World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Review

By on December 12, 2010

Cataclysm brings impressive changes good enough for the old, existing and new players.


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First Impressions
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Blizzard has released two expansion packs for World of Warcraft since it launched six years ago, and today we’ll take a look at their latest expansion which is ready to address many of your leveling and end-game concerns. There’s a whole lot to Cataclysm that doesn’t meet the eye at first glance, things you will learn as you progress through the game and realize how many things are improved and new content added, so let’s get started then.

Obviously the first thing you’ll notice in Cataclysm are the improved graphics. Technically speaking you could already experience the new graphics in the Old World thanks to recent patches, but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at here is that because of Cataclysm, the original zones have received a massive graphical overhaul. So in essence, the game has finally been brought up to modern standards in terms of visuals, with significantly increased field of view with the water and sunlight effects working together to create some of the most amazing scenery you’ll have seen in MMOs. Then of course there are the completely new quests in all the original level 1 to 60 zones that are also available to vanilla WoW players.

The good news is that everybody can experience this upgrade, but to truly enjoy the old world, you need to be seeing it from all places, not just the ground. Yes, I’m talking about flying in the old world. There’s nothing like getting out of the bank in Stormwind and taking a quick flight over to the docks to take a boat to Kalimdor or Northrend and see the whole (and significantly expanded) city sweep below you.

At this point I’ll make a quick mention of the soundtrack which deserves a detailed analysis of its own, but perhaps this isn’t the proper venue for that sort of discussion. I’ll be honest, I really hate the login screen music of Cataclysm. It’s far from the epic score heard in WotLK’s login screen; this one just seems like some sort of cheap and haphazardly put together remix of old themes with the intention of it sounding more…dramatic. Something it completely fails at. For the other major cities in the old world, I feel indifferent to what’s playing in the background; the old music was pretty good, the new one isn’t bad. However in the Goblin, Worgen and end level zones, the soundtrack really comes into its own. I’ve gone on too long over music already, so I’ll just end with saying that it’s genuinely awe inspiring, especially coupled with the improved visuals.

If you’re an old WoW player, than you’ll most likely start by leveling any of your existing level 80 characters to 85, so I’ll begin there. Of the two starting zones, I prefer Mount Hyjal more than Vashj’ir because I’ve read some of the WoW books recently and it was incredible to see many of the great characters in those stories come to life in the game. Vashj’ir is awesome in its own right, but for anybody who’s into lore, I recommend going to Mount Hyjal first.

Next up is Deepholm which is actually sort of a boring area as far as quests are concerned, especially since so many of them feel generic fetch-quests, but the whole area itself is a great sight to behold. However, since the entire zone is one huge cavern, things get monotonous quickly as the quests seem repetitive and the landscape looks the same from all angles. Once you hit Uldum though, childhood fantasies of ancient Egypt (everything you’ve seen in adventure movies) comes to life, especially with the huge chain quests from a rather interesting NPC called Harrison Jones.

Lastly there’s the Twilight Highlands which will remind you a little of The Shire (from Lord of the Rings) at first, but things quickly take a turn for something terribly exciting. The last zone is not only very creative in design and questing, but there’s that added anticipation of finally hitting 85 that adds to the experience. Keep in mind that these zones have both Alliance and Horde leveling together, so this maybe an issue on PvP servers; otherwise it’s smooth sailing on PvE servers.

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The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9
Significant improvements and balances to each class has been made for a more rewarding experience.
GRAPHICS
8
New water and lighting effects, improved draw distance and textures with new particle effects make everything look great.
SOUND
8
Apart from the login screen music, the rest of Cataclysm has memorable soundtrack in both the Old World and new zones.
VALUE
8.5
Although you can get the entire level 1 to 60 content and gameplay improvements for free, the end-game content and new races with future updates makes this a truly worthwhile investment.
FUN FACTOR
9
This is fun non-stop; from the moment you login till you reluctantly peel your eyes away from the PC as real life calls.
OVERALL
8.5
A brilliant addition to WoW which has brought along significant changes to both the game and how the players will feel about it: Epic!

About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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