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ARTHAS THE FALLEN

25 August 2010

Refreshingly, I’d like to talk about World of Warcraft instead of Starcraft II. Amazing, the breadth of my repertoire!

I was watching the making-of DVD of Wrath of the Lich King and realized I really didn’t like where Blizzard took Arthas. Arthas was a great character in Warcraft III and The Frozen Throne: a troubled young man making the wrong choices as he grew to adulthood. There was a budding romance with Jaina and plenty of skeletons in the closet. Great stuff and a lot of promise for the future. At the end of the Frozen Throne, Arthas fulfils his destiny by becoming the Lich King, haunted by the voices of those he betrayed as he ascends the icy stairs.

Cut to Wrath, and suddenly there’s a different Arthas. A cold and menacing non-entity, devoid of any personality. Where was the brooding kid who made the poor choices? Blizzard apparently wanted to make Arthas such an inhuman monster that, indeed, he became impossible to relate to. It’s such a shame. There were tons of interesting ways in which Arthas could have been the tragic villain (eternally the best archtype of villain). Arthas should’ve shown his human side, the person still within him. He could have been torn by a remnant of love for Jaina. He could’ve been secretly demolished by the universal disappointment in what he turned out to be. As it is, even the ghost of his father, rebuking him for his sins, leaves him utterly unmoved.

And therefore, it leaves us utterly unmoved as well.

Arthas is dull. He’s become a one-dimensional, superficial villain, no more threatening, dramatic or interesting than any boorish CGI demon confronting B-roll heroes in a bad fantasy epic. The few instances where the game tries to raise empathy for the Lich King fall flat because he himself never shows any sign of being alive underneath that mask.

For me, Arthas died at the end of the Frozen Throne. The Lich King who arose in his place, doesn’t have a sliver of the interest that the golden-haired prince of Lordaeron held.

EDIT:
No August this Saturday, I'm afraid! I got a little short on time because of the yearly Abunai convention this weekend. So next Wednesday will see the new episode instead.

Roderick