Every once in a while, something special comes along, something that grabs your gaming attention and simply refuses to let go. World of Warcraft is one such example of this. From the very moment you start, to the moment you logoff, you are presented with a beautiful vision of how a good MMORPG should be made. Fans of Blizzard’s Warcraft, the classic series of fantasy RTS games, will be delighted at how World of Warcraft captures the essence that made its namesakes so enjoyable to play.
World of Warcraft takes place in the world of Azeroth, several years after the events played through in Warcraft III. The now ravaged world is full of tension and conflict as the battle weary races try to rebuild their lives and homes, whilst new enemies loom on the horizon to threaten the world yet again. This is where the player comes in, choosing a side to fight for, be it the once dignified and powerful Alliance or the unforgiving Horde. Eight playable character races are on offer, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s deal with the races on the Alliance side first:
Humans: The proud race of man has been through two punishing wars against the Orcs, and suffered a huge defeat against the Burning Legion of the Undead, which resulted in the loss of the northern Kingdom of Lordaeron. Now only the city of Stormwind remains as their last hope, one for which they will fight to the bitter end.
Night Elves: The once reclusive race of Elves were the first to study the realm of magic, and their misuse of it brought the Burning Legion upon the world, which in turn lead to a war between the two. Although the Elves were victorious, their home was destroyed and they were forced to flee to their Holy Mountain, where they remained hidden for thousands of years. When the Burning Legion resurfaced, the Elves sought to ally themselves with other races to ensure their continued survival. Although a gallant and honorable race, they view other races with an air of distrust.
Dwarves: Strong allies of the Humans, the Dwarven people live beneath the mountains of Khaz Modan. Although they rarely leave the safety of their mountain homes or the city of Ironforge, whenever the call for battle arises, they are there without question.
Gnomes: Probably the most technologically advanced race is also the most eccentric. Living in the wondrous city of Gnomeregan, the brilliant Gnomes shared their engineering skills with their fellow neighbors, the Dwarves. During the second war, the Gnomes aided the Alliance but refused to help when the Burning Legion were attacking. When the Legion was defeated it became known why the Gnomes had not helped. An ancient power had attacked Gnomeregan from within, and although the Gnomes fought hard to save their city, they were unable to secure victory and, with half the Gnome race destroyed, they were forced to flee and live among their Dwarven allies.
And on the Horde side we have:
Orcs: Often thought of as mindless savages, the green skinned Orcs were summoned into the world and forced to fight a war against the Humans. The once proud race were corrupted by the Burning Legion, and used as pawns until they rebelled and eventually defeated their demon masters. Now, lead by the powerful young Warchief Thrall, the Orcs are trying to regain their heritage, fighting only when necessary to protect their race in a new, fragile world.
Trolls: Found in the Jungles, the Trolls have long hated all other races. Yet, the Darkspear tribe overcame their prejudices after coming into contact with the Orc Warchief Thrall. Having been exiled from their lands, these outcasts were almost destroyed – had it not been for the Orcs, who came to their aid. Now, allied with the Horse, they live close to the Orcs in Durotar. Yet they still hold little trust for the Forsaken Undead.
Tauren: These huge creatures live in the grassy open areas of Kalimdor, serving nature and maintaining a balance between the wild lands and the restless spirits. The Tauren are a lofty race, steeped in tradition, and despite their formidable size, they’re mostly a peaceful race. Yet, make no mistake, in battle they are daunting and powerful opponents. During the conflict with the Burning Legion they allied with the Orcs and have remained strong allies ever since.
Undead: Deep beneath the ruined city of Lordaeron live the Forsaken, a splinter group of Undead that freed themselves from the rule of the evil Lich King. Trusting no one, their soul purpose is to eradicate their enemy, the Scourge, along with the rest of Humanity. In a clever move, they allied with the Horde, and fooled them into helping fight their common enemy. Only time will tell if they can succeed in their bitter mission of vengeance.
The class you pick to play, of which there are nine, is dependant upon the race you choose. These classes are: Paladin, Rogue, Priest, Hunter, Warlock, Mage, Druid, Shaman and Warrior. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, which the player must capitalize on and overcome. If you prefer to be at the forefront of battle, charging the enemy and defeating him with brute strength, then the path of the Warrior will likely be your choice. Should you wish to stand back, and hurl ranged fireballs or lighting bolts at your foe from afar, then a Warlock or Mage will be for you. The beauty of World of Warcraft is that you are free to play your chosen class in anyway you see fit. To give you a better idea what each class is like, here is a quick overview.
Paladin: These defenders of the Holy Light can be found fighting wherever there is a threat from the advancing undead Forsaken, tirelessly maintaining their battle against their demonic foes. Armed with huge hammers and the power of Light, these Paladins command forces and fight in the midst of the thickest battles.
Rogue: Hidden in the shadows of Azeroth are where Rogues are most comfortable, using their unique skills to their advantage, striking only when the best opportunity arises. Masters of trickery, concealment and disguise, Rogues have little trouble finding those who need their services.
Priest: Throughout Azeroth, the many races have Priests to spread their faith throughout the lands. From the Night Elves to the sick and twisted Forsaken, they all share the power to aid their own, and corrupt the minds of their enemies. Armed with their powerful faith, they are a force to be reckoned with in their own right.
Hunter: While some other classes can summon creatures, and turn into them, only the hunter can befriend the many creatures found in Azeroth. Sharing a connection with these creatures, Hunters prefer to work alone, finding friendship in their weapons and the creatures that they tame.
Warlock: Once Mages, these Warlocks are those that have played too closely with their demonic powers. Their thirst for the dark knowledge from beyond this world has left them corrupted. Now their powers are drawn from the Burning Legion that is so willing to comply, allowing them to call upon dark powers and summon evil minions with which to aid their fight.
Druid: Protectors of Nature and the World, the Druids woke to banish the evil Burning Legion. When the Legion was repelled, the Druids chose to stay, using the power of Nature and the World to rebuild that which had been destroyed. They also have the ability to change form to aid them in their task, the strength of the Bear and the speed of the Cheetah are just a few of the many forms available to them.
Warrior: Warriors are the only true melee class in Warcraft. Their strength and power is used purely for combat. Armed with the toughest armor and the heaviest weapons, the Warrior prides himself on the use of force and tactics to crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and hear the lamentation of the women