Is Cataclysm Catastrophic?
World Of Warcraft. It's a game that is already more popular than God and if you've stuck with it to get to level 80, you're unlikely to leave any time soon and this review is unlike to change anyones mind, but is Cataclysm a fantastic addition or an abysmal failure? That's honestly hard to judge and it depends on how you're approaching the game.
I like to keep my reviews short and to the point, to review for the every-man and give an impression of the game. After all, while an in depth analysis may serve a purpose, I'm sure you'd like to play the game for yourself without me describing the whole thing, unfortunately WoW is so massive, a short review is near impossible so I'm going to cut it down to three main areas:-
1. First of all, balance. Every class is now balanced and plays beautifully with them all having distinct flavours and roles. It's no longer a matter of following the only talent build worth bothering with for your class any more. Now all the classes and all the trees have a decent range of abilities and fit in well. This does however mean that now Paladins aren't an immediate “I Win” button, which quite frankly is about bloody time.
2. If you where ever planning on starting an MMO but never got around to it, now is the time to start World Of Warcraft. The starting areas and quests for levels 1-40 have been completely revamped and they are very well written. They have a nice story element, they make sense, and they have quite seriously reduced the amount of pointless grinding needed. Levelling now, even solo, is very enjoyable.
3. Guilds now serve a much larger purpose and it fosters a sense of community. Whether you want a competitive PVP-Raid guild on a standard server or a theme based roleplayers guild on an RP server, it seems the guilds are much more capable of catering to the needs of the players now, and while this is more a community thing than anything else, the addition of the Goblins has greatly increased the non-combat based roleplaying on the Horde side for those who want to play merchants and artisans on the RP servers.
4. The style and scope of this game is beautiful. It's very well designed and awe inspiring to look at, and with the fullscreen window mode added in, it means those who prefer playing in windowed mode, to allow things to run in the background, can enjoy the graphics and designs at full resolution. The design changes to places like Orgrimmar and Thousand Needles are nicely implemented and thought out, but will take some people time to get used to.
1. With more balance came total railroading. It's now impossible to make a bad build on WoW. You're locked into your talents from the get go, cannot spread your points across multiple trees, have too few options to distinguish yourself with and as a result your Frost Mage will be like every other Frost Mage, and so will your Shadow Priest, Survival Hunter and Protection Paladin. Cookie cutter couldn't be more appropriate. The game even throws the correct equipment at your feet so you'll never need to worry about being poorly equipped for your level... it does however mean a simple computer program could play this game and get much the same result as a human being. Don't expect to think when playing this game any more. WoW was never intended to be a game that required a lot of strategy but at this point tic-tac-toe seems to require more thought.
2. What a profound waste of time. This is the exact feeling you'll get when you look back at the really rare loot and pile of emblems you worked your ass off for in Wrath. Why? Because ten minutes into Cataclysm the first green magic items you pick up will make all your rares and legendaries completely obsolete. Welcome back to mediocrity, those hundreds of hours in arenas and dungeons spent making your character competitive can be rendered entirely pointless by any level 81 character with a spare half-hour.
3. I hope you have a powerful computer. WoW has become a processor and graphics glutton, and if you're running with Vista expect to be crying should you ever find yourself in world PVP defending a major city on a PVP server. Unless you have at least 4GB of RAM, a 2.2GHz Processor and a GeForce 9 Series or better graphics card, expect lag, even on the lower graphics setting, unless you're on a low-population server. Considering this time last year WoW could run on 512MB of RAM with a 1.4GHz Processer and a GeForce 5 Series graphics card with only slight lag, this is a major oversight on the part of Blizzard who risk alienating everyone who hasn't invested in a proper gaming PC, you now officially need a more powerful PC for World Of Warcraft than you do for Oblivion or Fallout 3, and that's not a good thing.
So, is it worth it? It all depends, if you've never played WoW before, this is a great change, and you'll really enjoy levelling and going through the storylines. The game is popular for a reason and they have made the game much better for those starting out however if you're an old WoW player you're likely going to find this expansion restrictive and rather disappointing. Honestly, at this point my advice would be to give this a miss. If you're new to the game pick up the very cheap World Of Warcraft and the first expansion Burning Crusade and enjoy playing though to level 70, because the vast majority of the new content is patch content for the lower level areas anyway. The expansion specific stuff, is simply not worth the cash unless you're already invested in the Warcraft world, in which case the lack of customisation may drive you away. This expansion is a strange beast. The expansion itself is really disappointing, but it may well bring enough life back to the vanilla game to make that ironically worth looking at again.