I remember when I was a kid my first ever game that I played on the computer was the original StarCraft. I was at my godmother’s family and they had a computer with StarCraft installed. Her son asked me if I played before. I obviously didn’t. He started a custom map I believe, entered some cheat codes and let me play.
I honestly didn’t had a clue what I was doing, but the cheat codes kept me alive and eventually I won the match, with a little help. It’s been almost a decade and a half since it’s initial release, and almost at its 10 years anniversary, Blizzard launched its sequel: StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Read on to find out if the game is worth your while!
It’s about time
Note: This review is solely about the game and at the time of writing I assumed that you have minimal knowledge of the StarCraft lore.
This game was on my wish list since it got teased 3 years back. Since its first official gameplay and graphics demo, which features Dustin Browder showing different new units and mechanics, the game has progressed and excelled in every aspect: graphics, balance and game mechanics. We’ll more about this later on.
Now let’s talk about system requirements and the cost of the game:
- 2.6 GHz processor or equivalent
- 1 GB Ram for XP, 1.5 GB for Vista and 7
- 128 MB video minimum
- DirectX version 9.0c or better
- 12 GB hard disk space
- Internet connection
I personally run it on a Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M laptop with low graphic settings on a 1600×900 resolution. It can handle 720p with medium graphic, but I tend to be a competitive player online and need the best fps as possible with the best clarity. Of course, if you have system that can manage 1080p with Ultra graphics, feel free. The effects are astonishing.
The cost of the game is $59.99 on Battle.net, but I found cheaper ones on Amazon though. Not sure how legitimate are those, because you link your game code with your Battle.net account. You cannot un-link it.
The plot great with new developments and new characters as well as old ones.
I won’t dig into the story that much because I don’t want to spoil it, but I can tell you this. The plot great with new developments and new characters as well as old ones. Some of the old characters from the StarCraft Universe including Captain Jim Raynor, Dark Prelate Zeratul, Kerrigan the Queen of Blades, Emperor Arcturus Mengsk and many others make an appearance.
Unfortunately, Blizzard’s marketing have decided that the single player campaigns will be released in expansion-packs and there’s nothing we can do about it. This first installment focuses on the Terran Campaign as Jim tries to stop Kerrigan from conquering the entire know galaxy. There are some bonus missions with the Protoss race, and that’s pretty much it.
The game is from the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre. This basically means that you start playing with a main base, a small army and a few harvesters and it’s up to you to figure out a strategy to beat your opponents.
Some missions don’t necessarily require you to have a main base. You control a small task force and you are required to gather intelligence from the enemy or destroy some facilities.
In multi-player or skirmish matches against the A.I. you start of with your main base (Command Center, Nexus or Hatchery depending on which race you selected) and half of dozen workers. Your goal is to create an army and an economy to destroy your enemies.
As you know there are four races in the StarCraft Universe, not all of the playable.
- The Terrans: I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that the Terrans are the human race of the game and they are mech and bio-based race.
- The Xel’Naga: a mythical race, that are supposed to be the creators of the Protoss and The Zerg, the other two factions of the game.
- The Protoss: an alien race, focused on technology and psionic based weapons.
- The Zerg: another alien race that is base on infecting everything and consuming all know living (biological or not) organisms in the Universe. They are entirely bio-based race.
The Xel’Naga are an ancient, and supposedly dead, race and it’s only mentioned through the SC Universe. The other three are well balanced, playable races in the game.
This is in my opinion the core of the StarCraft franchise. It’s competitive online aspect has grown from the days of the original game. Each month there are a number of StarCraft and StarCraft 2 tournaments world-wide and there even is a site that organizes daily StarCraft 2 tournaments for amateurs and hobbyist alike.
It also features an online matchmaking system. It matches players that are at your current level of play. As you improve the system will throw better players at you to always keep you challenged.
Or MMR is how Battle.net determines how each player is ranked on the ladder. Some say this is rigged, but I’m convinced it isn’t. I’m not a professional player, but you don’t have to be that good to know that you belong in your current league, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the beginning shall we?
Let’s just say you just finished your campaign and finally want to go into that multi-player section of the game. First of all, you have to take on the challenge of 5 placement matches. This is the part that I can’t figure out how it works, but I guess is player has a base MMR that start with. After each win or loss, you get points. This determines your skill level. There’s probably something more behind it, but in essence this is how it works.
After your placement matches, you get placed in a league. There are a number of leagues that vary on player’s skill level:
Each league is divided into divisions. This is only because there are so much players in the lower leagues, that they cannot be placed on the same ladder. Each division of a league has its own ladder. The better illustrate this, two players from two different divisions of the Gold have the same rank. In theory they should have the same MMR, but this MMR is different from a player in the Diamond league.
If you improve your game, you get promoted. Let’s say you start winning. On the loading screen where it shows your name and profile picture, it also shows you which of the team is favored. If one is favored over the other, if the favored wins you get more points (and get deducted more if you lose). If manage to keep a winning streak and get at the top of your ladder, chances are you are facing a promotion.
All leagues (Bronze to Master) are available for 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 games. Grandmaster is a league reserved for pro players only, it has only one division and that division has 200 places. If you get promoted to Grandmaster league you’ll have to be active with your account. If you stay inactive you can be dropped back to Master.
Things I Haven’t Told You
Due to this review already being very lengthy I haven’t covered the bonus pool, the map editor tool and achievements. Bonus pool accumulates and it is used to boost your win points and the editor lets you create your own custom maps with your own scenarios and assets. There’s a whole community based around this as well.
There are also achievements in the game. Either doing feats in multi-player games or the campaign nets you achievement for your various feats.
All in all, Blizzard has done a great job continuing the great story of the StarCraft games. The graphics are great, the community based around the game is also great, with tons of great professional players, casters and tournaments.
StarCraft is a lifestyle and a job for a great deal amount of people. I give it a score of 10 out of 10.