Gamer's Notebook

Gamer's Notebook

Everybody was Kung Fu pandas: World of Warcraft introduces new furry race

By Chris O'Neal 01/17/2013

 

Devil May Cry $59.99, available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

• World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia $39.99 is available for PC and Mac.


In a world run rampant with Orcs savagely tearing asunder all the lands; in a time when the dead have risen to join forces with such Orcs; on an agenda that includes a 12 o’clock raid on one of the many upper-tier instances one would call “epic,” there arrives a new challenger — a new breed of hero to vanquish any criticism launched at immaturity or lack of creativity. The setting: World of Warcraft. The hero: The Panda.


World of Warcraft has been through eight years of expansions and growth, beginning as a simple romp through familiar fantasy genre territory plucked from the mythos of the previous, single-player Warcraft games to expansions that opened up the mythology and answered age-old questions: If goblins were a factor, whom would they side with? Can Elves be sexier if we make their hair red? But with Mists of Pandaria, the latest WoW expansion, the mythology has never been fresher.


Mists of Pandaria
opens up a world known as Panderia where the newly discovered race, the Panderan, live in peace, protected from the outside world by their magic and stereotypical Far East lifestyle. Pandas, I mean Pandaren, wear rice-paddy hats and kimonos, they speak in an accent most notable from Bruce Lee films; they are Pandas. They are pandas.


There is precedence for Pandas in WoW. One of the first playable races in the series was the Tauren, who are cow-like creatures. Besides, what better creature to play the Monk than a meditative bear from China?


Most importantly (besides mocking pandas) is that the level cap has been increased from 85 to 90. One thing the marketing department won’t tell you is that Mists of Pandaria is mostly made for upper-level players. If you’re new to the game, trying to get to Pandaria is akin to trying to fly to the moon as a caveman. Even if you did make it, you’d be eradicated by high-level baddies and forced to level up before arrival.


It is a beautiful place, though. Developer Blizzard has outdone itelf in the graphics department, offering up new and exciting landscapes and even a musical score that, at times, gives a peaceful feel and at other times, an epic one to the new land. Mists of Pandaria is for the hardcore WoW player who has seen it all — if you are just setting out on your journey into addiction, wait a few months before picking up this expansion.


On the opposite end of the panda spectrum (in which there are no pandas at all), Devil May Cry has just completed its reboot for the next generation. Gone are the trench coats, the silver hair and the goth. In is the emo, the tattoos and the homoerotic overtones. Thrown out as well is the skepticism once shown for this Ninja Theory-produced re-envisioning: DmC is flippin’ amazing.


Taking its cues from a modern era saturated in neon colors and thumping block-rockin’ beats, DmC looks on the outside like nothing at all comparable to the original series from Capcom. That’s because it almost isn’t. The story is different; Dante, the protagonist, instead of being half demon, is now a fusion between an angel and a demon. His powers range from human weaponry to demonic blades and angelic fists of fury.


When Dante gets sucked into Limbo, the magic really happens. The world falls apart and in its stead is a beautifully rendered nightmare creation. Sculptures of demons, rainbow road paths and possessed disco balls make your life a literal living hell, but the action never stops and you’re a one-man army.


DmC isn’t your father’s Devil May Cry. It’s a welcome breath of fresh air from a series gone stagnant.


Chris O’Neal already owns an Xbox 720 and thinks it’s OK. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.

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