Well, the next few months may be the biggest marketing war the MMORPG industry has ever known, and each side has opened fire by launching their respective games' opening movies. Personally, I don't get why companies spend so much time and money (Blizzard has a staff of 80 whose SOLE job it is to crank out cinematics!) on these things, but I suppose we can only oblige them by doing some comparison.
First, the links.
- MMO Champion has the Wrath opening in streaming video, and a Blizzard downloader link to the high resolution version.
- Archmagery has a link to the streaming version of the Warhammer opening, and Gametrailers has a "HD stream" version. I haven't seen a downloadable high res one yet.
Both openings are excellent, and I'd advise you to watch both of them before continuing so my analysis doesn't spoil the big spots.
And now, the battle!
I'd expected Blizzard to run away with this one simply because of the amount of money they spend (again, a staff of 80, which is larger than most studio's DEV staff). In some areas, Blizzard really delivers; the fur on the boot, the snow, and little environmental details. However, when it comes to the character models (which are the stars of both shows), Mythic has managed to do similarily well, and craft a substantially longer production to boot. Blizzard may not have been aiming for a lengthy intro, especially with Starcraft and Diablo videos to do. Still, this thing felt similar to the TBC opening, but without the middle part where we get to see characters doing cool things. I wasn't expecting Mythic to compete in this category, and they managed it, which is a....
Verdict: Edge to Mythic
Wrath has Arthas, and a voiceover by Arthas' father (killed in Warcraft III). Warhammer showcases a number of its playable character classes, and has a voiceover by someone who may or may not be a significant character in the Warhammer lore, but sounds like she's trying to be Cate Blanchett as Galadriel (and/or Elizabeth, queen of England) to the uninitiated. Still, having characters is better than not having characters. See the next category for more, but in this one, it's another...
Verdict: Edge to Mythic
Do the trailers accurately portray the game?
The Wrath trailer says that Arthas is a threat and and that he has many many minions for players to fight. This is one place where I think Blizzard has managed to misunderstand (accidentally or deliberately) what fans were complaining about. The Burning Crusade was a story of why Illidan has to be stopped, but only the most elite of 25-man raiders got to actually fight Illidan, or even any of Illidan's lieutenants. Blizzard says that fans wanted to interact more with the major lore figures, so in Wrath, Arthas will put in Elmer Fudd type appearances via astral projection to tell the wascally players how he'll get them next time. (I wonder if, like Brutallus, he will overtly tell them to bring 24 of their friends, cause clearly there's an in-game lore justification for why you'd never bring 26 people to take down a Pit Lord.) Then again, in some ironic way, this trailer does an honest job of portraying the World of Wrath; Arthas throws a bunch of minions in the general direction of the player, and dealing with the man himself will be a job for someone's 25-man raid when patch 3.3 hits sometime in early 2010 (give or take a few months and/or a patch).
By contrast, Warhammer's trailer makes the Destruction faction look like extras in Lord of the Rings. The Greenskin tanking class, the Black Orc, is mowed down by the dozens by a single Dwarven engineer. The Chaos Marauder gets to stab a mage in the back, but not hard enough to actually kill the mage, and then he gets his ass destroyed in melee by what looks like a Shadow Warrior (I thought they were about bow fighting, even in melee range). The random Urukhai that Peter Jackson created so there would be a boss fight at the end of the first Lord of the Rings film put up a better fight. The squig herder is comic relief and easily beaten by just about anything (actually, some accounts claim that's relatively accurate). And the Dark Elf Sorceress is apparently just out to tease some girl on girl action. Did I mention that realm population balance is the make or break issue for this game? Depicting one of the two factions as cannon fodder is not the way to go.
Verdict: Edge to Blizzard
The Big Flying Creatures
That giant bird thing is either some unstoppable primal god of chaos and fury, or it's someone's mount that does one damage. I can never tell from appearances when it comes to the Warhammer lore, they make some pretty weak things look pretty cool. Lore factor aside, the Frost Wyrm is larger and has no vital organs (it's made out of bone, impressively detailed sinew, and magic). If we're having a Pokemon battle, I choose Frost Wyrm.
Verdict: Edge to Blizzard
Has Blizzard finally ended four long years of discrimination against gnomes by its refusal to include a gnome in a WoW cinematic?
Verdict: BLIZZARD LOSES
And there you have it folks, Warhammer by a score of 3-2. This is what happens when you ignore the gnomes, Blizzard, you hear me, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU IGNORE THE GNOMES!
On the plus side, it should be easier to make an all-gnome remix of this one because there's only one character in it, and we can have Gnome Death Knights.