StarCraft 2 created by Blizzard Entertainment is their newest instalment for the StarCraft franchise. StarCraft is a sci-fi real time strategy made in 1998. It remains one of the bestselling series to date, and one of the most critically acclaimed. Critics praised the series for offering three distinctive races, exceptional speed in the gameplay, and perfect balance to top it all off. This has helped StarCraft to be the hallmark of the modern day real time strategy. StarCraft is incredibly popular in South Korea with tournaments and even schools devoted to StarCraft, the professional player’s fans rival that of any professional football players in some cases.
Now StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty has arrived. StarCraft 2 doesn’t deviate from the norm. The story is based around three races; Terran, Protoss and the Zerg. The game is set 4 years after the last expansion, Brood War. It follows Jim Raynor who is forming a revolution to overthrow a group called the Dominion. It follows him and his revolutionary group as they gain more troops and discover why the Zerg have vanished.
StarCraft 2 doesn’t play differently from the standard strategy build that StarCraft and Command & Conquer set in the 90s. This means you have a home base, resource gathers, builders and a few rock, paper, scissors unit types. Some may find issue with this, while others will feel right at home.
StarCraft 2 from the get go, knows what made the previous games great. Each race sticks out from one another utilising different game mechanics and units. The Terrans are the standard troops that the player will use throughout the game. They rely on the typical bullets and explosions, while wielding thick power suits and giant mechs. They use a variety of mobile buildings and transforming troops to keep their army agile and flexible. The Protoss are the large blue humanoid aliens, they are highly religious species with advance technology and metal abilities. The Protoss use a large amount of teleportation, shields and laser weaponry. The final group are the Zerg, an insect like race using their thick carapaces for armour, and weaponry.
They swarm their opponents devouring them in seconds like a tidal wave of destruction. Each race does bear a few similarities with their units; however each unit offers special abilities, causing each unit to be unique.
StarCraft 2 has near perfect balance with each unit offering a range of uses, proving each unit essential for certain situations. Due to StarCraft 2 fast paced gameplay even the most basic units can be built up, such as the widely known Zerg rush. StarCraft 2 multiplayer sets the speed to high, it proved a small learning curve to get to grips with personally, but soon I was accustomed to this style of play, all thanks to the wide range of skill levels the bots have. Multiplayer supports up to 8 players offering a gigantic range of maps some of which are player made, with a devoted modding community. Players are given matches using an in depth match making, picking the perfect opponents at your skill level every time. Matches tend to run for a much shorter time compared to most other strategy games due to the speed of the gameplay.
StarCraft 2 offers a wide range of tactics that can be used, due to its balanced design. A tactical favourite of mine is to surprise my foes with burrowed Zerg. This wide range of possible tactics allows the game to be played over and over again without letting it feel at all repetitive; I found myself anxious and excited over what my next opponent would attempt to do.
The single player portion of the game plays differently to the rest of the game. Troops can be upgraded and mercenaries hired at the over world before the start of each level. Players choose their next mission and can look around the game’s hub to see current events in the StarCraft world, and even discover backstory by talking to different characters. Each level sets itself apart, adding a unique idea or objective every level. One of the first levels left me supporting an uprising, while another left me waiting for transports under waves of Zerg. Each level felt great and enjoyable with many achievements causing me to go back and play them over and over.
The game presents much of the story through in game generated cut scenes, and the occasional CGI cinematic some of which are truly breath taking. Much of the game also tells the story through conversations over a communication system in game. The dialogue is well thought out and real, with film quality acting, rarely seen in most games.
The game uses great graphics as well as a special art style to raise the bar for game graphics. On the lowest setting an old computer can still make this game look great, and even on max settings a power house of a computer is not needed to make this game run smoothly. StarCraft 2’s lighting and particle effects are something can be easily marvelled at, as their War of the World esc walkers march across the battle field, firing their lasers as their shields blocks all projectiles. Many of the effects were truly spectacular; however I found some of the texture work a little lacking comparing to other big PC titles.
StarCraft 2 excels in the gameplays polish when compared to any other strategy game. As a newbie to the franchise I remained sceptical as to why the franchise was such a success. I was surprised to find that the game exceeded all my expectations of how such an original premises can be taken to such great heights. I personally tend to look for the more unique games out there, as being an experienced gamer, the standard games tend to bore me. StarCraft’s perfect balance and unit design destroyed my preconceived expectations. I would recommend this game to near enough everyone, as it is the perfect place to introduce anyone to the strategy genre.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.