WarCraft II: Battle.net Edition
Playing Warcraftll after so many years (we're talking 1995 here, which in gaming terms means it's pushing 40) is like being given your own personal RTS time machine. As you stare at the top-down chubby figures, with their simplistic Al, you can't help thinking, is this what it was really like? It was, and we never had things so good. Let's face facts. You're not getting anything particularly new with this Battle.Net Edition, although for the price it's a princely package as it contains the original Warcraftll: Tides Of Darkness, the expansion pack Beyond The Dark Portal and support for Internet play through Blizzard's Battle.Net. Overall, gameplay changes have been kept to a minimum, with some tidying up of old bugs and improvements to attack/move commands.
The real tweaks have been made on the multiplayer aspect of Warcraft II, and there's hundreds of maps to choose from, including both pre-set and random, plus multitudes of downloadable ones. Battle.Net also incorporates a rather nice feature that automatically downloads maps to players who haven't got them. There's also a whole host of other features, including automatic record-keeping and ranking, in and out game whispering and a top vs bottom option. It's easy to get a game, even though the numbers playing are still quite small compared to those playing Starcraft. The best time to get the widest choice of games on the West Coast US and European servers, which tend to be the most popular, is early evening. This is a great package if you feel the need to reminisce on the beautiful simplicity of the Warcraft world or if you need something to fill in the gap until Warcraft III. By today's standards though, it does look incredibly dated.
It's easy to forget that what now seem like retro peculiarities influenced a new generation of RTS games, especially the Age Of series, and it's no surprise that Warcraft 2 still retains something of an impressive cult following.