The day many gamers have been anxiously anticipating has finally arrived:
Blizzard Entertainment today officially shipped Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, its latest blockbuster game for Windows and Mac.
Some retail stores have already been selling the game; some gamers reported getting their copies as early as late last week. Some stores even opened at midnight to begin selling the game to anxious buyers. But today marks the official release of Warcraft III, which has shipped to retailers worldwide. Blizzard’s games are always popular, but this one has set records: 4.5 million copies of Warcraft III were already pre-ordered by gamers, retailers and distributors before a single unit ever shipped.
Warcraft III is also notable for Mac users because it’s the first full game release that Blizzard has shipped out of the box simultaneously for Mac and Windows — the company’s previous major title, Diablo II, shipped for the Mac about a month after its Windows counterpart, although its add on expansion pack, Lord of Destruction, was a simultaneous hybrid released. It’s also the first full game release that Blizzard has published for Mac OS X — previous OS X builds to StarCraft, its expansion pack Brood War, Diablo II, and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction are available as downloads from the Blizzard Web site.
While Warcraft III still features the fantasy-oriented theme of previous installments, offering up plenty of swordplay and magical incantations, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos takes this legendary franchise in a different direction that previous efforts. While Warcraft and its sequel were classified as real time strategy games that focused primarily on resource gathering, unit building and massive troop deploying, Warcraft III is billed by Blizzard as a “role playing strategy” (or RPS) game. Players focus their attention on smaller groupings of troops who wage more fierce confrontations with each other.
In Warcraft III, you take control of Heroes from each of four different species that populate the mythical world of Azeroth: Orcs, Humans, Night Elves and Undead. Indeed, to play the full single-player campaign you must assume the role of each species individually, to complete the entire story. The game also features fierce multiplayer gaming through online play via Battle.net, Blizzard own home-grown online gaming service (free to use and multiplatform), or through local area networking play.
What’s more, Blizzard also ships the game with an editor that enable you to craft your own maps to use in your own scenarios — and it works on the Mac. This is a marked departure from most major game releases, which almost never feature editing tools that work on the Mac.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is available both in a standard edition for US$59.95 and a Collector’s Edition, which includes the game, a cinematic DVD, soundtrack CD, collector’s edition manual, and four limited edition prints for $79.95.
According to Blizzard, minimum Mac system requirements for Warcraft III call for a G3/400MHz, 128MB RAM, 16MB ATI or Nvidia-based 3D video card, 700 MB available HD space, and a 4x CD-ROM drive.
Already, Blizzard has released a 1.01 patch to Warcraft III, both for Mac and Windows. The update is downloaded and automatically installed by connecting Warcraft III to Blizzard’s online gaming service Battle.net. The update is necessary for Battle.net play, according to Blizzard, and adjusts some play balancing issues in multiplayer mode. As MacCentral posted this article, the Mac update was not yet available as a discrete download from Blizzard’s Web site — although with the Windows version available separately, a Mac download is anticipated soon.