World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

With the release of their second expansion Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has reasserted its place as the number one MMORPG on the market and the sales records for Wrath of the Lich King are certainly proof that the game’s popularity continues.

After playing Wrath of the Lich King for a couple of months I have to admit that these kudos are well-deserved. In this expansion players are introduced to the land of Northrend where Arthas, a.k.a. the Lich King, five years after disappearing into the frozen wastes, has risen and begun his dedicated attack on Azeroth. It is your job to join your fellow heroes in battle against his unholy forces and determine the fate of Azeroth and much more.

First, the graphics. While subtle, the improvements to the game’s graphics have created a visually enchanting and moving environment. The scenery inspires both awe and fear depending on the area you’re exploring. On many occasions I found myself hesitant to enter an area simply because of the foreboding and ominous surroundings. Second, the music. I was extremely impressed by the quality and composition of the soundtrack. It added significantly to the immersive qualities of the game. The story is much more involved and addresses characters on a personal level. Arthas appears much more often and plays an integral part in your questing. On many occasions you will finish a quest just to see Arthas conspiring with his forces, but just out of your reach. Another enhancement is the in-game cut scenes. Whereas most games take you out of the action to show you a cut scene, these scenes take place during the game and feel more like a part of the game-play. The use of vehicles such as dragons, tanks, aircraft and gun emplacements are a much more utilized feature. While I thought the vehicles were cool and a nice addition, sometimes, as a disabled player, I found the vehicles difficult to control, but I always managed to complete the vehicle missions—I just had to repeat them. The items in this expansion feature better balanced abilities. Before this expansion if that piece of armor had a higher armor class you’d automatically equip it. If you do that in Wrath, you may be trading a 100 hit rating for a 58 or trading that critical strike rating for an intellect boost. On many occasions you will find yourself conflicted on item improvements, so you have to consider them with a little more care. Also, when players begin exploring Northrend they have a choice of two starting points. I explored both just for the fun of it.

I explored most of Northrend. I did an aerial survey of Icecrown which looked deadly. I tried to do the same with Wintergrasp, but violating that airspace made my flying mount vanish and I spent quite some time parachuting into the middle of scourge territory. The most beautiful places included Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin and, if you like snow, Storm Peaks. Reaching level 77 allowed me to train for Cold Weather Flying, which is the only way you can use your flying mount here. It’s worth it and makes travel here much easier.

With this expansion comes the addition of the Achievement system. Players are rewarded for completing any number of tasks or reaching certain goals. It adds another level of challenge and accomplishment to the game-play.

Of course, with a new expansion come new bugs and drawbacks. Just like Burning Crusade’s Outland, Northrend has no auction houses or class trainers. However, once you connect to the city of Dalaran, it provides one-way portals to each faction’s capital cities and battlegrounds. One annoying issue I discovered was while fighting a boss, that same boss would respawn right there. I didn’t even have to kill the boss before he respawned. On several occasions I found myself fighting two incarnations of the same boss, unsuccessfully at that. Another bug in the game is that certain add-ons will interfere with the vehicles. There were a number of times I had to log out of the game, turn off my add-ons and log back in to the game just to complete a vehicle quest. In Burning Crusade I found the expansion to be more battle-centric, but in Wrath I think battle and storytelling are better balanced.

With this expansion characters are allowed to move beyond the level 70 cap to level 80. I managed to advance my hunter to level 80 before writing this review. I did it purely through questing, no raiding or instances. Now, with a level 80 character, I’m ready to give those aspects of the game a shot.

This expansion also introduces a new character class—the Death Knight. Since I had a character that was higher than level 55, I was able to roll a Death Knight and run him through his beginning quests. Starting out at level 55, you find yourself in league with the Lich King and doing quests for him and his minions. All but two of the quests were easy enough to complete, the other two were accomplished with a little help from other players. The Death Knight’s storyline is probably one of the most interesting. Playing in Azeroth with a Death Knight is a rewarding experience. Being disabled, playing a melee character can be very difficult. But not so here. Playing a Death Knight made a melee character fun for me again. However, that character is only level 59 as of this writing.

As for playing the game, the controls are the same as in the original game and the first expansion—utilizing mouse and keyboard throughout. Right-clicking is a necessity and I cannot recommend the Control-Click method that the game suggests for Mac users. KeyStrokes works with the game in windowed mode and activating windowed mode can be achieved by selecting the option or by pressing Command-M on the hardware keyboard.

With impressive visuals, stunningly beautiful music and new content plus familiar game-play, Wrath of the Lich King is a fun and engaging game expansion. It is well worth the $39.95 US price tag (as long as your character is at least level 55). Happy Warcrafting!

Macintosh System Requirements:

Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer

  • PowerPC G5 1.6GHz or Intel Core Duo processor (Recommended: Intel 1.8GHz Processor or better)
  • 1GB RAM. (Recommended: 2GB RAM)
  • 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting with 64 MB VRAM such as an ATI Radeon 9600 or NVIDIA GeForce Ti 4600 class card or better (Recommended: 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability with 128 MB VRAM Such as an ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA 7600 class card or better)
  • 12 gigabytes or more of available hard drive space.
  • Internet Connection: Broadband.
  • Mouse: Multi-button mouse with scroll wheel recommended.
Windows System Requirements:

Windows(R) XP (Service Pack 3), Windows(R) Vista (Service Pack 1)

  • Intel Pentium4 1.3GHz or AMD Athlon XP 1500+ processor. (Recommended: Dual Core Processor such as the Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2)
  • 512 megabytes or more of RAM, 1GB required for Windows Vista users (Recommended: 1GB Ram, 2GB for Vista users)
  • 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting with at least 32 MB VRAM, such as an ATI Radeon 7200 or NVIDIA GeForce 2 class card or better. (Recommended: 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability with 128 MB VRAM Such as an ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT class card or better.)
  • 12 gigabytes or more of available hard drive space.
  • DirectX(R) 9.0c or above.
  • Sound: DirectX-compatible sound card.
  • Internet Connection: Broadband.
  • Mouse: Multi-button mouse with scroll wheel recommended.
Play requirements
  • Wrath of the Lich King is an Expansion set to World of Warcraft. You must already have a properly installed version of World of Warcraft and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade in order to install and play this expansion.
  • You must upgrade a World of Warcraft account before you can play World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.
  • You must have an active Broadband Internet connection to play World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

Philip K Jordan