Some time ago, I asked a friend if I could borrow a few games to play on Twentieth Century. Even though he was born in the latter 90s, he's a big fan of 90s games from id and Blizzard. He presented a few Quakes and WarCrafts. I tried playing WarCraft 1, but a few missions in, I got annoyed by the lack of build queues and a 4 unit select limit. I got a bit further in WarCraft 2, but sometimes ran out of resources before getting an army off the ground. Back in the bad old days, I had downloaded and played the WarCraft III demo quite a bit, and I remember liking it a lot better. While the base Reign of Chaos game installed and ran fine on Twentieth Century, the Frozen Throne expansion refused to install, complaining about hardware requirements, even though it ostensibly met them. So I installed these on my main rig, and this article is about the originals; not about the new Reforged remaster.
Since the same people that made StarCraft made this, there's many parallels that can be drawn between it and this. There are several factions that look and function differently. Humans, Orcs, and Blood Elves feel like Terrans, and the Undead feel like Zerg. I'm not sure where the Night Elves fit in. The major gameplay difference is that you're using far fewer units in WarCraft. Instead of having a 200 food limit, you're limited to 100 (90 without expansion). There's also this annoying upkeep system that decreases resource collection after your army is a certain size (determined by food usage). Many times, I've kept my army size low enough for long periods to avoid upkeep. (That's bad!)
There were a few missions that were lifted almost verbatim from Brood War. There was a mission to defend a spot for half an hour and don't get overrun. I remember the mission where you have to watch four outlying bases get destroyed, and another where you have about 6 minutes to destroy an enemy base before they wake up. There's the plot about a woman getting possessed by evil and allying with a tyrant, knowing that she's only using him as a tool.
Every mission has at least one hero unit, and a lot of gameplay revolves around them. Heroes can die, as long as you have a base to revive them. After the good old days, I saw DOTA take over gaming. I knew that it was based around WarCraft 3's hero system, but that's the only unit you control. I want bigger strategy games. After playing through all the campaigns, I understand why DOTA evolved here, since some missions fit that description.
There are enjoyable missions that don't play like an RTS. I was able to activate the secret mission that turns out to be a tower defense game. I enjoyed the bonus campaign at the end that plays more like an old school RPG than an RTS. I wonder if that's where World of WarCraft came from. I've never played that for a second, so I can't tell.
In some of the Frozen Throne campaign missions, you control bases of another faction, though I don't recall that being explicitly called out at first. (I thought that they were AI controlled.) They have their own separate resources and food limits. That expansion introduces Blood Elves, Naga, and Draenei. You control Blood Elf and Naga bases during the campaign, but neither are playable in custom games. All three seem like they could be playable but aren't. (Maybe they don't play distinct enough from the others?) There's probably mods that change that. I remember Draenei from World Of WarCraft promotional material, but they look different here. Whether that's a retcon or some magic stuff happened, I don't know.
Graphics and sound are OK. Model quality is almost smeared poop-stained origami. Textures, particularly the ground, look strange to me. Animations look janky, as if the framerate isn't high enough, even though it never went below 60 FPS. What bugs me the most is that there is no lip syncing at all.
I just can't get into WarCraft. Whether it's the stereotypical Tolkienian fantasy (with all the tropes), or if it's too closely related to StarCraft but falls short, I can't tell. StarCraft has so much nostalgia for me. (That's why I rank it so high.) I had some exposure to WarCraft back then: I borrowed WarCraft 2 from family, and played the WarCraft 3 demo for hours. Nevertheless, it didn't appeal to me, and it still doesn't.
In other news, I got lucky and was picked for the honor of buying a breathtaking videocard. It should be here tomorrow. Zero guesses as to what that means.