The recent blog, Peace in the Era of Call of Duty really made me think about war games that dig deeper than simply a kill streak reward. The first game that came to mind was Spec-Ops: The Line and although I haven’t played it, I began to wonder if it did the war genre as...
The Good: Superb production values with an excellent story, graphics, voice acting, and FMVs, different mission variety, four well balanced and unique races, super fun online play, 40+ hours campaign
The Bad: Unbalanced difficulty, can't create enough units, everything takes up too much resource
I remember when Warcraft came out, but at the time I never had the PC too run the game so now I finally had the chance and I was very pleased. The game has something that most RTS are missing and that's a great story.
You play through four campaigns (Humans, Undead, Orcs, and Night Elves) and watching as the Undead try to corrupt the world. What's interesting about the story is it's like playing a game of chess with yourself. Without spoiling anything you basically play one campaign then it leads to the next, but your ironically fighting against what you just did in the other campaign. It's a great change in pace and keeps the story interesting. The game is mainly focused on the four races and they all play differently and uniquely.
You have the Humans which are average in everything. They can perform magic and fight with weapons about equally, the Undead can kill off their own units for health and eat other enemies for health, they also can't build on ground unless it's been blighted by a Necropolis building (think town hall), Orcs have lots of health and are super strong, but use little to no magic and are slow at building things, and Night Elves are very weak but can hide in shadow and move very fast while manipulating nature to their whim. This makes every campaign feel different and won't bore you at all.
What's different in WC3 as well are the types of missions you have. You may have some missions where you defend something for a set amount of time, some missions have you wiping out all enemies, some are fetch quests, and others are just you and a few units trying to find something. This tossing things up and won't keep you saying "not another building up and killing mission". Another main pull in WC3 are the Heroes that you use. Each Hero can level up and use 4 different spells to help you win the level. Some spells are offensive, defensive, or passive so they just work by adding attributes or are Auras which apply to surrounding friendlies. These will really help you in a pinch and are well balanced. Of course you have to learn some spells by leveling up, but they are all unique for each Hero you use. You can also buy things from Merchants that are scattered throughout the maps to buy healing potions, protective spells, town hall portals, and even hire mercenaries to do your dirty work. This also can change the way things turn out and is just another great addition to the depth of WC3.
WC3 may not be as deep as Civilization or Age of Empires, but it still offers brain work for RTS fans. To eliminate micromanagement WC3 only allows up to 90 units to be built (technically only about 25-30 since each different type of unit takes up more food) you can also only have up to 12 units selected at a time. While this can be a bit of a problem when evading large encampments it still keeps the micromanagement down. I also found issues with the difficulty. Some levels are super easy and some levels attempt invincibility cheats because your units never seem strong enough to most enemies. It may take a level 10 Hero up to 30 seconds to kill a level 4 enemy so this is really unfair. The game is also absurdly long clocking in about 40-50 hours depending on how you play. Some levels will finish with only one unit left with a pixel of health so you can see the difficulty is really unfair.
WC3 works like any other RTS with building, err, building and having to mine gold and wood to build units. The final issue is that this doesn't work fast enough so you'll be sitting and pinching resources while all the enemies attack you. Once you hit a high or low upkeep this can be a problem since maintaining so many units starts costing you. Gold income is low enough as it is with 10 pieces per worker. Low upkeep gives you 7 and high upkeep 4. You can imagine it would take forever to build up a few thousand gold that will only build a few troops. After your gold mine collapses you have to search for more, but most are in enemy sights so this is another issue.
Other than all of that Warcraft III is an RTS that all fans must play. The excellent story complimenting the deep but subtle gameplay is rewarding and not to mention the online multiplayer through Battle.net. The graphics are bright and colorful and have a lot of detail that most RTS games don't have. The voice acting is superb and nicely accompanies beautiful pre-rendered FMVs. If you're itching for a great RTS game then look no further than Warcraft III.