Review by BDZilla

Reviewed: 01/24/07

This expansion of World of Warcraft does just that, expands on the existing content without giving us anything genuinely new.

Assuming you're familiar with the World of Warcraft and its creators at the team of Blizzard, it's likely that you've known about the expansion to World of Warcraft for quite sometime. Whether you take it as a blessing, however, depends well on how much time you have to invest, how much money you want to spend, and how you feel about MMORPG's in general: all technical conditions that applied to the source game.

While the Burning Crusade offers loads of "new" content including two new races, a new profession, an increased level cap from sixty to seventy, and a new continent for the veterans to explore, alot of it feels like a "been there, done that" kinda impression.

Aesthetically speaking, the game is amazing from an artistic perspective, and the sounds are as vibrant as ever. All races and many NPC's have unique voices, adding much depth and realism. The graphics seem to have improved slightly with the two new races that were included, and some of the actions within the game seem to be a bit smoother, but all in all nothing here is much different.

The gameplay mechanics are essentially the same. You pick a faction, a race from that previous selection, and build a virtual identity that you're going to grow quite familiar with over the next dozens of hours, if not more, as you quest and grind your way from level one to seventy, killing hundreds of helpless pigs and wolves and what have you before you get to the real tasty stuff in the game.

Anyone that's experienced with this genre or even this game knows that is no easy task. Previously, the grind to level sixty could take upwards of a week of playing time to reach sixty, and that was more of prelude to the true game than anything.

Once reaching sixty, you were able to undertake huge quests that lead you into a dungeon with 39 others.

However, with the onslaught of the expansion, raids are reduced in size and most people will skip over the level sixty raids, instead spending just as much time as it took to get to level sixty to get from level sixty to seventy.

The inclusion of new races, new class skills, and flying mounts are interesting, however, as is the fact that previous faction-specific classes like the shaman and paladin are now held in the opposite spectrum. While a lot of it seems like a cheap way to balance an ever-unbalanced game, it does offer some new options.

The worst change, however, is that the story itself seems be ripped asunder. Now, the source game was never known too well for having an engaging and driving storyline as much as it was for it's gameplay, but the world has a deep lore that is established by previous games and written documents given by the creators.

The inclusion of the Draenei and their backstory completely rearranges a critical piece of lore in order to give the Alliance an answer to the Horde's Tauren, while the Blood Elves similarly made an unconventional move to justify them bringing paladins and alternate Night Elves to the Horde.

A welcoming change, however, is the revamped Player-Versus-Player and how it's more accessible to the average, casual player. They scrapped an honor system that catered to strengthening the people that would sit in battlegrounds for dozens of hours a week for a currency system that would accumulate over time. However, it's still unlikely that one with not a lot of time would be able to keep up with those who tend to live virtually moreso than realistically.

The inclusion of new arenas and ways of Player-Versus-Player implementation is also welcomed, as well as the removal of Dishonorable Kills.

However, problems remain as even though Blizzard said they strived to make a casual MMORPG (which it is in comparison to others), the Warcraft logo has essentially brought many mainstream gamers into an extremely non-mainstream genre where if they choose their social life and general well-being over Azeroth, its likely they'll never have the edge within the game.

All in all, the game adds more of the same, but fails at strengthening the areas that were previously flawed. By tossing aside story and well-established lore that has been going on for years and years, as well as practically forsaking previous end-game content and effectively doubling the grind needed to reach the new end-game (which was already unbearable for many), they further alienated themselves from what they've been striving to be.

If your looking for an expansion that truly fixes the flaws instead of mindlessly adding more of the same, you'll be in for a rude awakening. This is simply the World of Warcraft with a new package and a cherry on top.

All in all, the Burning Crusade is a great expansion for fans of World of Warcraft that were never discouraged by the sacrifices needed to enjoy it, but for those who left Azeroth before, if you plan to return it may not be as inviting as your first visit.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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