I just want to put out there, that I’ve been a huge fan of Starcraft since the beginning. Ever since Jim and Sarah got together back in the 90’s. In fact, I have fond memories of it being my very first strategy game. I was huge into the customizing maps, playing player-developed and scripted games, and the need to build additional pylons.
Starcraft II is in the same boat as Diablo III, another Blizzard title, as well as Duke Nukem: Forever by Gearbox, in the sense that there is a massive year gap between the first games and the new sequels. Creating sequels to such old games is a tall order because there is no way that you have the same development team nor is it likely that the same company owns the rights (or at least in this case, the same company as it stood back then, now that Blizzard is owned by Activision).
One of the things that I didn’t like about Starcraft II is the business model that surrounds the game. Starcraft has three dominant races, each with their own history, their story, and place within the Starcraft universe. Each of their stories were within the first game. In Starcraft II, Blizzard, has separated the race’s stories into three different games… which would be fine… if the games weren’t so short. You pay full price for what doesn’t feel as a full game. Now the argument could be made that “you pay for the multiplayer”… however, I still long for the time when the story was the focus of a game and multiplayer was the afterthought.
I do understand that multiplayer, in games like Starcraft II, is becoming quite popular. Especially in games like League of Legends and Dota 2, and I remember talking with a few people after E3 about how the live tournament multiplayer games might start becoming more of a full on mass spectator “sporting event”. Well, not “sports”, or what is being called “E-sports”, but something of a large arena type public spectacle. It’s almost the same as those movies about a high school student who fights back at bullies with video games in the 1980’s, armed with a joystick and a Nintendo Power Glove (And yes, there’s a “Power Glove” for League of Legends now…) . However, I’ve watched some League of Legends live tournament fights, and wow, they spare no expense to keep it updated and lively. Starcraft does has a big competitive player base, especially over seas, so there’s something to be said about the future of multiplayer strategy games.
I will say that I didn’t focus much on the multiplayer of Starcraft II. It just isn’t my bag (plus, I always end up getting schooled by hard core veterans, and it stops being fun). Now to get to my favorite part of the video game. The meat. The substance. The story. To be honest, the story of the single player in Heat of the Swarm, was, well, pretty awesome. One ace that Blizzard has always had in its pocket since the beginning, is its cinematic department.
That is “in game” cinematic. Not just a trailer or an opening. The whole game is like that the whole way through, and you get something pretty and amazing to watch every two or three levels. It is something that I’ve always said: Blizzard could really just make a feature length movie, and it would blow all other CGI movies out of the water. The cinema and the writing and the story was so good, it kept me playing just to get to the next beautifully done movie.
Now the story isn’t without some continuity errors, and here is where a minor spoiler comes in that just kind of bugged me:
SPOILER –>> There’s a part where you’re objective is to start collecting DNA “essence” from your defeated foes. Then you come across a pretty boss shape shifter…..and you decide, just on a random whim, to stop collecting DNA… He’s the most powerful single foe that you have ever faced, and apparently you forgot what you were doing one level before. I’m sitting here with that “why would you stop? What’s the point of using DNA to improve the Zerg if you are not willing to keep collecting?” Oh, and a side note: Jim’s kind of a racist jerk (who kind of redeems himself in the end… kind of…) and the Queen of Blades really needs to work on her out of Zerg communication skills…<<– END SPOILER.
Like the end of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, this chapter also ends pretty solidly. So the question is: There is one more chapter left, so where are they going to go with the third chapter? What are they going to do with the Protoss? They did leave some strange clues into what is coming, but the field is wide open for something special.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being an strategic nuclear strike of genius to 1 being waiting all day in a doctor’s hospital lobby with nothing to read but outdated golf magazines:
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is a solid 7, Hail to the queen.