World of Warcraft

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World of Warcraft is a 3D fantasy MMORPG based on Blizzard’s popular Warcraft franchise. The game has enjoyed international success since its launch and is credited with bringing the MMORPG genre to a wider audience. Players chose from two warring factions, The Alliance or the Horde, each with five unique races and access to the same ten classes.

Note: This is a buy-to-play retail game.

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Publisher: Blizzard
Playerbase: Very High
Graphics: Medium
Type: MMORPG
EXP Rate: Medium (High with Account/Guild Perks)
PvP: Yes (Arena / Battlegrounds / Duels / PvP Servers)
Filesize: ~24 GB

Pros: +Long-spanning game with large amounts of content. +Vast amounts of lore and places to explore. +Large amount of dungeon content, from 3 person scenarios to 25 man raids. +Timeless Isle content helps players come back to the game and get geared to resume play.

Cons: -Subscription required. -Too many daily quests. -Crafting system is not worth time invested into it. -Loot system’s only purpose is to continue raiding. -Large amounts of griefing on the Timeless Isle island, on their own faction and opposing faction.

Free Trial Restrictions: Unlimited Free Trial. Level Cap of 20. Trial users cannot invite people to their party, send whispers, use auctions, send or receive mail, or trade with other players.

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Overview

World of Warcraft Overview

Ever since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft (WoW for short) has been the golden standard of the MMORPG genre. With a heavily quest-driven progression system and simple gameplay, WoW appeals to a large audience. The cartoony graphics may at first deter players but after some play time, they come to life and truly immerse players into the world of Azeroth. In WoW, players of all classes can easily progress alone but must work together to complete instanced dungeons that reward the best pieces of equipment. This style has helped World of Warcraft remain popular across the world and it continues to attract casual and hardcore gamers alike. Those familar with the Warcraft series will recognize the locations and important NPCs featured in WoW. Players can do battle with Illidian, visit the Orc’s capital of Orgrimmar, or explore parts of the world only hinted at in previous Warcraft titles. But before anything else, players must chose which of the two factions they wish to join — the Horde or the Alliance.

Races:

Alliance - Humans, Gnomes, Night Elves, Dwarves, Draenei, Worgen, Pandaren*

Horde - Orcs, Trolls, Undead, Tauren, Blood Elves, Goblins , Pandaren*

Classes:

Druid - The most versatile class. Druids are effect support characters but can also call upon their feral nature and shapeshift into powerful beasts.

Hunter - The archer class of WoW, Hunters prefer to attack from a distance and lay traps. Hunters can tame beasts and fight in melee range when the need arises.

Mage - Masters of the elemental arts, Mages have high damage potential but suffer from low defense.

Paladin - Holy warriors who can wear plate but can also cast supportive spells to aid their allies in battle.

Priest - The main supportive class in WoW. Priests have the most powerful healing spells but can also inflict heavy damage with shadow related spells.

Rogue - The premier melee damage class. Rogues can dish out a lot of hurt in a short period of time but suffer from lower defense and health compared to other melee classes.

Shaman - In touch with the spirit world, Shaman’s use totems to channel energy towards those around them — be they friend or foe. Shamans are a hybrid class capable of both melee and magic attacks.

Warlock - Sinister spell casters who use the diabolical arts to summon demons to serve them. Warlocks learn curses and DoTs that weaken and damage their opponents.

Warrior - The primary melee fighter and tank. Warriors in WoW can do much more than absorb damage, properly trained they are capable of inflicting heavy damage.

Death Knight - The first ‘Hero Class.’ Introduced in the Lich King expansion, Death Knights start the game at level 55.*

Monk – Released with Mists of Pandaria, the monk class is a hybrid that is capable of powerful tanking, melee DPS, and melee-healing.

* These races/classes are unavailable to free trial players.

World of Warcraft Screenshots

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Full Review

World of Warcraft Review

By Jason Parker (Ragachak)

 

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Opinions, Opinions Everywhere

Everyone has an opinion about World of Warcraft. Everything from “It’s complete garbage,” “Vanilla was better lol,” “Best game of all time!” and so on. I am in a difficult position in that while I have played the game since the original “Vanilla” World of Warcraft (before the expansions), my personal thoughts will be broadcast throughout the internet, for good or for ill. I am not here to hoist Blizzard’s creation above all things, but there are good and bad things to be said for the game, and while it may not be for everyone, Blizzard has made a game that is for “most” people. While it is not the best MMO, or even my favorite of those on the current market (That spot belongs to Final Fantasy XIV, without question) it certainly holds a lot of fond memories for me. That is not to say that I wear nostalgia goggles while I play. There are lots of things that made the game incredibly frustrating for me, and no doubt, for other players. Unlike several of my close friends, I do not have a host of level 90s. I have an overwhelming tendency to get distracted, or disinterested with a playstyle, and try something else. I also have to take this time to thank Seamus McCarthy, and Courtney Jackson for providing the additional Alliance screenshots for me. Many thanks, you two!

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft was born out of a PC series of strategy games called Warcraft. It began with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, and then we had Warcraft 2: Tides of War, and then its expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal. Finally, we had Warcraft 3, which expanded the war beyond just Orcs and Humans. Now we have the Undead, Night Elves, Orcs, and Humans. Warcraft 3 also added “Hero” units, more powerful people, born of the lore, that shaped the world. This was just another step towards the MMO. And now we have it. November 2004 changed the way we viewed MMOs forever. Before World of Warcraft, we had other MMOs. WoW was neither the first, nor the last MMO; before it came EverQuest, Ultima Online, MUDs (Multi User Dungeons), and Final Fantasy XI, just to name a few. WoW took the best parts of its competitors, and made them its own. Blizzard cunningly set up a system that was easy to get into and would grow more and more challenging to master as the years went on. Two primary factions were duking it out for control of the world of Azeroth: The Human Alliance, and the Orcish Horde. Each side has its own races, with their own classes they can use. Let’s start with a bit of an overview on the game itself:

 

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Class and Caste

World of Warcraft is divided into two factions, which have their own unique races. The Alliance is made up of the Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, and Gnomes originally. In the Burning Crusade, the Draenei showed up to aid the humans, and during the Cataclysm, the Worgen came forth. The Orcish Horde has the Orcs, Undead, Tauren, and Trolls. The Blood Elves and Goblins came forth at the same time that the Draenei and Worgen appeared. Lastly we have the Pandaren; they are a neutral race which only changes at the end of the zone where you pick a side to stand with. Personally, I was always a fan of the Horde. I prefer their version of the lore over the Alliance. I would rather strength and honor, over the vaunted justice of the Alliance.

The classes themselves have changed constantly over the years the game has been played. The balancing has not always been fair or correct from my personal point of view, but it is there, and the staff at Blizzard do their best to keep it enjoyable for all. Originally, the Alliance had Warriors, Druids, Rogues, Mages, Priests, Warlocks, Hunters, and Paladins (Alliance-Only). The Horde had Warriors, Druids, Rogues, Mages, Priests, Warlocks, Hunters, and Shaman (Horde-Only). For balance purposes, the opposing faction were given the unique classes and later still we would see the Death Knight hero class, and Monks, which are available to both sides as well. Each class has three sets of specializations, which vary from class to class. Each one has a purpose, from the myriad of damage types like Rogue and Warlock, to the all-purpose Druids and Paladins, who have a Tank, Healer, and DPS tree to assist in whichever position they are needed.

Initially, there were three trees with dozens of talents that a player could take. They were specialized, in that Paladins would have Holy (healing), Protection (tanking), and Retribution (damage). These talent points could be spent in any tree, allowing a great deal of customization, but also a great deal of confusion could be garnered from this. As time progressed, the changes went to the talent system over and over, making it more and more general. Now the class talents are broad and generic, with the main abilities of the class being based on what specialization you choose. There was a time where you could take some of those abilities with some careful juggling, and have a vast array of skills and abilities. In the current iteration of the game, this has become standardized, even simplified.

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This is a rather unfortunate turn of events. One of the more interesting things about the talent system was the ability to do virtually anything. Now the class trees are more akin to bushes. Abilities are cut off based on what path you choose and I have not felt that many of the talent choices I made were particularly useful one way or another. There are choices that make or break a specialization but far and wide they do not make a lot of difference in the long run.

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Grand Central Ganktion

Look, they can’t all be winners. I do the best with what I can. PVP has been a part of the game since its inception, and for better or worse, it has always been a large part of the game. Not everyone is interested in the lore, or end-game content. Large portions of the player base are people who just like to PVP, and gain a great deal of enjoyment in being as good as they can possibly be at it, joining Blizzard’s PVP tournaments at any opportunity. PVP comes in several flavors, for people that want to do it in different ways. For those who are on PVP servers (such as myself), you can kill an opposing faction member anywhere you find them, except in the rare sanctuaries that exist. This can be a lot of fun, but more often than that, it can be a terrible trial, being ganked constantly by players several levels above you. New expansions on a PVP server, especially if your side is not dominant, can be an absolute nightmare. I personally died sixteen times trying to complete a quest during Cataclysm’s opening days.

For those not keen on that, Player vs. Environment or Roleplaying servers may be a better idea. There are of course, RP-PVP servers, for those who wish to be violent and PK (player kill), while enjoying potentially in-depth roleplaying. For those who prefer structured player versus player combat, there are several options, and each iteration of the game comes with more. These are not always balanced, or fair. A prime example is the battleground of Alterac Valley. This is a 40 vs. 40 player battle with the Frostwolf clan doing battle with the Stormpike. The map is huge, and there are many things to do to turn the tide to your side. But the most important thing to see, at least from the Horde side, is the Horde base is incredibly easy to get into. The Alliance base has one way in, along a bridge, guarded by towers. It is terribly slanted towards their defense.

There are a variety of PVP challenges, though. Each has their own amount of players and objectives. From Arathi Basin’s 15 on 15, where the objective is to hold a series of five choke points and gain resources, to Burning Crusade’s entry, Eye of the Storm, in which the goal is to hold several points while gaining bonus points by delivering a flag from the center of the map to one of your held towers. Choke points are popular on several of these maps. One of the originals is still one of the best: Warsong Gulch. Warsong is a 10 vs. 10 capture the flag style battle. There are minor imbalances in the PVP battlegrounds but all in all they are very enjoyable. If there is a tie, and the other side is feeling surly, they can fort up and wait the timer out so nobody wins, which can be a real downer after playing fifteen minutes.

 

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Truth as Hard as Steel

For those of you who want their PVP to be a little more direct and small-time, there are the Arenas. The Arena offers 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 combat, and although you can no longer randomly queue up for it, it is nonetheless very much a part of how the PVP scene in World of Warcraft works. Each arena itself has its own layout and physical advantages to make use of, whether they are pillars, hills, or water traps to lay in wait in. These matches tend to be a bit faster than the battlegrounds, but that does not make them suddenly more balanced. While a great deal of video games have an eSports (Electronic Sports) following, World of Warcraft really does not. Perhaps that is because there is a great deal of imbalance in the game; or maybe Blizzard simply keeps a tight hold upon it. There are arena tournaments, but they are typically held at very large game expos, or at Blizzard events, such as Blizzcon. Sadly, there is still no word of a Spectator mode to view some of these amazing pitched arena battles.

There are two factors that create a problem with PVP: gear and class abilities. Anyone can get gear, in theory. Playing long enough will get you enough points to get PVP gear, or with gold these days, you can buy crafted blue (rare) PVP gear to use to get a start. Class powers, however, make it a much different beast. Some classes have very obvious advantages over others, despite what build they take: druids, for example. With their ability to shapeshift, it is nigh-impossible to pin one down with crowd control abilities. They can simply pop form, and get out of it. Some of their shapes are even immune to other shapeshifting abilities, like Mage’s Polymorph. They can also CC in any form, or swiftly shape out to one, cast a power, and shift again, making them very hard to deal with. Then there are Rogues. The old argument in trade chat was that Rogues are only built for PVP. They do lots of DPS (Damage per second) and have a great deal of single target burst damage, but they have fewer utilities for raiding and dungeons, unlike other classes. However, Rogues in PVP are horrifying. Having one on your team can be crucial with their plethora of abilities to slow, stun, blind, or disorient enemies.

All classes have some manner of control for players or mobiles, but Rogues and Druids do it better than anyone else. There are a variety of team compositions you can implement, and they will virtually always have a place upon them. These days, PVP gear and abilities have become so proliferate that people advertise wins for gold on trade chat, or people beg for carrying through PVP arena matches for gold or even real money! Things like this ruin the integrity and hard work that people who make PVP the basis on which they play less valuable. There is nothing wrong with someone on the team having far more skill than the others, but when you are paying for someone to carry you for a title or a mount, or even gear, there is something to be said about that. And I fear that it isn’t good.

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Progress, ‘til There’s Nothin’ Left to Gain

The name of the game ultimately is still PVE content. As a solo player, you progress through the game by completing quests and gaining XP, then completing dungeons in a five man group to get to the point where you can do raid content. XP gains vary by level, and can be affected by multiple factors. Being a part of a high-level guild gets you perks such as increased movement speed and increased XP. Then, for people who have level 90 characters, and some gold to spend, there are “Legacy” pieces of equipment, or BOAs (Bind-on-account). These pieces can be mailed between characters, and even servers, and level up as you do, granting bonus experience gains. In addition, later expansions reduced the amount of XP to hit the next level, effectively speeding up the leveling process. Blizzard most likely realized that there were lots of players with alts who wanted to hit higher level content faster, and the old leveling system amounts were large and could be terribly daunting.

Dungeons are scattered throughout the world, instanced zones where five people group up and complete certain requirements, such as gathering items, but ultimately, killing bosses. There are generally quests in these places that give more XP than normal, and sometimes very nice pieces of equipment. Each boss drops a piece or two of equipment, generally rare or better, that players roll on based on a need versus greed system. People who cannot equip a piece cannot need, eliminating the abilities for people to ninja (steal) loot quite so easily.

And this leads us to Raids. Raids are end-game content, where groups of people team up to fight overwhelmingly powerful bosses. These are longer and more challenging than normal dungeons (unless you count Upper Blackrock Spire, or Blackrock Depths, which take a nightmarish eternity). In vanilla WoW, these were 40 man affairs that were generally poorly organized, and very few people actually attained loot. With an average of three to four pieces of loot per boss, this could lead to frustration for people going week after week, spending three hours a few nights a week to these events and getting nothing. While part of the thrill is the challenge of succeeding, the actual goal is to get better gear to do harder dungeons.

As a player, I have always enjoyed raiding, and it is one of my primary interests in the game, but it is not for everyone. One of my closest friends and his wife play not to raid, but to simply enjoy the game and see the world. For those types of players, raiding will likely hold no interest, nor will they want to group with other players to try and tackle these challenges. There is nothing wrong with this; after all, they pay for the game and can enjoy it however they see fit. But raiding week after week with no tangible rewards (achievements, loot, etc), can just be draining.

But for those who want to raid, no longer do you even have to be in a guild to at least see and enjoy content! There is a new system in place, called “Looking for Raid” and “Flex Raids”. LFR can be accessed via a menu, where you click what role you wish to take in the raid, and which raid content you wish to do. You do not do the entire raid, but instead, a wing of one (say, three to four bosses). Flex Raids are for people that do not necessarily have the group of people to do a normal sized raid. The difficulty scales for the amount of people you have (between 10-25). However, in Warlords of Draenor (the upcoming expansion), this will replace 10-25 man separate raids. This can be unfortunate for achievement hunters, who want two sets of achievement points, but it will make raiding easier. Perhaps a bit too easy.

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Time Sinks, Man

But you cannot raid and PVP all day! There has to be other content to do. As you can probably see, I do not do a lot of pet battling. I am aware that if I start, I will probably sink far too much time into it, and I have lots of other things to do with my day! But, there are plenty of things to do in WoW that are both positive and negative. Pet Battling is new to the game, and you can finally use all of those vanity pets you have acquired for something. It is a battle system similar to Pokemon, where you level your pets and pitch them in turn-based battles against other NPCs or players. This was, I think, a fantastic idea, and allows for a time sink that is not terribly expensive on a monetary standpoint, but can be a lot of fun spending time flying around the world, trying to find the rarest and coolest looking pets. I personally have some pretty fancy ones, and they are calling me to battle. . .

Then there are achievements. The Xbox 360 made achievements mainstream, and gamers as a whole began hunting them with voracity, always trying to one-up their friends. This has an effect of people playing/spending more money, if for no other reason than to outdo someone else. While I have a decent amount of achievement points, I am not the highest out of my friends (I’m looking at you, Biral, Mr. 15k), I have gone out of my way to hunt achievements, specifically ones that have rewards such as titles, or pets, or mounts. Therein lies the draw for a lot of other players, seeing that “Loremaster” title, or the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher dragon mount.

Professions are one of the larger time sinks provided for players. There were originally three “generic” professions that everyone can learn, First-Aid, Fishing, and Cooking. These have their own benefits, and can all be leveled. Then Archaeology was added. Archaeology is an incredible time-sink, where players can dig up and put together items, both treasures and trash. This is a fantastic way to show off the deep lore of the game, but the system was at first incredibly tedious. It still is, to an extent, but now more pieces come up each dig, so you won’t have to spend quite such an impossible amount of time working on it. But there are tangible rewards, such as fossilized pets and mounts, and that in and of itself makes it worth it to players.

The main professions provide greater rewards and more work than their secondary comrades. Enchanting, Tailoring, Herbalism, Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Mining, Jewelcrafting, and Scribing are the choices and a player can have two at any given time. These crafting professions have benefits, and are of course, hard work. But the hard work does not necessarily equal a just reward. Most of these are incredibly expensive, and the best things from said professions are likely not going to be anywhere but high level dungeons and raids. That means in order to make money off of your profession, it comes back to raiding. This is not always the case, such as in herbalism, or scribing, where you can make your money off of things you find on the ground, or from popular scribed items.

In fact, I would say crafting is the absolute weakest, worst part of World of Warcraft. There are a host of other games that have a better crafting system. Final Fantasy XIV is a prime example. In FFXIV, players do not fight over nodes. There is no griefing and killing and whining about it, because everyone can have nodes to farm for their crafting. That makes the prices less horrific in general on the Auction Hall. This ultimately leads to the downward spiral that is the economy of WoW.

 

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Manifest Destiny

Expansions have been received with mixed reactions throughout the existence of World of Warcraft. Each one has its own joys and hatred-filled rants, from the borderline racism of the Pandaria creatures, to the joy of challenging but wonderful raid content of Black Temple and the Sunwell. However, while the later content receives a great deal of criticism for the lack of challenge, it is safe to say that the game has ultimately gotten better with each iteration. This is not to say that it is the end-all of MMOs, for it certainly has its downsides. But, with each expansion, new game mechanics and new challenges await a variety of players.

However, World of Warcraft is now its own expansion. Gone are the days where you can simply enjoy the game in Vanilla, and not purchase Burning Crusade, or Wrath of the Lich King. The game evolves all on its own, and regardless of whether you buy any expansions, events such as the Cataclysm changed the way the game is played forever. The expansions interact with one another, and even if you do not purchase the expansion packs, certain parts of them are already in the main game, and change the way you play whether you want it to or not. Ultimately, to progress, or see the game as it is meant to be, expansions must be acquired.

All expansions are not created equal, though. Some are heralded and treated much better than others. WoW no longer follows the more archaic, ancient formula that EverQuest made so popular and famous. Though the developers at Blizzard try to do their best to make new and interesting game mechanics to keep the game exciting and interesting, they are unfortunately not keeping up with the curve. In their desire to get the game accessible for new players, they have pushed away the real money: the people who have played the game for years, who stick around despite how bad the changes affected the game. These are the core audience, and as this is true for WoW, it will continue to be true for other games, such as Guild Wars 2, EverQuest 2, DC Universe Online, and any other game that will come out. Their greed and gluttony for more players has only harmed their community, who has put forth time and energy into their product. Now personally I, like any other player, have my own favorites of expansion content. It is hard for me to judge just what content I liked the most, and what I liked the least.

If I really had to pick, I would start with Wrath of the Lich King, then Burning Crusade, and finish off with Cataclysm/Mists of Pandaria tied for the bottom slot. There are things I loved about Cataclysm, such as the reshaping of the world, the new quests, and the addition of Goblins and Worgen. I loved exploring the new world but the end-game content felt rushed and suffered in implementation as a result. One thing I will say, that as the game has progressed, game mechanics and the visuals of the game got better and better. The actual content unfortunately, did not always live up to the hype that it was given.

 

LF Tank and Heals, 25M ToC

 

WarcraftConclusion

Overall Grade: 4/5 Great

While World of Warcraft is not breaking barriers, or doing anything that has not admittedly been done before, they do it in a style that is unique to them. The sounds, effects and visuals of the game are unlike any other on the market and that means a lot to me. Blizzard offers a product that is accessible to many, and that can be enjoyed by players of any level of online gaming experience.

Graphics: 3/5

I personally enjoy the graphics of WoW as they remind me of the Warcraft series that ultimately spawned the MMO. Blizzard has purposely stayed on the low-polygon train, so that many PCs can access and play the game. This allows more people, and ultimately, more money in their pockets. While it is true that in Warlords of Draenor there will be a lot of new character models, subraces, and things of that nature to give a new, fresh look to WoW, I do not think the graphics will become very intense. However most, if not all, of the bosses in raids look amazing. Many of them just blow my mind with how cool they are.

Controls: 4/5

The generic WoW UI is pretty basic and dull. Simply using the regular UI (User Interface) can lead to a bit of hassle as a healer or tank, trying to cover many bases at the same time. While the standard interface is terribly boring and simplistic, the fact that you can add mods that change how you use the game make up for this. The game is fully moddable to allow players of all skill levels enjoyment and with so many years of development time already, most anything you could wish for in mods has already been done. The game would be a lot less accessible without help from addons such as Deadly Boss Mods (warns of boss attacks), Auctioneer (helps undercut the competition), and Healbot (a healing interface to make better use of your healing spells).

Features and Gameplay: 4/5

With each addition to the World of Warcraft experience, features and gameplay improve. It is far from being perfected, or the best, but Blizzard tests these new additions, putting a great deal of time and effort into new gameplay features to ensure that they work as well as they possibly can. It is certainly a step in the right direction with each and every game.

Music and Sound: 4/5

What can I say? The sounds of Blizzard’s game are amazing. I hate to use the word “Epic”, but the orchestral sounds of World of Warcraft truly are. Each area has music styled to the setting you are supposed to be immersing yourself in. From the Mists of Pandaria Chinese-styled zithers and violins, to the gritty drums and horns of Orgrimmar, each area has its own fitting sounds. The voice actors themselves are special, and I won’t lie when I say that I feel chills still when I hear the voice of the Lich King, Kel’thuzad, and the thick guttural accents of characters like Garrosh Hellscream.

Screenshots

World of Warcraft Screenshots

Videos

World of Warcraft Videos

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Blizzcon Trailer

World of Warcraft Burning Crusade Trailer

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World of Warcraft Cinematic Trailer

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System Requirements

World of Warcraft System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 3 800 MHz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 256 MB Free
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 2 Series, ATI Radeon 7500 or Intel i810G Series Video Card

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 1024 (1GB) MB or more
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6200

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