Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm – An Evolution of Gameplay and Story

      “Heart of the Swarm” improves off “Wings of Liberty” in most places where it counts. The story has more going on, the characters are more interesting and the side missions are really enjoyable as well as the hero leveling system that the game gives in how Kerrigan grows through the game. You are given choices that matter and affect gameplay, which is more than “Wings of Liberty” was ever able to do. I’ll get into more of what I mean later in the review, but this is a game that improves upon the original in almost every way.

The downsides are really in how there is too much emphasis on Emperor Mengsk as the villain and not enough on the threat of the Xel’Naga, which sadly hurts the overall arc of the Trilogy.

The story picks up where “Wings of Liberty” left off with a de-infested Kerrigan with Raynor’s Raiders and Valerian Mengsk. When Dominion forces attack she is separated from them all and when she believes Raynor to be killed goes on a revenge mission against Mengsk as she takes control of the Swarm and grows once more into her role as the Queen of Blades.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Universe – I love the Starcraft Universe and in this game we get so much more of it. From Narud’s experiments and the infested resurrected Stukov and the Hybrids from the last game, from the Primal Zerg and the Zerg who witnessed the Xel’Naga come but only cared about becoming stronger and better and did not care for the greater war in the Universe as Amon created them on the Primal Zerg world…from the power of the Dominion and recruitment of the Brood Mothers as Kerrigan re-establishes herself as the Queen of Blades. I love this Universe and this game does nothing but enrich it. We also get to play as Raynor’s Raiders taking on a Mercenary army with their Battlecruiser in order to find out where Raynor is trapped and so that he can rescued. The world is so wonderfully dark and complicated.

Evolution Missions – On the way of taking control of the Swarm once more Abathur, Kerrigan’s Evolution Master gives missions where you can shape Zerg into different strains. Each choice is permanent but their are pros and cons to each. You can have faster and weaker units that can fly, greater number of units or stronger individual units with greater regeneration depending on the choice you make…and on those missions you take out Dominion or Feral Zerg forces. They are so much fun.

The Nature of the Swarm – The Swarm is change and evolution. This is one reason Kerrigan works so well as the leader because she is constant change and adaptation and now being free of the Overmind she no longer as Amon’s influence on her (that she originally got through the original purpose of the Zerg and the Overmind). It is powerful seeing her take charge of the swarm and see how their primary drive to live, change, evolve and grow. The Zerg are not static and this game really shows how easy it is for the Swarm to grow and become one of the strongest powers in the Universe. It is in their nature and when they have direction from the Queen of Blades the Overmind or one who knows them, they are unstoppable.

Kerrigan and her Team – Kerrigan has my favorite Team out of the 3 games. I like how Abathur is a selfish being that only sees the point in making things more efficent regardless of cost (so weird, awful and alien) how Zagara only values strength and bettering the Swarm and serving Kerrigan how Stukov has no one so only wants acceptance and the Swarm is the only acceptance he has now that he is dead to humanity and Dehaka and his obsession with essence and his drive to survive and change through anything.

Leveling Kerrigan and Shaping the Swarm – The gameplay is fun and part of the reason it is so much fun is you power up Kerrigan and her abilities and these abilities influence her as hero unit and also your base and how quickly you can build or what you start. She is a powerhouse and the right upgrades make her an unstoppable force on her own or one who can sustain the Swarm and have a large group. The Swarm is also shaped from the Evolution Missions stated above too.

Okay: The Power of Emperor Mengsk – I’m putting Emperor Mengsk’s power and the Dominon as okay and not a pro for two reasons. The first is that he should have been weaker after Valerian took half his fleet and second Kerrigan destroyed his forces on more than one occasion. This game happens just after he got his butt kicked last game. The reason I don’t put him as a con is he did have Narud and via Narud Amon backing him so he was powerful that way and there was a good amount of time between “Brood War” and “Wings of Liberty.” For these reason I won’t put him as a con.

Not Enough Xel’Naga Exploration – We get a glimpse of the nature of the Xel’Naga on Zerus (the Zerg homeworld) and when Narud’s true form a changeling is revealed and what dialogue he gives us. Otherwise they are an abstract threat even though we the prophecy of Kerrigan’s role going on and really needed more in the lead up to whatever her future is.

The Narud and Amon Payoff – Narud is the mini-boss before Arcturus Mengsk and it is only over the course of 3 missions. He really should have been a bigger deal. Mengsk makes more sense narratively but for the overall game Narud has been the greatest threat of them all. He is the reason the UED no longer exists as a threat, he is the reason the Protoss continued to fall apart and his master Amon is the reason the Zerg almost destroyed everything fulfilling their role in the big picture. With better writing, he really should have been the end boss or played a much bigger part in the story. He’d been around for so long why did he suddenly stop manipulating the Zerg when he clearly still had control of some Protoss forces, Moebius and the elements of the Dominion. Narud and the Xel’Naga deserved better and I think Blizzard didn’t know what to do with them after setting them up so well in “Brood War” and the original “Starcraft.”

The Cons: Raynor and Revenge as Primary Motivation – I think the writers meant it to mirror Raynor’s love for Kerrigan as his motivation in “Wings of Liberty” but it sucked that Kerrigan was turned into that as well. I never got those vibes from her in any of the original games and making her The Bride from “Kill Bill” was fine but her best character moments are when we see her accepting her role as the Queen of Blades and finding motivation beyond revenge as she cares for and shapes the Swarm. That was where she was amazing as we already got her revenge story back in “Brood War” and it was handled so much better.

I really enjoyed “Heart of the Swarm.” This is a game for all the flaws it has (largely based in story with Emperor Mengsk being this unstoppable force who still continues to lose through 2 games) and the lack of focus on Narud, Amon and the Xel’Naga makes the upcoming threat feel only so strong. It also sets up Kerrigan as the Chosen One which is stupid storytelling in general, even though I like that Kerrigan’s flaws are all her own. she is ruthless and driven and a little bit of a sociopath but it makes her compelling because it is her mind that shapes the Swarm and we see how she makes the Zerg Swarm less of an all consuming force and more a precision weapon focused on perfection and change. For these reasons I would rate it higher than “Wings of Liberty.” There is better payoff storywise, better gameplay and the campaign missions are a lot of fun and honestly, my favorite heroes are the Heroes from the Swarm and how wonderfully alien they all are. This is another one of my favorite games.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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Starcraft: Brood War Campaign Reviews – Episode 5 – Terran Campaign – The Conquest of the U.E.D. and the Legacy of Stukov

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We continue the “Starcraft: Brood War” Campaign Reviews with Episode 5, the Terran Campaign. This campaign ties directly to “Brood War’s” opening cinematic where we see Vice Admiral Stukov and Admiral DuGalle studying the Zerg as their troops fight below. Eventually they leave the battle and the story kicks off.

The story begins with Stukov ordering you to take out the capital Boralis on the planet of Braxis for the U.E.D. (United Earth Directorate). It is here you meet Lieutenant Duran, a man who says he is resisting Dominion rule and can show you a back entrance. He helps and you are victorious. The two reasons the U.E.D. came to this sector is to conquer rogue elements like Emperor Mengsk and pacify the Overmind so the Zerg will no longer be a threat to humanity.

The next mission involves you capturing Mengsk’s Battlecruisers in the Dylarian Shipyards so he will lose his ability to fight and you’ll gain a larger fleet. Next you learn of the Psi Disruptor the Confederacy had been trying to build on Tarsonis and that there might still be a functioning one. Stukov once to keep it since it seems to work at disrupting the Zerg but Duran wants it destroyed so Mengsk doesn’t get it. DuGalle eventually goes with Duran even with Duran acting insubordinate and disrespectful in the conversation. Once you arrive on the planet you take out the surrounding zerg forces and ghosts arrive to take control of the Psi Disruptor of Stukov forcing Duran to leave.

The next missions involve the assault on the capital world of the dominion, Korhal. You choose to destroy Mengsk’s ability to create nukes or battle cruisers (I went to destroy nukes since ghosts are really annoying) and after you assault his command center directly in the next mission. It is here Raynor arrives with a protoss fleet to rescue him which involves you giving chase to Aiur, but before you can capture Mengsk Duran allows the Zerg to overrun his position forcing Stukov to take matters into his own hands.

The penultimate mission is pretty powerful as Stukov has taken control of the Psi Disruptor and DuGalle orders Duran to kill his friend. Once he shoots Stukov, Stukov tells you that he believes Duran is infested and to finish his work on keeping the Psi Disruptor alive. Regretting his actions DuGalle does just that.

The final mission is pacifying the infant Overmind and destroying the surrounding Cerebrates who can no longer reincarnate since the Overmind is not fully functional and is still in it’s infant stages. Once you pacify it Duran arrives with Kerrigan and speaking fully in an infested voice (at different points in missions you can here the infestation, this time it is fully apparent) and Kerrigan says that they will meet again soon and that Stukov was twice the man DuGalle would ever be. She retreats and the cinematic begins.

The Cinematic is similar to the last propaganda speech by Mengsk except this time it’s the U.E.D. who lie and say Stukov died against the assault on the Overmind on Char and that losses were minimal but that Stukov died a hero. The corny voice makes it surreal, which is a shame as the opening cinematic which is U.E.D.centric is so personal.

Brood War Terran Campaign

Here is the assessment of the Campaign:

The Pros: The story – This was my favorite of the Terran Campaigns, which says a lot given the rise and corruption of Mengsk is a fascinating story. What sets this apart though is the personal relationship between DuGalle and Stukov and their interactions with the people we’ve met before such as Mengsk, Duke and Kerrigan. The story also shows humanity victorious in a way that is still ironic like Mengsk’s victory, but more powerful too as humanity managed to pacify the Overmind.

The Gameplay – The gameplay had a good learning curve and every new unit you receive (medic, Valkyrie) you use in the mission and the rest of the campaign. The missions can be challenging too, especially the missions involving the war on Korhal and the final mission against the Overmind. For this reason every victory feels like it means something.

The U.E.D. – The United Earth Directorate is an awesome new element in “Brood War” and adds depth to the story as Earth has been paying attention to the Zerg and Protoss threats and the rise of Emperor Mengsk and fall of the Confederacy. Their intentions are good though they are just as empire driven as Mengsk was, the difference is Ego though. The U.E.D. is run by a council and not a dictatorship.

The Dominion – Mengsk’s faction is a worthy enemy, and facing him and General Duke after playing their rise in the “Original Starcraft” is pretty powerful. We also see how their connections go a long way since even though the Dominion falls…General Duke and Mengsk are still out their with Raynor and the Protoss. Leaving things open for the next episode and campaign.

The characters

Admiral DuGalle – This is a well meaning military man who is like the gruff Grandfather. He tries to mentor Duran throughout the mission briefings and he has no patience for arrogance as he says that Mengsk won’t have a chance to fight back as he will be publicly executed. Only time he loses his cool in the campaign is when Duran kills his friend he realizes he was used. This adds depth to his character too as the rest of the missions he is living with regret and willing to go to any lengths to finish the mission for Stukov.

Emperor Mengsk – You only interact with him briefly, but he promises retribution before he realizes that he is going to be executed (until Raynor arrives to rescue him).

General Duke – Learns from Stukov the U.E.D. is here on orders from Earth to pacify the sector. This surprises him at first and you can tell he is out of his element, until he finally attacks with his Battlecruiser fleet.

Lieutenant Duran – This character is not all he appears to be, which is the theme he follows over his entire arc in the Starcraft Universe. His introduction is great as he gives you reason to trust him and he is meant to mirror Raynor joining with Mengsk’s Son’s of Korhal against the Confederacy. We see his isn’t Raynor as his final agenda is unknown but that he can play the game masterfully.

Vice Admiral Stukov – This guy is one of my favorite characters in the Starcraft Universe, and I’m glad they found a way to do more with him post-death in “Heart of the Swarm.” In this game though we see  that Stukov is a patriot who sees the big picture and cares deeply for his friend and comrade DuGalle. He realizes they’ve been used by Duran so tries to counter it and he nearly captures Mengsk but only doesn’t because of Duran’s betrayal. He is probably the most competent human character besides Jim Raynor. For now, R.I.P. Stukov. You are one of the best things about Starcraft.

Okay: Final Cinematic – The final cinematic is cheesy and a little annoying. It’s propaganda so it makes sense…but Mengsk’s propaganda felt powerful. I’d hope DuGalle’s could be comparable for his enslavement of the Overmind and defeat of the Dominion.

This is one of my favorite campaigns in “Starcraft” as a whole, and especially “Brood War,” Stukov is a character worth rooting for and the complexity of human politics and outcome of the U.E.D.’s arc in this campaign is fascinating. There aren’t any dud characters and you get an appreciation for the enemies you helped rise to power in the Original Starcraft Campaign and the new heroes of this campaign. I highly recommend this campaign and for what it is worth it does stand well on it’s own…even if Episode 1 of the “Original Starcraft” does add more depth to the enemies you face.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

UED End Cinematic

The Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews – Episode 3 – The Protoss Campaign – The Journey of Tassadar

Protoss Campaign

“You speak of knowledge, Judicator? You speak of experience? I have journeyed through the darkness between the most distant stars. I have beheld the births of negative-suns and borne witness to the entropy of entire realities… Unto my experience, Aldaris, all that you’ve built here on Aiur is but a fleeting dream. A dream from which your precious Conclave shall awaken, finding themselves drowned in a greater nightmare.” -Zeratul

We continue the “Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews” with the final episode in Original Starcraft. The episode picks up where the Zerg campaign left off with the Overmind established on Aiur and how the protoss try to defeat it.

The story begins with the Judicator ordering you and Fenix to protect Antioch, after your defense Tassadar appears and tells you and the Judicator that the Cerebrates control the Zerg. You as Fenix attack but are unable to defeat it as it reincarnates. Fenix is left to defend Antioch as you are asked to free Scion as Fenix falls in Antioch. There is a cinematic here of the Fall of Antioch of Fenix standing alone against the swarm.

Feeling comfortable in their power the Conclave (the Religious Order who runs the Protoss Government) asks you to hunt down Tassadar and bring him to justice. You find Tassadar on Char with Raynor and join with them in order to find and free Zeratul and his Dark Templar who are being held captive by the Zerg in an infested Terran facility. After you save him you are attacked by the Conclave and denounced for siding with the heretics as Raynor and Fenix who has been put into a Dragoon shell fight with you agains the Conclave. After a fight with the Conclave Tassadar gives himself up for justice to stop the Civil War.

After the fight Fenix and Raynor rescue Tassadar from execution with Zeratul and his people arriving at the end to facilitate the rescue and to show Judicator Aldaris how blinded he and the conclave are by tradition. For Zeratul is ancient and has seen the darkness between the stars and the full danger of what the Overmind has planned.

Next is preparation for the final assault, you, Zeratul and Fenix are tasked with killing two Cerebrates with Zeratul’s Dark Templar energy (the only thing that can kill them) to weaken the Overmind’s defenses. After you do this it is the final assault.

It is here we learn more of the mythos and the Xel’Naga quest for the perfect life form which the Overmind plans to become by consuming the Protoss and after consuming all sentient life in the Universe. Judicator Aldaris calls you to apologize as he saw how the Dark Templar destroyed the Cerebrates and only wishes that he and the Conclave had been smarter sooner as they call Tassadar the best of them. This is the last stand to stop it as it has established itself as the greatest threat. In order to defeat it Tassadar uses his Templar and Dark Templar energy to kill it after your assault destroys it’s outer shell. From here there is an awesome cinematic and we are left with the epilogue.

The epilogue says that Aiur is destroyed even though the Overmind is stopped and that the Queen of Blades Kerrigan now sees this opportunity to rise in power. Setting up “Starcraft: Brood War.”

Protoss Campaign Mission Screen

Here is the assessment of the campaign:

The Pros: The cinematography – This one has the best cinematography, largely because we get character moments…from Fenix’s fall at Antioch or Tassadar’s sacrifice to destroy the Overmind. We also see Fenix and his fleet working with Raynor and his Raiders at one point too during the quest to free Tassadar.

Gameplay: The is the most difficult campaign up to this point, which is good. It lets you feel the full threat of the Conclave and the Overmind and each mission provides unique challenges and resource management in order to defeat the larger more powerful enemy.

Judicator Aldaris – The Judicator is awesome as the voice of the Conclave, he is a traditionalist who believes in the assigned roles within Protoss society, and truly cares for Aiur and his people. We see that he is capable of growth too as he realizes he was wrong about the Dark Templar and Tassadar at the end and sends his wishes with them. Tassadar is always a counter to him throughout most of the missions as he sees the bigger picture and Zeratul is there to how just how out of his depth this character is as he has no retort against everything Zeratul has seen in his travels. I liked this character as he wasn’t a villain, he was your ally, antagonist and once again ally at the end in the fight against the Overmind.

Raynor – Joins with Tassadar to save Zeratul and later with Fenix to save Tassadar. You get the feeling that after being used by Mengsk he was looking for a higher calling and he found it in the fight to save the Universe. He has his Battlecruiser at this point too and it is great to see his friendship and respect grow through working with the Protoss. He is the only human  we’ve seen so far to do so.

Fenix – Fenix is the soldier and grunt who is one of the military leaders on Aiur. He is noble but has an open mind as he becomes friends with Raynor after fighting with him against the Conclave and the Zerg and works with the Dark Templar even though they’ve been deemed heretics by his religion. He has a great design too, in both his zealot and dragoon form.

The Overmind – We never see it’s perspective but we feel the threat of it, as well as learning of it’s quest to become Perfect by consuming the Protoss and later consuming the Universe. It is pretty awesome and gives us even more of a reason to fear and respect it than we did playing for it during the Zerg campaign. It is for this reason it’s defeat feels real and Tassadar’s sacrifice actually means something.

Zeratul – Zeratul is the dark wizard of this mission. Which is interesting since when you meet him he needs to be rescued from Kerrigan’s Zerg assault we witnessed last campaign. He is a rogue element to the protoss but always comes through. He believes that the Dark Templar need to protect the world that was once their home even though it is painful in the process. He is also the only one who can kill Cerebrates and is the one responsible for training Tassadar how to use both Dark and Light Templar energies. He is one of my favorite characters for sure. By his nature he is the refugee trying to survive, but he is able to be more as it is thanks to him they can defeat the Overmind, and sadly thanks to him the Overmind discover Auir in the first place when they shared minds when he killed his first cerebrate.

Tassadar – There is a reason I made Tassadar part of the title. This is his story. We saw him the Zerg campaign learning the ways of the Dark Templar, we saw him in the Terran campaign destroying infested planets and learn later he chose not to destroy ones that could fight back on their own…both of which got him blacklisted by the Conclave. From here he is seeking balance. He wants so badly for there to be peace on Aiur but is attacked by the Conclave up until Zeratul, Fenix and Raynor free Tassadar from them and they defeat two of the Cerebrates together. You see his sadness at what the Civil War in his people wrought and the loss of his planet of Aiur. It is for this reason you can understand his sacrifice. He cares for those who persecuted him and he isn’t perfect…as he thought any protoss could defeat the Cerebrates at first (didn’t realize until later only Dark Templar energies could) and he gives himself up for justice, which almost leads to the cost of the Universe as he is the only one who wields both Dark and Light energies.

Okay: General Duke – He appears on Char and says that it is Dominion Space. Tassadar threatens him and comes off pretty cruel as he says he maybe should have glassed some planets if there were people like General Duke around. They fight and you don’t see him again, there isn’t much there.

I can’t think of any cons to this campaign beyond Duke not getting much character time. There is politics via the Conclave versus Tassadar in the Civil War on Aiur as Aiur burns…there is the mythos of the Xel’Naga and the Overmind’s quest for perfection in order to consume all (and the fact that the Xel’Naga are not recognized as good since they were trying to create the perfect life forms (their elevating of the Protoss), and Raynor, Fenix, Tassadar, Zeratul and the Judicator are amazing characters…and the Overmind is the biggest threat. You understand why it was the end boss fight after everything it destroys in the Terran, Zerg and Protoss campaigns. It is the only consistently valid threat that has Universe changing consequences. Character actions mean something and characters change. Zeratul stands in the light, Tassadar stops running, Judicator stand with the Heretics and Jim finds a reason to fight.

Final Score for this campaign is 10 / 10. Does everything it needs to do and what I want out of a story…as well as establishing a future threat via the loss of Aiur and the rise of Kerrigan.

“En Taro Adun!”

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The Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews – Episode 2 – The Zerg Campaign – Destiny of the Overmind

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“My children, the hour of our victory is at hand. For upon this world of Aiur shall we incorporate the strongest known species into our fold. Then shall we be the greatest of creation’s children. We shall be… Perfect.” -The Overmind

We continue the Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews with Episode 2, the Zerg Campaign. This campaign is masterful at showing you the zerg perspective and the creepy destructiveness that defines their species.

The story picks up where the last one left off as the Overmind has created you a Cerebrate (living brain larva) to control a brood and protect the chrysalis which holds a special weapon that will be the future of the Zerg.

The first few missions involve you getting the chrysalis out of Tarsonis while other Cerebrates like Zsaz and Daggoth show you the ropes and give you help in your quest. Eventually you have to defend the chrysalis until it hatches, revealing Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades of the Zerg. With her, you then destroy Raynor’s base as she tells him to never challenge her or the Zerg again.

From here you are helping Kerrigan develop as an agent of the storm as she has psionic abilities she still must unlock so you invade a terran science vessel to get the information. it is here that Zsaz fears Kerrigan being the death of the Zerg as he sees her as too strong willed and she tells him nothing will stand in her way.

Next you are challenged by Tassadar and the Dark Templar on Char. Kerrigan goes to face him and destroys the Dark Templar on the planet only to discover it was a ruse by Tassadar in order to kill a cerebrate. After the Overmind is in mourning and it is up to you as Kerrigan to destroy Zsaz’s brood after which you hunt down the Dark Templar and run into Zeratul who is in charge of the Dark Templar you are hunting.

Next is the invasion of Aiur as Zeratul’s killing of the Cerebrate gave the Overmind a glimpse into his mind as to the location of Aiur and the knowledge of their shared heritage as creations of the Xel’Naga. It is than you begin the invasion and establish a foothold to get the crystal that is needed to summon the Overmind to Aiur. After is the final battle in which the Overmind is summoned over the first Xel’Naga Temple on Aiur that you destroy in the mission. It is here the Overmind tells you his goal that now the Zerg will be perfect as they were made to be “Perfect Essence” and Protoss were “Perfect Form” and that now that Aiur belongs to the Zerg, the Zerg can absorb the perfection of form making them unstoppable.

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Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Gameplay – The gameplay is fantastic with the Zerg and helps you understand the strategy of how to play them. The Zerg win by creating lots of units at once and overwhelming force, since most of their units are the weakest in the game. In the campaign you experience how to best use this and most of your enemies have large bases and usually start out higher on the tech. tree than you do.

The Cinematics – The Zerg Cinematics are great, you see Kerrigan’s destruction of the science vessel, what she witnesses inside the Chrysalis, the Zerg attacking Aiur and the Overmind appearing on Aiur. In each of these it has the haunting, creepy feel to it that defines the Zerg as a species so welle.e

Kerrigan the Queen of Blades – Kerrigan as a Zerg is one of the best antagonists in any video game or science fiction story. She was made a Zerg against her will and is now infested to the point that she only knows destruction, though at the same time she independent enough that the Cerebrates and Overmind cannot stop her from doing what she wants. She is their perfect agent, free willed and dangerous enough to wipe out any threat that comes their way. A fair amount of the missions are taking care of her chrysalis, but once she is awake she is a lot of fun to play as to watch her conquer in the name of the Swarm. She is the Overmind’s Dragon in Episode 2.

Zsaz – The Cerebrates don’t really have free will as we know it as everything they do is for their father the Overmind, but Zsaz is the only one who calls out and sees the dangers of Kerrigan’s independence. He sees the dangers of her humanity which makes him an interesting character.

Daggoth – The largest of the cerebrates, Daggoth is the one who is the closest one to a second in command. He is the one who has Kerrigan destroy Zsaz’s brood when the Overmind is out of commission from his depression and it is he who helps defend the Chrysalis sending you his special Hunter Killers.

Tassadar – Tassadar is the Gandalf of this campaign. He sends an illusion to trick Kerrigan and sees how her anger is leading to her destruction. He is wise and smart and the first real example we have of the protoss. He is the one who first hurts the Overmind too, since he is the one who is distracting Kerrigan so the Cerebrate Zsaz can be killed. To quote him, “So long as you continue to be so predictable, O Queen, I need not face you at all. You are your own worst enemy. ”

The Overmind – The Overmind is fascinating. He is one of the earliest creations of the Xel’Naga and seeks to destroy what they left behind to become greater. It is his seeking of perfection, and also revenge that leads him to attacking Aiur so that he can have perfection of essence and form. This creature is fascinating and I like that he is triumphant in his campaign as he is a much bigger threat than Mengsk ever was and sees the big picture. He is the one who tells us of the Zerg and Protoss creation by the Xel’Naga and thought of creating Kerrigan as the Queen of Blades.

Okay: Zeratul – We see him briefly at the end of the Campaign when Kerrigan is hunting down the Dark Templar. He has his famous “Though we strike at you from the shadows, do not think that we lack the courage to stand in the light,” during the fight. Tassadar is given a bit more characterization though as he interacts with you in a few instances. Zeratul only does so once.

This campaign is awesome, and more difficult than the Terran Campaign, as it assumes you know the basics. The characters in this are really cool, which is interesting when you are giving character trates to giant brain larva (the Cerebrates) and an all knowing, consuming brain (The Overmind) but Blizzards writers and art team made it work. This campaign is better than the Terran Campaign of Episode 1 and I definitely recommend it.

Final Score for this campaign is 9.3 / 10. Would have been higher if Zeratul had got more moments and more characterization of the Cerebrates.

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The Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews – Episode 1 – The Terran Campaign – The Rise and Corruption of Mengsk

Starcraft Original Terrans

Fair warning before I start, this review will have spoilers since story is the main thing I am focusing on.

The Original Starcraft kicks us off with a corrupted future where colonists are ruled by the Confederacy and the unknown threats of the Zerg and Protoss have arrived on the scene. The Zerg arrive or destroy a colony, the Protoss come and glass the planet. The Confederacy has you go and set up a base for your training mission and later join Raynor who later has you protect some colonists with him which has him wind up in prison when General Duke arrests you for betraying orders.

From here you are rescued by the Sons of Korhal lead by Mengsk and his Second-in- Command psionic ghost (telekinetic assassin who can cloak) Kerrigan. Your first mission is infiltrating a Confederate installation for information as Raynor, which leads you to find out the Confederates are experimenting on the Zerg and that Mar Sara, where you start out was one of the test worlds. After you help Antiga Prime rebel in the next mission you rescue General Duke and the Norad II, as Mengsk knows he needs all assets to take on the Confederacy. It is successful and you have a mission with Duke to break the blockade around Tarsonis the Capital of the Confederacy.

You begin to see Mengsk’s slide at this point as he has Kerrigan use one of the psi emitter devices that you found the blueprint for in the infiltration level to set the Zerg on the Confederate Capital World. She protests and you see that he is willing to go to any lengths to stop the Confederacy. This continues when he sends Kerrigan to protect the Zerg buildings and wipe out the Protoss who have arrived to do their usual Zerg cleanse. She gets overrun and we don’t hear from her again in the Terran Campaign.

From here Raynor decides to take you and rebel. Mengsk protests and says he’d rather let the world burn than lose and that the ends justified the means…from here Raynor joins with you to take out the Ion Cannon keeping you trapped in, as Mengsk and Duke try to destroy you. You manage to escape and the final video is Mengsk’s coronation as Emperor of the Dominion where he says humanity must stand together as one against the Zerg and Protoss threats and that the Confederacy is no more.

Briefing_room_(StarCraft)

Here is the assessment of the Campaign:

Pros: The Gameplay – The original starcraft still holds up, at least with my time playing as the Terrans. Enemies are difficult, but you always have a counter unit that you can use. Also Siege Tanks and Battlecruisers are some of the greatest things to clean out the missions in the game once they become available. The missions go up in difficulty and the final mission is actually hard. It involves a lot of defense and you have two large bases you are going up against. Luckily there are resources if you can reach them. I enjoyed all gameplay in the campaign.

Mengsk – The Terran Campaign is really the rise and corruption of Mengsk…and it actually does it pretty well. There are rumors about how bad he can be when you meet him, but you see a guy willing to put himself at risk for any potential ally. On the other side of that there is also a man willing to do anything for power. He isn’t just, but for the world this takes place in, I can see why the Sons of Korhal follow him. He is the only one who has managed to defeat the Zerg and Protoss in combat and is willing to accept enemies into the fold like General Duke. He’s a compelling character and though he isn’t as much POV as Raynor he is still the main focus of this campaign. This campaign is his rise and corruption.

General Duke – This guy was modeled after a Southern General and though he is a bastard, he is a great character. He has a lot of joking around with you in his mission where he helps break the blockade and you see he cares about his boys of Alpha Squadron. He could have been a mindless corrupt general, but instead we got someone a bit more complicated.

Jim Raynor – He’s Han Solo really. He breaks the rules but has a good heart and is willing to go to any lengths to protect people. You meet him when he’s a Confederate Marshall and see has affection for Kerrigan who he regrets not being with when the Zerg overwhelm her position. I wish we’d gotten more of his backstory, but he functions as the main person you are with and is the only real good guy you interact with.

Sarah Kerrigan – She isn’t as known at this point, and her romance with Raynor felt unbelievable, but the friendship felt believable. She is a psionic who was experimented on and rescued by Mengsk so she feels how much she owes him and trusts him because of this. We see the trust right up until the end when she is betrayed. She is a fun character though and every mission she is in she’s powerful. She has a much better hero unit than either of Raynor’s and we see her moral core even though she was raised to be a killer and joined a revolution.

The Sons of Korhal – The revolution group is the main perspective and they are compelling since Mengsk is compelling. We see a fanatic group who is looking out for the long term but also driven by a corrupt ego.

The Zerg – At this point we only know of them as a possible creation of the Confederacy. Can’t wait to play their campaign next. In this they function well as the very real threat that both sides use against one another.

Okay: The Confederacy – They are there, but we don’t know much about them beyond their experimentation with the Zerg on the outer Terran colonies. They are more of a force to be overthrown, which is why we don’t even fight them in the final mission since Mengsk, the true antagonist is a much more interesting threat. I wanted to know more about them…it’s a shame we never get that.

The Protoss – Function as the unknown threat and force of nature. We see them as aliens, which works really well. I would have liked a little dialogue from them at least. We know nothing about them beyond their power.

The Cinematics – Most are random rednecks getting killed by Zerg. Only good ones are the downing of the Norad II by the Zerg since it relates directly to the story and Mengsk’s coronation speech which is amazing.

So, how does Episode 1 of the Terran Campaign of the Original Starcraft hold up? Really well. I liked all the characters, and the only things I would have changed is adding a Confederate character outside of Duke to interact with and adding a Protoss character that you or Kerrigan discovers in her mission where she destroys them. Something to show them as more than a faceless threat. The last mission is hard and a lot of fun and made me want to keep on playing to see how the story unfolds compared to what I remember from it before. Regardless, I definitely recommend.

Final score for Episode 1 of the Terran Campaign of the Original Starcraft is: 8.8 / 10