Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Whoever had thought it would become so big, back in 1998? I surely didn’t. I was thirteen when I first became acquainted with Starcraft: no zits yet, but hair growing already. I had been a fan of the Warcraft franchise (Warcraft 2 being the first game I ever owned, like, with the power of money), but Starcraft? Nah. Until a friend of mine bought it. And, at a quiet afternoon, we hooked our PCs together (which took hours) and played some games over LAN. It quickly became apparent: I had found a game I’d gladly suck at.

A whole new world

Oh, how little has changed in 12 years. Or has it? I grew zits and I lost them. And Starcraft? It became a phenomenon that swept the entire world and especially South Korea. People started playing a video game as competition, and made money doing so. Terms like micro, macro and APM became common knowledge. And me? I have found something new to suck at.

The campaign picks up four years after the events in Brood War. Jim Raynor is our tragic hero, still struck by the loss of Sarah Kerrigan, a ghost sent into an unwinnable war and turned into the Queen of Blades – the heroin of the Zerg. To be frank, the story isn’t all that exciting, but it’s executed well enough to keep you going. You only get the Terran part of it, and certain things you do have negative outcomes for the other races… which will probably come to play in the two race-specific expansions yet to come.

It’s the gameplay where the campaign shines, though. There’s some a few side plots which you can advance at your own leasure, and you can spend money on unit and building upgrades. It’s a pretty nifty feature that makes every playthrough slightly different. Yes, the story’s not much of a looker (compare it to a franchise reboot: it’s perfectly executed, but somehow you get the impression the writers are just a tad too much in love with their own characters). The gameplay though? More than just awesome.

Fight it out

But, obviously, it’s the multiplayer where this game truly shines. Starcraft has always been a competitive game by nature and Starcraft II is no different. In fact, so little has changed that you might even suspect the game of just being a graphical overhaul of its predecessor. And that’s just great: Starcraft (and especially Brood Wars) was such a tight piece of work that there was so little to improve.

But once again, it’s in the little things. They’ve streamlined certain aspects (group management, harvesting management). If you think this makes the game easier, think again. Blizzard has used the freed space to let you focus on different aspects. Every race has received some new abilities that need your attention. For example, Terrans can summon MULES to harvest faster, while the Zerg can spawn more larvae at their hatchery. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, just know this: if you want to get the most out of your game, you’ll need to use these abilities as often as possible to get that edge you need in a game. You spend less time on trivial tasks. It’s great!

In All…

There’s so much to say about Starcraft II. But I’d rather not: it’s a tight experience and the production values are over the roof. If you buy this, you’ll not just be playing it for a month. You’ll get your money’s value for years to come!

And don’t worry. I suck at it too.