Fri, Jun 21, 2002 - Page 19 News List

A new generation of games

No matter if you prefer slaying beasts, building an empire, playing golf or replaying the World Cup to have your tean win, there's a game for you

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

COURTESY OF UNALIS

War Craft III: Reign of Chaos

After four years of waiting, Blizzard has finally announced that War Craft III: Reign of Chaos will hit the shelves on July 4. It will be released simultaneously in Taiwan, and among players, retail outlets and distribution companies, this is the big event of the year.

In the run up to its release, War Craft III has generated massive press. It already leads the rankings as the most anticipated game on such gaming Web sites as Gamebase (遊戲基地) and Gamer, and those who have had the chance to test the game are busy discussing it in numerous online forums.

For Taiwan's retailers, the release of War Craft III at this time is a blessing. May and June are traditionally a period of weak sales and this year has been no different. Stores are looking to War Craft III to be the savior of their economic woes, for it is almost guaranteed to sell strongly. Already you can't miss the huge advertising posters that adorn stores in Kuanghua market or computer hypermarts.

"Since Unalis started taking advanced orders for War Craft III on May 25, orders for 200,000 units have already been placed by retail outlets, and individual Internet orders have exceeded 100,000," said Lee Chen-han (李承 ), marketing division manager of Unalis Corporation, which is authorized by Blizzard to publish the game in Taiwan.

"Taiwan's enthusiasm for the game has really made an impact with the people back at Blizzard headquarters. They made Taiwan the first stop for Bill Roper, chief designer of the game, during a tour of Asia to promote the game and will be inviting three local gamers on an all-expenses-paid trip to Blizzard headquarters in Los Angeles," Lee said.

In order to give gaming fanatics an outlet for their ardor, Unalis opened a War Craft III competition in Internet cafes across the island last week using a beta version of the game to select a team to represent Taiwan in a championship match against South Korea in July.

The game has also attracted a number of celebrities. Shih Wen-bin (施文彬), a three-time best male singer in the non-Mandarin category at of the Golden Melodies, and top teen idol of the moment Jay Chou (周杰倫), are both fanatical War Craft players. Shih has enrolled in the national competitions and hopes to represent Taiwan, and Jay wrote the lyrics for the game's Chinese theme song.

War Craft III uses a graphic engine similar to that used in Empire Earth, which places it a step ahead of most other real-time strategy games. Using the mouse, it is possible to zoom in and out of the scene and the characters and monsters are incredibly life-like.

The development of War Craft III has not been without its problems despite Blizzard's strong track record. With characters of two different races in the first and second editions of the game, Blizzard managed to keep a remarkably high level of balance. Jumping to four races in the third edition, game testers worked long and hard to scale down the overwhelming superiority of the night elf race that marred beta versions of the game.

"We have tested War Craft III extensively over LAN networks and can guarantee that it does not have the imbalance that marred Microsoft' s Age of Empires and Age of Kingdom series. Even though Age of Kingdom has 13 races, experienced players always chose to use the Mongol race to the exclusion of every other type," said Gamebase senior editor Antonio Lu (呂維振).

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