By Sarumarine 4 Comments
I managed to beat StarCraft: Brood War for the first time today and completed my play through of the original StarCraft games. There's a big gap from the first game compared to this expansion pack in a lot of ways, most strikingly is the difficulty. I had never beaten Brood War for good reason until now, so I have a lot to say about this new and improved add on.
I feel the need to mention that there are spoilers in this post. I was surprised by the number of people who mentioned they were playing through StarCraft and Brood War for the first time in my last blog entry, so I kinda felt guilty dropping major plot points without thinking twice. So, if you somehow don't know what happens in Brood War and don't want it spoiled, I would recommend against reading further.
StarCraft: Brood War (Sarah Kerrigan vs. the Universe) For the most part, Brood War is a much better (and more exciting) game compared to the first installment. Blizzard has a lot more fun with map triggers and in-game cut-scenes so missions are a lot more memorable. They're also pretty good about mixing things up and throwing a lot of crazy army configurations together (both with your forces and the computer's). I find the new characters are a lot more entertaining than the previous cast in some ways. And the things your player characters for each race get away with story wise is just awesome. To put it simply, you get a lot of stuff done in this game. Not to mention, each race gets some new units and a bunch of new upgrades to keep it fresh.
The trade off is that this game is much harder. I mean, it's god damn hard. Where StarCraft was nice enough to ease you into things, Brood War kicks off the training wheels and throws you down a cliff while Kerrigan laughs the entire time. The Computer AI has gotten a complete overhaul to make use of the new units and a lot of the old spell casting units from the first game. It's downright vicious. There is no better example of this than the Zerg Campaign. But I'll get to that eventually.
Protoss CampaignThe first big change of Brood War is starting with the Protoss this time around. Since they're the first campaign, it's not as tough as the one from StarCraft. I had a much better time with these missions because of how varied they are. You'll still fight a lot of Zerg, but there's also some Terran engagements and you only spend one mission fighting Protoss (and no Stasis Lock spam!). It's great. Helping the entertainment value of the Protoss are the new units. The permanently cloaked Dark Templars are tons of fun as they ninja their way around the maps. And you can have a lot of stupid fun with the Brainwash abilities of the Dark Archon on the last mission. If you can snag a Zerg Drone, you can build a Zerg army with every unit and tech upgrade available to you. Mass produce Lurkers like they're going out of style.
Favorite Protoss Mission: Return to Char
| Return to Char is one of my favorite missions in the game because of how weird it is. You get to control a full Protoss army and a decent, but limited, Zerg army. This leads to all sorts of crazy combos like a full Zergling rush followed up by Dragoons and Archons. Or a carrier fleet backed up by Mutalisks and Overlords. You could bring in a flock of queens to cover Zealots marching on a bunch of Ultralisks. |
The number of ways to have fun in this mission only gets better where you can choose how to beat it. You can either navigate a canyon lined by a bazillion Spore Colonies or go visit an (new) old friend and wreck his shit. I think this was the first time I really had lots of fun playing Protoss in the story mode... and that's probably because I had the option to use Zerg to spice things up.
However, Blue Zerg is really, really ugly.
Terran CampaignThis is my favorite campaign in all of StarCraft. The Terran missions in Brood War are so much fun that I kinda regretted not starting with them in the first place. Basically, you play as the earth-based UED as they attempt to take control the Koprulu System. They run through major objectives like checking off items on a shopping list. Where Raynor and Mengsk took 10 missions to put down the Confederacy in StarCraft, the UED overthrow Mengsk and enslave the Overmind in 8. It helps that they're staffed by a bunch of badasses. I mean Admiral DuGalle is one "engage" away from being a Jean Luc Picard stand-in, and his No.2 is my favorite space Russian, Alexi Stukov. Working for these guys is great, and the only reason things end badly for them is because Kerrigan is simply more badass than they are.
Anyway, this campaign wastes no time getting to the good stuff. You get to hijack Battlecruisers in the second mission. By the fourth, you're launching nukes. For the fifth mission, you decide if you want to play counter-Nuclear Ops. or have epic Battlecruiser fleet showdowns. The game starts to get really hard by this point, but the missions are so well done that I didn't really mind the spike in difficulty. The last mission is particularly awesome considering you face off against the meanest Ultralisk ever. The Torrasque strikes unadulterated fear whenever I hear it coming for my base.
Favorite Terran Mission: The Emperor's Flight
| The introduction to this mission has so much style that I really started to enjoy the way the UED operates. Basically, a bunch of Siege Tanks and Valkyries blitz a small Zerg colony to wipe it out. Next thing you know, an entire base is air lifted to your location. The rest involves competing with two Zerg forces and a Protoss army. They spend a bit of time fighting each other, so you can build up and destroy all of them however you want. I love the way this map is designed and the area you build your base leaves a lot of room to set up cliff-high bunkers and Siege Tanks with superior ground. You also get to play with the new Anti-air Valkyrie unit (that fires a shit ton of missiles). |
What's probably my favorite aspect of this mission is the free-for-all atmosphere it runs on. I was never quite sure who would try to attack my base next. Not to mention, I absolutely love dropping EMP on Archons and killing them in two shots.
Zerg Campaign (It's Tough to Be the Villain -or- Those Goddamn Science Vessels!)All the fun I had with the Terrans was quickly off-set in the Zerg Campaign where the game suddenly becomes brutally (nearly soul crushingly) hard. I mean, god damn. I'm reduced to profanity every time I think about it. It was probably made worse considering I'm not great with Zerg, so playing missions that demand flawless Zerg play is an exercise in extreme frustration. It seriously seems like someone at Blizzard had it out for anyone who skated by the final campaign from StarCraft and made sure that they would lose more than a few times trying to beat the game. The AI you go up against is loaded for bear, fully prepared to harass the hell out of you with every thing it can build or cast. Science Vessels with Irradiate are out in full force and comin' to get your Overlords! The last mission is so completely insane that... I'm not even sure how I managed to beat it. Holy Stukov, Admiral DuGalle, I used to think you were cool until you started shoving Battlecruisers up my ass!
However, the extreme difficulty of Brood War's last campaign made it clear to me that you play as the most badass Cerebrate the StarCraft universe has ever seen. Seriously, you play as the Chuck Norris of the Zerg. Kerrigan plays a pretty good boss casually making HUGE demands of your time on a regular basis... and you get out there and do it. It's like... Hey Cerebrate, retake Korhal from the UED all by yourself. "Not even a challenge." Hey Cerebrate, go kill two important story characters for me. "Got it, I'll be right back." Hey Cerebrate, go kill the UED's pet Overmind with a bunch of Dark Templars I scammed while you get hammered by waves of Siege Tanks, Guardians, Scourge and Battlecruisers. "Did it yesterday!" Hey Cerebrate, go fight everyone I ever pissed off ALL AT ONCE, COMPLETELY ALONE. "Wait... what? Hold on."
The Zerg Campaign is a far cry from fun, but beating it will give you a sense of accomplishment not found in the original StarCraft. And you get a pretty neat cinematic featuring old ass record players and lugers.
Favorite Zerg Mission: Reign of Fire
| The Zerg Campaign gets so damn hard later on that it's only natural that my favorite mission is the second one. It's a fairly easy map where you have to destroy a certain building to win but the real draw is the ability to snag some advanced Zerg strains hanging around your starting area. It seems innocent enough, a few Hunter Killers (tougher Hydralisks) and a Devouring Ones (tougher Zerglings). But if you explore long enough you can eventually find one of the best surprises in the game. |
You can find and command the fucking Torrasque.
The near unstoppable behemoth from the last Terran mission is now your near unstoppable behemoth. Once you get your hands on the Torrasque he can nearly destroy the entire enemy Terran base all by himself. Give the Torrasque some Hunter Killer and Devouring One back-up and you practically don't even need to build a single unit to win. This was the highlight of the Zerg Campaign for me, because the rest of it is downhill as it spirals into maddening territory.
Still, the Torrasque! How awesome is that? Totally awesome! Like, nuclear launch awesome!
Other ThoughtsBrood War feels much more complete than StarCraft, despite being an expansion pack with not as many missions. I suppose looking back, StarCraft can feel like a big tutorial at times where your only objective is "kill the other guys". The difficulty in Brood War can be insane by comparison, but it introduced some cool units and had a story where a lot of important things happened. The Bombcast mentioned how StarCraft II marginalized Brood War while recapping the story, and I guess I can understand why. There are a few weird things that occur like Zerg Cerebrates fusing to become a new Overmind by jumping in a big love pile. The Dark Templars go from being nomads to having a home world that can be accessed by a Warp Gate... but those feel like minor issues compared to all the other awesome things that happen in this game.
Favorite New Unit: The Zerg Lurker
| Brood War added a bunch of new units for each race and as much as I play Terran, the Medic is kind of annoying to use and I can never justify spending money on the Valkyrie when I can just make Charon boosted Goliaths or Battlecruisers. So, my favorite new unit is the Zerg Lurker. |
I love the Lurker because it feels a lot like a Siege Tank with shorter range. Considering how much I love Siege Tanks, finding out that the Zerg have a siege unit that can burrow underground was an easy sell. I love making a bunch of these guys and positioning them near choke points or running them into the middle of a base and letting loose. Through the Zerg Campaign, I was always impressed by their ability to cut up Zerglings like it was no big deal. Hydralisks don't fare much better and Lurkers are pretty good at discouraging Ultralisks.
I hear that Lurkers don't return in StarCraft II and that's a damn shame.