This review has been a long time in coming. That makes sense, because this nicely concludes a story that began to be told almost two decades ago. Like the last review, I wanted this one some time bounce around my head, and it also feels like yanking off a stubborn band aid. I marathoned this series from its beginnings on the Twentieth Century through to the end of this. And to meditate on it even more, I did it again!
StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void's gameplay is more of the same from the other installments. There were some new units (I think), but I was too busy
enjoying analyzing the story and nerding out about seeing so many Protoss up close to notice. I think it ended much better than Mass Effect did. I predicted it would reflect the original Protoss campaign, as Wings of Liberty did with the Terran campaign and Heart of the Swarm with the Zerg one. I was wrong.
At the end of the last game, I did not know why Zeratul was so fearful of going back to his people. I thought that maybe he know that they were mad because he killed the matriarch. Maybe he was just being a senile old man. It turns out they are mad because he accidentally showed Auir's location to the Overmind, causing them to hold Zeratul accountable for their homeland's loss.
Unfortunately, he interrupted Artanis' speech about
invading reclaiming their home. Zeratul told them not to, and instead focus on invading the void, where the darkness comes. He claimed that their ancestral pride was delusional and destructive.
Zeratul was right, and paid for it. As soon as the invasion began, the Protoss discovered at great cost that one of the defining features of their species was a trap. The foundations of their civilization that had brought them so much (that wasn't already destroyed) turned out to be lies, and the trap sprang.
Artanis (you) flees to regroup and rethink, only to help others stop their worlds from burning. Artanis starts to gather some buddies, and even a Tal'darim lord joins in. It turns out the 'evil' Protoss will talk to you if you're Protoss too, and especially if he knows his god has betrayed his people, and thinks you can help.
This "god" of theirs is a Xel'Naga that lives in the void. The Xel'Naga created all life in the galaxy, and intended to hide away, sleeping for untold millenia. Everyone thought they were dead. Instead they waited for two species with purity of form and another with purity of essence to find them (retcon?). When they did, they would be granted godhood, or something. But this god had other plans. He was the one who manipulated and drove the Protoss to be who they are, and he created the Zerg Overmind to find and assimilate the Protoss. In so doing, the god would have a corporeal hybrid form built for him to walk among and consume the stars.
Artanis eventually got his people and his home back, destroyed the hybrid body, and banished the alleged god back into the void. He couldn't be destroyed, because the universe turned out to be a figment of Duran's imagination (or something), so he couldn't be destroyed in it. I kept playing, and solved that problem, too.
The good hybrid turned out to be real, and happened to be someone we know. The Protoss couldn't do, because the bad guy engineered them. The Swarm couldn't either. But the primal Zerg were pure and untouched by evil, as were the Terrans. Kerrigan was cleansed from the Swarm, became Terran again, and was redone as a primal Zerg. The penultimate Xel'Naga gave her his essence, then she went off to end it all in a blaze of light.
The Daelaam (unified Protoss minus Tal'darim) rebuilt their home, and allied with the Terran Dominion. The Dominion changed so fast, began to prosper, and even Raynor and his guys joined up. The Zerg claimed their worlds, and didn't bother anyone. And all alone in Joeyray's bar on Mar Sara, Raynor sipped a drink and reminisced, when Sarah walked in and asked if he was ready to go. It seemed like everyone everywhere lived happily ever after.
Although I knew what needed to be done, I didn't expect it to end up quite like how it did. It's unsettling to know that the last thing that happened in StarCraft completely removed reality from perilous existential peril. That's not how StarCraft is supposed to work! For the longest time, entire game series were concieved, sequelized, and died, but all we had was Brood War! You could almost borrow money against the fact that the StarCraft universe was a catastrophe away from complete annihilation.
No, you don't understand. Back in the day, StarCraft was my thing. You know how a lot of people nerd out over Star Wars? I was like that with this. If it didn't fit into the neat little model of units going around a map with the existing units, it was difficult for me to believe. But for all I knew, StarCraft might have well been real. Yes, I got a little too far into it. This end is something that I thought would never come. It's going to take some time to come to terms with it.
Goodbye Sarah. Goodbye Jimmy. It was good to know you.