StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
by Matthew Hibben
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: July 27 2010
A Decade in the Making and Worth the Wait
Starcraft II is Blizzard's long awaited sequel to their Sci-fi based RTS (Real Time Strategy) games where the player must control and manage large forces and or resource hubs. Gamers often have to wait years for Blizzard products with large gaps between the release of titles. From experience it has always been worth it. Blizzard's games come so polished and full of content one can never feel cheated. In this review we explore the vast experience of StarCraft II, from single player to multiplayer (player vs. player aka pvp) and finally achievements, which are checklists for the level of completion of the game.
The Single player version from the start is very eye catching. The cinematic scenes (movie scenes added to flavor the plot ) and game play renderings are the best I have seen from Blizzard to date. The player takes on the persona of a Terran Rebel leader named Jim Rayner as he liberates the galaxy from the Zerg, an insect hive like species, and the Protoss, an energy based species, which are the other two playable factions. Zerg and Protoss based campaigns will be available through a forthcoming expansion. Aside from the superb animation of the units and surroundings what really sets SC2 apart from any other RTS I have played is the numerous role playing components.
When the player is not in an active mission there is a lot more than just the score screen and the proceed-to-next-mission button. The player resides for much of the game within a Battle Cruiser that is interactive .
From within the Battle Cruiser the player interacts with NPC's (Non Player Characters), purchases upgrades , does research , or plans the next campaign. The ship board cantina itself is a game within a game. The player can access a jukebox with many full length original songs, play a fairly challenging coin operated arcade game, or simply sit back and watch some news. The basic campaign took me about a week of casual play but I was far from done with single player. More on that later in the article.
Multiplayer for many is where this game will really shine. Like in StarCraft , the player can once again choose from Terran , Protoss, or the Zerg. I really enjoyed how truly differently each class plays. Different factions or in this case species is nothing new to RTS.
What really sets StarCraft II apart though is how different each playable class really is. Not just new models where each side may look different but do more or less the same thing. Each Faction has a very unique set of units and production mechanics. Terran production is the traditional send a worker to build a structure. The Zerg literally biomorph from larva into all of their units. The Protoss warp into play structures and units anywhere on the map that they can build energy points called pylons. The mechanics of troop production, defense , and offence radically differ from faction to faction. These differences in mechanics determine much of how the multiplayer combat works. The basic multiplayer is the 1v1 match up where two random players fight it out for supremacy. Blizzard through the use of Battle.net (Blizzards Online Interface),keeps track of the wins and losses and places players on a ladder which in turn matches players up with those of similar skill. Players can also team up with other players to battle it out vs. other teams of players or vs. the AI. The players can keep track of where they rank and complete various achievements and rewards through multiplayer content.
Last but certainly not least is the achievement system, something Blizzard really capitalized on with World of Warcraft. Achievements provide a whole new level of game complexity outside of just the single player campaign or endless multiplayer match ups. Achievements come in all varieties from simple to complex. Some achievements are merely benchmarks for completing the level, while others may contain criteria for also fulfilling a difficult condition. A great example of this is the "Red Lobster" achievement, where the player must kill a specific enemy not through the use of troops but through the use of the level's periodic lava eruptions.
Many reviews left this facet out completely. Once a player completes the single player game or a slew of multiplayer matches, there is a whole new layer of achievement-based content to explore. Most of the higher tier achievements require planning and practice. Likewise for multiplayer content, where players earn achievements for winning a certain way, a certain amount of times in a row, or various other criteria's.
Player's earn various rewards for completing certain achievements or meta achievements, amounting to badges and portraits that are viewed by other players and add to a sense of prestige or exclusivity.
In conclusion StarCraft II offers a lot of bang for the buck. From the hardcore pvp'er to the completionist (someone that wishes to experience and complete every aspect of the game), SC2 won't disappoint. I can see this game providing many weeks at the very least of enjoyable content, not including the fact that expansions are already in the works. Knowing Blizzard the content will be available when it's super polished, and worth the wait.