So late last night I finished my first playthrough of Starcraft 2's campaign mode. I figured I'd come over to the my little corner of the Internet and share my thoughts.
I love Blizzard games. I've played just about every Warcraft game. I played through both of the original Starcraft games. And I still struggle with latent urges to go back to World of Warcraft (the fact that they included two free 10-day passes with Starcraft 2 definitely did not help!). I was a bit ambivalent about getting Starcraft 2 initially. It had been close to a decade since I played the originals. But hey, I still had fond memories of the original and I figured I'd have to try out the new one.
In this long-anticipated sequel, the gamer plays as Jim Raynor, former Confederate marshal and now a rebel against the Terran Dominion. Jim is haunted by memories of his former girlfriend, Sarah Kerrigan, now the vile Queen of Blades and leader of the Zerg. Through a series of missions, you must lead your forces against both the Zerg and the Terran Dominion and occasionally the elusive Protoss, culminating in a massive showdown that could radically alter the course of the galaxy.
I was actually surprised at how complex the story of this game was. The original Starcraft games had decent stories, I suppose. Again, it's been a while since I've played them so I can't say for certain. What set the sequel apart were the numerous video cutscenes included in the story. They had little video snippets between every mission that drove forward the story.
What I did find odd was Blizzard's choice to only put in the Terran storyline. In the first two games, players were given three different storylines to play, one as the Terrans, one as the Zerg, and one as the Protoss. But in this game, you only play as the Terrans in the campaign (although there are about half a dozen missions where you play as the Protoss, which was a nice surprise). I'm not sure if I'm complaining about that or not. On the one hand, it worked okay, I suppose. The story they told was able to be longer and a bit more complex. But I do miss being able to play through a campaign to get a feel for a race's units. I know what the Terran units can do, by and large. I have an inkling about the Protoss units. I have no idea how the Zerg units function yet. If I had a Zerg campaign mode (or even one level) to play, I'd feel more confident choosing them, but oh well. I'm griping a bit, I know. From what I understand, the story will continue in future installments that focus on only the Zerg and the Protoss. At this time, I'm not sure if I'll be getting those. Price will be a big factor.
One of the cool additions is the fact that at the end of most quest lines, you're given a choice. Do you side with person A or person B. Apparently this alters how the final mission plays out and subtly changes the story (I'm guessing) and what units you have available. This means that to see everything, I'll have to go back and replay the entire story again, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
They also encourage replaying through their achievements system. I've earned a few making it through the first time, but there are achievements that you can only get by playing levels a certain way on certain difficulties, meaning that if I want to be obsessive and try to get them all, I'll have to start at the beginning and fight for them.
In terms of graphics, the game is a lot more flashy and beautiful. Rather than being stuck in only two dimensions, the game now utilizes three. There are times when only certain units can get to a place to finish a job. The individual levels are varied in terms of their locations and objectives. I didn't ever feel like I was playing cookie-cutter levels where the developers simply swapped out environments or changed one word to make a mission different.
I haven't spent a lot of time doing custom games against the AI and I definitely haven't wandered into the on-line play yet. I know I'd wind up getting my posterior handed to me quickly. I'm also aware that there are some long-time fans who are upset with what Blizzard didn't include in the sequel. They removed things such as LAN matches, the original chatrooms, and so on. I'm not sure that's fit-worthy, but then, I never attended a LAN party before, so I can't say for certain.
What I do know is this: I enjoyed my time back with Raynor's Raiders and I may just have to keep my eyes open for the next installment. Could be fun.