Friday, 21 January 2011

Game Review – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Format: PC.

It is difficult not to admire the impact World of Warcraft has had on the video game industry in the past six years. Millions of players enjoy the thrilling quests and raids that WoW has been providing from expansion pack to expansion pack. Cataclysm is another incredible addition to the series, providing the world of Azeroth with one of the most beautiful visual makeovers, seven new grueling dungeons, three new raids, two new playable races and unfortunately plenty of content that leans towards the more experienced and higher level players, as opposed to newcomers.

Newbie’s never fear for this is always light at the end of the tunnel. The two new playable races Goblins and Worgen, provide an excellent starting point to WoW and are brilliant entry-level races. It is always refreshing to see that a lot of care and attention has been taken to ensure that the two races are completely different aesthetically and offer two completely varied playing experiences. Nevertheless, as far as beginning a story in WoW goes, this is as good a place as ever to begin your journey where there is a large variety of enjoyable quests and a well driven story that guides you through some interesting and intriguing zones. Cataclysm in particular has really put a great deal of effort in to ensure whichever character classes are chosen, there will be plenty of useful help and tips for you to get the most out of your chosen specialties. This of course comes particularly in handy for newcomers, but even for the more experienced players it provides a great opportunity to try classes that you never tried before.

Cataclysm offers a brand new second profession to characters once level 20 has been hit. Archaeology sounds like a fascinating way to spend your time in WoW, finding particular land marks and digging for valuable treasure and loot, however it seems that finding items is entirely luck based and you quickly learn that there are other, more effective ways to find better loot than rummaging through dirt and mud. The main issue with Archaeology is that there are so many useless items in comparison to the very few decent ones that it’s almost unjustifiable wasting all that time and effort in the small vain hope of unlocking the desired items.

The brunt of Cataclysm’s content comes in the form of five new zones. These areas provide a hefty amount of quests and storyline to keep you engrossed in the post-apocalyptic world of Azeroth. Cataclysm’s story is centered on the aftermath in the world, which has been decimated by the dragon Deathwing. This theme of destruction is reminiscent in almost all the areas you visit apart from the occasional cave or underwater world, nevertheless Azeroth looks visually stunning and there is much to be admired throughout. The five zones will most likely be the place that experienced level 80 characters will progress to the new level cap of 85, although be warned the ridiculous amount of XP required to reach max level is unbelievable. Each zone provides it’s own satisfying story and conclusions that of course follow the Deathwing story narrative, but it means that you will want to play through each zone to bring all the loose ends to a close and see some of the spectacular endings that ensue.

One of the things WoW certainly does well is establishing that time has passed after quests and zones have been completed. Known as phasing, you will see how you playing the game and completing quests, defeating bosses and finishing zones has a profound impact on the environment around you. Visuals will change, characters will disappear and significant alterations occur in Azeroth, giving you not only a sense of achievement and satisfaction, but also the feeling that you are making a difference.

Cataclysm continues expanding its dimensions and mechanics with the introduction of capping players who want to attempt dungeons immediately on the heroic difficulty setting. Before it was possible to skip normal difficulty and go straight into the big leagues, but now a certain level of equipment and gear is required before you can challenge the heroic versions of the dungeons. This is an excellent addition to the game as it ensures players won’t be matched up with unprepared and under-geared players with absolutely no experience of the dungeon beforehand.

Upon reaching level 85 you unlock further content including two new player-versus-player game zones that offer domination and capture the flag battlegrounds. These games are a lot of fun and provide variation from raiding and questing, but the fact that only level 85 characters can participate means that newcomers won’t be taking part any time soon, although on the upside it ensures balanced teams.

Cataclysm continues to provide further depth in its community interface and interaction. Earning experience points for your guild has never been easier as you acquire them no matter what you are doing. The new expansion offers brand new features including Guild levels, achievements and special perks, all of which help bring players together and more importantly, keep players together in their respected Guilds. The perks in particular offer some very cool powers for example you can acquire a special cloak that can teleport you to any of the major cities. You will also eventually be able to purchase items that cannot be obtained in any other way. Needless to say, this enhancement is one of the most exciting in Cataclysm.

Ultimately World of Warcraft has evolved and most certainly for the better. There has never been so much content available for both newcomers and veterans alike. Naturally it makes sense to cater to those who have been loyal to Azeroth and have been in the world for a long time, but there is still so much fun to be had even if you are beginning right now, if ever there was a time to start WoW this is certainly it. Cataclysm was pretty much exactly what WoW needed, an update to the older areas, additions that expand not only the game but the way we interact with other players, beautifully designed and challenging new dungeons and zones and topped off with top class varied content to sink your teeth into. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is certainly a step in the right direction at keeping this franchise as the most popular MMORPG of the last decade.


Technical presentation – 8.5

Graphics – 8.5

Game-play – 8.5

Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 8 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor

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