Tag Archives: Terran

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void – Gameplay Over Story

 “Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void” is the perfect point of gameplay over story, which is a shame because this is a story that is trying to do a lot. The game it is most similar too is probably “Mass Effect 3” with Moebius Corp as Cerberus and Hybrids and Void entities as Reapers with an ending that isn’t really set up all that well and putting drama and rule of cool over character choices that actually make sense. The gameplay is top notch, like “Mass Effect 3” too. The one thing that puts it above “Mass Effect 3” for me though is that the character choices do make some level of sense in the end (the exception being the Epilogue) and that is where Blizzard showed themselves to be better storytellers than EA/Bioware in this instance. I’ll get into what I mean deeper into the review.

The story picks up where we left off with Amon coming into the Universe. We first follow Zeratul who witnesses his rebirth and escapes to warn Executor Artanis who is about to begin the retaking of Aiur with the Golden Fleet. Things soon go awry when Amon takes control of the Khala forcing Artanis on the run as he must unite different Protoss factions against Amon’s forces and the Golden Fleet, Amon now controls.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Universe – I love the universe of “Starcraft” and the main campaign does such an amazing job exploring it and giving so many more layers to the Protoss as a people. We meet more factions, see just how powerful Amon is and how insidious his influence is as well as see how difficult it is for a people to change as this is the game that at the core is about the Protoss changing as a species as the only way to defeat Amon is to make an Alliance between the remaining protoss factions and defeat Amon’s armies as well as making sure he never enters into the physical realm from void.

The Transformation of the Protoss – The main arc of this game storywise is the Transformation of the Protoss. In this we see how the challenges to the Caste System and the Khala which began in the first game with the Dark Templar rejoining their Aiur breathren against the Zerg, and continues even further with a Preserver who advises Artanis and reacts negativly to all the Alliances he forms with the Nerazim (Protoss Sith Lords basically, Purifiers – AI Protoss and the Dark Templar). He constantly challenges her assumptions and shows it was the old ways that lead to the Overmind defeating them in the first place and that her holding onto the Khala is causing Amon to possess and destroy her. It is a great arc and we see them come together as one in the final fight against Amon before he can gain a body.

The Hero’s Journey of Artanis – The main journey is that of Artanis as he steps up to the mantel of leadership and must face his insecurities and guilt, as when Amon possess him he kills Zeratul before Zeratul can free him, and this is after Zeratul warned him that Aiur had already fallen to Amon and that he was going into a trap. He carries this forward and does everything can can to broker peace among the Protoss factions and within himself and new allies challenge him to become a better leader and introduce him to new perspectives that he integrates through the course of the story.

John De Lancie’s Alarak – Alarak is part of Tal’darim, the enemy Protoss introduced in “Wings of Liberty” who worship Amon and are apocalyptic in their aims. They are essentially Protoss Sith as their philosophy is based on dominance and strength and they care for nothing but the individual. Alarak is a shining example of this as he only joins with Artanis when he realizes that Amon will destroy them when his intentions are revealed so he goes to take control of the Tal’darim and bring the war to Amon. He is a hilarious character who has so much sass. Anyone he talks to, he shuts down and in the end he goes his own way as well, refusing to rebuild on Aiur and rejoin his people. He’s a punk who is powerful and fun and really shows just how diverse the Protoss are in mindset.

The Protoss Factions – There are the Purifiers who are A.I. who gained sentience and rebelled and must trust their organic counterparts again (and one hold Fenix’s memories), the Dark Templar lead by Voruzan (who really should have gotten more development in this game), the Preserver of the Spear of Adun who holds onto the old ways and history, a Phase-Smith who becomes a hero and Templar rising in his caste and Alarak, the sassy Tal’darim who is in an Alliance of convenience with our heroes. I loved clicking them and getting their perspectives in the different scenes. Each showed just how layered and complex the Protoss are a species.

Unit Choices in Battle – As you recruit different factions you can choose what units you can bring into battle. Tal’darim have damage based unit types, Aiur Protoss are about shields, Purifiers are strong units and the Dark Templar are the infiltrators. Depending on the mission different units will serve you better. This was a lot of fun and gave a different dynamic to how to go about completing missions.

Mission Variety – This game has the best mission variety out of all the different Starcraft IIs. Whether it was defending resources and moving to different gather points on a moving metal disk, stopping a base from crashing into the Dominion homeworld and having to repair and defend it, a countdown to prevent Amon from getting his body and countless others. All of them were a lot of fun and felt epic in scale.

Co-op Missions – Co-op campaigns are what kept me coming back after finishing the main campaign. In Co-op games you choose a hero and level them up as you face off against Amon’s forces. Kerrigan was the first I leveled up fully as you use her abilities that strengthen her and the unit composition of her army. Since release there have been many more released with my favorite new character being Dehaka who leads a pack of Primal Zerg. The fact that each commander is different keeps the game interesting since I haven’t really done multiplayer. I seriously recommend Co-op. It is the best example of how great the gameplay got in “Legacy of the Void.”

The Cons: Rule of Cool – One of the annoying things about this game was how often it went to “Rule of Cool,” like “Mass Effect 3” did on countless occasions when ever Cerberus was involved. The best example of this are the times that Artanis goes in alone. He is leading his entire species and he refuses to let anyone come with him. I get the Protoss are honor bound but the entire Universe is at stake. This is how the Rule of Cool can become the Rule of Stupid. To create a cool looking fight characters will do stupid things to bring about impossible battles and due to plot armor will win. I hate that type of garbage storytelling and a few of the cutscenes were just that.

The Epilogue – The epilogue is a lot of fun to play, you get to play with the Protoss, Terran and Zerg armies. First with the Protoss as you fight Narud in the Void, second the Terran as you defend Kerrigan turning into a Xel’Naga and finally as the the Zerg and Kerrigan where you break down Amon’s defenses so that Kerrigan can kill him. It is gameplay over story as there is one missing Xel’Naga who was trapped for some reason and turns Kerrigan into a Xel’Naga / God. It is so silly. The only things I liked about it was the combat and the fact that Kerrigan saw it as a way to atone for her sins as the Queen of Blades. This is the only way it worked, and I did like the afterword that Zagara as the Overqueen leading the new Swarm. Still was mostly stupid, the fight against Amon should have been the main mission given how dangerous he is. Making it an epilogue made the story that they set up in Wings of Liberty feel rushed and poorly thought out.

“Legacy of the Void,” for all of the flaws it has is well worth your time. Gameplaywise it is the best of the Trilogy and storywise has the main flaws that littered the entire Trilogy with rushed setups and failure to have payoffs. They did kill off Zeratul which for me puts it above “Wings of Liberty” in story though. This story did take risks, and the overall theme of uniting the Protoss in the main campaign was fantastic. In the end I’d rate it slightly below “Heart of the Swarm” but above “Wings of Liberty.” The Epilogue hurts the final score the most as does Rule of Cool but it is still a game that I can’t help but recommend. I haven’t played the Nova DLC but if I do that will be a future review. For now, Blizzard had a good end to their series, even if it failed to reach greatness in the final chapter/Epilogue.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

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Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty – A Bit of Revolution and about Time

  “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” was a game I’d been waiting for, for a long time. It was the original “Starcraft” series that got me into RTS games and also was a huge influence on my love of science fiction stories. I still remember playing through the game for the first time at my friend’s place in college on his computer as I saw just how awesome the campaign was, I’d been waiting for this game for a long time. Years later after a second playthrough, I still really enjoy this game, but the flaws are much more apparent as well as what it misses that “Brood War” and the original “Starcraft” brought to story. I’ll do an overall comparison after reviewing all the games of “Starcraft II.”

The story picks up with war beginning again as Raynor’s Raiders seek to overthrow Mengsk and stop Kerrigan’s Swarm. This involves putting news of Mengsk’s betrayal out to the world while taking on Zerg and Dominion forces and seeking Xel’Naga artifacts for the Mobius Foundation as they may be the key to taking out Kerrigan’s Swarm.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: Gameplay – The gameplay is a lot of fun. There is a great variety of strategy to each of the campaigns and how you use your hero units and troops. You can outlast and go all out with a large fully upgraded force, or push forward with any level of balanced forces. It’s extremely enjoyable and there is a reason that even after years of not playing this game I couldn’t put it down once I started playing it again.

Mission Variety – There is a great amount of mission variety, from a prison breakout where you defend a giant Odin piloted by Jim’s friend Tychus, a choice to do a ground based hero mission on Char or Air Assault against Kerrigan’s Swarm and some racing against the clock where you save civilians before Kerrigan destroys you. You also have a huge Prophecy side quest with Zeratul discovering Kerrigan’s role and the what the oncoming destruction will be and how to stop it. These are small hero driven missions.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is wonderful and captures the old west feel of the Terran as well as the tension of war, the threat of the Swarm of the mystery of the Protoss. It has a lot of salutes to the original soundtrack while still remaining to be it’s own thing.

The Universe – The Universe is the same wonderful one from past games except that it gives us more characters and reestablishes there has been some stability after the “Brood War” as the Dominion is now one of the core powers once more and the Swarm is a large threat while the Protoss as a power are scattered. I love this Universe and it was wonderful to jump into it agai as Jim Raynor, even if some of the characters really annoyed me and felt cheap compared to the characters of games past. You get flavors of the Universe in news reports from the Dominion Channel and witness one corrupt news anchor fall apart as another with integrity rises, mirroring Jim Raynor’s own journey through the campaign.

The Complex Rogues – The complex rogues are the best part of this game…whether it is Zeratul as the Dark Wizard seeking to keep back the end, even if it means saving Kerrigan, the woman has meant nothing but destruction for his people, Tychus as the Merc who believes in Jim but also wants to be free so will kill Kerrigan if given the chance and of course Gabriel Tosh, the rogue spectre seeking to overthrow Mengsk who also helps you through Zeratul’s visions. These are easily the best characters in the game with Jim as the rogue trying to do the right thing in the difficult situations he is put in. Hell Valerian Mengsk (Emperor Mengsk’s son) is even complex in his own way as he wants to find a way to fix infestation and in doing so be a better savior to his humanity than his father ever was. These characters drove the story and made me click them for conversations when you are the Battle Cruiser “Hyperion.”

Okay: Prophecy and Destiny – I don’t really like the idea of prophecy and destiny as all powerful beings like the Xel’Naga would have been destroyed if they could have seen the future. It also ends up giving plot armor to all of Kerrigan’s actions in “Brood War” and this game does not deal with the monster she currently is, instead we get mopey lovesick Raynor, which really hurt the storytelling as he gets a love interest out of it and it hurts Kerrigan’s agency in her actions.

The Cons: The One-Dimensional Characters – There are a few of these, with the worst offenders being the nerd stereotype Egon and the love interest scientist Ariel Hanson. They only function as plot devices to tell Raynor things and I never saw them as complete characters. Matt Horner is also this to some degree as he is the noble revolutionary, and we never get why. This was the disadvantage that comes with a large cast and so many characters really should have been developed that weren’t. This is the weakest of the the “Starcraft II” games because of this.

“Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” and is a great game I’d recommend. The gameplay and mission variety are absolutely wonderful and the complex rogues are a lot of fun to follow, even though I hate how prophecy turns some of them into some a certain level of plot device. If you haven’t played this game already and are a fan of RTS games, I highly recommend it. As a fan of the Starcraft Franchise, they would have had to really mess this up for me to hate it, but even as someone who was away from the game for years it is still a solidly great game worth time. It took long enough to make and if you have, it’s about damn time to play.

Final Score: 9 / 10 Solidly great.

Starcraft: Brood War Campaign Reviews

Brood_War

 

After finishing up the “Original Starcraft Campaign Reviews” I decided it was time to move on those of the expansion. They, like the original will be posted sporadically as this is for fun and a chance to review one of my favorite games…while at the same time seeing if the story holds up.

Blizzard has always been very good at expansions, “The Frozen Throne” of “Warcraft III” was better than the original “Warcraft III” in my opinion, and I remembered “Brood War” being better than the original Starcraft. Whether that is still the case now remains to be seen in both cases.

The characters of “Brood War” like the “Original Starcraft” are pretty amazing and part of what pulled me into the story, beyond the fun gameplay and civilizations. Blizzard has always done politics and mythology well.

After I complete the “Brood War Reviews” I’ll be doing a compare and contrast with the Original and giving them both a final score in finding which one is better. Reviewing videogames can be quite fun, especially when the storytellers are those at Blizzard. Thanks for joining me for the next adventure. Here goes the “Starcraft: Brood War Campaign Reviews.”

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

Campaigns of Starcraft Reviews – The Original Starcraft – Does the Story Still Hold Up?

Original Starcraft

If you didn’t already gather based off the movies I tend to review and love (sci. fi., comic book, martial arts fantasy, etc.) I am a nerd, and that includes games too. One idea I’ve been playing with and finally decided to do is to a playthrough of the original Starcraft. I won’t be doing Brood War and the two Starcraft II games until later since life is busy and this is more of a hobby, even if it inspires the stories I write.

Games are an interesting medium, especially Blizzard games, where Cinematic Videos are a major part of the story…as well as the videos that happen before and after a mission. This inspired me to see if the game still holds up since it was this game that inspired a science fiction universe I’ve been working on for a few years. When I think of my favorite characters of the past I think of Zeratul, Kerrigan, Fenix and the Protoss in general. These species were the species I took inspiration from when designing the dynamic between different civilizations in my sci. fi. Universe.

What I’ll be judging is what I judge with movies (characters, setting, cinematography, etc.), with the added addition of gameplay. I’ll be tacking each campaign individually and will be posting the Terran Campaign next. Once I finish the Zerg and Protoss campaign in full I will post and write about them and their overarching arc as well.

For me the big question, does the story hold up? Or was I simply blinded by nostalgia when I played it through High School and Middle School. Well, we shall see in the reviews. For now, welcome to the Campaigns of Starcraft reviews. A side project of Cameronmoviesandtv.