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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » WoW: Wrath of the Lich King - Review @ The Escapist

Default WoW: Wrath of the Lich King - Review @ The Escapist

November 14th, 2008, 01:44
John Funk writes a highly positive review of Blizzard's WotLK.
Wrath of the Lich King is a tremendously more ambitious - and tremendously more successful - expansion pack than Burning Crusade was, and feels like a return to the roots of Warcraft. It's more WoW, but it's a better WoW in essentially every way imaginable. No game is flawless of course, but Lich King is a title worthy of the Blizzard name and reputation. It might just remind people why exactly there are eleven million people around the world playing the game today. The Kool-Aid has never tasted so good.
Long live the King.
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November 14th, 2008, 01:44
The WoW sub-culture is completely self contained.

Reviews of anything WoW never come across as an analysis of gameplay, systems, fun factor or technical issues. The reason people read reviews in the first place. To get enough information to help them decide if the game is for them and if they should purchase it.

WoW reviews seem to be written for and by current fans as an affirmation that their unyielding love for the game is justified.

It's a Utopia in there and when the Great Benefactor (Blizzard) gives it's citizens more of what they want, mass euphoria ensues.
Last edited by Reyla; November 14th, 2008 at 01:53.
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November 14th, 2008, 01:56
I'll boldly disagree. WoW is monolithically ginormous, BUT so much so that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the MMORPG genre is a SERIOUSLY competitive space. There are a whole bunch of games out there, and moreover the average player isn't going to play more than one or two per year, nor more than one at a time (and that mostly goes for the hardcoreplayers, come to think of it). All this is to say that while WoW's unique market position lends it a certain immunity from bad reviews in the short term, the game's longevity and utter dominance of a harshly competitive market should be enough to let the open-minded person give WoW the benefit of the doubt where quality is concerned.

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November 14th, 2008, 09:22
I bought the original game because of excellent reviews and user critics and got bored in two weeks. The game started to feel more like a job than hobby. Perhaps the reason that I have never been a fan of IRC or other net chats stops me from enjoying the "social side" of diku mmos (its nice to have but alone it does not keep me).

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November 14th, 2008, 10:24
Currently playing it. Completed the Death Knight starting zone, and done some instances in Nothrend (not on my DK, obviously). Looks and feels a lot better than Outland so far. However, I'm still not sure they can pull off the whole "ignore utility, everyone has roughly the same dps" thing - I suspect min/max theorycrafters like elitistjerks will soon figure out what class to stack 10 of in a 25 man raid, and which classes you simply don't need.

Oh well, all in all it looks great so far.
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November 14th, 2008, 11:41
Playing it aswell atm.

Find it more fun than TBC was in the beginning. But the true test for me comes with the raiding. Looking forward to that.
But its nice to lvl again, yourself and your professions.
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November 14th, 2008, 12:13
I wholeheartedly disagree with the Escapist. WotLK might be successful, but it isn’t ambitious in any way. It is more of the same – that’s it. It hardly introduces any really new features or elements. What it does is making the game even more casual player friendly. For many journalists this has become some kind of mark of quality, but personally I’m disgusted by this trend. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against casual players, but I don’t like the fact that Blizzard abandoned rather nice concepts just for their sake.
I’ve never seen such a conservative expansion, I have to say. I really think that WoW is feasting of its own monopoly at the moment. And I don’t think that this will enough in the long run.

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November 14th, 2008, 14:06
The Burning Crusade was probably even more conservative from my point of view. New features: Flying mounts, arenas, new races, a new proffesion and… ?

At least in Wotlk there's a new class and new pvp mechanics (siege vehicles, flying mount battles, etc), in addition to "more of the same".

Truth be told - both expansions are basically just huge content patches. However, what do you expect? They can't make fundemental changes to a game 11 million people like just the way it is - any big changes to such a winning recipe would be a pointless gamble.

That being said, I agree it's certainly not possible to define it as "very ambitious" - this is as safe as it gets, hardly any risk involved at all.
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November 14th, 2008, 15:36
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
At least in Wotlk there's a new class and new pvp mechanics (siege vehicles, flying mount battles, etc), in addition to "more of the same".

Truth be told - both expansions are basically just huge content patches. However, what do you expect? They can't make fundemental changes to a game 11 million people like just the way it is - any big changes to such a winning recipe would be a pointless gamble.
Well, this is of course my own opinion. I'm not claiming that it is valid for the majority of players… it most likely isn't. I just feel that the "more of the same" concept isn't really all to exciting. There are a lot of things Blizzard could have done to make this expansion way more interesting. I for once had prefered a somewhat more innovative concept when it comes to the hero classes for example. The death knight is somehow just another class that wasn't really necessary.
I guess it's simply not my game anymore. I mean, WoW certainly isn't a bad game. But let's face it, despite what everyone is saying, it just hasn't all too much content. If it has really so much content like everyone says, why does everyone have like 5 alts? In Everquest I had exactly one character and there was ALWAYS something exciting to do, and if it was just gathering the money to get that next awsome piece of equipment.

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November 14th, 2008, 16:08
The funny thing about MMO reviews is… when a new MMO comes that has quests, reviews blast them becuase it's just a 'WOW clone' and score it a 70, but when WOW releases an expansion that is just the same old WOW they say things like 'Excellent release, it goes back to WOW's origins and what made it so special' and score it a 95 lol
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November 14th, 2008, 16:22
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
The funny thing about MMO reviews is… when a new MMO comes that has quests, reviews blast them becuase it's just a 'WOW clone' and score it a 70, but when WOW releases an expansion that is just the same old WOW they say things like 'Excellent release, it goes back to WOW's origins and what made it so special' and score it a 95 lol
Well, it's Blizzard… you don't write bad stuff about them. People like them. As sad as it is, but that's probably like many gaming magazines think nowadays.

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November 14th, 2008, 16:36
Playing it - enjoying it.

One comment on the reviewer's notes concerning art: I agree that WoW has never looked better and the lighting changes to the engine in Rev 3.02 along with the LOD options, higher poly limits and texture densities in WotLK are used to great effect by Blizzard.

I first looked at WoW four years ago and hated the cartoony feel. I now look at it as the wisest and best art direction I have ever seen as part of a game's design.

With all the eye candy turned on, it still looks pretty damn cool. It plays pretty damn cool, too. Which is more than I can say for Age of Conan.

While I expect Star Wars: The Old Republic will drive a sharp shiv deep into the left kidney of WoW 18 months hence, until then, I'm happy to pay my MMO dollars to Blizzard. These guys simply know what they are doing - and do it better than anybody else.

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November 14th, 2008, 17:29
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
The funny thing about MMO reviews is… when a new MMO comes that has quests, reviews blast them becuase it's just a 'WOW clone' and score it a 70, but when WOW releases an expansion that is just the same old WOW they say things like 'Excellent release, it goes back to WOW's origins and what made it so special' and score it a 95 lol
Its a popularity contest. 11 mil players cant be wrong.

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November 14th, 2008, 18:19
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
Well, it's Blizzard… you don't write bad stuff about them. People like them. As sad as it is, but that's probably like many gaming magazines think nowadays.
Well, that's what they get for making good products….
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November 14th, 2008, 20:25
The funny thing about MMO reviews is… when a new MMO comes that has quests, reviews blast them becuase it's just a 'WOW clone' and score it a 70, but when WOW releases an expansion that is just the same old WOW they say things like 'Excellent release, it goes back to WOW's origins and what made it so special' and score it a 95 lol
Just because random idiots say something doesn't mean it represents the conventional wisdom, and I don't think too many widely-read reviewers have even used the phrase "just a WoW clone". Everybody who's paying attention knows that WoW has always been more about polishing what works (regardless of which game came up with it first), as opposed to breaking new ground.

Look, I'm a contrarian myself. The fact that something's very popular instantly turns me against it, and if that something happens to be jingoistic, pedantic, and morally reprehensible, then I know my instincts were right (I'm looking at you, 300). But WoW is a game, and people like it. A LOT. So seriously, should a reviewer be penalizing Blizzard for releasing a smooth, polished, tested product that gives its gigantic core audience exactly what they want?

What do you think Blizzard shuold be trying to do instead, trying to impress you personally, somone who probably doesn't even like the genre WoW represents?** Would that make any sense at all?

Just because you think WoW's style of gameplay is boring doesn't make WoW bad. I mean, duh.

** Note that by "you", I mean all you whack assed WoW haters.
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November 14th, 2008, 20:59
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Look, I'm a contrarian myself. The fact that something's very popular instantly turns me against it, and if that something happens to be jingoistic, pedantic, and morally reprehensible, then I know my instincts were right (I'm looking at you, 300). But WoW is a game, and people like it. A LOT. So seriously, should a reviewer be penalizing Blizzard for releasing a smooth, polished, tested product that gives its gigantic core audience exactly what they want?
This leads back to the often discussed question how good journalism should look like. At least from point of view a good journalist should always be a tad more critical than his/her readership. So short answer: Yes. If a wine connaisseur tested wines on the assumption that a lot of people who drink wine just want to get wasted he probably wouldn't be that far from the truth, but he certainly wouldn't be a very good connaisseur either.

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November 14th, 2008, 21:43
Originally Posted by Reyla View Post
The WoW sub-culture is completely self contained.

Reviews of anything WoW never come across as an analysis of gameplay, systems, fun factor or technical issues. The reason people read reviews in the first place. To get enough information to help them decide if the game is for them and if they should purchase it.

WoW reviews seem to be written for and by current fans as an affirmation that their unyielding love for the game is justified.

It's a Utopia in there and when the Great Benefactor (Blizzard) gives it's citizens more of what they want, mass euphoria ensues.
Well said, I couldn't have said it any better.
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November 14th, 2008, 23:17
This leads back to the often discussed question how good journalism should look like. At least from point of view a good journalist should always be a tad more critical than his/her readership. So short answer: Yes. If a wine connaisseur tested wines on the assumption that a lot of people who drink wine just want to get wasted he probably wouldn't be that far from the truth, but he certainly wouldn't be a very good connaisseur either.
I understand, like the way a film critic who said 300 was a good movie is both objectively wrong and undeniably stupid. But aren't things a little different where games are involved? Unlike other artforms, games are played.

Listen here, we all know games struggle to be taken seriously as art, and I for one think that at their best, games are no less artistic than prose or painting. BUT one real distinction between our medium adn those other ones is the form of the interactivity, and pro- game-as-art though I am, I admit that the playing of the games makes them fundamentally different from other art forms, and even from food and wine. Eats and drinks are consumed, but that too is a different thing than being played.

I sincerely think that games are an entity unto themselves, from a critical standpoint. In literary terms, we can agree that Danielle Steele and Stephen King (an absolute favorite of mine) are lousy writers, while poor, tortured David Foster Wallace was doing something tremendous. We can agree to that despite inverted book sales that make it clear the works of the former too are far more popular than the latter. And in foodiary (note to ESLs: foodiary is not a word)terms, I can accept that a Big Mac is utter crap, even though a majority of folks might prefer its familiar taste to that of some quality cuisine. I accept that there's a quality, even to the way something tastes, that transcendes popularity.

Games are neither like art nor like food. I contend that a game's purpose is to be fun. If a game does EVERYTHING right, but a reviewer finds it to be no fun, don't we expect a low score? If a game has problem upon problem, but the reviewer gets addicted, don't we expect a higher score, albeit with caveats?

EXAMPLE: Bejeweled or whatever, those immensely popular puzzle games. I don't play them or like them, but can I take a reviewer to task for giving them a high score just because they compeltely lack the elements of gaming that are important to me? I can't say they're not good games.

There are other elements to game quality, and they do count. I want my critic to say when a story is forulaic or incomrehensible, when the characters are poorly voiced or their dialogue is tedious, whether the pacing or scaling works, whether the combat hurts your wrist, etc. But in an MMORPG like WoW? How many of these other factors come into play? The things you want a critic for an MMORPG to talk about are size of content, stability, polish, balance, copmlexity of character skill system, whatever.

Where does this WoW expansion let you down, exactly? Is it filled with bugs? Do the new areas crash all the time? Is the content not filled out? Is there nothing to do at the higher levels? Are the classes unbalanced? Do the quests bore you so much that you stop playing before ou get to level 80? Those are the kinds of problems, if omitted from a review, that should have us guffawing and talking about the sad state of journalism.

Again, I bet if anyone who's poo-pooing these reviews sits down for a second and writes out where SPECIFICALLY they think our current journalists are turning a blind eye to WotLK's shortomings, we'd see no more than differences of opinion. Differences of opinion, moreover, between people who are either sick of WoW or don't even like MMORPGs on the one hand, and 10 million paying customers on the other side. Wait, not just paying customers, but committed, avid gamers.

Why should a critic pay attention to what you care about, instead of what them 10 millions suckers care about? No wait, now it's 11 million.
Last edited by Yeesh; November 14th, 2008 at 23:23.
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November 15th, 2008, 03:02
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Why should a critic pay attention to what you care about, instead of what them 10 millions suckers care about? No wait, now it's 11 million.
Do those 11 million all actually play wow because its such a good good game? Or do they play it - year after year - for other reasons? There are people who till subscribe to Ultima Online just to keep their property. Compared to that WoW is the facebook of MMOs.

I can totally understand them if they dont want to play other games that feel wowish. I mean why would you pay monthly for facebooks that are similar yet inferior in both content and users? New MMO must offer somthing truly new to really dethrone WoW. It cannot be just a good wow clone with handful of new features.

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Last edited by zakhal; November 15th, 2008 at 03:10.
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November 15th, 2008, 11:05
None of my char is lv 55 yet so still working on that so I can play Dk. I just want yathzee to review the lich king. Should be hilarious.

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