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World of Warcraft (Windows)

91
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Marko Poutiainen (1148)
Written on  :  May 21, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

6 out of 10 people found this review helpful

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Summary

WoWtastic, at least for a while

The Good

It would be pointless to list all the cool stuff you can find in WoW in this review. Needless to say, there's plenty. There are things that you will remember for a very long time. The first time I rented a flying "taxi" and whooshed through the countryside is something I will remember for a long while. As do I remember many magnificient locations that I had to stare in awe for a long time. Or some of quests and people I met and had a good time.

But after a while WoW hits a snag. Suddenly you realise that mostly you just do the same things over and over again. I hit this snag after my second character got somewhere around level 25 (first one I got to level 17). There are lots of missions, but they tend to be the same thing every time and involve lots of killing and/or taking something to someone. You also tend to grind a lot just to get to next level and improving your trading (blacksmith, mining, alchemy etc) skills is about as much fun as your day job (at least you get paid for that). And the trouble is it's usually not worth the bother because you usually can't get them to a level allowing you to do anything useful until you already have better equipment, so the whole thing is just about making money. But if you are after maximising profits, the best tactic is to go for gatherer professions. So the whole profession thing tends to get boring quite quickly when you realise you can't quite make it worthwhile, even if it looks that way. The worthwhileness always seems to be just out of your reach.

The best and worst part about WoW are the instants which are tough multi-player levels. The idea is to gather a merry band of adventurers and beat the instant for some very nice rewards. This can be a real blast with a good group. Unfortunately in my experience, unless you play with people you know already, more often than not the group has at least one player who hasn't understood the concept of team work. They just go to the instants to maximise their own loot and in worst case leave the rest of the group in trouble. Not very nice if your healer leaves the party meaning you can't finish the instant after several hours of intense playing. The problem with playing with people you know is that you have to spend roughly as much time in WoW as them, otherwise you will be at such a different level to them that it's not worth being in the same party (because of the way the game distributes experience). The other choice is to get close to the level cap (level 60) as there the characters are roughly as powerful, but that takes months of very intense playing.

Ultimately WoW is just another ego trip. People spend weeks getting that one ultra-powerful item just so they can show everyone they have it. Gaining levels is gaining prestige among other players. As is the whole player-vs-player system. This is the main attraction of the game in the long run, once you have seen all the cool stuff and tried most things. There might be something wrong with me, but ultimately I don't see the point in that. If I want prestige, I get a better return for my time by doing something in the real life. Most people could get quite proficient in some skill, say playing the guitar, if they spent as much time practising it as they do playing WoW. But then again, it's harder to show your guitar playing skills to hundreds or thousands of people.

WoW is succesful because it's simple to play, gorgeously looking and full of that WOW! (pun intented) feeling. It also means it has lots of not-so-serious gamers, people who don't have the experience and so don't understand (or don't care) that they could be destroying someone elses enjoyment through their actions. This is something that exists in most multi-player games (heck, go to any chess server and you see people logging off when they are loosing just to avoid loosing points!) but WoW with it's massive following and easy appeal seems to have more than it's fair share. Mostly you can avoid this, and if you have friends to play with you can mostly disregard this problem. It's also a good idea not to get provoked when some higher level character tries to pick a fight (this happened to me numerous times - the trying to pick a fight part).

The Bad

At least half of your time is spent doing some mundane tasks. It's also hard to find a good group to play with, and the game looses a lot of it's appeal if you always play it solo.

The Bottom Line

WoW is definitely worth trying. It's well worth the money, much better so than most stand-alone games sold at 50 euros or thereabout. So what if you get bored in it after a few months? You still got tens or even hundreds of hours of fun. I still sometimes miss WoW but I just can't justify paying the monthly fee because I know I wouldn't play it enough until I had to have another break.