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Critical Reception: Blizzard's World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to the World of Warcraft expansion pack The Burning Crusade, a record-selling PC release already being touted as an "essential purchase for any serious World of Warcraft
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to the World of Warcraft expansion pack The Burning Crusade, a record-selling PC release that has captivated MMORPG fans worldwide. While many critics are still absorbed in The Burning Crusade's world for the sake of more detailed criticism, those that have already submitted their reviews rate the experience highly. The Burning Crusade currently weighs in at an average review score ratio of 90% at Gamerankings.com. Sarah Borger of Games Radar describes The Burning Crusade as an improvement to the original World of Warcraft formula and a worthwhile play for both new and experienced players alike. "Simply put, it's fantastic," Borger writes in her 9-out-of-10-rated review. "TBC not only lived up to every expectation, it surpassed them." Borger adds: "Despite fears of server instability and other technical issues, Blizzard did an amazing job keeping the worlds rock solid; lag was a major issue during peak times but rarely did the servers go boom." In regards to the expansion's new features and environments, Borger remains equally positive. "The new lands in TBC are gorgeous and beautifully executed, with creatures and monsters galore," Borger states. "Quests follow a logical and intuitive line and led us from area to area seamlessly. So, while slightly overwhelming, we soon found that by following one quest it would soon merge into another." However: "Drop rates on the gathering quests still tend to be unbearably bad, so you'll have to kill a ton of various foes before their corpses will yield the item you need to complete your mission." "TBC has its share of bumps but on the whole it fits seamlessly into the world, story and fabric of the original," Borger concludes. "Lush and vibrant, it is everything an expansion should be: a furthering of a much loved and honored world." At Yahoo Games, reviewer Mike Smith scores The Burning Crusade at 4.5 out of 5 stars, and examines its finer points in detail. "First up, Burning Crusade tackles three problems that have faced Warcraft's character range ever since its launch," Smith begins. "Specifically, the Horde can't play paladins, the Alliance can't play shamans, and all the Horde races are an ugly bunch." Meanwhile, in The Burning Crusade: "The full set of character classes is open to both Horde and Alliance players, plus, perhaps more importantly for Alliance-skewed PvP servers, the Horde has a race with cute-looking female models." Many of The Burning Crusade's refinements are more than skin-deep, however. "Jewelcrafting, the new trade skill added by Burning Crusade, promises to add more customizability to your kit," Smith writes. "Experienced jewelcrafters can make rings and necklaces, but most of the appeal comes from their ability to prepare gems for insertion in special 'socketed' armor and weapons." "It's quite the money sink," Smith continues, "but it's certainly worth checking out if you're creating a new character." In the end, Smith feels that while The Burning Crusade has plenty to offer for World of Warcraft veterans, those who are new to the game may not be able to immediately appreciate many of its greatest assets. "Burning Crusade is an essential purchase for any serious World of Warcraft player," Smith notes. "Casual players, unless you're hurting for things to do with your level 60s or just can't live without playing a Blood Elf, need not be in so much of a hurry." GamePro's "Daphinicus", on the other hand, thinks that The Burning Crusade offers so much new content that all World of Warcraft fans should be able to enjoy the many new quests within. "It's hard to think of The Burning Crusade as an expansion pack. It brings enough new content to the World of Warcraft experience to beat out most other games in their entirety," Daphinicus explains. "The Burning Crusade does not disappoint--to the contrary, it is a vital addition to your game library assuming, of course, that you were a fan of its predecessor." Rating the game at a 5 out of 5 in fun factor, Daphinicus points out that The Burning Crusade will appeal mainly to two crowds of World of Warcraft players: "those who wish to experience the whole game anew from a different perspective, and those who want to take their veteran level 60 characters further than they ever could before." "For those who want to start over, two new playable races are now available," Daphinicus continues. "Both races have each been given two new starting zones to explore and a new capital city to call home. The zones are full of spectacular sights and involving quests to see and partake in, and the cities are marvelous synergies of beauty and functionality." More experienced players will find plenty to like as well. "An entirely new continent replete with seven sprawling zones, Outland was built for players between the old level cap of 60 and the new one of 70," Daphinicus says. "From the plains of Nagrand to the forests of Terokkar, from the blasted Hellfire Peninsula to the fragmented Netherstorm, it is a place where players can soar on The Burning Crusade's flying mounts and practice their hand at the new Jewelcrafting profession." In summary, Daphinicus offers: "The new locations, characters, items, and monsters are nothing short of awesome. The voice acting is perfect, the sound effects spot-on, and the score at times both ominous and uplifting. Quest dialog is well-written and does a wonderful job of pulling players into the ever-shifting story of the war. Put simply, everything just feels right." If early reviews are to be believed, the bulk of The Burning Crusade caters more toward experienced World of Warcraft players, though others will likely appreciate its numerous additions with time. Thus far, The Burning Crusade appears to be satisfying players with its new features and stable online world, and if this kind of performance can be maintained, World of Warcraft fans will have many hours, weeks, and perhaps even months of playtime ahead of them.

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