I can be accused of being a bit of a fan when it comes to the game: Warcraft and the series that spawned a few imitators along the way. So when they released Warcraft III I was overjoyed and found the game on a whole to be great fun. Now we have Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, is it a worthy expansion to the acclaimed series of games or just another excuse to cash in on an already moneymaking title?
Frozen Throne marks the addition of 26 new single-player missions in addition to the original Warcraft III missions and endeavours to tell the story as the Warcraft history continues to grow. I am not going to do too in-depth with my review on the actual missions of the game, but I'll tell you that the story twists and turns like a snake in a basket and the styles of missions are very similar to the core game itself.
New Heroes have been added to the mix and the main story is supplemented by a bonus campaign that is the crown of the Frozen Throne. The founding of Durotar is very good indeed, but once again I'm not going to go deep into telling you all the secrets - I will only say that you get to play around with a very cool Hero indeed.
Frozen Throne adds new units, equipment and tweaks to gameplay, as is Blizzard's wont to do. They have refined the engine a little in terms of control but the Graphics, AI and various other elements remain just the same as Warcraft III. Since Warcraft III had a gorgeous terrain engine and a limited camera angle, this expansion makes use of the technology that Blizzard already devised - allowing them to concentrate on the new units and features of the factions within the game.
Orc Hero: Shadow Hunter
The Orcish Shadow Hunter is an interesting unit, not bad in combat and certainly useful as he gains in power. He can learn to heal, to cause a curse; draw snakes to attack his enemies and has the Ultimate Power to turn all friendly units in an area around him invulnerable.
The Orcs also gain a Troll: Batrider and Taurean: Spirit Walker. In addition to this they gain a new building and three new upgrades. The Voodoo Lounge that allows the purchasing of items for units with inventories.
Human Hero: Blood Mage
These could be described as fallen elves, the elves that have become addicted to magic. Being able to control the darker and deeper sides of magic, those of fire and heat - that which some call Demonic magic in the Warcraft game world. They are also known as Blood Elves, the reason for this becomes clear in the story later on.
The Blood Mage can cause a pillar of fire to attack an area; this is great for deforestation and getting to hidden areas. Banish a unit, turning it ethereal and preventing physical attacks. Steal a unit's magical energy and Summon a Phoenix for their Ultimate Power.
The Humans also gain the Spell Breaker and the Dragonhawk Rider. Added to this is the Arcane Vault that serves the same function as the Orc Voodoo Lounge. There are also 3 Human Upgrades; rather than explain them and repeat the manual, they have been mentioned to provide the reader with a comparison.
Undead Hero: Crypt Lord
One of the servitors in the armies of Ner'zhul, these are monstrous undead creatures that cause pain and torment where ever they go.
They can Impale units with spiked tendrils from the ground, cover themselves in a Spiked Carapace and draw forth Carrion Beetles from the corpses of the dead. Their true power allows them to call Locust Swarms and heal by converting the substance the locusts create from the devoured and bitten enemies for its Ultimate Power.
The Undead also gain the Obsidian Statue and the Destroyer, they have a similar building where you can purchase items known as the Tomb of Relics and their Ziggurats can be upgraded to the Nerubian Tower that does cold damage to enemies and slows them down. They gain a further three new upgrades to their tech tree.
Night Elf Hero: Warden
The Warden is one of the key story characters and is the main hero that you play in the Night Elf campaign. I found the actual character did nothing to endear her to me but her skills and abilities were useful.
She can hurl a Fan of Knives striking enemies with multiple blades, Blink: Which acts like a short-range teleport (Useful for getting to certain areas of the map quickly). She can strike from the shadows with a poisoned dagger and call forth a Vengeful Spirit Avatar that can then summon other Spirits of Vengeance.
The Night Elves also have the Mountain Giant (Which can use trees as clubs) and the Faerie Dragon. Like the other factions their item building known as the Ancient of Wonders is a new addition and acts just the same as the others. They gain three additional tech upgrades as per the other factions.
In addition to the faction based tech and units there are also three Neutral Buildings thrown into the mix, the Marketplace, Tavern and Goblin Shipyard. The Tavern allows for the hiring of Neutral Heroes and the Marketplace gives access to goods, as Creatures are killed on the map their items influence the ones available at this shop. The Goblin Shipyard will sell you a transport ship - allowing you more freedom on water-based maps.
There are now five new Heroes that are unaligned, hired in the Tavern.
Naga Sea Witch, Pandaran Brewmaster, Beastmaster, Dark Ranger and Pit Lord. Each unit has strengths and weaknesses that are instantly apparent when you experiment with them; my favourite is the Naga that is capable of crossing water and wreaking havoc with forked lightning attacks.
Blizzard also added a 'Backpack' upgrade that allows non-Hero units to carry items and allow for the selling of items that you don't want, in any item shop.
So with a whopping 26 missions, a bonus campaign, new MP maps and units - Frozen Throne is a nice expansion indeed...it's not meant to be on a par with the Lord of the Rings and have an epic story like War and Peace - it's a good solid expansion that breathes fresh life into Blizzard's Warcraft III game and advances their storyline. The voice acting is about on par with the original game and the music takes its cues from that as well, the whole thing doesn't feel rushed and to me actually feels good value for money.
As you can see from the over-view of the new content, there's a fair amount there to keep you occupied and to keep you going. Additional to this Battle.Net has been upgraded and Blizzard have also made their World Editor a little more user friendly, adding new features to that and upgrading it.
If you like Warcraft III and you're itching for new units, tech and buildings...wanting to find out where the next chapter in the saga lies before the World of Warcraft comes along and sucks people into its MMORPG depths - look no further...try out the Frozen Throne and journey once more into the lands of Azeroth.