Tag Archives: The Dark Templar

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

Advertisements

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

 Hydralisk_SC1_Art2

“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.

SCC-3

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.

Overmind_SC2_Art1