StarCraft 2: Wings Of Liberty

Recently, the first StarCraft 2 expansion came out. That has drawn me back into playing not just that, but the original, too. I have been reflecting a bit on a few things.

Jim Raynor and his troops on Mar Sara

The campaign in Wings Of Liberty is quite reminiscent of the Terran campaign in the original StarCraft. Hell, you even start off with Jim Raynor at Backwater Station on Mar Sara! Afterwards, you start going after ancient artifacts for money. Along the way, Miss Kerrigan shows up, and the whole campaign becomes a rescue-the-princess story. Oh, and Jim's friend Zeratul shows up at some point, allowing you some time with the Protoss in the campaign.

The structure of the campaign is somewhat non-linear, as you can choose to do the next in a subplot at nearly any time. You can go to practically the end of one, but not touch another. This can be quite useful, as missions unlock different units that might make your life easier in another subplot. You can also get research points that can add rather cool features to your buildings and units, but only for the campaign.

As far as the gameplay, it's more StarCraft: three very unique sides that are somehow balanced to a fine point. There's plenty of units that are in the single player missions that are not present anywhere else (like Firebats). It seems that Zerg Overlords are not detectors anymore (no one told me), something that I paid dearly for once. There are also certain balance changes, like Hydralisks and Medics taking two supply rather than one.

The graphical style is interesting. It definitely leans more towards the cartoony and saturated side of the spectrum, rather than the grittiness that the original had. And everyone complains about the grittiness in today's games! LOL! I really appreciated that the Terrans looked straight out of the trailer park and that everything was about to fall apart, but now they just look... chubby. The Protoss seemed very golden and geometric, and like the Terrans, have exaggerated proportions, but they also seem taller. I love the look of the Zerg in number two, as the bases look convincingly alive.

The game looks absolutely stunning. It uses a deferred renderer, and since this game was not made with consoles even being suggested, it takes advantage of advanced animation and texture resolution. Jacking up everything to the max gave my old GTX 285 a run for its life during the cut scenes. It needs a multicore processor, as one of my friends old single core laptop struggled under low settings.

In the time since it has been out, I've attempted to port some maps that I and some friends made in the original, but since the building proportions have changed dramatically, that's not exactly possible. It seems that we measured out many features by hand, and built maps around those.

Bottom line: if you like RTS, get it. Last I checked, it is forty bucks.

Posted under Gaming.

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