Way back in strategy gaming’s past, you find this. Way back in the planet’s past, you find dinosaur shit. It’s not much to look at, but just as a fossilised brontosaurus dropping theoretically upholds the Epcot center, so too did the glorious RTS genre have humble beginnings.
It wasn’t the first, but who cares. Dune II was crummy and nearly unplayable. This actually resembles a game. You choose a race (orc or human), build a town, make an army, harvest gold, win the game, bribe your correctional officer so that he lets you use good shower in Cellblock D (it has warm water and fewer rapists), and rest in the knowledge that tomorrow it will all happen again. What a time to be alive.
The graphics are a 320×240 assault of pixels, strangely nostalgic and charming. The audio’s pretty good. The only plot this game has is a funeral plot for the unemployed and starving-to-death storywriter. It’s simplistic, but a lot of fun. It’s early 90s PC gaming. I enjoyed Warcraft back in the day, and even enjoyed it a little bit in 2015.
Incidentally, the orcs and humans aren’t identical mirrors of each other. You’ll see many reviews claiming that they are, and it’s a dead giveaway that the reviewer hasn’t played the game. The human archer shoots further than the orc spearman. The orc necrolyte has more range than the human priest. The differences are subtle, but you soon get a second sense for them. Unless you haven’t played the game, I guess.
The game has two huge and annoying flaws, both of which were easily fixable.
Gripe the first: you can only move four units at a time. I hate this. Commanding large armies is aneurysm inducing. You can roughly simulate your experience playing Warcraft by filling a swimming pool using a 1 litre kiddie bucket.
I think Blizzard’s defense back in the day was that they didn’t want people to just spam a bunch of units and flood them at the enemy. That’s one way of solving the problem, I guess. Another way would be to break into my house and unplug my keyboard. If you’re intentionally crippling my ability to play, why not just go all the fucking way?
Gripe the second: the game’s pretty unbalanced.
No-fail recipe for victory: choose orcs, spam archers, get warlocks, then spam demons. The only way to counter this strategy is to do it yourself, except better. There’s just no stopping demons in this game. They cost nothing, and beat everything. Yeah, they eventually run out of magic and die. Fighting them merely makes you run out of everything and die. If the game’s cover accurately reflected the balance level, the human would be bent over, taking it in the pooper.
It’s old. It’s crappy in places. Play this to see where the Warcraft series began. Unlike many supposedly classic games, it’s fairly good for what it is, not just for what it inspired. I hold considerable nostalgia for it, which is why I’ve waited this long before childishly pointing out that Warcraft anagrams into “Warcfart”.