A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn how to communicate and interact with others to achieve common goals while playing this massively multiplayer game. They will participate in individual and team quests, which require them to think through how to accomplish the goals presented by these quests. Kids can experience some hands-on learning about economics by participating in the game's dynamic market of crafted items. While kids can practice communicating and collaborating as they reason through how to accomplish the game's many tasks, that isn't its main focus. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is a cooperative game with a central focus on violent combat.
As with most MMOs, players embark on quests that require slaughtering creatures that do not seem to be harming anyone or anything. However, the message here is that violence is the only (and final) solution to the majority of problems. In player-versus-player gameplay, players can create a very unhealthy environment where they can kill other players indiscriminately without many repercussions.
Positive Role Models
While role models are not at the heart and soul of this expansion for World of Warcraft, the introduction of the world-shattering presence of the dragon Deathwing (in Cataclysm) is pulling the "good" and "evil" factions of the Alliance and Horde together to fight a common enemy.
Ease of Play
The game is rather easy to jump into and play with a solid tutorial that will guide players through their initial steps in the fantasy world of Azeroth. As players begin to build up their characters, the game does begin to take on more challenging elements, but the foundations set early on help to make the overall game playable.
Violence & Scariness
The violence is committed against both computer-generated characters and against other players inside the scope of player-versus-player combat. In one instance, a barrel of gunpowder is tossed onto the head of an abomination and a bullet detonates the gunpowder resulting in the creature blowing apart with blood and bones visible for a very short period. The blood and gore does not linger on the ground, but quickly disappears.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Player-characters can dance provocatively and strip down to underwear within the game world.
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The language within the context of the game is tempered and restricted to a few expressions, such as using the word "damn." Voice-overs are limited, though, and most suspect words are not found in the text that players can access to explain quests.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol can be purchased by characters in game and consumed. Too much alcohol will have an effect on characters, including speech that is slurred, as well as some disorientation. The game employs an effect in which the screen can become a bit blurred to simulate impaired vision.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is an expansion to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft, and requires previous expansions as well as the original game to play. There is a monthly subscription fee for the game as well. The game is about an ancient evil tainting and corrupting a fantasy land in an attempt to rule the world. Violence is very much a part of the gameplay, and while there are some quests that involving traveling and talking to non-playable characters, most of the action involves developing skill sets and killing. The world can be a dark and brutal place. Characters can get drunk and there is some mild cussing in the game.
Is It Any Good?
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm infuses a bit of new life into World of Warcraft. The new races have strong backstories, and the game has done a good job of making some elements (like explaining spells and what they do) to newer players. The face of the world has changed, offering a new dynamic that could challenge players. The game is not hard to pick up and play, but it can be a bit hard to put down and walk away from. The community is solid and the story arcs are well done. Cataclysm offers new challenges and does what a solid expansion should do -- build on the existing world and challenge established players but also give new entertainment and challenges to newcomers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.