In Play

In Play

Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos

Blizzard Entertainment

PC, $49.95

Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft series is to the gaming industry what George Lucas' Star Wars franchise is to the film world -- loaded with eye candy, rooted in mythology, and pre-installed with enough loyal fans to fill the perfectly contoured bowl of an intergalactic senate. But most importantly, like Lucas' star-slinging Westerns, Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos came to retail shelves with enough pre-release hype to guarantee its financial legacy for eons to come. Already an unqualified blockbuster according to the Blizzard marketing machine, Warcraft 3 is the fastest-selling PC game in history, with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide since its July 3 release. Originally designed as a hybrid between real-time strategy (mass troop warfare) and traditional role-playing games (individual hack-and-slash adventure), Warcraft 3 ultimately stays true to its RTS roots, but still offers an olive branch to the RPG crowd. With the introduction of an individual Hero unit, the game gives players a chance to build up a unique character through experience points, attribute elevation, and discovery of rare weapons and other goods. This addition to the game ultimately doesn't go as far as many fans might have hoped, but it does breathe new life into the slowly decaying RTS genre. Commanding the central character Arthas for the bulk of the game, it's your mission to root out the source of a devastating evil plague running rampant throughout the world of Azeroth. How the anti-hero Arthas transforms seems to borrow heavily from Blizzard's own Starcraft title, but rest assured the newly invented twists, turns, and character spirals of Warcraft 3 will drive players into a never-ending night, thirsting for adventure, rare artifacts, and that double-edged blade known as power.

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