it added a lot of suspense, I feel it would have benefited by clueing you in sooner. By the time I learned of the Frozen Throne, I was past being in suspense and was wading in impatience. The problem is, it's just not rewarding enough to complete vital missions and not really know what the overall purpose is. It helps that the characters are interesting enough, but with only about seven or eight missions per campaign, there's not *that* much in there for you to truly connect with the characters. There's no real beginning to the story - it just takes place some time after the last game, and you're thrust into fighting Nagas.

The ending is vague and awkward. It certainly leaves an opening for another expansion, and they'd better make one because it's SO vague that it almost doesn't make any sense at all. The entire last campaign - you're striving for something, putting all your efforts into completing this one goal...and then once you get it, that's it, game over, nothing happens. You don't see what becomes of some of your favorite heroes, you don't know the outcome of anything, you don't see anything...just...vague, emptiness. There are also a pile of plot holes throughout.

Hey, the Blood Elf archer sounds an awful lot like the Night Elf archer, though they look different. What gives?

The Bottom Line

Well, it didn't add enough to the original Warcraft III to make me spend countless hours playing multiplayer or skirmish games like in Starcraft, but it was enough to make me happily play through several hours in a single player campaign in a game I don't really altogether like. The new units and the great story and all the other goodies in the game - it's almost like playing a sequel.

Frozen Throne does what an expansion ought to do - expand in the game to not only add to gameplay aspects, but to build upon what made the original any good in the first place. Too many expanions throw together a bundle of new units and a piss-poor campaign to justify it and call it an "expansion". That's not an "expansion", that's a ten megabyte "add-on" - one that usually can be done better by amateur mappers and modders.

Frozen Throne is, in my opinion, quite possibly the best expansion ever released for a game. If you enjoyed WC3, you'll definitely enjoy this. If you hated WC3, this probably won't add enough to make you come back - unless you enjoyed the storyline, of course, in which I would definitely suggest picking this one up.