World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

  • Great lore
  • Wintergrasp is a lot of fun
  • Death Knights are cool
  • More of the same
  • Bitty, disconnected areas
  • Lacks Blizzard innovation

Believe it or not, it’s been four years since World of Warcraft opened its awaiting arms to would-be adventurers, and nearly two years since its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Regardless of this slightly languid release schedule, WOW continues to be wildly popular, and thus Blizzard are willing to swing the punch of an expansion at the most competitive time in gaming.

Expectations have been high, otherwise respectable people are already forgetting to use the toilet and eat, and over 11 million subscribers have been desperate to hit the icy terrain of Northrend. Which is why it’s slightly awkward to deliver this review. Wrath of the Lich King, while a phenomenally tight, well-built expansion, lacks the killer instinct and wow-factor (acronym and adjective) that both WOW and The Burning Crusade had. Depending on what character you’re using, WOTLK starts off with you either at odds with or working for the Lich King. And if you have a level 55 character, you’ll be able to create a Death Knight, WOW’s first hero class.

Beginning at 55, the initial experience of being a Death Knight introduces you to the class through a few hours of heavily story-driven quests, beginning above the Eastern Plaguelands in a necropolis known as Acherus: The Ebon Hold. This gigantic floating skull-palace houses your quests, your class-trainers, and the new rune forging (read: Death Knight-only buff application) system. Through these quests you level from 55 to 59,and acquire as many talents as you would from level 10 onwards.

These quests are well-written, fun, and reasonably dramatic, ending with a large-scale battle against the forces of the Light, who eventually free you from the thrall of the titular undead demigod, carefully explaining how you can join the goodie-two-shoes Alliance. You’ll even find yourself experiencing a little guilt as you do dirty work for Arthas (the titular Lich King) – killing innocents, stealing horses, and generally doing true, no-nonsense evil. This is refreshingly grim in comparison to some of WOW’s somewhat reserved content, and will no doubt create a fair amount of grumbling among the moralistic.

Lich King is also an example of how well Blizzard does boxed-in, instance-based content. The instance that you (and other new Death Knights) work within constantly changes as you advance, with once-beautiful countryside becoming plagued and charred. You have a real connection to the world as you progress, gaining gear, levels, talents and a rather dapper steed, which causes dissonance when you reach the end, to be thrown back into the static, yet enjoyable, content of The Burning Crusade. Sadly, once you’re past the initial stages, you’ll have to move up to level 68 to enter Northrend. And, face it, in the last two years, we’ve already grinded ourselves enough alts to 70 to get tired of Outland.

Nevertheless, the Death Knight is an endearing, playable and endlessly resourceful class, as his ability to (when specialized in Blood Talents) solo makes Outland that bit more palatable. That, and those of you who need to catch up to 68 to hit the icy waters will have a slew of grumpy new friends to level up with.

More Info

Release date: Nov 13 2008 - PC (US)
Nov 13 2008 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Blizzard
Developed by: Blizzard
Franchise: Warcraft
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

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  • mars505 - November 19, 2008 4:35 a.m.

    Shadowbane has better graphic , this is just a disgrace to real mmo developers across the world The lore is the same lore that Blizzard knows by heart, where is the challenge , this is just retarded , sell more magazines I guess and live in a world of commercial hell and no backbone.
  • cmhuff1 - November 18, 2008 1:49 p.m.

    This game deserves the nine, but he managed to leave out anything good about the game. Yes the starting zones are kinda lame, but wait till you get to dragonblight. The instances are fun and fast, but so much that you don't enjoy them. The new spells and abilities make you relearn your class a bit, making them feel a little new and exciting. The quests are mostly repetitive, but there a lot of new additions with flying and mounted quests that are a lot of fun. And he didnt even mention phasing, where a world even occurs for you at the end of a quest chain that permanently alters the terrain or world around you. And the lore quests behind the Lich King have been really fun and interesting. My mage is almost 74 at the moment, and i'm loving every second of this game. Yes it's a little more of the same, but the same is really fun. ps. This game is not Warhammer. Stop comparing it to Warhammer. If want an open ended MMO with rampant PVP then go there and have fun. Warcraft has always been a PVE oriented game with PVP elements.
  • Akiira - November 18, 2008 11:29 a.m.

    this review talks about alot of bad things for a 9
  • DeadGirls - November 18, 2008 9:35 a.m.

    Can WoW please be over? Let's put our time and money into something new and great.
  • Cryose - November 18, 2008 1:22 a.m.

    First! Wow, I should get this, it looks great.
  • burningmunkey - November 24, 2008 5:33 a.m.

    Gamesradar, I love you guys - ur the best. But, this is a pathetic review! 80% of what youre saying is negative, yet you score the game a 9?? Don't get me wrong, WOW is one of my fav games - but please, for the love of God - write a proper review that has the score to match it!
  • anduin1 - November 23, 2008 8:14 a.m.

    if your a WoW player then theres many things they did change but to the casual viewer it would seem like more of the same -> questing/running instances to level (a MANDATORY element of every single mmo out there) but the innovation is that the post-initial quests have some new things to them. From mounting into tanks to blow enemies apart now to strapping into a cattling gun to mow down undead to cover NPC's for a quest. Id say this is a far better release than Burning Crusade. I wouldnt give it higher than a 9 for some of the same reasons as well - some quests are too grindy for my taste and some of the zones are way too small.
  • mars505 - November 19, 2008 4:33 a.m.

    Rewarding a 9 for more of the same, the Mine of Moria should be getting a 11 with this theory. I wait patiently to see this happen.
  • wolfdude - November 18, 2008 6:43 p.m.

    some reporters just love to pick at nothing to put together a review yes at the moment lich king is a bit un balanced but that will change as it did with the burning crusade p.s i think its a master peace :) :)
  • wowpaladin09 - January 12, 2009 9:32 p.m.

    I like the new expansion especially the death knight character, but it makes me need to farm for more [url=]wow gold[/url] for my DK equips and skills