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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Like Quake II, it all begins in a crash-landed escape pod. Once you've created your Draenei character - the tall blue demons who join the Alliance side in this expansion - you wander out of the wreck and into your new world.

Your early quests are to help other Draenei injured in the crash, find those who are lost, and check out your new surroundings. After these scene-setting levels in a spooky forest lit by scattered Draenei power crystals, you're sent on a mission to Exodar, the crashed Draenei mothership now functioning as a capital city.

If a city-sized spaceship in a fantasy game wasn't bizarre enough, the sight when we enter its inner chambers as Blizzard's guest is even more surreal.

Our cloven-hooved avatar comes to a junction of four huge hallways, each adorned with a giant glowing emblem depicting... isn't that the Transformers logo? And aren't those the Superman and Thundercats ones? It seems the Draenei city is still very much a work in progress, which is why Blizzard isn't allowing any screenshots of it yet. What we've seen is a strange place, full of shell-like huts on platforms in cavernous blue halls.

The city of the Blood Elves - the new race for the Horde side - is also unusual. Silvermoon is smaller than Ironforge in square footage, but has a spectacular vertical aspect. Like everything about Blood Elves, it's tall, thin and elegant. Balcony gardens hang from the sheer faces of its high fanes, and sleek spires stand proud over all.

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