"On the Wings of Awesomeness"
OK, full disclosure: I am an RTS noob. The last one I recall playing with any frequency was Herzog Zwei on the Sega Genesis. And the only reason I played that one was because my vertically challenged friend (with something of a Napoleonic Complex) was very good at it and enjoyed stomping my ass in to the ground. Being a short guy, I had to give him something, right? And it seemed to make him happy, so there you go. I’m a good friend; what can I say.
So here I am, approximately 20 years later, dipping my toes in the RTS wellspring once again with Blizzard’s much-anticipated, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and I’m pleased to report that the overall experience is quite sublime.
- The command interface is super sleek -
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty picks up the saga several years after the Brood Wars (an expansion pack of the original StarCraft title), finding the Terrans composed…but waiting on the edge of the proverbial knife for something to happen. The nasty Zerg have been suspiciously quiet these past years, and the technologically advanced Protoss have also kept to themselves. The hero of the original StarCraft, Jim Reynor, finds himself sought after by the government of the newly-crowned Arcturus Mengsk. As fate would have it, things do not remain calm in the galaxy for too long, and Reynor and his Raiders have to slug it out against long-standing enemies and look for support from steadfast comrades.
The campaign itself is constructed masterfully, with a wide variety of well-balanced missions (and a “Casual” difficulty setting, which is a godsend to a newcomer like me…and it appears I’m not the only one). The campaign includes a branching mission structure, with between-mission downtime available to buy upgrades for troops, armaments, and technologies. There are also a few “either/or” decisions to be made in the campaign, which when coupled with a plethora of achievements and multiplayer over Battle.net make StarCraft II an almost infinitely replayable experience.
As far as graphics, my mid-range PC had few problems running this game at relatively high settings; a couple of hiccups here and there, but nothing to get upset about. The design of everything in this universe is lush, imaginative, highly detailed, and very cool.
- StarCraft II is incredibly immersive -
Beyond the gorgeous visuals, epic musical score (by Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, Neal Acree & Russell Brower), and pitch-perfect voice work (featuring BSG’s Tricia Helfer as the evil “Queen of Blades”), the thing that truly sticks out in my mind is just how gripping the gameplay itself is in StarCraft II. Case in point, one of the missions approximately halfway through the game tasks you with razing a zombie-like, Zerg infestation during the daytime and defending your base of operations from said “zombie” infestation during the twilight hours. Sounds simple enough, right? I gleefully plowed through the mission in what seemed to me like 15 minutes. When the stats/score screen loaded up at the end of the mission, I was rather incredulous to find that I was playing that mission for an HOUR and 15 minutes, not 15 minutes as I originally thought. That hasn’t happened to me in quite some time while playing a game and I applaud/welcome that level of immersion in any form of entertainment.
Ultimately, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a brilliantly crafted video game that the hardcore RTS gamers and noobs like myself cannot help but appreciate and have a blast playing. I know that it took 12 years to come out (and there was a good deal of grumbling about that) but, trust me, it shows in the overall polish and balance of the title as a whole. Video games do not get much better than this, so upgrade your PC’s video card, RAM or whatever and go buy StarCraft II.
And after playing it, you can send your laudatory messages of thanks and praise to my email address…
GameDynamo's Score for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (PC)
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