So Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty came out earlier this week; Just another PC game with no expectations, no fan base, and no legacy to live up to. All kidding aside, the multiplayer gave us a pretty good idea of how Starcraft II was going to play. What we didn’t know, however, is the amount of polish that awaited us in the campaign.
Starcraft II’s campaign is a vast improvement over the original. Wings of Liberty deals solely with the Terran story, specifically Jim Raynor. In the four years since the end of Brood War, Raynor has been labeled into an outlaw by Emperor Mengsk. While attempting to overthrow his corrupt rule, Kerrigan has returned with the Zerg to finish their full scale invasion of everything. Sufficed to say, there’s a lot going on here and Blizzard has treated us with plenty of cinematic cut scenes to tell the story, unlike being more tacked on in the original.
The amount of time spend on the campaign is immediately evident. Campaigns aren’t just a matter of building up an army to conquer your enemy. Instead, you have specific objectives to complete in each different campaign. Time will tell whether or not the variation continues, but for now there’s a lot of promise.
The most impressive aspect of the campaign is the amount of customization and depth found in the game. Classic Terran units, such as Firebats and Goliaths, make their return for use in your missions as rewards for completing specific missions. Every unit is available to upgrade as well, so while the story may not have, say, a Mass Effect type change regarding the choices you make, the methods of completing each objective are fully up to you. I decided to do more of a tactical approach on one mission, while my friend decided to overrun everything with power.
But if you’re like me, the campaign takes a back seat to the multiplayer. Through limited play, I’ve noticed a couple of things: first, there’s already an incredible amount of custom maps available. Second, the matchmaking system works quite impressively. After the game learns your skill level, it places you with opponents that are more evenly matched with you, ensuring you don’t get steamrolled 24/7. The one gripe I have is that the multiplayer metagame is completely catered towards rushes. Most games are won and lost within the first ten minutes. I don’t know if it’s the same for other skill levels, but for now, it’s a minor concern of mine.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty has that ‘it’ quality in a game where you lose track of time while playing. I picked it up promptly at midnight on release day. Next thing I know, it was 5 AM. I got some rest and got right back at it at 10 AM. Sufficed to say, I like what I’m seeing so far.