Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC

Release Date:

27 July 2010

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty features three rival factions: the gritty, gutty Terrans; the slithering, swarming Zerg; and the psionic, cybernetic Protoss. The single-player campaign focuses on the scrappy Terrans, led by Jim Raynor, in a narrative spanning 29 missions. To help those new to the StarCraft universe, a number of mini-games are included to introduce key tactics and strategies. While the presentation has changed, Wings of Liberty's mechanics are similar in design to the original StarCraft, relying on the traditional real-time strategy framework of resource gathering, structure building, and unit generation. New troops, ships, and technology are included for each faction, as are an assortment of tweaks and upgrades to familiar faces.

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Even before its release, Starcraft II Wings of Liberty has already been one of the most hyped games ever; more likely because of the tremendous popularity of its predecessor, the original Starcraft. The agonizing wait came to an end and the result is simply astounding - a game par excellence. It is absolutely worth the excruciating wait. Be aware though that it still isn't a perfect game. Despite the extensive improvements from the original, there are still a few flaws and it certainly isn't the be all and end all of video games everywhere.

The new version is a lot like the original at its most basic level but so many adjustments have also been made; the most obvious of which is the single-player campaign, which basically boil down to the solo-portion focus on the Terran. In other words, you don't get to play the Zerg and Protoss campaigns until much later (well, except in some instances and missions) when the next installment is released. Hopefully, Blizzard won't take another 12 years to do that. While the decision to split the entire story is a really disappointing one and affects some of the game's impact, it doesn't necessarily mean that there's not enough meat here. The game is a huge campaign that can take any number of hours to finish, depending on your style and the level of difficulty. With a completely revamped narrative and inter-mission upgrades options, it actually feels like the series of missions exist solely to prepare you for the greatest obstacles in Multiplayer.

The Missions, ranging from attacking to defending and surviving certainly challenge you to think of new strategies; there simply is no room for boredom in this game. The ability to customize holds a lot of appeal but it's mainly the captivating design that gets you hooked. Putting in so many missions yet giving each one a unique feel is no mean feat but Blizzard has beautifully achieved this. Every mission can be dissected into basic and recognizable commando, defense and assault task types but a special element is always thrown in within each of these. A good example is a giant wave of fire gradually sweeping across a particular map, forcing you to relocate your base frequently while pursuing your objectives. Other times you'd only have one unit to control and must therefore stealth into enemy territory with only AI controlled allies to rely on in wiping out detectors, so you can proceed with the snipe-slice-nuke strategy to bring down your enemies into submission. Seasoned RTS players should really bump up the difficulty level to Hard for a more challenging experience as Normal is pretty easy. Regardless of the level, though; the game is just extremely fun with the diversity that each mission objective provides.

The 2.5D graphics that Starcraft used back in 1998 looked fine; but with the colossal 3D changes, this latest offering has graphics that are simply stunning. Terrains and buildings have that fantastic realistic feel to it that you'd think you are actually on another planet. The cut scenes are absolutely fabulous. The game has done a perfectly wonderful job of being able to put heaps of great-looking units on the screen and blasting the hell out of everything. Veterans shouldn't have any problem as most of the units and buildings are echoes of the original Starcraft. But if you're a newbie, you may want to check first the many tutorial videos to get the hang of it and hone your skills; learn the hotkeys and when to use them. There's also a bit of a downside here though. Although the graphics are pre-rendered, they are still based on the applied settings; so if your computer is not quite high end, it may struggle to produce the great graphics result you expect.

The Multiplayer

Now comes the best part. The most intense part of Starcraft II is in the multiplayer portion and the games are nothing but awesome fun, even excitingly frantic at times. I'm particularly biased to how VoIP can make shoutcasting a better experience for competition - it certainly adds up to the adrenaline rush, if you ask me. The catch to this is you need to connect through to get in the game. Unfortunately, there's no LAN, which is really frustrating to many. The good news is that if you don't have a reliable Internet connection, you can at least log on to offline and play the single player. You won't earn any Achievement points this way but at least you can still play; it's still a lot better than most products these days that require you to be constantly online even to play on your own. has no chat rooms, so either you prearrange your choice of people you want to play with from those you already know or pick out people you don't know from the score screen. You might be interested to know that 2.0 has a new system that can systematically match your skill level with opponents and automatically pair you with these players.

The gameplay has so improved that everything now moves a lot faster and smoother; its speed really makes Starcraft I look like a crawl. Likewise the races have changed quite a bit; combats are faster and definitely run more smoothly. Even though a lot of what you'd find in Startcraft II is quite familiar, you still have to figure things out with all the infused additions and tweaks.

You also have to be aware of some flaws that can hamper you from completely enjoying the delights of the game. Starcraft II, despite its being an RTS game, has extreme requirements. You had better not assume anything and make sure your computer can handle it. Moreover, you have to have that reliable Internet connection. Multiple accounts are practically non-existent - let me rephrase that: they are not allowed anymore; you only get to register one name and one name only, and that's it. If you hate your character later, that's really just too bad because you are stuck with it. So be careful when making a choice.

It's not like Blizzard trying to make some dramatic and drastic changes to Starcraft II. The core of the game has been well-preserved and is pretty much the same but with all the tweaks, new abilities and additional units the game can sure provide new approaches to more competitive battles. It may not be a big leap forward for the genre but Starcraft is certainly one of the most excellently crafted and most sophisticated real-time strategy games out there.

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