Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty – PC
with Heart of the Swarm Expansion
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Nerd Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by PzIkHo
My life for Aiur!
Starcraft 2 builds on the immense popularity of the first installment, continuing the story of a forlorn Jim Raynor and his struggles against the insidious Arcturus Mengsk, ruler of the Terran Dominion. As he rallies troops for the sake of revolution, Raynor perpetually longs for his lost love, Sarah Kerrigan. Transformed into the wretched Queen of Blades by the infections and brutal Zerg, Kerrigan continues her conquest as last seen at the end of the Brood War expansion set; while the mysterious and powerful Protoss lurk in the background.
Building on the overarching story of these three races and their confrontation in the remote Koprulu Sector of space, the game continues developing the backstory of each race individually. The politically dominated Terrans continue their infighting as the newly established Dominion proves to be as corrupt as the predecessor it fragmented: The Terran Confederacy. The Queen of Blades is quite-possibly the most complex anti-hero since Solid Snake. Establishing herself as the ruler of the Zerg Swarm, she continues to do battle with the enigmatic Protoss for domination of space. The Protoss, who previously existed as two religious factions (the Khalai and Nezarim) have been reunited after the destruction of their homeworld at the hands of the Zerg.
The gameplay features an intense overhaul in the graphics department, turning familiar scenery into novel eye candy. The core of the gameplay mechanics have changed very little, with the goal remaining the same as always; mine resources to maintain an economy, build an army, and outwit your opponent. New units such as the Shredder, Oracle and the Viper add new dimensions to the familiar tech trees and strategies. The primary controls involve the mouse (in fact, whole games can be played using nothing else); against better opponents, however, players will find good use of available shortcuts on the keyboard (known as hotkeys).
Starcraft attracts professional gamers who make a living with their world-class skills in the game. The rumors of South Koreans wiping out entire armies with one or two menial ground units are true (the game is all but a national sport in South Korea)…and then there’s this: http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Lee_Seung_Seop
Fear not, however! Blizzard Entertainment and their top-of-the-line servers, which undergo regular maintenance (much to the dismay of avid gamers between the hours of 3-11 am) have mechanisms in place which constantly monitor each player’s abilities, ensuring you’re always matched with a player who is of equal skill. You will never meet a challenge that is beyond your ability. Players also have the option of saving and reviewing replays of each game so they can review specific moments/events and further develop their strategies.
The single player campaign mode is a heavily-modified version compared to multiplayer games, and each mission or level focuses on advancing the storyline while giving the character a diverse range of scenarios in which to utilize most if not all available structures and units. Different units have different abilities and statistics, can perform different functions, and are only created through specific structures. Structures may also contain upgrades, and certain structures can only be built after another structure has been completed (much like an add-on).
One key feature of the first StarCraft was the perfect balance between the three races. Each had particular strengths and weaknesses which combined to give no particular advantage on the battlefield. Wings of Liberty, with all the additional units/structures, and slight tweaks to unit damage/speed, has skewed this balance slightly. Zerg players will find their immensely fast units significantly less powerful than in the first installment. Thankfully this problem was addressed and corrected in Heart of the Swarm, and the perfect balance has been restored.
The release of Wings of Liberty brought with it a black stain on the track record of Blizzard Entertainment: the unscrupulous melting of graphics cards. Users reported their computers had become so hot they could “probably fry eggs on it.” Ultimately Blizzard was able to cite the problem as uncapped framerates which, when utilized on a game with little movement happening at times on screen, caused the software to constantly re-draw the screen thereby overworking users’ GPUs. While providing a fix for the problem (“Tassadar be praised!”), they were reluctant to replace any graphics cards destroyed by the game (as the problem may very well have been caused by a malfunction in hardware). If you install Starcraft 2 be sure to add me (PzIkHo) and we can kill each other!
**USERS BEWARE!!** Hot GPU Fix: Once installed and updated to the latest patch: edit your Documents/Starcraft2/variables text file and add the following lines:
See you in the Void!
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