It's not the most original MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) on the market nor is it the prettiest. However, there's one thing that World of Warcraft has that no other MMORPG does: over 10 million subscribers. What's the mystery behind WoW's overwhelming success?
First of all, WoW got a huge jump-start on to the scene simply because of the Blizzard brand name. Being the developers of Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft, consumers knew that Blizzard produces a quality product. However, if hype was all WoW had going for it, it wouldn't have shown the staying power that it's demonstrated through it's two major expansions (The Burning Crusade and Wrath Of The Lich King).
Blizzard's biggest accomplishment with WoW is knowing just how far away to dangle the carrot at the end of the stick. Leveling up your character in WoW does take some grinding but the next level never seems that far out of reach. New skills and abilities are scattered throughout the leveling process so that there's always a reward, even if it's just a small one. This process feeds the addiction centre of the brain explaining the nickname World of War-crack.
Now if in addition to owning a netbook you are one of the over 10 million World of Warcraft subscribers, you probably skipped over the proceeding paragraphs to find out if you'll be playing WoW on the run anytime soon. Good news: yes you will.
One of the nice things about WoW for netbooks is that you can download the client from the World of Warcraft site. This saves you the hassle of dealing with image files or a USB optical drive. For the purposes of our test however, we ripped the Wrath Of The Lich King DVD to an image file and mounted it on the netbook over our network. If you have the Wrath Of The Lich King DVD you'll find that it contains all of the WoW data and Burning Crusades data as well, you don't have to install them all in order first.
If you own one of the base model netbooks that only has a small SSD hard drive, you won't be able to run WoW with all of the expansions installed. Wrath Of The Lich King pushes the World Of Warcraft directory up to an impressive 12.9 GB. However, if you own an Acer Aspire One like our test model, you can do what we did and install the game to a 16 GB HCSD card placed in the left SD card slot. This slot is designed to be used in the same manner as a swappable hard drive.
The installation is a long process and even after WoW's installed you'll be waiting some more for all the patches to install. Once installation is completed and you're in the game at the main menu, go into the options menu and then to video. Change the resolution to 1024 x 600 and lower all of the graphic settings as low as they will go. This will give you a very playable frame rate that hovers around the 20 frames per second mark. It's not going to look as smooth as it will on your desktop with a dedicated video card however with the small screen, it's actually pretty good.
We took a level 60 Paladin out running some quests in Silithus and had no issue killing giant bugs and worms. Afterwards, we went to Stormwind to see how things would render in a major city. During peak hours the frame rate dropped to 8 frames per second near the auction house but we were still able to move and tell what was going on. After the auction house we went and competed in the Alterac Valley battleground, holding our own and helping our team to victory.
In summary, you're not going to be playing WoW on your netbook if a desktop's available but it's certainly an option when you want to Play On The Run.
Acer Aspire One
Intel Atom N270 CPU
1 Gb RAM
Intel 945 graphic chipset
8 Gb SS Hard Drive
16 Gb HCSD card used as a second drive
8.9" LCD screen