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Why StarCraft II stands on the precipice of greatness

Tuesday, 19th March 2013 12:58 GMT By Patrick Garratt

The release of Heart of the Swarm puts StarCraft II on track to be one of the greatest games ever made. Patrick Garratt luxuriates in what is likely to be a trilogy like no other.

We can now see that Blizzard is creating a unique, genuine monster in StarCraft II. Assuming there’s no misstep with Legacy of the Void, the completed trilogy will be essential.

About halfway through the Heart of the Swarm campaign, I realised I was looking at one of the greatest game productions of all time. StarCraft II is the rarest of things: a triple-A game so obviously good enough to warrant three parts that its completion will be a benchmark. The only real comparison I can think of is Mass Effect.

When Blizzard first confirmed that StarCraft II was to be split into three episodes many were justifiably skeptical, but there should now be no question the company was correct. The campaigns themselves are large enough to warrant the three products (I completed 27 missions on my Heart of the Swarm play-through), and I can’t even begin to fathom the depths of the game’s multiplayer. I’m rubbish at it, but it’s so clearly amazing (and being made apparently even more phenomenal every time new content’s added) that it’s likely StarCraft II will be a top tier e-sports title for decades. This is a special game.

Blizzard’s even managed to balance some pretty stinky dialogue in the campaigns with a plot epic enough to make you look forward to the next installment. I won’t spoil it, but the wrapping up of the storyline in Legacy of the Void is probably going to put even Blizzard’s CG wizards to the test.

Space commander bun-fight

The triumph of StarCraft II is that Blizzard has succeeded in making the game accessible to anyone (if you play on Casual, it really is a case of build base, build army, send army into middle of enemy, win) while constructing a system so robust it’s able to satisfy the diamond hardcore. StarCraft II multiplayer has been tuned finer than any other game I can think of, and yet SC2′s matchmaking allows players barely capable of getting off the online training missions to get a fair bout. That alone is remarkable, but when you add in what will probably amount to a 40-odd hour campaign, StarCraft II emerges as a package like no other.

If you’re passing over this because “it’s RTS” or you “don’t like playing online,” you should reevaluate. Once you’re familiar with the concepts of base-building, attacking and defending, and you’ve punched your way through the campaign, you’ll be able to swim in one of the deepest multiplayer games ever made, a tense scramble with chess-like structures and an unparalleled victory pay-off. If you’re shy of taking StarCraft II online, just remember there are countless others like you eager to get involved but don’t believe they can make the commitment. Throw off your prudishness: once you get over the first kiss you’ll soon find yourself hurtling into illegal dungeon sex (the best kind) with a huge community of like-minded space generals. Just imagine the eruptions.

I didn’t really click with Wings of Liberty, I’ll admit. But Heart of the Swarm and its zergy delights has me by my alien balls. We can now see that Blizzard is creating a unique, genuine monster in StarCraft II. Assuming there’s no misstep with Legacy of the Void, the completed trilogy will be essential. Do it. This is “genre end-game” defined.

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7 Comments

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  1. themadjock

    I’m loving it too, got about half way but Kratos has distracted me for a bit. Shame it will take another 2 or 3 years before the conclusion, thanks for not spoiling the ending, looking forward too it

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Hirmetrium

    I think your earlier point of Blizzard “splitting” being warrented is in question still Pat – in fact, you admit yourself that WoL didn’t click.

    I think that Heart of the Swarm is an excellent production. while its story isn’t great, its better than WoL (subplots for 20 or so missions, main plot in 9 at the end), it has good pacing, its characters are that bit more different and enjoyable, and its locations and set pieces vary a lot more (I really enjoyed the Zerus missions).

    However, Heart of the Swarm is so polished, so tidy, and just… so much better than Wings of Liberty, its really impressive. It’s like they finally reached the top of the mountain.

    The question now, is do Blizzard stay there, and make LOTV an amazing title (which I think will suffer if they spend as long on multiplayer as they did for HOTS, which really should of released last year) or will they lose sight of it again.

    HOTS is a product to be proud of – its just a shame it isn’t standalone, and people need WOL to be able to enjoy such a fine title.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Talkar

    Nice article Patrick.
    I think it is worth noting that another reason this is such a fantastic game is because Blizzard isn’t rushing balance patches every time someone whines about something. Instead they take that feedback and carefully examines the game from a developer standpoint, a normal player standpoint and an esports standpoint. And they somehow manage to find a pretty much perfect balance between those 3 standpoints almost every time. It is simply amazing. I can’t express how much i like Blizzard for creating this game and sticking with it!

    #3 1 year ago
  4. G1GAHURTZ

    No toilet mouth today, then?

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Edo

    @4 Instead we get larger than life hyperboles.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. OlderGamer

    I would have been much more interested if the entire thing where put into one box. Sorry, but that is pretty much it for me. I will wait for the game to be complete and out a few years. Then prolly buy it in an Battlechest type package.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. DSB

    @6 I haven’t played it, but that was kinda my impression as well.

    If you look at what Blizzard did with Warcraft 3 which was truly storydriven while pushing the gameplay, and then compare that to Starcraft 2, you may be looking at a thoroughly well engineered game, but it’s also reactionary to the core.

    #7 1 year ago