StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty had a lot of things stacked against it. Hype, for one. But for me, personally, there were a whole other set of obstacles. Firstly, I never played the original game. I’m also not a fan of RTS titles. That’s strike two. And finally, I rarely ever play PC games. See what I mean when I say StarCraft 2 had some serious odds to overcome?
But consider me shocked that not only did I like StarCraft 2, I loved it.
There are a lot of things that make StarCraft 2 such an enjoyable game to play, even for the non-die-hard fans. For starters, the game has a fantastic presentation that begins with the easy to maneuver, intuitive menu system that allows you to continue your campaign, play multiplayer matches, chat with friends and view your achievements. The entire layout is top notch and visually beautiful.
The stellar presentation continues on to StarCraft 2’s campaign. StarCraft 2 features a hub-world that lets you interact with the crew of your ship, purchase upgrades for your units/buildings/tech, play an arcade mini-game, and replay cinematics/missions. From my understanding, this is a completely new addition to StarCraft that wasn’t featured in the original title. And this hub-world just so happens to be one of my favorite aspects of StarCraft 2.
This is because the hub-world gives StarCraft 2 a very Mass Effect 2 feel between missions. Interacting with crew members builds stronger character relationships and paints a more detailed world for the player. Beating a level in the game was a happy experience–not only because I won–but because I got the chance to return to my ship and play Chatty Cathy with my crew. That was half the fun of the game’s campaign.
I was also surprised to find a ton of mission variety in StarCraft 2. Maybe it’s just me, but I always pictured RTS titles as being “here’s your base, there’s the enemy’s, now clash until one team wins.” StarCraft 2 isn’t like that. You’ll be doing missions that range from evacuations and escorts, to defending positions and great train robberies (seriously). You’ll also be able to progress through the game’s campaign however you see fit, selecting missions in the order that tickles your fancy.
For those worried that Blizzard was ripping you off by breaking the entire StarCraft 2 story into three separate games and labeling it a “trilogy,” fear not. The campaign of Wings of Liberty–even being completely Terran focused–is still quite long, providing 26 missions that range from twenty minutes to an hour plus.
At no point during the game’s campaign did I feel ripped off by Blizzard’s decision to split StarCraft 2 into three separate games. However, I do feel multiplayer suffers from the decision. But most likely that’s because I never played the original game.
Unless I played online as the Terran, I got my ass kicked. Wings of Liberty has short gameplay tutorials for the other two races (Zerg and Protoss), but they don’t prepare you for the people who have played this game online for twelve years. Playing StarCraft 2 online as a newbie is like playing Counter-Strike for the first time. You’re basically screwed.
However, just like with any good online multiplayer game, it just takes time, patience and practice to get better. It might be a crawl, but eventually you will pick up the tricks and trade secrets to counter any type of attack from any race. StarCraft 2 is balanced like that. It just takes a commitment.
My only other nitpick with StarCraft 2 is that load times run a little long. Like “did my game just freeze” long. Maybe it’s just my machine, or that I’m super impatient, but either way, shorter would have been better. Obviously.
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty exceeded my expectations. By miles. The last few days I’ve been making the rounds, calling my friends and asking them if they’ve picked up the game yet. Their usual response goes something like, “Wait, I thought you hated RTS games AND never played the original?” I tell them StarCraft 2 made me put aside my ignorance and intolerance for the genre, it’s that good. Some people have known for over a decade that StarCraft is an amazing RTS series. I’m just now jumping in the pool. And as promised, the water is very, very nice. In this console centric day and age, PC gamers don’t get many victories. StarCraft 2 is definitely one of them. Console gamers should be jealous because this PC exclusive is one of the best games this year.