Diablo III Normal Difficulty Finished

Blizzplanet: Diablo III Normal Difficulty

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, Diablo 3 News

It’s been ages since the first time I beat Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. I can’t say I played religiously everyday, nor multiplayer. Still, I have fond times spending hours and days clearing every single cave, basement, and underground levels.

Some people rush through the quests to reach Diablo. I’m more a completionist, and I just can’t rush through. Takes longer, but satisfaction and victory thrill is felt tenfold.

It’s been over a decade, and we waited so long for this game to ship. After defeating Diablo III in Normal Difficulty, I can only say: It was worth the wait. Blizzard Entertainment’s creative team and the Diablo III team built something that feels like Diablo II, but improved so many areas of the game.

The storyline is awesome. I never saw many of these plots and characters coming. The story feels truly epic, be it quests, in-game lore books, or dialogues between the NPCs. I explored it all. From what I saw in the achievements, I barely missed a few in-game books.

I only found one flaw with the game, and that’s mostly because the Auction House is currently disabled until further notice. So hard to make space in your inventory and stash.

I’d say the cost for each stash 14 slots needs to decrease, and the cost of the tabs as well. The second tab costs 100,000. The third tab costs 200,000. That’s 300,000 — not counting the additional 10,000 per 14 slots.

At the time of finishing Diablo III, I only managed to get the second tab (100,000), and only have 50,000 gold (a quarter of what the third tab costs).

All my focus went into spending gold to buy 14 stash slots, and to buy the second stash tab, and all its slots. I was not able to invest in upgrading the Blacksmith. At all. Thus didn’t even use the Blacksmith’s recipes to build gear.

There’s a work around if you are running out of inventory space and stash space while you manage to get all three stash tabs. You have up to 10 character slots. Create two level 1 characters you won’t be using for a long while. Empty the stash onto both characters’ inventory — use them as bank characters so to speak. When the Auction House is launched, put all those items in those two bank characters for sale. Much better to use this method, than to trash stuff that might have potential value at the Auction House. Go, empty your inventory and stash to make space so you can keep farming Nightmare Difficulty items until the Auction House opens.

At level 32, I beat Diablo III Normal Difficulty wearing only what I looted from bosses and rare elites. Lot of yellow gear. No Blacksmith gear. I’m so glad I could experience the entire gameplay and storyline, and to be able to say indeed Darkness Falls, Heroes Rise. Mission accomplished. Yet so much work to do. Next step: Nightmare Difficulty.

Other than my suggestion to lower the stash costs, this game was worth the wait. Very polished, awesome scenarios, cool random events and game mechanics, and quests. Diablo III is everything Diablo II should have been, now in the flesh, made reality. I love this game, and truly hope to play it often in coop-mode. Big <3 to Jay Wilson, Christian Lichtner, Andrew Chambers, Kevin Martens, Jason Bender, Wyatt Cheng, and the remaining Diablo III Team.

I'm amazed by all the information found in-game about the story. Now I understand how important it is for fans to read Diablo III: Book of Cain and Diablo III: The Order. Reading those two books will prepare players to the video game’s storyline, and overall help them understand what’s going on, and who the characters and locations mentioned are.

Big kudos to Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson, James Waugh and the whole Creative Team for their truly epic story. As usual, there’s a cliffhanger. What’s next? As Jay Wilson mentioned throughout these past few years, there will be Diablo III expansions. Who do we fight now? There are some characters in the game whose whereabouts are still unaccounted for.

Update: Because of the ending, the repercussions are palpable, and yet unpredictable. Will the expansion be set several years in the future? Will Sanctuary have to fight in other worlds where the Burning Hells still have foothold? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend reading Diablo: The Sin War Box Set (Kindle edition). To read the eBook on your PC/Mac computer or mobile device download the Kindle app.

As a mass market paperback, you can get it here:

Chronologically, Diablo: The Sin War is the earliest event in the Diablo story — about 3,000 years in the past. In this book, the Angiris Council voted against or in favor of humanity. The true origin of Sanctuary and the Worldstone are revealed too. Material that is widely used in the Diablo III quests, in-game books and NPC dialogues. Some important characters that play a role in the book trilogy: Trang’Oul, Rathma, Kalan, Lilith, Mephisto, Tyrael, Imperius, and Uldyssian.

Possible Expansion Characters – Spoilers

  • There are seven lieutenants of Azmodan. We only fight two: Ghom (Lord of Gluttony) and Cydaea (Maiden of Lust).
  • Missing Lieutenants of Belial
  • Adria
  • Zoltan Kulle
  • Inarius
  • Lilith
  • Malthael
Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon

Blizzplanet Review – Diablo III: The Order

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, Diablo 3 News

I just finished reading our review copy of Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon, courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc. and Gallery Books.

The short review: “I’m totally in love with Diablo III: The Order”. Ok, I have a couple of rants that a few trolls might also point out: Tyrael’s voice never talks to Cain (not even in dreams), and a pivotal moment could have had someone like Archangel Auriel (Hope), Trang’Oul or even a necromancer slipping in into the story to guide Deckard Cain in his most darkest time, but in general this book is a [must-have] to all Diablo III fans.

Curiously, there aren’t really Diablo III single player spoilers; except for maybe the epilogue which ties-in with one of the Acts. Even so, the epilogue happens probably 10-12 years before Diablo III.

While these might be spoilers, I think they might serve as key information to those wondering what the book is about. Don’t worry, these only comprehend about the first 50 pages of the book. You decide whether the topic interests you enough to buy the book, or not.

The prologue starts with Aderes Cain telling the story of Jered Cain and the Horadrim (as they hunt and imprison Diablo and his brothers) to a group of children, including her 11-year-old son: Deckard Cain.

This prologue serves as a foreshadowing or primer to understand Deckard Cain’s regrets for wasting so much of his younger life ignoring the stories and scripts about the Horadrim and the demons.

A young Deckard Cain who grew bored of the stories, angry for the loss of his father to disease, who wanted to pursue adventures and dreams away from Tristram — a place where nothing happened, and where he feared he would spend all his life working at a shop like his father. Typical attitude of a young rebel living in a farm, far away from cities.

After the prologue, sadly we jump forward in time to 1272 (59 years later). Deckard Cain should be around age 70.

It’s been ten years since the defeat of Baal and the destruction of the Worldstone (at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction).

Deckard Cain journeys with the Paladin Akarat to the Vizjerei secret repository to search for scrolls that might give him knowledge about the End Days. Cain faces a demon who talks a mix of truths and lies, knowledge which Cain later uses to his advantage after the demon is swiftly defeated.

Deckard Cain travels to Caldeum to visit Gillian the Barmaid (check out her background at our colleague wikia site). She’s a well-known character from Diablo I (voiced by Glynnis Talken, alias Sarah Kerrigan). Adria left Leah to her care, and Cain wanted to keep tabs on the girl.

There’s a flashback (via Cain’s dreaming) of the events of Diablo I: mentioning Aidan, Gillian, King Leoric and Lachdanan.

Gillian sends Cain to bookseller Kulloom. Among the scripts found by Cain at the Vizjerei secret repository were Zakarum, Bartuc, and Horadrim texts. Kulloom hints at having heard of a Horadrim group. This revelation amazes Cain, who thought he was the last Horadrim, and sets to pursue any hints that may lead him to find them.

Nate Kenyon fleshes out the growing bond that unites Deckard Cain and a very young Leah. It’s touching how Leah changes dramatically her initial rebellious behavior to a caring one for the old man.

There are two main plots: the search for the Horadrim group in Kurast, and the one bound by prophecy.

A monk named Mikulov has read the prophecies of the patriarchs of Yvgorod. He has gathered scrolls from several locations around Sanctuary. Scrolls which have something in common: a time juncture that triggers the upcoming End of Days prophecy: The first day of the month of Ratham, the month of the dead.

On the side of the demons, Belial has powerful servants in Sanctuary with the gift of vision and prophecy. Several paths lead to different futures. Different outcomes. However, it’s intriguing none of them foresaw Mikulov in any of the visions — a monk who has visions of the future, too. He’s a wild card. Unexpected. Mysterious. Undetected in visions of the large tapestry of destiny. Intriguing.

After learning so much about Mikulov, and what he’s capable of doing, after playing Diablo III beta — I’m inclined to create a Monk character as my first Diablo III retail character. Mikulov rocks! It seems it won’t be the last we will see of him. I’m inclined to think we’ll see him in future novels. As Richard A. Knaak’s Zayl the Necromancer, many fans will truly get fond of of Mikulov the Yvgorod monk as one of the heroes of Sanctuary.

The author uses the moments Deckard Cain goes to sleep to give readers a quick intro to the lore of the previous three Diablo games (Diablo I, Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction) via flashbacks tormenting Deckard Cain in his dreams. He sleeps often throughout a span of seven days.

Belial, the Lord of Lies is omnipresent throughout the story without making much of a screen time. There are spies everywhere. Anything or anyone can be the eyes or ears of Belial in subtle ways.

This book sets a pivotal point for readers to understand the Deckard Cain we will see in Diablo III. The book, of course, delves more into his weaknesses, and his personal regrets than the game itself.

Deckard Cain is a man that carries a heavy burden upon his shoulders. He blames himself for the sins of the past. As a young boy, he refused the Horadrim teachings shared down by his mother. He felt them to be mere unfounded stories.

He blames himself for the death of everyone in Tristram, and thinks Aidan wouldn’t have died if he had focused his young years to learn more from the Horadrim scrolls concerning Diablo and the other Prime Evils. However, how much of his self-doubt is his? How much are [lies]?

Diablo III: The Order is a tragic story of great proportions. I have never seen Deckard Cain so powerless, desolated, lonely, desperate, hopeless. Nate Kenyon delivered as a writer in this book revealing to fans (on-your-face) several facets of Deckard Cain we never knew of him, while capturing that essence of him we have grown fond with over a decade in the previous games.

Deckard Cain has reached rock bottom at a delicate juncture. And the sad part is Cain is out of time. The story locomotions toward a spiraling countdown. Each chapter, and each step taken, each day passed leading toward the first day of the month of Ratham.

A day Belial has designated for the death of the 8-year-old Leah, and the rising of the death — an army of the Mage Clans who died in a lost city of Kehjistan.

We’ll learn something new about Deckard Cain’s past. It seeps in slowly throughout the story. In stages.

Three powerful things will be used for the final showdown against Belial’s servants: hope (as their strength), courage, and a Diablo II item long-thought to be lost.

It’s safe to read the book before finishing the Diablo III single player. No spoilers there, except for a hint at the epilogue — at the end of the book, which ties-in directly with one of the Acts.

The book will change everyone’s perception of Deckard Cain. We’ll now see his most intimate thoughts and memories. His weaknesses, and his strengths through the mind-eye of the author: Nate Kenyon.

Is Deckard Cain a failure? A coward? Or a Heroe? Fans will see him like never before on both sides of the spectrum. For a first work in the Diablo universe, Nate Kenyon is welcome among the hall of legends alongside Richard A. Knaak. Hope to see more Diablo novels from both authors. Dark and gritty enough for old Diablo book readers, and informative to new readers who missed previous Diablo video games.

Order Diablo III: The Order (Hardcover) now. Kindle edition can be downloaded here. Don’t have Kindle? Did you know you can read Kindle eBooks on your PC/Mac internet browser? Download the Kindle Reading app.

Share questions for Nate Kenyon at our following forum thread. (One copy of the book will be giveaway)

Description

For more than ten years, Diablo has been one of PC gaming’s iconic and blockbuster franchises, with millions of players experiencing to this day all the adventure and terror in the world of Sanctuary. Now, DIABLO III: THE ORDER (Gallery Books, May 15, 2012; $26.00) will tie-in with the long-awaited release of Blizzard Entertainment’s all-new game, Diablo III. This original novel reveals the untold story of Deckard Cain, one of Diablo’s most popular characters.

Now a much older man, Deckard Cain is on a mission to find the remnants of a rumored Horadric cell, and must call upon all of his knowledge and wit to teach and inspire those around him even as they face danger and death at every turn. Can he lead the return of a ragtag group of Horadrim and their ideals to Sanctuary … or will they die out with Cain himself?

About the Author

Nate Kenyon is the author of StarCraft: Ghost–SPECTRES. He is a Bram Stoker Award finalist and he has had stories published in Shroud Magazine, Permuted Press’s Monstrous Anthology, Horror World, Dead Lines, The Harrow, and Legends of the Mountain State 2, and has several others forthcoming. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

Nate Kenyon (Left) and Blizzplanet's Medievaldragon (Right) at New York Comic Con 2011

Characters

  • Deckard Cain
  • Aderes Cain (Deckard’s mother)
  • Gillian (cameo: Diablo II character, Caldeum barmaid, adoptive mother of Leah)
  • Leah (Age 8 )
  • Kulloom (Caldeum bookseller)
  • Belial, Lord of Lies
  • Hyland
  • James (Caldeum blacksmith)
  • Mikulov (Ivgorod Monk)
  • Cyrus (owner of the Red Circle Inn in Lower Kurast)
  • Lord Brand
  • Garreth Rau (scholar, one of the finest bookmakers in Sanctuary, leader of the Horadrim cell)
  • Captain Hanos Jeronnan (cameo – Diablo: Legacy of Blood)
  • Egil (Horadrim member)
  • Lund (Horadrim member)
  • Farris (Horadrim member)
  • Cullen (Horadrim member)
  • Thomas (Horadrim member)
  • Jordan (Horadrim member)
  • Anuk Maahnor (Bartuc’s captain)

Flashback or Mentioned

  • Farnham (lost his daughter to The Butcher)
  • Pepin
  • King Leoric
  • Aidan
  • Lachdanan
  • Albrecht
  • The Butcher
  • Wirt
  • Griswold
  • Asheara (Diablo II character, Caldeum’s Iron Wolves mercenary leader)
  • Trang’Oul
  • Ratham (founder of the priests of Rathma)
  • Bartuc
  • Horazon
  • Amelia (Deckard Cain’s wife, died 35 years earlier)
  • Thomas Abbey (Captain, Khanduras Royal Guard)
  • Archangel Tyrael
  • Kara (Necromancer) — looking back, while this character is only mentioned by Captain Hanos Jeronnan, and never appears in the story, she’s a canon-character from Richard A. Knaak’s Legacy of Blood along with her companion: Norrec. The book doesn’t mention her last name: Kara Nightshadow.
  • Norrec

Locations

  • Tristram (flashbacks)
  • Vizjerei Secret Repository (Bartuc followers’ runes and a closed portal to the Burning Hells)
  • Borderlands
  • Flating Sky Monastery (Ivgorod)
  • Kingsport (mentioned)
  • Lower Kurast
  • Gea Kul
  • Captain’s Table (Gea Kul Inn by Jeronnan)
  • The Black Tower (near the sea, Gea Kul)
  • Al Cut

Bestiary

  • Thresher
  • Sand Wasp
  • Unburied
  • Overseer
  • Fallen One
  • Feeder
  • Scavenger
  • Skeletons
  • Demons
  • Khazra (Goatmen)

Prologue: Memory

  • Prologue: Tristram, 1213

Part One: Gathering Shadows

  • Chapter 1: Ruins of the Vizjerei Secret Repository, The Borderlands, 1272
  • Chapter 2: The Hidden Chamber
  • Chapter 3: The City of Caldeum
  • Chapter 4: Gillian’s Residence, Caldeum
  • Chapter 5: The Black Tower
  • Chapter 6: The Bookseller’s Tale
  • Chapter 7: The Burning
  • Chapter 8: One for the Madhouse

Part Two: Darkness Descending

  • Chapter 9: The Cavern in the Hills
  • Chapter 10: Out of Caldeum
  • Chapter 11: Dreams of Tristram
  • Chapter 12: The Walled Town
  • Chapter 13: Lord Brand’s Manor
  • Chapter 14: A Stranger Comes
  • Chapter 15: The Graveyard
  • Chapter 16: The Hidden Room
  • Chapter 17: The Road to Kurast
  • Chapter 18: Tristram’s End
  • Chapter 19: The Red Circle
  • Chapter 20: The Docks
  • Chapter 21: The Feeder
  • Chapter 22: The Blood of Al Cut

Part Three: The Lord of Lies

  • Chapter 23: The Road to Gea Kul
  • Chapter 24: The Horadric Chambers
  • Chapter 25: The Camp
  • Chapter 26: The First Ones
  • Chapter 27: Lund’s Bow
  • Chapter 28: The Possession
  • Chapter 29: The Warning
  • Chapter 30: Blood Ritual
  • Chapter 31: A Plan Emerges
  • Chapter 32: The Tunnels
  • Chapter 33: Al Cut
  • Chapter 34: The Courtyard
  • Chapter 35: The Ritual Chamber
  • Chapter 36: The Walking Dead of Al Cut
  • Chapter 37: Gea Kul, Resurrected
  • Chapter 38: The Road Ahead

Epilogue

  • The Lord of Lies
diablo-iii-headset-review-1

Blizzplanet Review: SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, Diablo 3 News

I have now about 5-6 months experience with the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset.

I can say “this is the best headset I have ever had”. The first time I unpacked this review copy, I was awed by its design and the box design.

The design is just a complimentary feature for Diablo III fans. This SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset is actually a customized SteelSeries Siberia v2.

It has a 50mm speaker unit surrounded by leather, with XL-sized ear cups which cancel out noise. I have a hard time listening to people talking to me while playing video games because the ear cup does an amazing job at what it was designed to do — giving you that much of an immersion into the video games music, special effects and ambient sounds.

I play Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo III beta, Crysis, and other video games with the Diablo III Headset.

I feel this SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset gives me an extra edge while playing FPS games. The sound is so amazingly crisp and clear, I can hear people walking nearby — allowing me to prepare an ambush. I can more or less determine where other players are by listening the direction in which their shooting sounds come from.

Without the headset I can’t hear nearby movement nor determine the direction where people is shooting from as I do while using the Diablo III headset.

For those using FRAPS, you can record videos using FRAPS while the Diablo III Headset is plugged into the computer, and the sounds can be heard in the uploaded videos.

Bang for your Buck

Alright. The SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset is pricy: $117.78 (approximately). However, every single buck is worth it.

Ever spent $2.99 for a cheapo noname-brand headset from those 99-cents Stores? (guilty)

Ever got one of those $19.99+ Logitech headphones? (guilty)

How long have those lasted? A few months. Let me tell you what’s likely what caused 98% of your headphone’s malfunction. It’s the poor cabling protection.

The cabling is usually thin. As you handle it back and forth the cable bends, and the connection is lost between the jack and the ear cup receiver.

The Diablo III Headset (Siberia v2 D3H) is a diamond for anyone who wants the best sound quality, but the most important thing about this headset is its lifetime.

Cheap headsets usually malfunction within a few months. The secret of the Diablo III Headset (Siberia v2 D3H) is that it shares the same cable material as the Diablo III Mouse. The double-braided nylon cord prevents the internal cable from bending — the natural cause of the death of most other headsets.

The USB jack connector is gold-plated. The only benefits for gold-plated USB connectors is a better contact and that they do not oxidize or corrode, which of course extends the lifetime of the product another notch.

There’s a small box in the cabling that allows the user to adjust the volume of the headset’s sound, and it also has a slide-button to enable or mute the microphone.

The noise cancelling pull-out microphone is located on the left ear cup. You can pull out to use it, or hide it back in when not using it. Ideal for Skype and in-game chat via ventrilo.

Another wonderful feature of this Diablo III Gaming Headset is the length of the cable. The headset has a 1 meter (3 feet) cable, but a 2-meter (6.5 feet) extension cable comes along in the box to attach the headset’s USB connection. In total, you have a cable length of 3 meters (9.5 feet).

I am able to walk around the room to the small refrigerator and back without removing the headset. If you are listening to music, that’s great to be able to multi-task away from the computer.

Illumination Settings

The Diablo III-themed illumination around the back of the ear cups can be programmable.

The illumination intensity has the off, low, medium and high options.

Pulsation can be customized to steady, slow, medium, fast or trigger.

It’s Diablo-III themed, thus the illumination only has a solid red as a color option. No biggies.

Sound Settings

The SteelSeries Engine driver icon sits accessible at all times in the bottom-right of the Windows Vista/7 quick launcher area. Drivers can be found at Steelseries.com/support/downloads

The Diablo III Headset software has an equalizer UI to change the intensity and depth of the sounds. You can create profiles for each game, and assign a specific profile to be triggered by the launch of a game/exe by browsing the game location in your computer.

Box Design

The box has the golden Diablo III logo with a runic-like-embossed texture. The Blizzard logo and SteelSeries logo. Headset specifications and description.

The box is made of strong cardboard, and it’s designed to be opened easily.

The front of the box can actually be opened like a book. The frontal flap is kept closed with a tiny magnet hidden somewhere within the cardboard.

In the interior you can see Tyrael and Imperious artwork, as seen in the Diablo III: Book of Cain.

The text is localized in english, french, german and spanish:

And the Heavens shall tremble. Enhance your senses and prepare to safeguard the mortal realm from the rising powers of the Burning Hells. Hear the world of Sanctuary the way it was intended.

Co-designed with Blizzard Entertainment, the official Diablo III Headset brings players an immersive audio experience through its optimized soundscape, clear microphone communication and an illuminated, Diablo III-themed design. hear your fate. Prepare for victory.

  • Customizable Soundscape: Multiple Diablo III-themed options.

  • Plug-and-Play: In-line controls with USB connection.

  • Long Lasting Comfort: Lightweight suspension design

Cons

I only have one cons. Just one. I am not able to record sound in the Windows Moview Maker’s Narration timeline while the Diablo III Headset is plugged into the USB, and it is not even displayed in the sound source options. I can only see my internal sound card.

Not a big deal if you aren’t into video making. All you need to do is remove the Diablo III headset.

Conclusion

I’m waiting for the price to go down to get a second headset for two family members who would no doubt love this as a gift.

You really need to get the SteelSeries Diablo III Gaming Headset. Best sound quality, best cabling material, great length allows you to walk around the room. Microphone, mic mute and sound adjustment buttons. Long lifetime. Diablo III-themed equalizer UI (via SteelSeries Engine) and product design. It’s awesome. Go. Get. It.

Note: Blizzplanet is giving away one Diablo III Gaming Headset. Check out our Diablo Dialogue web show hosted by The Bearded Gamer to learn how to participate to win one.

Choose a country for faster shipping:

diablo-3-book-of-cain-review-1

Blizzplanet Review: Diablo III: Book of Cain

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Gallery

Diablo III: Book of Cain is the official Diablo universe lore source book written by Flint Dille (The Transformers) with the collaborative assistance of Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson and Matt Burns from the Blizzard Entertainment Creative Team.

Blizzplanet got a copy of Diablo III: Book of Cain, courtesy of Insight Editions and its publicity manager, Carlie Demelo. Special thanks to her for the giveaway copies for our visitors.

I’ll begin the review of Diablo III: Book of Cain. Take a seat, and buckle up.

Materials

Insight Editions took very special care of the publishing process, production and appearance aspect of Diablo III: Book of Cain.

When you hold this book on your hand, you will notice the excellent care to details over its materials. The cover has the Diablo skull and all the stylish ornamental embroidery. All the outer-edge of the skull and the ornamental images are embossed. Embossing is made by letterpress machines which raise the level of the image using pressure and heat. The eyes and mouth are debossed causing a recession or hole appearance. You can feel the lines and holes with your fingers making the Diablo skull design sort of 3D, both visually and tactile. The cover treatment is a matte finish with both embossing and debossing.

The red rectangle with the Diablo III: Book of Cain logo is actually not part of the cover itself. It’s a separate removable paper, or belly band, wrapped around the cover flaps. The belly band is loose on the front cover, but it’s firmly held on the back cover.

What’s holding the belly band tight there? An envelope glued on the interior of the back cover, with a sticker in the shape of a candle seal. The candle seal resembles the image shown in page 145, which I’m guessing is the symbol of the Great Families of Xiansai (I might be wrong).

“What’s in this envelope?” — you ask. Within the envelope is a folded poster of the Sanctuary Map. The map itself is a die cut with irregular edges along its border — obviously a real-life old scroll replica.

When you see the side of the book where all the pages are, and pass your finger through its thickness, you will feel a sandy texture on your fingertips. It looks like rugged cardboard to give it a old paper feel of ancient scrolls.

Taking a single page between my fingers, I could see what gave that texture. The edge of each single page has been cut in irregular shapes giving it a feathered appearance. If you slide your finger along the edge of the page you won’t feel the straight line cut of normal pages, it’s a rugged surface. I’m told this is known as deckled edges.

Each page has a yellow-orange 2D texture to resemble papyrus or ancient scroll paper.

Insight Editions wanted this book to delicately resemble a real world replica of the in-game Book of Cain item. I’m completely astonished with the material and printing processes of Diablo III: Book of Cain. This is a book leaking design excellence, as you would always expect from a Blizzard licensed product.

Quick Look Inside

Usually, books have a page with the name of the publisher, the writer and all the credits, the publishing year and copyright notices, and even a introduction message or dedicatory. Blizzard licensed books, in specific, usually have a glossary and/or reference list telling you all the books where determined topics originate from in continuity in the last pages.

Insight Edition went in a different direction.

The first page says: “Take heed, and bear witness to the truths that lie within. For they are the last legacy of the Horadrim.”

There’s no credit page, or copyright notices nor a content list in the initial pages.

You will see the title … Diablo III: Book of Cain in the initial pages; where the only thing written is: “text by Flint Dille” and “Insight Editions”.

After that page comes the letter addressed to Leah by Deckard Cain which she is meant to read after his death. This is the page Insight Editions recently shared in public during the 12 Days of Diablo III: Book of Cain. That was only page one of three. The letter offers more details.

At the end of the book you will see another letter to Leah. Finally, the last page contains the copyright notices and credits.

Materials | Review | Press Letter | Content List | Credits | Content List | Gallery

wow-the-shattering-cover-600x275

World of Warcraft: The Shattering Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, World of Warcraft News

World of Warcraft: The Shattering by Christie Golden was in the Top 25 New York Times Bestselling Hardcover Fiction List for around five consecutive weeks.

It’s no wonder. The novel is a World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion tie-in. A prequel.

In this novel, Deathwing has not yet emerged from Deepholm. However, most of the story setting seen in the expansion is mentioned in the novel. Thus, the novel reveals how things came to be the way they are in-game.

For example, the main topic of the novel revolves around Thrall. What led him to vanquish his title as Warchief. The elements are in distress, and at times don’t listen to the call of the Shamans.

The earthquakes, storms, tsunami, and fires keep increasing as weeks go by with no definite source to what’s causing the worldwide problem.

Thrall decides to embark into a long journey to learn more about his shamanic and spiritualist ancestry in order to learn what’s going on in Azeroth, and in learning, be able to help the elements.

Not much of a spoiler because most of players already experienced the pre-Cataclysm world event and its phases.

Remember that scene when Thrall goes to Nagrand to learn at the Throne of the Elements? We see all the story prior to Thrall arriving there unravel.

Grandmother Geyah wasn’t able to teach her grandson Thrall, err Go’el, but her right-hand: Aggra, obeys her wish to take the task.

Thrall learned shamanism from Drek’Thar long ago, as seen in the novel Warcraft: Lord of the Clans. However, Drek’Thar didn’t have the necessary tools to do the rituals and tests Thrall required.

The ritual should have been done surrounded by a community of Shamans while Thrall enters a deep trance to face his trials before the element spirits.

The relationship between Aggra and Thrall is a tempest during his training. It’s revealed why she is so angry at him. However, I can say Chris Metzen kept his word that Thrall would be falling in love, as stated a few BlizzCon ago.

It wasn’t Garona as he joked, but now we know he wasn’t able to talk about Aggra yet without spoiling certain things about Cataclysm. Christie Golden is a legend when it comes to bringing forth the emotive feelings in her writing style. You won’t want to miss this interesting hate/love interaction between Thrall and Aggra.

The Shattering is not just about Thrall, however. For the first time in a novel, Prince Anduin Wrynn takes most of the spotlight. We have seen Anduin and his mindset in the World of Warcraft comic book under the hands of Walter Simonson, but Christie Golden had the opportunity to really polish and dye-finish what Walter clay molded.

A comic book has a bit over 20 pages, while a novel has 352 pages.

There’s a broader approach with the nearly mother-like relationship between Lady Jaina Proudmoore and Anduin throughout the novel. Anduin also grows gradually in maturity. At the end of the novel, the child Anduin we know ends up more like an adult teenager understanding and executing the concept of politics, and diplomacy as he would once he becomes King. We see Anduin falling in … love?, for the first time.

King Varian Wrynn decided to let Anduin stay in Ironforge for a while, hoping he would be trained to be a glorious warrior the way he was trained as a child himself. His primary reason for this decision was to keep his boy away from him, while he deals with his Lo’gosh personality and inner-demons.

In the pre-Cataclysm world event, we helped a courier that was under attack by the Twilight Hammer to take from him a tablet from Ulduar. This is further explored when one of the tablets reach Ironforge.

King Magni wishes to lead the tablet ritual himself hoping to commune with the earth to understand what’s so wrong that the elements are in disarray, and to help. Things go wrong. So wrong.

King Magni Bronzebeard transforms into pure diamond before the astonished eyes of Anduin, High Priest Rohan, Belgrun and Magellas.

This later leads to a coup in Ironforge when Moira Bronzebeard comes to claim her heritage as Empress of Ironforge, leader of two kingdoms.

In this novel, we see how the Council of Three Hammers is formed, which is composed of Moira (Dark Iron Representative), Muradin (Bronzebeard Representative) and Falstad (Wildhammer Representative). This is what triggered the whole Red Shirt Guy thing during BlizzCon 2010. He read The Shattering a few days prior to BlizzCon, and noticed Kurdran Wildhammer was in Ironforge’s Throne Room instead of Falstad.

Another aspect of the pre-Cataclysm world event is seen with Garrosh taking the mantle of Warchief when Thrall assigns him to watch over the Horde while he goes to Nagrand to learn how to help Azeroth’s elemental spirits.

Christie fleshed out the whole Garrosh vs Cairne Bloodhoof relationship from the moment Cairne arrives to Borean Tundra to take home the Horde after the defeat of the Lich King.

Cairne saw things that alerted him of how dangerous it was to let Garrosh loose with too much power.

Things get really bad when Thrall decides to appoint Garrosh as Warchief. However, a misunderstanding caused Cairne to call upon an orcish duel to strip Garrosh from his position. Garrosh in turn bluffs to force Cairne to retreat his challenge by asking the duel to be the old way: to the death.

Everyone wishing to learn how Cairne died would love to read it through the mind-eye of Christie Golden.

We see a very unusual alliance surfacing when Baine Bloodhoof seeks help to retake Thunder Bluff. One that really makes no sense unless we play the low level quests in Dustwallow Marsh.

Overall, World of Warcraft: The Shattering is one heck of a rollercoaster ride jam-packed with action on both sides: The Alliance and the Horde. Lot of emotional moments. Intrigue. Conspiracy. Betrayal. Love. Anger. Revenge. Uncertainty.

Most, if not all the characters, are characters that already exist in-game. That’s a nice touch.

It’s a must-have in your collection of Warcraft novels, and it does add to your knowlege of the game lore and quests by revealing to you how the status quo in the Cataclysm expansion came to be.

Once you read World of Warcraft: The Shattering, your feeling toward the Cataclysm will be widen up several notches, and you will hope the upcoming World of Warcraft: Thrall, Twilight of the Dragons is released soon enough to keep reading.

Christie Golden is a known World of Warcraft gamer, and she has helped build the lore and content that developers pour into the game.

Review: World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Vol. 1, Dragons of Outland

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News

TOKYOPOP Editor Troy Lewter sent my way an early copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING, in terms you can remember from an early interview of mine with Richard A. Knaak, it is the first volume of a trilogy titled DRAGONS OF OUTLAND, in which we learn the lore that led toward Malygos’s return to his senses from his milennia insanity and the Nexus War against the Kirin Tor and the Wyrmrest Accord.

The manga will be at a bookstore near you on June 1, 2010; but if you need a little jumpstart to get your engines going, I have written a lengthy article that mentions a few key moments of this story, without necessarily spoiling it too much. Just enough for you to get a grasp of what the first installment of this manga trilogy is about.

Without further ado, and minding a few spoilers here and there, feast my lore-hungered boys. Tip: Jorad Mace, Tyrigosa, the Nether Dragons, Deathwing and an original second war Death Knight on the loose in Outland.

If you loved the stories within Warcraft Legends, be prepared to get bewitched by World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing.

This manga trilogy is based on the two characters from the pages of WarCraft: The Sunwell Trilogy. The very same manga that spawned the likes of Kalecgos, and Anveena (known in-game at the Sunwell Plateau dungeon), Trag Highmountain (known in-game at the Argent Tournament Grounds in Icecrown) and Dar’Khan Darthir (found in-game at Deatholme in the Ghostlands, Quel’Thalas).

Like all of these characters who first were born in the TOKYOPOP manga, and appeared in-game time later during the Burning Crusade expansion, both protagonists of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING were born in THE SUNWELL TRILOGY and became quest NPCs in the Burning Crusade.

You can find both, Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa, at the Celestial Ridge in the region known as Netherstorm in Outland. To refresh your memory, Tyri (or Tyrigosa the blue dragon) gives you the quest to kill Veraku — the leader of the Nether Drakes in Netherstorm.

Her quests: A Promising Start, Securing the Celestial Ridge, and Troublesome Distractions. Ok, you got the idea. This manga gives you a prologue to their adventures in Outland, before those quests. How they got into Outland, and how they happen to learn about the Nether Drakes. That’s all in WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING.

The story by Richard A. Knaak is very fluid and packed with action in all fronts between the Burning Legion and the Alliance forces at the Dark Portal’s Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula, dragon against dragon, Gronn versus dragon, Ragnok’s forces against our heroes, and much more.

All brought to awesome detail by artist Jae-Hwan Kim: face expressions, body details, background details. The inker and texture makes this entire manga be a yummy sight. I’m not sure if the artist inked it, or Marco Paolilli, but it looks astounding. Jae-Hwam Kim’s art style and Richard A. Knaak’s writing are a perfect match for World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing. No wonder this manga took so long in the making.

Storywise, Jorad Mace comes to Outland with the Alliance forces to fend off the Burning Legion’s advancement into the Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula under the vigilance of Lord Irulon Trueblade of the Argent Crusade.

Jorad Mace continues his quest to make himself worthy and redeem his past transgressions against the former Silver Hand. The Light abandoned him long ago before the events of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, and he seeks to be worth of the return of the Light into his being.

On a separate quest, Tyrigossa has come into Outland hunting down a disturbance too familiar for her taste. She can’t pinpoint what it is, or how it relates to her hunches but she has come to seek it. It turns out to be the Nether Dragons. Are they friend or foe? Sadly both. Zzeraku sees her as a foe, but Valoku wishes to befriend the blue dragon.

“Wait hold it there, Medievaldragon — that name rings a bell.” — hah, I read your mind, eh? Yes, the same Zzeraku that became a prisoner of Lady Sinestra at Grim Batol in the novel World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon by Richard A. Knaak. Except, we get to see the recent past before he was captured by her. Remember Dragons of Outlands was delayed for a few years before the release of the former.

We get to see an image of Deathwing as shown in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm concept art when Tyrigosa senses the familiar magical signature in one of the black dragon skeletons found in the Nether Dragons’ lair in Blade’s Edge Mountains.

We see the interaction of Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa with the Draenei Broken tribe of Hellfire Peninsula as allies. The first encounter between the Alliance and the draenei of the Temple of Telhamat, and the introduction of Ragnok Bloodreaver — one of the original Death Knights created by Gul’dan, still in his decaying human host.

That bears some explaining for those who missed Warcraft II. During the final throes of the Second War, Warchief Orgrimm Doomhammer ordered the Horde to slay the Shadow Council. Only Gul’dan survived because he was catatonic after his mind-melding (so-to-speak) with Medivh at the moment of his death.

Gul’dan pleaded Orgrimm for his life, and offered an army of dead risen human knights holding magics to counter the Alliance’s mages. What Gul’dan didn’t tell Orgrimm was that these human corpses would be risen as hosts for the spirits of the slain Shadow Council — thus creating the original Death Knights, of which Teron Gorefiend was the first, and Ragnok Bloodreaver one of them.

It is wildly rumored by lore fans that this Ragnok might be the same mentioned in the novel World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden. So far, I can’t confirm if that’s true yet.

Ragnok Bloodreaver wishes to become the new master of Outland, and plans to conquer Azeroth as well. Obviously, he is not aligned with Illidan nor the Dragonmaw Clan. He seeks to destroy Illidan and all his forces in the Black Temple with the use of the Nether Dragons, employing the services of Kadavan, a mercenary Ethereal who uses his magical technology to hunt down and capture the behemoths. Ragnok is even assaulting the Dragonmaw Clan to steal the Nether Drakes controlled by them.

Ragnok has his own cadre of Fel Orcs, probably stolen from Hellfire Citadel’s surroundings and some of the Dragonmaw are threatened to be killed by the Death Knight if they disobey or fail his orders, following him unquestionably.

Comparing both MAGE and SHADOW WING, I feel more inclined for the latter. It’s well executed with a lot of action, mystery and drama. The pacing resembles much what some of us are accustomed with comic books from panel to panel interweaving plot after plot from different points of view.

I can’t wait for volume two to come out. Expect World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Volume 2: The Nexus Point on November 2010. And the third part somewhere in 2011.

Don’t go thinking “Meh, this is a wannabe non-canon story” because you are wrong. Most of what Knaak writes is outlined to him by Blizzard Creative Team, and he fleshes out, then the developers add the story and characters into being in the MMO. It’s canon. The TOKYOPOP editor Troy Lewter, who sent me a copy of this manga a month before it goes into bookstores (on June 1) wrote an afterword located near the final pages of this manga.

There Paul Morrissey and Troy Lewter thank the people behind this story, including Richard A. Knaak, Jae-Hwan Kim, and the Blizzard Entertainment’s Creative Development Team: Jason Bischoff, Joshua Horst, James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Evelyn Fredericksen, Samwise Didier, Tommy Newcomer, Cameron Dayton and the thundergod, bourbon cowboy, father of Warcraft lore hmself — Chris Metzen. Did I miss any title? (chuckles) Ok. All-seeing and loved VP of Creative Design too, but that be the lesser of his titles before his loyal fanboys — myself included. He’s up there along with the legends: Stan Lee, H.P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and many others loved by fans of Fantasy and Sci-fi genres. Ok. Enough boot-licking. Koff.

Get your copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING. You won’t regret collecting the trilogy. It looks very promising, and dare I say rival previous WarCraft manga in lore and awe.

This is the missing story that gaps World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon and the Nexus War. From this trilogy comes the truth behind Malygos’ cure and decision to start an all-out war against the Kirin Tor and the Wrymrest Accord.

And from the picture of Deathwing as seen in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s concept art, dare I say we will learn more than we could possibly guess as a tie-in with the upcoming expansion? You bet.

Check out the preview images of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING.

Don’t forget to participate in our Blizzplanet giveaway of this manga and the giveaway at Wow.incgamers

EXTRAS

The first volume of the manga takes us to Hellfire Peninsula, Dragonmaw areas in Shadowmoon Valley, and Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Lord Irulon Trueblade – is one of the characters who led the incursion into Outland to fend off the demons from accessing Azeroth during the Burning Crusade in this manga. You can find him in the Howling Fjord at Valgarde currently in Wrath of the Lich King.

Lord Trueblade oversaw Jorad Mace’s progress to redemption, but initially gave him more humbling tasks to do such as helping with the construction of their outpost.

Amaan the Wise – from the Temple of Telhamat in Hellfire Peninsula appears in the manga with a convoy of Draenei to introduce his people to Lord Duron, Commander of the Alliance Forces at the Stair of Destiny in the Dark Portal, Hellfire Peninsula.

The Broken – (Krokul in draenei old tongue)

Warrith – leader of the Broken in Hellfire Peninsula, and father of Valwar.

There is reference to how Gruul and the Gronn killed the black dragons at Blade’s Edge Mountains as revealed in World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal.

Some of the creatures we see in the manga are:

Gronn
Wrathbringer
Shivan (six-armed demoness)
Felguard
Nether Rays

World of WarCraft: Shaman Preview

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News

After reading World of Warcraft: Mage (read my review, I discovered an interview held by Tokyopop editors with Paul Benjamin in the last pages.

The interview is about his upcoming manga titled World of Warcraft: Shaman.

I am going to post that interview in this article, but before that I just want to kick the Beehive to shake lore fans and fill them with interest. Check it out on October 2010 folks, because that’s when you will learn more about that mysterious character revealed in the pages of White Wolf’s World of Warcraft RPG: Dark FactionsHigh Shaman Muln Earthfury, leader of the Earthen Ring.

Description

Earthquakes. Fires. Floods. Tornados. The elements of Azeroth are out of control, unleashing devastating natural disasters that threaten to tear Azeroth asunder.

All hope rests with the shaman, who are able to commune with the elements. Muln Earthfury, the shaman leader of the secretive Earthen Ring, attempts to pacify the elements — but his pleas fall on deaf ears. The elements are unresponsive, full of confusion and chaos. The Earthen Ring is riddled with doubt. Have the shaman lost their ability to corral and guide the elements?

Mysteriously, Shotoa arrives. This Tauren shaman doesn’t just merely tend to the elements — he forces them to do his bidding. Shotoa promises to lead the Earthen Ring into a new era of Shamanism … As the world crumbles around them, Muln and the Earthen Ring must decide if Shotoa is a hero or a heretic …

Written by Paul Benjamin (StarCraft: Frontline) and drawn by Roccio Zucchi (World of Warcraft: Death Knight), WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHAMAN ties into the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion in stunning ways!

Available October 2010.

Interview

Is it safe to assume that you’ve played a fair amount of WARCRAFT? Do you have a favorite class to play?

Benjamin: My main is a pally retadin. That’s a paladin built to do lots of damage for any noobs reading this (Hi, Mom!). I tend to do a fair amount of solo play because if I play with a group I’m on for too long and wouldn’t make any of my Warcraft writing deadlines! The pally is great for soloing because I can heal myself and do plenty of damage. That said, I do have a lot of fun playing with guildies or doing random heroics when I’ve got the time. ANd, of course, since writing SHAMAN I’ve really been digging my new shammy character as well.

Give the fans the inside scoop on WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHAMAN. What’s the story about? Is it true that it will tie into the upcoming CATACLYSM expansion?

Benjamin: SHAMAN is the tale of a group many players have seen around Azeroth and beyond: the Earthen Ring. The main characters are Muln, the tauren High Shaman of the Earthen Ring, and his orc apprentice, Kettara Bloodthirst. The focus is on them and the elder council of the Earthen Ring, so I’ve gotten to write dranei and trolls as well as a few very important (and well known) orcs from Orgrimmar. The secrets of CATACLYSM are quite closely guarded at the time of this writting, but there’s a lot of connection between this book and the upcoming expansion. I can tell you that the elements are in upheaval adn that’s wreaking chaos with the powers of Muln and the Earthen Ring.

SHAMAN is a story about tradition versus change and choosing which one is more important. It’s also full of shaman calling down lightning, summoning elementals and manifesting totems to help them smack down any monsters stupid enough to threaten the shaman way of life. And it’s all beautifully illustrated by DEATH KNIGHT artist Roccio Zucchi, so I imagine fans will be as excited to read the book as I have been to see those pages coming in as she works!

World of Warcraft: Mage Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News

Richard A. Knaak receives a lot of good feedback, which translates in the success and sale of World of Warcraft and Diablo novels, and some bad feedback from the minority.

WarCraft: MageI don’t mean to offend those with bad feedback, I have read and understand their concerns, but sales would be low otherwise if everyone or the majority thought likewise.

The way I see it, there is room for every type of writer, and each has their own technique and style. There’s room for everyone. And Richard A. Knaak has a tall condo, not just a room.

The artwork by Ryo Kawakami is not very detailed when it comes to backgrounds, like Jae-Hwan Kim or my favorite, Hector Sevilla; but Troy Lewter — the editor — does mention in the back of the manga that they were on a deadline, and the artist was pretty swift in making things happen within that deadline. So, let’s be forgiving, and see other work of Ryo.

I either like a style or dislike it. I like the artwork in World of Warcraft: Mage. Some people may think otherwise.

There’s a difference between manga and comic books, and while I am new to the manga world, I welcome the style.

I have always said I am not really into manga, but there are many styles and I do dig my first incursion into reading manga: Starcraft: Frontline, Warcraft Legends, and World of Warcraft: Death Knight are pretty cool art-wise.

I am more a comic book reader having a large collection of all kind of X-men titles, and some Avengers and West Coast Avengers. I also check out the latest previews of all kind of Marvel Comics titles (not just X-men) at Newsarama.

There’s a lot of new artists with great styles, but from my early incursions into comic books back in 1996, I like Joe Madureira, Ian Churchill, Chris Bachalo, Alex Ross, and others. Their styles are very different from one another.

If anything, I welcome different styles, and open-minded to taste other people’s work — in both fields actually: writers and artists.

I do hate some artists’s styles more than others, nevertheless, but rarely. Coughs-José Ladrönn. Sorry dude, you ruined it for me in CABLE.

Decade-old-rant aside, I read an advance review copy of World of WarCraft: Mage, thanks to Troy Lewter [TOKYOPOP editor].

The very-short description of the book released last April 2, and its front cover could barely offer fans any grasp at info to form a guess.

Reading the manga, I am surprised at how Knaak weaved the story behind the Nexus War’s assault on Dalaran.

We see how the Azure Ley Dragon Cyanigosa, dragonkin and drakonids got access into the Violet Hold, bypassing and weakening Dalaran’s outer magical-shield.

It all came from within. From the cover, you might think Rhonin and this mysterious kid Aodhan work together all along from beginning to end of the story, but that’s clearly not true for most of the first half of the manga.

Aodhan is a reckless kid who tries hard to demonstrate his abilities, who wishes to prove worthy to his father and to himself by one day becoming part of Dalaran’s defenses.

He is taught by Master Simeon, a Dalaran mage trainer, who keeps Aodhan pressed to the limit because he considers the kid needs to learn to be patient and focused before leveling up in rank even when he surpasses any other student in skill for those at the same level. The kid simply rushes recklessly without measuring the possible consequences.

There is a bit of lore thrown in into the mix about the Book of Argaleus the Crafter who lived centuries ago. Myth says he learned the spell language written on this special book from Malygos. Among the marks on the book can be seen the All-seeing Eye of the Kirin Tor.

The opening of rifts within the Violet Hold was not the first attempt. It had been breached before, with help of Aothan and his uncle Crevan. This explains why some of the cells in the Violet Hold prison are empty. Some of the lesser beings such as a fire revenant, ogre magi, and a void terror (like Immol’thar in Dire Maul west) were locked within, and freed to cause a distraction from the true target that would destroy Dalaran.

We get to see Archmage Modera, Rhonin and Archmage Aethas Sunreaver in action fending off the Azure Ley dragons from bypassing the outer shield of Dalaran, but no real background or lore about these three Kirin Tor council members.

The story focuses on Aodhan the mage apprentice, his attunement to magic which promises to see him one day as a powerful mage.

Richard A. Knaak shifts his story-telling back and forth between the present to the past to explore the origins of Aodhan, his family, and his motives to become a great mage.

However, we learn the true meaning of being a mage is not about controlling magic, but to humbly learn to wield magic for the benefit of everyone, not oneself.

World of Warcraft: Mage contains an interview about World of Warcraft: Shaman — revealed to be written by Paul Benjamin and art by Roccio Zucchi.

It also contains a preview of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING, VOL. 1: THE DRAGONS OF OUTLAND. The same exclusive preview TOKYOPOP and Blizzard granted Blizzplanet a few weeks ago.

Check out our recently-released exclusive preview of World of Warcraft: Mage.

Don’t forget to participate on our giveaway of World of Warcraft: Mage while it lasts.

World of Warcraft: Mage hits bookstores on June 1, 2010. Pre-order it here.

StarCraft: Heaven’s Devils Preview Video

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, StarCraft 2 News

Starcraft: Heaven’s Devils by William C. Dietz will be on sale April 6, 2010 — but I got an early copy some time ago to show you a preview. This is the first StarCraft novel published as a Hardcover. The artwork in the front cover shows Jim Raynor on his Marine suit. You can see the visor matches that of the Jim Raynor Noobz given away at last BlizzCon 2009′s swag bag.

The book comes with a detachable dustjacket which contains the front cover’s artwork. All the latest Warcraft hardcovers from Gallery Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) and even DC Comics’ Starcraft Hardcover come with a dustjacket design. The one thing I love about that is that it gives you the option to frame the dustjacket as your own piece of art — pretty good for those who wish to collect them, and hang the frames on the Office or bedroom’s wall. Those wondering, the artwork on the dustjacket was drawn by Glenn Rane. The dustjacket was designed by Alan Dingman.

When you open the book, you can see the flaps of the dustjacket wrapped around the Hardcover. On the left flap is a short excerpt of the novel, and on the other side is the photo of William C. Dietz and his bios. The first and last page have the Heaven’s Devils insignia

In the StarCraft: Heaven’s Devils‘s interior you can find four full-color artworks by the Starcraft II Art Team. The first artwork shows the Heaven’s Devils squad led by Jim Raynor. This is the photo that you will be able to view in-game in the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player at the Joe Ray’s Bar in Mar Sara, after Tychus Findlay enters the Bar. The photo can be found at the interactive bulletin board.

The second image is the Fight for Freedom poster featuring Jim Raynor in his Marine suit, which has the Raynor’s Raiders insignia on the right shoulder. We saw both posters at the computer room during our visit to the Blizzard’s studios in Irvine.

The third artwork describes a scene within the novel’s story where Kydd, Harnack and Jim Raynor flee a local police car aboard Jim Raynor’s Vulture hovercraft. The final artwork shows Jim Raynor on his Marine suit and Tychus Findlay back in the old days.

The four artwork samples were illustrated by Wei Wang, Steve Hui, and Luke Mancini from Blizzard Entertainment.

One thing that caught my eye and that truly makes me love this novel is its StarCraft Timeline in the back. It spans 13 pages in length, not only telling you what happened since the 16th Century, but also showing you book references. Every single StarCraft book since 2001 is referenced in the StarCraft Timeline, in case you wish to buy that book from a local or online bookstore.

Order online here:

Related News:

Starcraft Hardcover Vol. 1 Preview

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, StarCraft 2 News

DC Comics recently sent me a copy of the Starcraft Hardcover Vol. 1 which compiles issue # 1-7. This product will be available on sale this upcoming April 13, 2010 for those who missed the comic book ongoing series.

Although the ongoing series has been canceled with issue # 7, Wildstorm recently announced they will change format to Graphic Novel. There is no ETA yet when, but we will keep you updated when anything new gets announced.

In the meantime, here you have a video of the unpacking of the Starcraft Hardcover, and what’s inside as a sneak peek for those who might be interested in purchasing the trade paperback in hardcover format. The street price is $19.99, but some bookstores online have it priced for $13.49.

Order online here:

JINX WoW St. Valentine’s Kwee Q. Peedlefeet T-Shirt

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, BlizzPlanet Articles, Store, World of Warcraft JINX T-Shirts, World of Warcraft News

J!NX has a new San Valentine’s Day or “Love is in the Air” T-shirt on sale! It is the Kwee Q. Peedlefeet T-Shirt for World of Warcraft players. Cute gift for a girlfriend, and friends.

Use the code: ZOMBIELOVE at check out to get a 20% discount on any purchase greater than $40 or more. Valid until 02/14/2010. Not valid with any other offer.

Starcraft # 7 Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, StarCraft 2 News

As reported a few weeks ago, Wildstorm and DC Comics announced the subscriptions of the Starcraft and World of Warcraft comic books were cancelled. This in response to a new agreement between Wildstorm and Blizzard Entertainment to make a move into the Graphic Novel format.

While you no longer get your monthly fix, this new format allows better storytelling with more pages, less rushed plots with cliffhangers in mind at the end of each issue and a more streamlined story. The other benefit is these graphic novels come out as hardcover.

Subscribers of the Starcraft comic book received this week their last shipment with issue # 7.

It ended with the death of one of the War Pigs, and a few twists in the story.

The interaction between character’s dialogues looked good-good as you can always expect from Simon Furman (TRANSFORMERS). The artwork by MIke S. Miller was among the best I have seen in the short-lived series. The coloring by Carrie Strachan makes Mike’s artwork justice. Lot of pastel colors and interesting hues.

A few months ago, I asked Chris Metzen during our single-player hands-on interview if the War Pigs would appear in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. While they aren’t planned for the first episode, he didn’t rule them out of upcoming episodes.
It was a tricky question, mind you, scratching into spoiler. My theory was that while the War Pigs were hired by the Terran Dominion to kill Jim Raynor, somehow we would see what happened with General Duke. In the throes of Zerg threatening their lives against a wall, the War Pigs would join Jim Raynor if he came to the rescue.

It’s been six months since the interview with Chris Metzen. While my prediction was not accurate, the result was the same.

The War Pigs end up smooch-smooch with the man they were hired to kill. The part I got wrong was that Raynor didn’t rescue them from the Zerg. Basically they were all in a predicament, and out of survival instinct they worked together.

That, and it turned out that the leader of the War Pigs — Cole Hickson — was formerly a friend of Jim Raynor before he was resocialized. They had saved each other at different times during the Guild Wars, years ago. The twist was he was resocialized with an experimental procedure, and he was implanted a memory that would be triggered upon meeting Jim Raynor: Kill Jim Raynor.

Cole pullled a gun on Jim Raynor, point blank, and fought his programming eventually losing consciousness.

That’s how issue # 6 ended. Issue # 7 kicks off with a flashback where we learn more about the War Pig member Romy Pyrius.

The short story takes us back to year 2483 in New Gettysburg, Tarsonis. Romy Pyrus, the War Pig medic, was formerly a pharmaceutical entrepeneur who sold controlled drugs in the streets of Tarsonis. By night, he was a mercenary taking jobs from the Confederates to assassinate V.I.P. people that stepped on their nerves.

During one of those mercenary gigs, Pyrus compromised the mission with a side drug gig. His whole team was captured and used as guinea pigs. Pyrus sold his team for his freedom, and continued his drug dealings.

It’s pretty nice to see some continuity between the Starcraft: Ghost pocket book, the Starcraft: Ghost Academy manga and the Starcraft comic book even with these smaller details. The drugs mentioned are Hab, Turk, Snoke and Bog.

In the present, 2502 at Urona Sigma, Jim Raynor and the War Pigs face oblivion watching into the horizon how the Protoss Carriers incinerate the world like they did with Mar Sara. It’s armageddon time for all of them with no way out. Jim Raynor extends his arms and simply awaits the end of the world as wave after wave of giant lasers incinerate the surface around them.

While the dialogue between the War Pigs and Jim Raynor is full of sarcasm and fun moments, I can’t but feel a bit disappointed. There was no Protoss coming down to rescue Jim Raynor. No telepathic contact. No beaming up aboard a Protoss Carrier. No. That’s not how Jim Raynor saved his arse from this one.

The only reason he survives is because Commander Lars Trakken had a score to settle with Cole Hickson, and no Protoss incineration would strip him from the pleasure of telling in Cole’s face all he endured after he stole his life years ago; and to pull the trigger on him. So, to make a story short Trakken bought Raynor and the War Pigs the ticket out of Urona Sigma before becoming War Pigs umm B.B.Q. (pun intended). A too convenient mechanic plot, but oh well.

At the end, Raynor and the War Pigs part ways. Looks like the upcoming Starcraft Graphic Novel will focus on some dispensing indiscriminate justice on the man that hired them to do the deed: Tamsen Cauley. Will the War Pigs survive? Will they join Jim Raynor and his Raynor’s Raiders? We might have to wait for the Graphic Novel to find out.

Will the War Pigs show up as mercenaries in Starcraft II: Hear of the Swarm or Legacy of the Void? That can probably be a safe bet considering Metzen’s interview.

World of Warcraft Diorama Review: Blood Elf Rogue vs Draenei Paladin

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News

Sideshow Collectibles and Blizzard Entertainment partnered on 2007 to launch the epic first World of Warcraft diorama based on the Burning Crusade expansion. This polystone diorama of a Blood Elf Rogue versus a Draenei Paladin was sculptured to perfection from an artwork created by Blizzard Entertainment Art Department. The sculptor really put a lot of work into each part of the diorama: the draenei and blood elf’s shoulders, gauntlets and legs are amazingly detailed.

The lengthy video shows you the box as it was delivered by UPS (with dent and all), I unpacked it and show all the foam it’s protected with, and step-by-step how to assemble this diorama.

It’s actually composed of five pieces that need to be manually assembled by yourself: the base is pretty solid heavy (handle with care); the draenei; the draenei’s right arm is a separate item which includes the right-arm, shield, and the whole blood elf (all in one piece); the Tome is a separate item, and the mace.

The whole process of unpacking and assembling the diorama takes approximately 15-20 minutes. It’s heavily protected by an exoskeleton of foam in the shape of a box split in half. The different components are secured individually and firmly with wires. Untying these wires is what takes the most of your time.

It’s recommended to remove the diorama parts on a table and with a lot of care, and if possible bring a few folded towels to cushion the parts when the foam is turned upside down while you untie the wires. If a piece comes loose abruptly it can literally break a piece. I say so by experience. The Blood Elf came loose on top of the solid base and the green blade on her left hand broke off to my shame. That’s my fault.

It would be wise to have a couple of tweezers handy when assembling the tome (book) to the draenei paladin. These chains are short and cut to fit what’s necessary — meaning you will take a while trying to place the hooks inside the tome’s rings. The tome has a pin to insert it into the draenei’s waist beneath the belt where you can find a hole.

Once the tome is secured in place, you can take the big piece where the blood elf is laying on the shield and hook the slot inside the draenei’s arm into the pin located where the elbow joint is. The force of gravity does its job as the weight of this big piece settles on the Draenei’s elbow pin. One thing I gotta complain is there is no way to secure these five pieces. It only takes a curious family, friend or child to grab the diorama to realize it’s a loose set of pieces instead of a solid statue. The only solution I can really think of is to permanently glue these parts with Krazy-glue; but at your own risk.

Overall, this is a sculpture that is going to wow you and everyone who sees it. You can look at it for long periods of time, browsing through all the detail, and awesomeness. If you can spare the $299.99, go for it. It’s numbered in the bottom of the base, and there are approximately 750 of them around the world. A collector’s choice. This diorama was provided and shipped to me for review purposes by Sideshow Collectibles.

Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft News, Starcraft: Ghost News

I acquired a copy of Starcraft: Ghost Academy from Barnes & Noble to review this product. For a soft cover, I really like the texture and feeling of the material. Volume One contains 192 pages full of action and it’s divided into a prologue and five chapters.

Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1The manga starts out strangely from the point of view of yourself as the one receiving a letter from Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. In this letter you are required to volunteerly submit your son/daughter to the Psi-Ops Division of the Terran Dominion (Ghost Program) and how proud you should be for making this step for the defense of the Dominion from alien threats.

The prologue is a follow up to the events of the Starcraft: Frontline manga concerning Colin Phash and Corbin Phash. Corbin has started to feed the media with accussations against the Ghost Program, requesting people to rise against the taking of their children for underground experimentation.

Kevin Bick (Director of the Ghost Program) appears on the UNN to respond the accussations and displays video of what happened at Maltair IV, blaming ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Phash for refusing to volunteerly bring his son to the Ghost Program for proper training of his abilities. If he had done as requested, the events of Maltair IV wouldn’t have happened in the first place – said the director.

We do know from Starcraft: Frontline that it was the Dominion command who authorized the wrangler Randall to use lobotomized zerg units as psi-hounds to track down the telepath boy: Colin Phash. Thus, the Dominion is simply covering up their lies with false info to the UNN, making it look like the boy is a threat to himself and everyone around him without proper training — blaming the kid for attracting zerg to planet Maltair IV.

CHAPTER ONE: It’s all over now, Team Blue

We learn that the entire UED squadron was not decimated by Kerrigan’s zerg in Starcraft: Brood War. In this volume, we see the Team Blue led by Gabriel Tosh and composed of Nova, Kath, and Lio. They are here on a mission to inflitrate a planet-hopper ship overtaken by UED Pirates — you heard it, UED Pirates. Their goal is to rescue a senator and three aides on board.

Nova doesn’t look like a team player who likes to follow orders. She takes off ahead of the team and doesn’t even listen to Gabriel Tosh’s instructions. Her cockiness puts her in harm’s way jeopardizing the mission once she figures out the UED pirates are wearing psi-screens.

I found difficult sometimes to differenciate one marine from another, as they lack any serial number, marks or logos. For example, I found it helpful in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4: Fear the Reaper to identify who was who among the Reaper squad. Not much of an issue, really, due to the nature of this specific mission.

Things in this first chapter are not what you think, but we get to see how the Ghost trainees get to learn, hone and improve their skills the hard way. I could see a bit of a Star Trek influence here, and it’s no surprise with the large track record of Star Trek novels written by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

There’s a curious shadow in the complex’s hallways that resembles a child, and Nova did see the shadow, but dismissed it as something she thought she saw. Considering Nova is PI 10 and the child Colin Phash is PI 7.5, it makes you wonder how the kid got to fool Nova. In the Starcraft: Frontline series you learn that Senator Corbin Phash taught his son how to project his thoughts with false leads (repeating something in his mind to be picked up by telepaths, while doing something else), and the kid has a special gift described as “Quiet Voice” — which sorta cloaks his presence from the Zerg with the power of his mind, even when he is at plain sight. And another ability described as Astral Projection or relocation of his mind. (Paul Benjamin & Dave Shramek read X-Men, alright). Colin probably used this ability to evesdrop on Nova, while remaining out of sight from her own telepathic abilities.

CHAPTER TWO: Taking Care of Business

This chapter introduces Director Kevin Bick and Superintendent Angelini Sarco who talk about the insertion of Aal Cistler into team blue. We get to see Preceptor Soohoo teaching Terran history through the eye of the Terran Dominion, or like a yawning Kath Toom describes: propaganda. The story of how the Confederates fell in Tarsonis with the Zerg and how Kerrigan joined the Zerg was taught wrong. Therefore, the ghost trainees are instructed with the same lies the Dominion feeds the media and the people.

As the story progresses, you kinda start feeling back at college with all the drama, name-calling and angry students stepping on your patience. The interactions between students feel natural. Conflicts arise, while others try to keep things under control — like Gabriel Tosh, leader of Team Blue.

We get to see Lio Travski in action hacking into computers to bypass the Ghost Program’s security sensors in order to buy and consume Hab.

CHAPTER THREE: Seven times fall down, eight times get up

In this chapter, we see another training scenario in the shape of a maze full of booby traps, and robots. Each member of Team Blue is tested to the limit, and their mistakes and pros are measured by percent. The next class is with Sergeant Hartley who trains them in the way of martial arts. All students must wear a psi-screen and must rely on their instincts and physical prowess.

I was pleased to see Keith DeCandido bring up some scenes from the Starcraft: Ghost Nova novel such as Nova’s experience at the Gutter serving Fagin as a slave for six months.

The martial art trainer is a butcher and the training of ghosts in this class look like the harshest boot camp you have ever experienced. A bonus martial match between Gabriel Tosh and Aal takes place. Later, the team vents on Nova for not been a team player.

Nova finds a young telepath girl at some kind of library. Nova reads into her mind to learn her story, and it turns out this girl is the one Wrangler Randall captured in Starcraft: Frontline while searching for Colin Phash. It’s really nice to see continuity treats throughout the manga.

At the mess hall, there’s an informative and amusing interaction between Aal, Kath and Gabriel Tosh which help you flesh out their background, and their personality. There’s another training test to assemble a C-10 rifle within a minute and a half or less. It seems Nova listened to what Gabriel Tosh told her about her lack of a team work, and we see her caring more about her teammates, by teaching them.

CHAPTER FOUR: All I have to do is dream

This chapter shows how much Nova has accomplished earning the companionship of her teammates. Here we also get another flashback from Starcraft: Ghost Nova. The scene where Nova and Morgan Calabas are aboard the yacht en route to the Tyrador IX resort and the moment she finds her parents dead, Her experience at the Gutter for six months as a slave of Fagin, and her rescue by Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian.

If you read this novel (pocket book), it will be nice for you to see a brief summary and these characters as images. Gabriel Tosh and Nova get closer as friends at the end of this chapter.

CHAPTER FIVE: Redemption

There are some twists at the end, and the entire story has brief hints of Colin Phash been able to eavesdrop his way around the Ghost Program undetected, unless the Ghost Program is using him as their way to eavesdrop on the trainees? I guess we will confirm or discard that in the upcoming volume 2.

While some readers new to Starcraft will feel a bit lost on what’s going on, they don’t necessarily need to have read Starcraft: Ghost Nova, as this manga briefly summarizes some of the most important scenes that shaped Nova’s life.

For a intro, volume one did a good job at showing us how the ghosts are trained, while at the same time exploring each character’s personality and past. Some characters are more caring and friendly than others. The exceptions of course are Aal, and Lio. Aal because he only cares about himself, and Lio because of his addiction to Hab and his continuous efforts to prevent his friends and the preceptors from discovering his addiction.

If you are a lore nerd like myself, collecting all Starcraft novels and manga — you will no doubt appreciate all the continuity nods and mentions.

Did you read Starcraft: Ghost Nova? Then you will love reading Starcraft: Ghost Academy as it’s written by the same author: Keith R.A. DeCandido — who participated in the shaping of the main character and its world. Awesome job, Keith! Fernando Heinz Furukawa is the artist of this manga. The artwork is very enjoyable and consistent. Rich facial expressions really help to transmit each character’s emotions throughout the plot. I am not into manga, but I truly dig Furukawa’s style.

Overall, a good read, as expected from the writing-calibre of Keith R.A. DeCandido. The Starcraft: Ghost Academy will only span up to three volumes, but after reading this first issue, I really wish Blizzard and Tokyopop published them as an ongoing series every three-or-four months without a defined end.

The Starcraft comic book by Wildstorm is heading to the Graphic Novel format, so I would welcome an ongoing manga series based on Nova and the Ghost Academy with the same author and artist.

Check out the preview scans and the recent teaser trailer. You can order Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1 here. The story continues in the second part, Starcraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 2 which hits bookstores on August 3, 2010.

Slang

You will see some slang used often throughout the manga:

Teek: Telekinetic
Teep: Telepath
PI: Psi-Index (a PI 10 is a powerful telepath/telekinetic)
Chaneed: short for “What do you need?”

Characters

E.B. James – UNN Reporter

Director Kevin Bick: He is in charge of the Terran Dominion’s Ghost Program. Director Bick talked to the UNN to deny all accussations from ex-senator Corbin Phash and to convince the populace that Phash’s notion of the Ghost Program’s experiments on children is outdated info as that’s how the Confederates’s Ghost Program worked like, not the Terran Dominion’s. That’s of course a lie.

Preceptor Soohoo: History instructor at the Ghost Program

Superintendent Angelini Sarco – He monitors each of the Ghost trainees through Sparky — the computer that probes each area of the building as a surveillance system.

Jenni – assistant serving Director Kevin Bick

Dr. Gauthier – the Ghost Program doctor overlooking Colin Phash’s brainwashing process and he’s running experiments on Colin.

Colin Phash – ex-Dominion Senator Corbin Phash’s son. Colin is a telepath Psi-Index 7.5 with the innovative and unique ability to create a Quiet Voice mental cloaking field around himself to stay out of plain sight, and can cast an astral projection of himself.

Aldeo Cistler – He is the Terran Dominion’s Finance Minister and a valued member of the Emperor’s Inner Circle. He sent his son Aal Cistler to the Ghost Program to make a man out of him because throughout all his young years he has been an embarrassment to his family.

Kam – Hab supplier inside the Ghost Program. He provides the illegal narcotic to Lio Travski at blind spots where Lio can fool Sparky’s probe detection.

Aunt Yuku – Uncle Desi’s wife and aunt to Lio Travski.

Uncle Desi – Uncle to Lio Travski. Desi is a computer tech at the Kal-Bryant Mining Conglomerate in Pridewater.

Sergeant Hartley: Rude trainer who teaches martial arts to all ghost trainees and forces them to do fifty push ups on one fist.

Preceptor Appelbaum – Overlooks Delta’s training.

Delta Emblock – a very young telepath girl at the Ghost Program. She was born in New Sydney. Her mother died of a lung infection acquired at the factory she worked at. Delta had to work at age seven after her mom died and never learned to read. Wrangler Randall captured her and dispatched her to the Ghost Academy.

Preceptor Lagdamen – a trainer at the Ghost Program who oversees the training of Team Blue.

Preceptor Ryke – he teaches PI 7 and higher index telepaths how to supress thoughts. A P10 can’t control to read memories on people with strong thoughts or memory imprints.

Dr. Neall – She attended Lio’s health at the infirmary when he had a overdose of Turk, and found out traces of Hab in his bloodstream.

Team Blue

Gabriel Tosh – He grew up in the streets of Haji. He is been in the Ghost Program for at least two years and the leader of Team Blue. Gabriel Tosh plays an important role in the Starcraft II single player campaign. He is who gives you the mission titled MINING YOUR OWN BUSINESS at Redstone III [alias the lava planet].

Lio Travski – He can hack into machines using telepathy. Lio can create blind spots where Sparky — the preceptor’s sensor probe can not spy on him or detect that he is sending email to his family. Biometric sensors and cameras can’t pick him up, and he can easily infiltrate and hack into Sparky’s mainframe. He is addicted to Hab — an illegal narcotic.

Kath Toom – She gets bored in history class, yawns often. The pessimistic and complaint girl of team blue. She is the daughter of one of the executive vice-presidents of the Kal-Bryant Mining Conglomerates on Pridewater.

Aal Cistler – Age 25. He is a PI 4.5 — which catalogs him as not a telepath. An opportunistic playboy. An Intelligent and superb martial artist. He got black belts in three different disciplines. He is the son of Aldeo Cistler (the Terran Dominion’s financial minister). His father used his influences to place Aal into the Ghost Program even not being a telepath merely to make a man out of him. Aal has lived a playboy life, surrounded by luxury, lazyiness and bedding many women.

Nova Terra: November Anabelle Terra was the daughter of an industrial robotic manufacturing executive. One of the Old Families of Tarsonis. Her abilities manifested in full at the sight of her parents’ assassination. She lashed out at her would-be executioners and the telekinetic outburst destroyed the top of her family skycrapper and its anti-nuke dome, along with three hundred civilians. After six months in the Gutter, she was rescued by Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian and brought into the Ghost Academy to hone her PI 10 abilities.

Team Red

Dylanna – She was the highest rank (68%) in the planet-hopper scenario simulation until Nova broke the record with a 70%. Nova’s team died in the simulation, while Dylanna’s lived. Yet Nova was rewarded with a higher score. This makes Dylanna angry at Nova, and a nemesis.
Winlaleah

Locations Mentioned

Lio Travski mentions two locations while emailing his uncle Desi. Desi lives at Pridewater. Both formerly lived in Nidhogg.

Nidhogg – Unknown location where drug addicts consumed Hab [illegal narcotic]. Smoky air and plagued by bugs.

Canis – One of Ursa’s moons. The Hab dealer gets supplies from here to distribute off-world.

The Gutter – a criminal activity and drug traffic zone in Tarsonis where Nova spent six months as slave of its kingpin Fagin.

Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 Review

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, BlizzPlanet Articles, StarCraft 2 News, Starcraft News

Tokyopop provided us a copy of the StarCraft Frontline Vol. 3 to review.  It will be officially on a bookstore near you, or online on Tuesday, July 14th. This volume contains four stories: War-Torn, Do no Harm, Last Call and Twilight Archon.

I really dig and enjoy War-Torn by Paul Benjamin and Dave Shramek. Not only it has a very good and immersive dialogue going on, the artwork is one you will like right away.  Hector Sevilla should be brought often to spice up the series.

In War-Torn, for those who have been following the storyline of Corbin Phash’s telepath son, the story sets some cliffhangers that might or not be explored in the StarCraft II episodes.

A wrangler is sent by the Dominion to track the telepath boy.  He uses murderous means to find the boy at all costs. Those who aren’t acquainted with what a wrangler is, they were introduced in StarCraft: Ghost Nova by Keith R.A. DeCandido back on 2006.

A wrangler has a Psi-Index (PI) 3.5.  They aren’t telepaths, but are psi-sensitive. In short, they can sense when a telepath is nearby by the headache they get.  They are sent by the Dominion to track and hunt down telepaths, specially children, to be trained in the Ghost Program Academy.

The Dominion Senator is hiding in the Umojan Protectorate, and promises he will not rest until he recovers his boy and spread in the media the truth about the Ghost Program.  It seems Emperor Arcturus Mengsk has turned the Ghost Program into something more evil than it used to be with the Confederates.

I recommend all StarCraft fans to read StarCraft: Frontline Vol. 3.  It has some interesting stories there that makes you wonder exactly what Blizzard Entertainment is going to spotlight in the single player episodes.

Read more of this review after the break.

This wrangler has Zerglings at his disposition. They have been lobotomized to break their link with Kerrigan.  Yup, exactly what you are thinking.  This wrangler uses them as bloodhounds to search for the telepath boy. The Zerglings have a tech-collar to control them; and if they go nasty against his master, the collars have explosives for auto-destruction.

Basically they set Zerg loose upon these telepath boys to cause mass hysteria among the population. This way the people think the untrained telepaths are dangerous for civilization because they attract zerg like magnets.  The people then cooperate with the Dominion authorities and sell out volunteerly any info they may have about the kids.

Any zerg incursion must look like it has been a natural thing, and no traces that they have been deployed by the Dominion must come to the public nor the media networks.  A very dirty tactics there in the Dominion.  Makes you think the Confederates were saints in comparison.

The conclusion of War-Torn reveals what I reported recently.  The Tokyopop editor confirmed a few days ago that the telepath kid named Colin Phash will end up in the upcoming StarCraft Ghost Academy Vol. 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido (on sale Jan 5, 2010).

The second story in StarCraft: Frontline Vol. 3 by Josh Elder left me in shock.  The Dominion scientists have secretly captured Protoss to conduct experiments for a whole year. They are known as Project Gestalt.  They created a prototype codenamed Gestalt Zero.

It is a … protoss-human hybrid created by the Dominion. He has a Ghost suit partially similar to the Ghost shown in the BlizzCon 2009 logo.  His face looks semi-human with a nose, and mouthless like a Protoss.  He is a Psi-Index 7.5 and has double the combat effectiveness of a normal Ghost.  It has Zealot psi-blades and equipped with guns.

The Dominion wants to mass-produce this prototype for their war against the Protoss and the Zerg.  You really want to read this story completely.

The next story is titled Last Call.  It is about a singer named Starry, who worked on Tarsonis city. Her left cheek is disfigured.  She was a survivor of the Zerg invasion on Tarsonis.  A Zerg Queen attacked her, and now she lives in shame for her scar, and the nightmares of that encounter have continued on and on, tormenting her.

She moved on and now works at a Sour Moon Bar in the Meteor Station. Without spoiling too much, we get to see two diplomats arranging a deal.  The Kel-Morian have found during their digging a Xel’Naga artifact.  The Dominion wishes to buy it from them.  We get to see the tension between both factions, and the thin threshold holding them from diplomatic catastrophe.

If anything, this story will show us the next evolution of the Zerg.  Let’s leave it at this: the Terran Dominion’s scanners can’t detect parasites anymore.  Kerrigan may have unwilling eyes and ears on high spheres of the Dominion Command. Trust no one.

The last story is titled Twilight Archon.  We get to see the final moments of the invasion of Aiur. A female Protoss Templar sacrifices and invokes a mother of a Psi Storm that decimated many Zerg before losing consciousness.  She awakes, and is welcomed back by a Dark Templar. He informs her she’s been out unconscious since her brave display in Aiur.

The Aiur Protoss are now in Shakuras, as guests of the Dark Templar.  She can’t bear the silence, and the emptiness. He informs her, a Hydra cut her appendages. She is no longer in the Khala, and can’t hear her brothers’ psi-union anymore.

She fears her students won’t trust her anymore. She is now unwillingly a dark templar in a way without her appendages.  Without going too deep into the story, you will see the origin of the first Twilight Archon, and how they were able to merge this way.  I really liked the artwork on this story.

It would be hard to compare or decide on which is best from all four stories.  Actually, Hector Sevilla rocks, but I liked pencils and inks by Noel Rodriguez.

To be sincere, I have never collected manga, nor like the style.  However, I do enjoy the StarCraft: Frontline series.  I purchased volume 1 and 2 last month. All I got to say to Tokyopop is: “Please, keep them rolling.”  I would like this series to be ongoing beyond the three-years deal.

The stories are thrilling, and you will quickly grow addicted to this manga.  If at least Tokyopop could publish these monthly as an ongoing series. It is definitely a worth read.  It expands the Starcraft universe and your perception of it.  I would like to see some of this stories branch out into some of the Starcraft II single player missions.