Blizzard’s long awaited update to one of its best games, Starcraft, has finally arrived. The gameplay is still standard real-time strategy (RTS) with the player gathering resources and building armies. For the most part, the units have not been overhauled. The factions are the same with the human exile Terrans, the insectoid genetic assimilators Zerg, and the highly advanced psychic Protoss. The presentation values in the cut-scenes and in-game have been refined to the highest quality possible.
The campaign is the first part of the game that most choose to play. In the campaign the player plays exclusively as the Terran. For those who may be asking why only one faction is playable through the campaign mode, there is an answer. Blizzard will be releasing two more expansions for each of the factions that were left out. Heart of the Swarm will be the Zerg expansion while Legacy of the Void will be for the Protoss.
The story of this game revolves around mercenary captain Jim Raynor, who is leading a group of mercenaries against the Terran Dominion. The campaign is designed to be different every time and there are choices the player can make that will change the gameplay. For example, there is a choice to either upgrade a turret’s defenses or add a gun turret to it.
Once a decision has been made, the player is locked out of the other choices. The forks in the road will have players looking forward to trying out other combinations and choices for future campaigns. This adds replay value that far exceeds Starcraft II’s $59.99 price tag.
The missions in Starcraft II are very well created. Many have interesting twists that keep it from feeling like the generic RTS missions. There is a mission where units must sneak into an enemy base to set off a nuke and another where a wall of fire moves across the map and the player must avoid the fire or it will destroy all of his or her units. Throughout the campaign there are amazing cinematics that show the revamped presentation in Starcraft II.
The presentation for this game rivals any real-time strategy game that has come before it. The cut scenes are professionally rendered, the story is superb for an RTS, the music is first class and the interface is clean and smooth. The cut scenes that bookend the missions really bring the player into the story. The story may not make a riveting motion picture but for the purposes of a game it is enjoyable and enthralling.
There are many clichéd characters, such as the drunken burly captain Jim Raynor, but they work well in their roles. The music that accompanies the story is epic. The music amplifies all emotions during the scenes whether it is frustration, anger or fear. The interface for the game is top notch. Blizzards kept it simple and clean with the design of the game interface. The mini map is on the bottom left, the standard central rectangle shows units under the control of the player and the action box on the bottom right.
Now for the part of the game that makes the Starcraft franchise shine, an online multiplayer. Starcraft II definitely does not disappoint in this aspect. Blizzard has made the online frontier as balanced as possible. All three factions are reasonably close in strength. Like other games using Battlenet.com there is a placement system that will have players battling against others within the same skill level. One noticeable difference is that there are a few units that cannot be played online that were available in the single player version such as the Firebat.
Starcraft II shows once again that Blizzard only makes the best games. This game is a must-have for anyone who likes real-time strategy games. This game has a rating of Teen and retails for $59.99.