Starcraft: Remastered is the literal embodiment of a Museum Exhibition within a game. Think to the times as a child you wondered at the giant models of Dinosaurs and extinct Sharks. The reminder that before everything there was something else. In what we know as today’s eSports in which is largely dominated by Moba’s many of the new generation never even had a chance to experience Brood War Multiplayer, the images and videos crowds in their thousands in South Korea or the origin stories of what laid the ground work for competitive gaming as we see today.
For a full history lesson all we need is a Quake series remaster and we’re basically their. Quake and Starcraft were the original eSports, the catalyst that started it all. So going back to the momentous and one of the most influential games of all time in HD, with new features and graphical model improvements is an honour to say the least.
While Blizzard did remaster pretty much every little detail of the visuals, the gameplay and balancing remains largely the same. Honestly I’ve spent so many years playing SC2 that I completely forgot that control groups were non-existent in the first game. In fact many of SC2’s quality of life changes were the main reason why a lot of the original Brood War community weren’t willing to make the jump to the sequel.
But I digress, at long last I finally got round to finishing the campaign. I swear that my gaming ability seems to be dropping as I grow older. I have strong memories of me smashing any campaign a game could throw at me back in the day. But no, I frustratingly got stuck on around 3-4 missions this time around. A delight in my eyes as I genuinely enjoy games that challenge my ability.
The campaigns are as great as I remember them to be and the story still excels in its own universe which is a hard thing to pull off in RTS games, in fact it’s still one of the best executed games in terms of the transferring of lore to gameplay mechanics. Blizzard knows how to sell games and nostalgia is one of the strongest marketing tools in the business, with that in mind everything in the game apart from it’s graphical presentation is left untouched.
It’s improvements lie within its new bright saturated colours, detailed models that can easily be mistaken for a full 3D re-render and dynamic lighting between the fog of war and visible map area. Each detail can be close inspected with the new ability to Zoom in, which I spent a good 30 minutes pondering and inspecting every little detail on why exactly does this rendition of SC1 look exactly the same as I remember it. I know it didn’t look like this, I switched back to SD multiple times. But back in the day the graphics were described as: stunning! So realistic and vivid!
Its terrain has been given new life and depth and its verticality is more obvious and easier to distinguish paths in the level design, which is handy. I find the AI found it easier to find it’s path than they used to, however I have read that the self-pathing AI seems pretty weak in this game, to my findings that wasn’t the case but I was never a hardcore SC player so I could be wrong.
The Multiplayer has also seen some improvements including a new ranking system in the form of an “ELO” number that goes up and down depending on wins and losses. Balancing still remains exactly the same as it did 20 years ago and the main selling point of its three asymmetrical races is still the lifeblood of Brood War.
So the question remains on why exactly did we get a remaster of SC? Here in the west we’ve been enjoying SC2 for just over 7 years now. Youtuber and Gaming Journalist Total Biscuit put the explanation so perfectly here that I have to add it to the review:
The reason this is being remastered is a pretty simple one and it’s South Korea. SC2 despite uninformed belief to the latter did not take off in South Korea with the fans, despite most of the pro-scene switching over (more-so because they had no real choice, that was where the money was, that was where the tournaments were and Broodwar had taken a lot of damage from the SAviOr match-fixing scandal that scared off a lot of sponsors). Brood War continued to be a more popular game in PC Bangs than SC2 by a large margin (mostly due to UMS and the Fish server), efforts to convert fans to watching SC2 were for the most part a failure, even with brief spikes of interest when Broodwar stars like Flash and Jaedong switched. They have since gone back to Broodwar and recent Broodwar tournaments have had massive spikes in viewership on Afreeca (South Korean streaming service) and at times are eclipsing Starcraft 2 events even without much viewership in non-Korean countries.
There’s basically no hope of ever getting Korea to accept SC2. Starcraft Remastered is the answer to that, giving South Korea exactly what they’ve been asking for over a decade and putting in the necessary features and support to encourage large-scale Broodwar competition in South Korea again. In short, it’s not made for us. It’s made for them. If we buy it (and some will) then great, but that’s not their concern. South Korea will buy it. Any changes made to the game that in any way affected the way it is played or its balance would not be tolerated. People who want modern changes such as UI improvements, unlimited groups, multi-building hotkeys, auto-rallying workers, then go and play Starcraft 2.
Anyone complaining about the way this remaster is being done has fundamentally misunderstood what and who it’s for. Blizzard wants South Korea back, they want Starcraft to be loved over there again and this is the only way they can make that happen.
This makes complete sense. I understand why it may be hard to accept for the hardcore fans of the original Brood War, but for me I’ve never found anything wrong with games evolving, of course newer games may be deemed “easier” than their predecessors, it doesn’t make them bad games. I don’t really understand the concept of “they don’t make them like they used to” kind of mentality in gaming. It’s a brand new industry, keep supporting it to help it grow, if it’s something you love why must the first one always be the best?
I struggle to say that the original may be superior as I’ve spent more time in SC2, it’s a game I’ve spent many hours playing because it’s a good game and I can’t see it being replaced as my go to RTS game anytime soon, but I do appreciate the ability to be able to view the original in it’s final form.
In summary, Starcraft: Remastered has given the long living Brood War eSports scene the tools to maintain itself for even longer, dedicated servers are tribute to its dedicated fan base and the Korean scene. I respect Blizzard for their decision on this part. Its an amazing gesture for their hardcore fans.
For those who aren’t involved in that scene however are in for a nostalgic romp and a fantastic history lesson, an origin story of competitive video games. An important one as in the centuries to come, Brood War will be mentioned as one of the first and we should count ourselves lucky to have been a part of it.