Been a long time since I played a decent RTS and I'm glad Blizzard's brought one back. I never really got into the story for the original game but, this first part of the trilogy Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty takes place 4 years after the events of the Brood Wars the first expansion pack.
Jim Raynor is out to start a revolution to release some of the people from the evil Terran Empire, still trying the fulfil the dream that his love Kerrigan also wanted to achieve. He is branded a terrorist and meets old friends such as Tychus and Horner along the way who informs him there are some artifacts that could dent the Terrans further. However, after being dormant for so long, the Zerg are back with the mind-controlled Kerrigan.
If you've forgotten what the original story was like, you're given a brief summary during the game's install. For the most part, the RTS plays very much like its predecessor and like other games of this type - Gather resources, produce units and attack with a strategy. The controls and shortcuts remain very much the same. Tabs now appear after you've grouped up units so you don't need to worry about forgetting which number keys you've already used.
Mission objectives haven't changed much either - Usually they involve killing and destroying everything. But unlike most RTS where they leave you to find that last little unit somewhere on the map, SCII actually lets you know where they are. There's also a few nice twists such as on one map your base is rushed by an onslaught of Zerg infested people when it's night.
The more apparent new features is that before every mission, you can spend time chatting with the characters to learn more about the story, watch the news, listen to some music or playing an arcade game aboard the ship which is great for anyone who doesn't want to be forced to read through lots of dialogue. Also, you can choose who to side with which adds to the immersion even though you don't build up on friendship gauges.
There's also research that branches out, letting you make use of Zerg or Protoss technology points you earn during side goals.
An armoury to buy upgrades using the credits you earn from missions although most of them are very familiar, it does let you be the one who decides what is more important. As with all modern games, there's a bunch of achievements to unlock which give the solo campaign some replayability. Or you can use the credits to hire some powerful mercenaries which kind of reminds me of the heroes you can summon in Warcraft III except there's no experience points.
The game looks very up-to-date from the moment you start it up and see the high resolution logo with the Terran marine in it. In fact, all the loading screens are different featuring some amazing artwork that would probably make some great sci-fi wallpaper. That said, it also feels a lot like the jump to 3D when Warcraft III was released but not quite as cartoony. Some of the character designs remind me of Warcraft such as the mechanic who looks like the dwarves.
However, it all comes at the cost of loading time. On my Windows 7 machine with 4GB RAM and 7200 SATAII hard drives, it takes an average of a minute to load up each level.
For anyone who have been playing Blizzard's RTS games, you'll all know clicking on the units multiple times produces some very funny lines and they haven't skipped out on the tradition here.
Pre-rendered movies look as stunning as ever and it's great to see there's surround sound support to create a cinematic experience all the way through the game and literally putting you at the centre of all the action. Or even if you only have a 2.1 setup with a subwoofer at least you can be prepared to feel those flame throwers, guns firing and loud engines rumbling the room away.
A great update to an already great RTS game. Can't wait to see how the story continues with the second part of the trilogy Heart of the Swarm which will be an expansion pack apparently.
Time Completed 13 hours
- Still the great RTS the predecessor was.
- No forced tutorial and optional dialogue.
- Multiple missions you can take in any order.
- Lets you know about the last units in wipe out all missions.
- Achievements and bonus objectives for more solo campaign replayability.
- Surround sound support.
- Loading times.