World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Review
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Blizzard 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Blizzard 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 16, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: Unlimited (MMORPG) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: T 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Burning Crusade Heating Up Gamers Everywhere

by Charles Wolfe

As the tail end of January approaches, the video game world is in a flurried buzz over the newest additions to both console and computer gaming. Games flow into the bigger, brighter, and better as the New Year rolls on with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo continuing the tradition of console proliferation, each of them having released the newest generation of their respective systems.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade screenshot

However, in spite of the coming of the latest and greatest in console gaming, a majority of the attention and word-of-mouth of gamers young and old has turned to the latest production from Blizzard, one of the computer world's brightest leaders in strategy games, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade. The much anticipated expansion release to the original World of Warcraft title, Burning Crusade brings many new additions to the game, including two new playable races, a new world to explore, and enough new quests and instances (think of them as missions if you're unfamiliar with the game) to keep even the most dedicated of gamers calling in sick to work for weeks at a time.

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The biggest additions to the game are the two new races it offers: the Horde's Blood Elves, which earlier appeared in the prelude to WoW, Warcraft 3, and the Alliance's all-new alien Draenie. The Draenie, a race foreign to Azeroth and the Outland, are storied to have arrived to the game through the crash of their large spacecraft, which the game provides its players the opportunity to explore at the start of a new Draenie character. The Draenie certainly look the part of an alien race as well, baring soft blue skin, beards of the same milky flesh, a horse's legs, and the hooves to accommodate them. In spite of their unique appearance, the qualities of the characters retain all of the same aspects as the other races of WoW, offering the usual classes and accompanying spells. Draenie can be played as Warriors, Hunters, Mages, Shamans, Rogues, and Priests. On the other end of the game's warring troupes are the Blood Elves, a race of proud and dignified sharp-eared humanoids that most returning gamers will become easily familiar with as they hold many similarities to the incumbent elf race, the Night Elves. The Blood Elves reign in a rebuilt society after, according to World of Warcraft's deep-running storylines, losing the greater part of their population and city in war. The Blood Elves boast armor and cloth that present a very well-to-do image for starting players as they are released into a city of great vibrancy and magic that lets gamers fight against beautifully designed wild animals without traveling far, allowing for quicker completion of quests and movement through the early, weaker levels of character play. The gameplay for these two new races keeps pace with Blizzard's pre-established quality, offering a plethora of fun introductory quests, an interesting pair of backgrounds, and all of the entertaining exploration that gamers everywhere loved in the original WoW.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade screenshot

While the graphics for the new expansion do not bring any large improvements, as expected with this being a non-console release that can only stay within the boundaries of PC development, the new continents within the game boast a beauty and visual interest beyond any lands shown in the game's predecessor. Within the new cities, players can chase brooms that magically sweep about by themselves (think back to Disney's "Fantasia") and visit the crash-site of the Draenie, which is accented by giant and beautiful pink and purple crystal formations that explode through the ground and reach high into the air. The artistry of the game is mostly the same as it was in the title's original product, showing off grand lighting and color detail, letting players admire the lush beauty of Azeroth's rolling hills and thick forests, Outland's magical vibrance and lively color, and even watch their character's reflections in the lake. In spite of no major graphic improvements, Burning Crusade keeps a sharp aesthetic quality already characteristic of the game's origins. The controls, too, have kept the same configuration as the game's original, designed for player comfort as one navigates, explores, and battles through the vast world Blizzard has created.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade screenshot

Though the two new races draw much fanfare from new and returning gamers, many Burning Crusade players are looking to continue the development of their characters stemming from the game's original release. With the expansion upgrade, WoW characters can now raise from the previous level maximum of 60 to the new cap of 70, letting gamers further strengthen their characters and learn new and powerful spells and abilities. To outfit the higher level players, new flying mounts are included in Burning Crusade, finally letting gamers freely explore the skies above Azeroth and the new Outland. These mounts join an already large group of special ridden animals including, raptors, skeletal horses, and snow leopards. The game now allows for aerial dominance aboard a large winged bat or a wyrven, a Horde creature previously introduced in Warcraft 3. The flying mounts will allow for quick travel in a game that often forced gamers into forty-five minute ventures on foot to move from one area to another, bringing relieved smiles to many players throughout the fan base. There's also something infinitely cool about riding a large winged animal over the head of hundreds of players forced into pedestrian transport, and laughing at them while you do it.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade screenshot

The novelty of Burning Crusade has created hype among fans as high as even the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Stores kept their doors open through midnight to release pre-ordered copies of the game to patient fans, and gross after gross of the game were bought up by stores on a broad international base. Fans stood in cold winter mornings for hours, waiting in a line that, at times, saw a hostility and brutality of a Communist-era Russia breadline. Millions of players from around the globe have set their time aside to join in a new world, a virtual realm of might, magic, and wonder, where creatures of fantasy and deep player-to-player interaction unfold amidst a story of war and drama. Gamers worldwide have seen the new generation of video games and spoken: Burning Crusade is the kind of game that single-handedly lowers a school's attendance record, and would have business managers everywhere handling sick-day calls, if they weren't stuck at home trying to reach level 70 before their boss finally fires them.

World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade screenshot

What to expect from this expansion:

  • Increase in the level cap to 70
  • Two new playable races, including the magical Blood Elves
  • New starting zones in Quel'Thalas and beyond
  • The entire new continent of Outland, reachable through the Dark Portal
  • Many new high-level dungeons to explore in Azeroth, Outland, and elsewhere
  • New flying mounts in Outland
  • Many new and dangerous monsters, including epic world bosses
  • Hundreds of new quests
  • Hundreds of new items
  • A new profession: Jewelcrafting
  • Socketed items

    By Charles Wolfe
    CCC Freelance Writer

    5.0

    Overall Rating - Great
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    5.0

    Graphics
    The colors of the world and creatures therein are full and rich, while their movement and bodies are smooth and realistic.

    5.0

    Control
    The controls are easy to learn and allow for comfortable play.

    4.0

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The sounds for this game did not wow me, but did not disappoint me either.

    5.0

    Play Value
    With so much new land to see in the expansion to an already massive game, even the most extreme players might not have enough time to see it all.
  • Screenshots / Images
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