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Complaints Incorporated: MMO Edition!

I maintain a general blog on technology, politics, economics and whatever else crosses my mind. Basically talking to myself but without the stigma of implied insanity. Since MMO's have been a big part of my life, it seemed to make sense to expand here.

Author: mlambert890

Review: World of Warcraft

Posted by mlambert890 Friday January 1 2010 at 4:17AM
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Score: 8 / 10

I'm going to try something a bit different in this blog space.  I believe in short, simple, reviews that get to the point quickly, but effectively.  With that in mind, let's talk about WoW.  I doubt there is anyone reading this who doesn't already have an opinion of this game (most likely formed from first-hand experience), so I consider this one more practice.

WoW is the gold standard of the MMO genre in terms of commercial success.  It has been said that Microsoft feels that any entry into the MMO space that cannot achieve "WoW scale" isn't worth pursuing (hence their history of extreme MMO ADD).  Blizzard took an already tremendously successful IP (Warcraft), leveraged their considerable resources and expertise, and put together what is arguably the most polished MMO in terms of technical execution and the "most accessible" in terms of gameplay.  It runs well on nearly any machine, is colorful and lively in appearance (perhaps too much so - detractors will liken it to a cartoon or a Disney ride) and has a fairly solid score and good ambient sound.  Gameplay is straight up classic - the holy trinity, fedex quests, button mash combat, linear progression followed by a raid and gear focused end game and limited character development beyond equipment and skills.  To this mix it adds reasonable PVP (including battlefields and open world) and, in the latest expansions, some interesting twists on large scale raiding.  In a nutshell, WoW is a fairly easy game whose appeal lies mainly in the gentle learning curve and low bar of entry and the compelling world design and IP.  It is deceptive, however, in that if you do become immersed, there is a near endless grind beneath the surface and an "end game" raid progression that rivals the original Everquest (both the good and the bad), but mercifully trades contested shared dungeons for instancing.  Crafting is a simple affair with limited value (unfortunately typical of the genre) and there are few "frills", but the storyline and lore are engaging and Blizzard continues to invest heavily in the game with some extremely compelling content on the horizon.

In summary, for what it is attempting to accomplish, Blizzard pretty much hits the bulls-eye.  It certainly  cannot be all things to all people, and as the king of the hill will always be the favorite target of the cynical and jaded, but it is difficult to not recommend WoW as a fantastic example of the best of what the genre has to offer.