Blizzard knows how to make great games, and they know how to make great expansions to those games. The Frozen Throne is no exception—it does everything a good expansion should, giving players oodles of added content while maintaining the flavor and balance of the original title.
The Frozen Throne (TFT) picks up where WarCraft 3: The Reign of Chaos left off. The single player campaign, which acts like an introduction to many of the new units and heroes, continuing the story of three of the four playable races of WarCraft 3 (the Night Elves, the Humans, and the Undead), while introducing a fifth race for use in the campaign. To avoid any spoilers I won’t say much more about the story, other than it moves forward with the typical excellence we have come to expect from Blizzard. An additional bonus campaign highlights the Orcs, so fans of the greenskins will have some single-player goodness as well.
The single-player campaign tends to move away from the typical “build up and destroy the enemy” missions. Instead, The Frozen Throne gives us several RPG-like missions, interspersed with seek-and-destroy, defend-this-position, and even a few puzzle-type missions. Many of the missions highlight a particular new unit or hero, slowly introducing the new units into the player’s arsenal. For sharp-eyed players, there’s even a bonus mission with a very cool reward hidden somewhere in the campaign. The campaign is quite fun and engaging throughout, and is in fact my favorite part of The Frozen Throne. It’s nice to see care given to support the single-player experience, when so many RTS games seem to throw together a single-player option as an afterthought. For those with more social gaming habits, TFT’s multiplayer is everything one would expect from Blizzard and WarCraft, allowing players to play across TCP/IP or Battle.net.
Each of the races gets a slew of new units and heroes, filling in some of the weaknesses of each of the races, while managing to remain fairly well balanced. A few examples follow: The Orcs gain the Troll Batrider, a light flying unit great for scouting and not too shabby at tearing apart buildings, provided they have a bit of protection from other troops. The Humans are able to call forth the Spell Breaker, a nifty little unit capable of either stealing positive buff spells from the enemy and transferring them to friendly units, or taking negative buffs from friendlies and handing them to the enemy. The Undead can now build the Obsidian Statue, a support-type unit able to heal either mana or health to surrounding units. The Night Elves get a huge boost in melee power with the Mountain Giant, lumbering behemoths with the ability to tear trees from the ground and wield them as building-smashing clubs.
Several new hero units are also available: The Shadow Hunter arrives to help out the Orcs, bringing to bear some fairly impressive magics, including the ability to grant invulnerability to friendly units for a limited time. In answer to this, the Humans can now field the Blood Mage, a fire-based hero with the ability to summon a Phoenix, a flying unit capable of being reborn again and again. The Undead bring forth a Crypt Lord hero, a powerful ground unit with the ability to create Carrion Beetles from the corpses of slain enemies. Finally, the Night Elves gain the Warden hero, a unit capable of short-range teleportation. Many of the units from the original also gain some new abilities and powers. In addition to the new units for each race, some more neutral heroes and units are introduced, including a “fifth race” playable within the single-player campaign. Several new buildings are also introduced, including a “market building” for each of the races, allowing heroes to purchase potions, scrolls, and other useful goodies.
Graphics, sound, and gameplay are the same high quality as in the original. The music is superb, the voice acting uniformly excellent, and the between- and in-mission cutscenes are very well done. Blizzard manages once again to meet the high expectations they have set for themselves. A lot of care went into production, and it shows. With an engrossing single-player campaign of over 25 missions, several new multiplayer maps, and a slew of new units, heroes, items, and abilities, The Frozen Throne is an excellent addition to the WarCraft universe.
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