One of the reasons I’ve held to as to why I didn’t want to play World of Warcraft was that I found the graphics to be too cartoony… caricaturish. Since playing through some of the beta and playing live over the weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was both wrong and right in my opinion.
I was wrong in thinking that the level of caricature animation would detract from the game to the point of being unplayable. Its not. In fact, the caricatures aren’t as pronounced in most places as I originally perceived them to be. Yes, the human males are bordering on being too much the “square jawed hero” type. But overall the character graphics are highly stylized and create a pleasing fanciful playing environment.
I was right, however, when it comes to the gnomes. When I look at the cruel detail of the orcs, trolls and undead… when I look at the regal stature of the humans and night elves… when I look at the stoic strength of the dwarves and tauren… I see a beautifully drawn fantasy tale, like a novel come to life, even supporting the need for the square jawed human males… and then a gnome runs in and the fantasy, for me at least, collapses. They are the over-stylized uber-cute giant-eyed product of a country in love with the retarded almond eyes of Japanese manga. The gnomes could easily have been childlike and mischievous while retaining their dignity, but instead we get infant toys. They just rub me the wrong way, and after wandering around the world for a few days, I realized that it is specifically the gnomes that originally turned me off from the game.
I can only hope that none of my friends in game decide to play gnomes, I might have to play on the Horde on a PvP server just so I can kill the little disgusting things.