Review: World of Warcraft – Mists of Panderia

Here’s a review by a good friend of mine, Dillon De Menezes set in a land far far away and no its not Star Wars related in any way.  Enjoy!

Platform: PC
Reviewed By: Dillon de Menezes

You are the Saviour of Azeroth. You have fought through the lands of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms conquering monster and man alike earning glory and repute throughout the world. The Burning Legion lies defeated upon the broken world of Draenor whilst the hordes of undead are left conquered within the valleys of Icecrown. Neltharion the Earth Warder now known as Deathwing lays shattered at your feet, his defeat absolute. Your skill and prowess are the stuff of legends and songs of your trials and victories are sung from the Cape of Stranglethorn to the peaks of Mount Hyjal. You are a hero amongst your people and the tales of your exploits travel from tavern to tavern. Hushed conversations over pints of mead speak about how you felled demon and monster alike with true steel or the mysticism of magic. You are the myth, the legend, but a storm is brewing the likes of which the world has never seen. A conflict, a hate war, a flood of death and destruction looms near and the nations of Azeroth will be consumed. The focal point of this war will be a new and mystical land that has appeared south of the Great Sea, a land shrouded in mist, and wrapped in enigma. Welcome, to the World of Warcraft. Welcome to Pandaria.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion to Blizzard Entertainment’s highly acclaimed MMORPG, World of Warcraft. Set one year after Deathwing’s defeat, the people of Azeroth find themselves picking up the pieces left behind by a lifetime of war. With the Cataclysm over and the end of the Twilight’s Hammer cult, the Alliance and Horde have turned upon one another in a conflict which threatens to engulf the whole world. Heroes and heroines from both factions must now fight to defend their lives, their families, and their homes, from the predations of the enemy, and at the same time get some fat loot along the way.

Mists of Pandaria has that shine and polish that we have come to expect over the years. New features implemented in patch 5.0.4 such as Cross Realm Zones, an updated UI as well as a complete overhaul of the spell and talent system has changed the way the game plays making it complex enough for hardcore players as well as simple enough for first timers to get into it without a 90 degree learning curve.

Graphically Mists of Pandaria is a slight upgrade from Cataclysm. This is to be expected as all expansions use the core graphical engine from the original World of Warcraft, improving on it via various patches. That being said, it still does not compare to the superb visual quality seen in other MMO’s, one such example being Guild Wars 2. On the other hand however, this does allow World of Warcraft to be played on most PC’s allowing access to its halls of epicness to a much larger portion of the population. For those who played Cataclysm, one of the first things you will notice about Pandaria is the attention to detail that Blizzard has put in. The views are breathtaking, whilst the landscape itself is both rugged and beautiful. Blizzard also made flying mounts unavailable until max level; basically forcing you get in and immerse yourself completely in the glorious detail of a rugged and dangerous land.

Another notable feature of Mists of Pandaria is the soundtrack. An eclectic blend of both epic mixes, and ambient background tracks, the music is very aptly placed, allowing the player to have a sense of what he/she is doing, whether that be crossing a mystical valley or fighting a legendary battle, it adds the extra form of purpose behind the quest, instead of the usual, “go there, do that, come back”. For those who prefer to immerse themselves in the quest and story, the soundtrack will help you do just that, and then some.

Overall the new features introduced in Mists of Pandaria have made the World of Warcraft experience much better in terms of accessibility to new players as well as a sense of “newness” for veterans. The new Pandaran race is fun to play, and the new Monk class combines the speed and grace of a rogue with the flexibility of a druid or paladin. Cross Realm Zones mean you’ll never be lonely levelling in low level areas and the streamlined UI makes learning a new class that much easier. Combine these with Area of Effect looting, Account Bound Mounts, pets, and achievements, as well as a new, easier way to queue for RDF, Raid Finder, and Scenario finder, you’ll realise that your WoW gaming experience just got all the more epic.

The quest system has been improved and includes a more linear story driven campaign that will keep you interested and entertained for days on end. Quests feature more variety, more voiceovers as well as a few hair raising boss fights to keep you coming back for more. For those who prefer running dungeons, the loot system has undergone a complete overhaul to be a more fair experience with the game itself assigning who gets what, based on spec, role and gear. Tired of questing and can’t face another dungeon? The new Pet Battle System will keep you entertained during those evenings when you just want to kill some time (think Pokemon).

In terms of banwidth and data usage WoW has never been a data hog and with the exception of the several patches released during an expansion’s lifetime, uses very little. The servers are very stable and Blizzard’s customer service is top notch. Most patches can even be downloaded prior to the patch’s launch using Blizzard’s background downloader which makes for a more convenient patching process.

Conclusion:
As a whole Mists of Pandaria is an excellent addition to the WoW franchise. It has provided players with the shine and polish that the series has been lacking for some time and the denizens of Azeroth rejoice! A gorgeous mixture of visual aesthetic, audio beauty and epic game play Blizzard has truly outdone themselves.

All things in Azeroth are not perfect however, dated visuals, mediocre physics, an extremely convoluted plot (up to Mists of Pandaria that is), as well as a distinct “childish” feel that many of the more mature players will notice, tend to mar the overall appeal. The good by far outweighs the bad, and I would recommend it as an excellent addition to your World of Warcraft collection. If you don’t have a collection, well, now is the best time to start!

The Verdict:
Storyline: 9/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Value for Money: 9/10

Official ITF Rating: 8/10

Courtesy of ITF Gaming

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