Writing a review of the most eagerly anticipated expansion kit for the most successful online-only game in history may seem a rather redundant job. After all, if you're one of the countless millions of players who already inhabit WoW, chances are you've already decided whether you'll stump up the extra £18 needed to add a load of extra bells and whistles. And if you haven't yet joined the WoW revolution, wouldn't you be better off starting with the original game?

For the uninitiated, WoW is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game). You choose a faction - the world is divided between the 'good' Alliance and the 'evil' Horde - pick a character and then select a class to play (Mages blast their opponents into oblivion with spells, for instance). Amass points by completing quests and you will gradually become more powerful. You can also go round 'instanced dungeons' (miniature worlds stuffed with numbers of quests), or take part in epic fights in the 'battlegrounds'.

But with most serious players having long hit level 60 - the highest attainable - the game had lost its interest for a number of fans. This expansion reignites interest by raising the maximum level to 70. There are masses of additional quests, armies of new creatures (from grotesque fleshbeasts to giant ogre lords) and, of course, a host of lands and dungeons to discover. The dungeons now have selectable difficulty levels and the content is just as imaginative as the original. Of course, it won’t take long for hardcore gamers to hit the new cap, but it's still good to have something new to try.

However, there has been little impact from the introduction of the two new races - Blood Elves and Draenei - and the enhancements made to the Looking For Group facility are receiving a mixed reception. Some different graphics for new armour would have been welcome, too.

New flying mounts are possibly the most exciting long-term addition, with the ability to spot opponents from the air lending a whole new dimension to teamwork. And the new jewel-crafting profession is attracting attention from players.

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade: Specs

  • 800MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 512MB RAM (1GB recommended)
  • 4GB hard disk space
  • 32MB 3D graphics card
  • broadband connection
  • World of Warcraft game
  • 800MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 512MB RAM (1GB recommended)
  • 4GB hard disk space
  • 32MB 3D graphics card
  • broadband connection
  • World of Warcraft game

OUR VERDICT

With extra hype comes a flood of new players. If you haven't played WoW before, the increased interest makes this a good time to see what you've been missing. However, with the original game now reduced in price, you might as well start with that. Experienced players, though, will lap this up. New quests, levels and lands, and flying mounts? What's not to like?

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