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StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Review

5
  • PC

If you're still at all invested in keeping up with StarCraft II, there's no reason you shouldn't have Heart of the Swarm.

A lot has changed for ol' Sarah Kerrigan.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was such a throwback to its seminal but aged RTS predecessor, it's fitting StarCraft is one of the few franchises still being extended out in the spirit of the old '90s boxed PC expansion pack. Heart of the Swarm is the first such add-on to StarCraft II, a robust $40 package that, quite frankly, gives you more StarCraft II in every way. At the risk of sounding overly reductive, if you spent any time at all with Wings of Liberty, you already know exactly how excited you should be to play Heart of the Swarm, or even whether you should play it at all.

StarCraft II might as well be two separate products in one box: the story-driven single-player RTS campaign, which is self-explanatory enough that anyone can play it, and a multiplayer mode so wildly fast-paced and complex that it's arguably the hardest video game, if not one of the hardest competitive activities period, to excel at on the planet. Luckily for everyone who wants to avoid falling down the multiplayer rabbit hole, Blizzard made the wise decision with Wings of Liberty to largely differentiate the content of the campaign from the multiplayer mode. That philosophy continues on here, giving you a new set of story missions centered around Kerrigan and the Zerg that's just as varied in design as the Terran campaign in the previous game.

At two-thirds the price of Wings of Liberty, it shouldn't be surprising that you get about two-thirds as many missions here, but each one features distinctive enough mechanics, objectives, and new units that your progression through the story is thoroughly satisfying. Just like in the last game, there's never an objective as simple as "build a big base and then go blow up the other guy's base" (and there are expanded options for skirmishes with AI if that's what you want). Each level places some interesting twist or restriction on map control, time limit, the way you acquire units, and so on, in the same style as the last game. If you've been playing multiplayer since that game came out, you'll find the campaign disappointingly easy on anything but the highest difficulty. But with that mission-to-mission variation and a nicely designed, multi-tiered upgrade system that might be more satisfying than in the previous game, this campaign here is just as much fun as the last one.

Would you believe this guy is one of the more likable characters in the campaign?

For better or worse, Heart of the Swarm's storytelling picks up and runs with the same tone and elements established in Wings of Liberty, which is to say there's way more focus on prophecies, artifacts, ancient aliens, and the somewhat out-of-left-field romantic cheese between Kerrigan and Jimmy Raynor, and less on the backstabbing, intrigue, and factional maneuvering of the old StarCraft games. The plot is moderately successful at creating a redemptive arc of sorts for Kerrigan, which is good since you're playing as her in this add-on, though some of the dialogue between Kerrigan and Raynor is laugh-out-loud goofy. Some other aspects of the campaign story are a bit ridiculous and hackneyed as well, and if you've played many Blizzard games it's easy to predict exactly where this whole trilogy is probably going to end up. But there are also a handful of neat, nostalgic callbacks to the story of Brood War, and I found quite a few of the supporting characters to be pretty likable. There's also what feels like more of Blizzard's best-in-class CG cinematics than there were in Wings of Liberty. There are worse video game stories out there, and it's a lot easier to forgive since the single-player game is so much fun, but at this point the overall plot arc of StarCraft II is a bit easier to enjoy if you don't take it too seriously.

At any rate, StarCraft is on the very short list of games whose multiplayer modes have far surpassed their story campaigns in popularity, so if the updates on the multiplayer side weren't up to snuff, this whole expansion would be pointless. While it will take months for the true usefulness of the new units and changes to become clear, my initial impression is that the all the new stuff is going to provide a serious kick in the pants to the metagame, which had gotten stale enough to make me pay little or no attention to the game at all for several months. Most imporantly to me, the Protoss finally have a valid tech path through the Stargate, between the new support/harass flier the Oracle and the long-range Tempest, that frees them up from needing to go straight to a Robotics Facility every single match. And the defensive Mothership Core lets you expand early on without quite as much fear of a rush shutting you down before you get started.

The expansion's new and modified units seem like they'll really revitalize the evolving competition in multiplayer.

But wait, there's more! A lot more. The Terrans get some important close-quarters capability (and a nod to the old Firebat) with the Hellbat transformation mode for the Hellion, and the new hidden Widow Mine provides some really annoying defense and containment options, since the mine doesn't actually destroy itself upon firing but has to be taken out manually. (It helps to know about this before you go up against a mined ramp). The Zerg's new flying caster the Viper and burrowed siege unit the Swarm Host should give the creepy-crawliest faction some extra options in engagements and increased map control, respectively. I'm just starting to get my head around all this stuff in competitive play, but I can confidently say the new dynamics these guys are bringing about are already enough to get me interested in playing multiplayer again.

Ever since I randomly lucked into the beta for Warcraft III before my time in the games press, I've deeply admired Blizzard's take-no-prisoners approach to RTS balance, and Heart of the Swarm shows they still aren't afraid to make cuts and deep changes wherever appropriate. In that sense, the modifications to existing units may be even more important to the longterm health of StarCraft II than the new units. The overly powerful Terran Warhound from early in the beta is gone, while the Carrier, long subject to removal, somehow managed to survive through to the shipping game. Void Rays don't charge up anymore, but have an active ability with bonus damage to armor instead. The underused Hydralisk, a mainstay of the Zerg army in Brood War, finally has its speed upgrade back. The infernal Medivac also gets a speed boost with an awfully short cooldown. A speed boost? Like Terrans needed any help dropping your expansions? While each faction only gets two or three all-new units, there are so many changes across the board in this expansion that it practically feels like playing an entirely new game. And that's very exciting.

Even the interface around the multiplayer kind of feels like a new game.

Blizzard has done quite a bit of work to the StarCraft II client interface, bringing all the content in Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm together into a common interface that will clearly also house Legacy of the Void when it ships a decade from now. The single most important change, which will be new to you if you're just coming back to the game, is an unranked matchmaking option that lets you play against opponents of similar skill without any impact to your all-important ladder standing. This is a much-needed way to get back into the rhythm of competition or play off-race without any sort of ranking anxiety. There's also a new experience system, not dissimilar to that in most shooters these days, that lets you level your way up to new profile portraits and decals. You earn a little experience even when you lose, which ensures everyone will be able to unlock at least a few things. Some of these improvements are also retroactive to Wings of Liberty and thus aren't exclusively part of this expansion package, but they still make the whole experience more enjoyable. If you haven't played StarCraft II since the original came out, every last thing about it today feels different in some minor or major way.

The traditional expansion pack is such a rarity these days that in reviewing one, it's tempting to suspend our standard graded rating system in favor of a binary "buy it or don't" recommendation. If the occasionally cheesy storytelling or slavish adherence to resource-gathering and micromanagement put you off of Wings of Liberty, there's nothing in Heart of the Swarm that will bring you back in. But for those of us who still deeply love this specific style of real-time strategy and want more of it, this is a must-have add-on.

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Edited by utamaru

Monday: "these guys hate all the games and I'm not coming back"

Tuesday: "we know Brad likes this game, we want to hear Jeff shitting all over for being an RTS because that's better and more entertaining content"

It's starcraft 2. Who better to tell you wether this is okay or not if not the guy who actually played and cared about the original? At least if they fucked it up he would've told you why. Jeez

Edited by Wehrmacht

The Starcraft franchise is the only series worth buying after they ruined their warcraft and diablo franchise :( Well, Warcraft 3 is still a lot fun!

Posted by WiqidBritt

@norusdog: Why wouldn't you want the person who knows the most about the franchise to review the game? Especially a game with such a complicated multiplayer mode. All anyone else would be able to say about that is "...and they changed some of the old units I guess, I don't know what that means"

Posted by phrosnite

Ahaha. Anyone surprised? Of course Brad will give any Blizzard game a 5/5 even though it doesn't deserve it.

Posted by VocalZ

@norusdog said:

a perfect score from brad on a StarCraft game? sorry if I fail to have it mean anything. Shoulda had someone NOT so fucking obsessed with it review it.

yes I bought it. Yes I love it. But Brad reviewing a StarCraft game causes said review to lose all merit.

nope

Posted by Norusdog
Posted by mikbal

So now my Wings of Liberty copy is garbage.

Everyone will be playing Heart of Swarm.

Why don't multiplayer changes apply to Wing of Liberty?

They were addressing all 3 games as separate packages, 'buy anyone of them' you are all set they said.

Typical Activision bullshit.

Edited by Tarsier

i am interested in keeping up with starcraft 2, but the only thing preventing me from doing so is that this game looks abhorrent.

Edited by Norusdog

@norusdog: Why wouldn't you want the person who knows the most about the franchise to review the game? Especially a game with such a complicated multiplayer mode. All anyone else would be able to say about that is "...and they changed some of the old units I guess, I don't know what that means"

if the reviewer is doing their job, yes you would want someone who isn't so obsessed to be the one to review it. While this isn't a perfect comparison (as brad had no hand in making the game) it's almost like Kojima reviewing a Metal Gear game..it's too biased and as such loses most of it's credibility. The game doesn't deserve 5 stars..4..absolutely...4.5 if they were doing half numbers..certainly..but a 5? no. The average person isn't so invested in the MP which is a huuuuge part of it for one. The interactions alone are a step down from the initial terran campaign..

again it's a great game, certainly worth buying...but anyone but Brad shoulda been the one to review it. And y'know..do their job so they KNOW what they were talking about when delving into it...it's a review..not a quick look..a half-assed review where someone states what you said..is a shitty employee and shouldn't be reviewing in the first place. Much less being paid to do so.

Posted by Norusdog

@tarsier said:

i am interested in keeping up with starcraft 2, but the only thing preventing me from doing so is that this game looks abhorrent.

which is the biggest draw back to this..I'm not really into Zerg...and I imagine a lot aren't. Which is why splitting this up into 3 diff games was nothing more than a crash grab and, at it's core, a completely stupid idea.

which is another reason why it doesn't deserve 5 stars...if you don't give a shit about Zerg..but still want to enjoy MP..you MUST buy it...unlike what ActiLizzard said initially.

And it's gonna be the same shit when the Protoss campaign is released.

Posted by Claude

Cool, and not a fuck was cared.

Edited by Chibithor

@norusdog said:

@wiqidbritt said:

@norusdog: Why wouldn't you want the person who knows the most about the franchise to review the game? Especially a game with such a complicated multiplayer mode. All anyone else would be able to say about that is "...and they changed some of the old units I guess, I don't know what that means"

if the reviewer is doing their job, yes you would want someone who isn't so obsessed to be the one to review it. While this isn't a perfect comparison (as brad had no hand in making the game) it's almost like Kojima reviewing a Metal Gear game..it's too biased and as such loses most of it's credibility. The game doesn't deserve 5 stars..4..absolutely...4.5 if they were doing half numbers..certainly..but a 5? no. The average person isn't so invested in the MP which is a huuuuge part of it for one. The interactions alone are a step down from the initial terran campaign..

again it's a great game, certainly worth buying...but anyone but Brad shoulda been the one to review it. And y'know..do their job so they KNOW what they were talking about when delving into it...it's a review..not a quick look..a half-assed review where someone states what you said..is a shitty employee and shouldn't be reviewing in the first place. Much less being paid to do so.

Biased because he likes it? Brad obviously thinks the campaign is on par with WoL. He also makes it obvious in the review that the multiplayer is a huge part of it going as far as to say that "if the updates on the multiplayer side weren't up to snuff, this whole expansion would be pointless."

Whether the average person is into it or not is irrelevant if they read the review instead of looking at the five stars and thinking this is the perfect thing for everyone. Might as well give it three stars because the average person isn't into RTS to begin with.

Posted by Xymox

@xymox said:

It makes the whole game far less interesting to me. Is there any way to turn it off? It takes up so much screen real-estate and I want to actually see my units... Don't really care about microing health bars.

There are a couple of options for displaying life bars: Normal (shows when you hold Alt), Targeting (shows when targeting an ability), Selected, Damaged and Always.

Thank you - good to hear there are quite a few options for that stuff.

Edited by LackingSaint

Not really getting the critique that Brad really enjoying Starcraft 2 makes him LESS reliable as a reviewer for this. Surely he'd know more than anyone else exactly what they did wrong if they did things wrong? Unless you're coming from the angle of "we should've gotten the more neutral position of somebody that doesn't like Starcraft" in which case, why on earth would you care about a Starcraft 2 expansion?

Good review regardless!

Edited by EnduranceFun

@lackingsaint: There'd be far more bitching if someone who didn't know about Starcraft reviewed the game, especially if they gave it a low score.

Posted by ZeForgotten

@zeforgotten said:

@starvinggamer said:

@thesoutherndandy said:

@wastrel said:

No one in the game addresses the Narud = Duran backwards thing and it pisses me off. IT'S SAMIR DURAN. NO ONE WANTS TO POINT THIS ONE OUT?! I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS

Oh man I didn't even clue into that until I read this. I FEEL SO DUMB!

I'm not sure why Blizzard's writers have been so coy about it, but Kerrigan already knew that Narud = Duran in WoL. Maybe she just didn't feel a need to announce HEY I KNOW THAT GUY since everyone around her would have just been like, "Huh?" Not sure about Stukov though. Man, thinking back on it, that whole part of the game felt really weird to me too. Maybe Stukov is just an idiot and Kerrigan didn't feel like enlightening him.

So wait, Samir Duran is Emil Narud?

He has changed a lot over the years, even nationality.

Well, considering that he's a shapeshifting entity that has lived for over a millennia, whose most recent escapades (as Duran) included working to create a Zerg/Protoss hybrid as the "completion of a cycle", the connection should be obvious.

You mean like how Stukov should be pretty obvious to anyone who was any good at Brood War?

I just think it sucks that it's true. Duran was awesome and then just squished down into "this is him, meh, you don't really hear from him in WoL and here in HOTS.. well not really either"

Online
Posted by SonofSeth

I would take away one star because the story was so poorly written, but everything else is without equal.

Posted by prestonhedges

@mlarrabee said:
@bloodsoul5 said:
@winternet said:
@video_game_king said:

So I guess I should play Starcraft 1 at some point, then?

Unless you're an RTS fanatic, I can't see why you should go play the first Starcraft.

SC1's gameplay is still best in class. The campaign has the best story in RTSs, everyone who fancies themselves a PC gamer should play the original starcraft and the expansion.

Good to know, since I just bought the Starcraft 1 battlechest on Amazon.

Like I said, only if you're into RTS enough will you enjoy it properly. If not, most of the time will be "oh god, is that . . is that an SCV? Fuck, is that a mutalisk? This looks horrible!"

You're playing it at the wrong resolution.

Posted by gbrading

I see that Brad kept the wordy opening line... I still like it. ;)

Edited by Winternet

@winternet said:
@mlarrabee said:
@bloodsoul5 said:
@winternet said:
@video_game_king said:

So I guess I should play Starcraft 1 at some point, then?

Unless you're an RTS fanatic, I can't see why you should go play the first Starcraft.

SC1's gameplay is still best in class. The campaign has the best story in RTSs, everyone who fancies themselves a PC gamer should play the original starcraft and the expansion.

Good to know, since I just bought the Starcraft 1 battlechest on Amazon.

Like I said, only if you're into RTS enough will you enjoy it properly. If not, most of the time will be "oh god, is that . . is that an SCV? Fuck, is that a mutalisk? This looks horrible!"

You're playing it at the wrong resolution.

I'm playing at the "look how fucking good Flash is" resolution.

Edited by RadixNegative2

Great review Brad, well written and made it clear who this expansion is for and why. I agree that while the story isn't the best, the campaign and core game is so much fun that it really doesn't matter.

Now, back to playing against the AI while watching the MLG games. At least I can fantasize about being a great Starcraft 2 player :D

Posted by Sooty

@mikbal said:

So now my Wings of Liberty copy is garbage.

Everyone will be playing Heart of Swarm.

Why don't multiplayer changes apply to Wing of Liberty?

Because it's an expansion. The balance changes are around the new units, if you don't have the new units, the changes may not fit in properly to the WoL meta.

It has been almost three years since Wings of Liberty, and it's not Blizzard's fault 'everyone' will be playing Heart of the Swarm.

Posted by DirtyData

@winsord: The arcade maps have been REALLY well supported by the community and well worth checking out. So many different types of games and sub communities for the arcade scene. Go for it if you haven't already pulled the trigger on the purchase.

Have a good one!

Edited by TheSouthernDandy

@norusdog said:

@wiqidbritt said:

@norusdog: Why wouldn't you want the person who knows the most about the franchise to review the game? Especially a game with such a complicated multiplayer mode. All anyone else would be able to say about that is "...and they changed some of the old units I guess, I don't know what that means"

if the reviewer is doing their job, yes you would want someone who isn't so obsessed to be the one to review it. While this isn't a perfect comparison (as brad had no hand in making the game) it's almost like Kojima reviewing a Metal Gear game..it's too biased and as such loses most of it's credibility. The game doesn't deserve 5 stars..4..absolutely...4.5 if they were doing half numbers..certainly..but a 5? no. The average person isn't so invested in the MP which is a huuuuge part of it for one. The interactions alone are a step down from the initial terran campaign..

again it's a great game, certainly worth buying...but anyone but Brad shoulda been the one to review it. And y'know..do their job so they KNOW what they were talking about when delving into it...it's a review..not a quick look..a half-assed review where someone states what you said..is a shitty employee and shouldn't be reviewing in the first place. Much less being paid to do so.

None of what you say makes any sense and I'll tell you why. Lets just ignore the fact that the majority of the people who come here know the personalities of the staff and know how much Brad loves Starcraft and factor that into reading the review. Most people who are buying this already have WoL (especially considering this is an expansion) so they've already got an opinion about the game much like Brad. If they loved WoL then they'll likely love this, if they hated it, same thing, which Brad states in the review. So what's the problem here? Even aside from that I can't take your point at all seriously when you state that 'oh this review doesn't agree with what I think therefor it's wrong'. Your opinion being different isn't a valid argument as to why the review is bad.

Not to mention expecting every reviewer to review a game having no opinion of the game and to do so completely objectively is a pipe dream that never happens. Everybody has an opinion on everything, nobody is completely objective. Nobody. That's why you read multiple reviews if you're basing a purchase on them.

You're free to disagree with the review but just because you have a different opinion doesn't make Brads opinion invalid or without merit and saying so is super dumb.

Posted by Sooty

@norusdog said:

@tarsier said:

i am interested in keeping up with starcraft 2, but the only thing preventing me from doing so is that this game looks abhorrent.

which is another reason why it doesn't deserve 5 stars...if you don't give a shit about Zerg..

Hey guys I don't like Zerg so this game can't be 5 stars.

You didn't hear me bitching about not liking Terran when Wings of Liberty came out.

Frankly the StarCraft multiplayer alone deserves 5 stars. Be glad they even bother to mix the campaign up as much as they do. If you don't like Zerg then hey don't buy it, if you really like the multiplayer then you should be satisfied enough with the purchase regardless

Did people bitch this much about Brood War? Which came out only 6 months after the first game, I might add.

Posted by Undeadpool

@norusdog said:

@wiqidbritt said:

@norusdog: Why wouldn't you want the person who knows the most about the franchise to review the game? Especially a game with such a complicated multiplayer mode. All anyone else would be able to say about that is "...and they changed some of the old units I guess, I don't know what that means"

if the reviewer is doing their job, yes you would want someone who isn't so obsessed to be the one to review it. While this isn't a perfect comparison (as brad had no hand in making the game) it's almost like Kojima reviewing a Metal Gear game..it's too biased and as such loses most of it's credibility. The game doesn't deserve 5 stars..4..absolutely...4.5 if they were doing half numbers..certainly..but a 5? no. The average person isn't so invested in the MP which is a huuuuge part of it for one. The interactions alone are a step down from the initial terran campaign..

again it's a great game, certainly worth buying...but anyone but Brad shoulda been the one to review it. And y'know..do their job so they KNOW what they were talking about when delving into it...it's a review..not a quick look..a half-assed review where someone states what you said..is a shitty employee and shouldn't be reviewing in the first place. Much less being paid to do so.

None of what you say makes any sense and I'll tell you why. Lets just ignore the fact that the majority of the people who come here know the personalities of the staff and know how much Brad loves Starcraft and factor that into reading the review. Most people who are buying this already have WoL (especially considering this is an expansion) so they've already got an opinion about the game much like Brad. If they loved WoL then they'll likely love this, if they hated it, same thing, which Brad states in the review. So what's the problem here? Even aside from that I can't take your point at all seriously when you state that 'oh this review doesn't agree with what I think therefor it's wrong'. Your opinion being different isn't a valid argument as to why the review is bad.

Not to mention expecting every reviewer to review a game having no opinion of the game and to do so completely objectively is a pipe dream that never happens. Everybody has an opinion on everything, nobody is completely objective. Nobody. That's why you read multiple reviews if you're basing a purchase on them.

You're free to disagree with the review but just because you have a different opinion doesn't make Brads opinion invalid or without merit and saying so is super dumb.

Add onto your points the fact that someone truly passionate about a product would ALSO be far more discerning about it and notice every little flaw that perhaps a casual fan (such as myself) wouldn't. I mean isn't it always the uninformed contingent whining about how much the reviewers just want to shit all over games and NOT enjoy them? Or is this just a matter of someone projecting their own fanboyism and inability to judge the things they love critically onto Brad?

Posted by chilibean_3

I don't play any multi and this is he only RTS series I mess with but even I found the campaign on normal to be so easy it would become boring. They're well made and fun but the difficulty needs to be bumped up if you're familiar at all with this kind of stuff.

Posted by FMinus

It's a fun addictive game, one of the best RTS on the market no doubt, but I'd have to duck scores for having performance issues, which shouldn't be there looking at how the game looks - but alas that's a Blizzard tradition, games looking mediocre (from a technical standpoint, not artistic) and running like crap when there is a bit of commotion on the screen.

I still think it's a super fine game as said, but Blizzard should really invest a bit more into tech, all of their games perform sub-par on modern PCs.

Edited by mikbal

@sooty said:

@mikbal said:

So now my Wings of Liberty copy is garbage.

Everyone will be playing Heart of Swarm.

Why don't multiplayer changes apply to Wing of Liberty?

Because it's an expansion. The balance changes are around the new units, if you don't have the new units, the changes may not fit in properly to the WoL meta.

It has been almost three years since Wings of Liberty, and it's not Blizzard's fault 'everyone' will be playing Heart of the Swarm.

That's not what they promised. When they announced SC2 as 3 separate games they said buying any of them was enough for a full experience. Many like me trusted them and bought into idea of 3 games.

I like to play with new multiplayer units and maps as they promised before. They already allow rules sets to switched from the options, but only if you pay additional 40 bucks for HoS.

Whatever, i didn't buy any Activision game since 2010. I'm not likely to buy any in the foreseeable future.

Posted by Mezmero

I never finished Wings of Liberty because my mouse and general desk set up is not good. I'd pick this game up in a heartbeat if I didn't have such issues. Zerg are my favorite race in this universe though I suck at the multiplayer (again, rough mouse). The thought of a whole game based of them sounds awesome. Also need a better PC for a nicer looking experience. Alas, such is the fate of the impoverished. Thanks for the review.

Edited by Dberg

The story was tedious and not even up to par with the plot of Wings of Liberty. I enjoyed the campaign in Wings and went for all the achievements there, but here I was bored to tears just four missions in. I forced myself to play through it all in case it had a high point, but all it did was introduce the flattest supporting cast imaginable. Maybe the space rednecks thing won me over in Wings, it was definitely more atmospheric and it had more personality. The closest thing you get to an interesting character here is Infested Stukov, but there's no gravity to him. He just joins you with no fanfare, goes on one mission and spends the rest of the game standing on the bridge.

I've read the review and I understand that the scores are on a game to game basis, not to be compared to each other, but Wings was better than Heart in every way. Other sequels have received a slap on the wrist for that. It should be reflected somewhere here as well or it just sounds like it got 5 because it has the Starcraft name on it.

And, yeah, maybe we shouldn't care too much about the campaign, but then what are we paying for here? 40 bucks for what is essentially DLC to a multiplayer the average Joe burned out on last year?

Posted by KittyVonDoom

Not Age of Empires/10.

Posted by shishkebab09

@dberg: I'm enjoying the Heart campaign a lot more than I did Wings'. I think Kerrigan is a far more interesting protagonist than Raynor. Then again, you say you may have been won over by space rednecks, and I'm definitely being won over by the protagonist being female and evil.

Posted by scaramoosh

Blizzard create nothing but over rated shit since TBC. I liked Warcraft 3 and Vanilla WoW, just thought everything since has been complete shit.

Edited by slot9

Great review! Reading it was like hearing you speak!

Posted by supermonkey122

Brad "5-star" Shoemaker does it again.

Posted by Darlan

As someone who felt somewhat lukewarm feelings for Starcraft II, I'd love to hear what the other guys have to say about it as well. (Not that Shoemaker isn't totally awesome and the right guy for this review, just wondering...of course Brad was going to love this!)

Posted by Silver-Streak

@mikbal: By your own statement, Blizzard stated all 3 as 3 full games. This is correct. This means that, just like the singleplayer campaigns being unique between the 3, the multiplayer capabilities will be as well.

It was never stated that the multiplayer units were going to be brought backwards into prior releases, at least not as far as I can find through the use of google.

Posted by RedCricketChase

Never realized how much I enjoy Brad's writing style. That man can write the hell out of a review.

Posted by Nictel

People seem to forget that this is an expansion. As such Brad is the perfect person to review this. Because if you didn't like Star Craft before this isn't going to change your mind. No this review is for people who own Wings of Liberty. I want someone who was into the original telling me if this is as good or better as that original.

Posted by flanker22

expected

Posted by FoolishChaos

@norusdog said:

a perfect score from brad on a StarCraft game? sorry if I fail to have it mean anything. Shoulda had someone NOT so fucking obsessed with it review it.

yes I bought it. Yes I love it. But Brad reviewing a StarCraft game causes said review to lose all merit.

Yeah he is totally obsessed, having not played WoL for half a year and barely remembering its existence the week before it came out.

That's beside the point though. You are upset because you don't think its a 5 star game. You will do yourself some good if you accept right now that some reviewers will disagree with your opinion. Just because the game might have received a lower score if reviewed by Vinny or something, who only plays part of any starcraft game because he isn't "obsessed" with it and plays the multiplayer, doesn't mean giantbomb fucked up. It just means that you disagree with brad a little bit. That's okay.

Posted by Arkasai

I started the campaign on hard yesterday, at some point I switched to brutal and it's been lots of fun. It doesn't feel cheap or unfair on the hardest setting, when you mess up it's usually very clear what you did wrong. Audio bugs have been pretty common throughout the campaign, usually looping or stuttering - probably because I didn't wait for it to finish patching, so all the audio and cinematics have streamed as I've needed them. Even with the slight bugs, I'm glad they give you the option to play before it's finished downloading.

I played a ton of the beta and have a pretty good idea how I'll be playing, so for now the campaign has all of my attention. Once I've conquered that, I'll be back on the ladder.

Edited by bolognarock

HOTS has "two-thirds" as many missions as WOL? It's strange that Brad would say that considering WOL has 26 missions and HOTS has 27.

Posted by SilverSaint

I personally don't see how this "expansion" could receive 5 stars. I could conceivably accept 4 stars simply because its a blizzard game and the only RTS around, but even then...

There are 3 types of people who will buy this expansion: 1) those that still play the multiplayer, thus want to upgrade to the new units(many pros don't care about the campaign), 2) those who play both the multiplayer and are interested in the singleplayer, and 3) those who stopped playing and now want to just play the campaign for the story and might play some multiplayer, if any at all, for a bit while its fresh. The majority of people will probably fit into the 2nd and 3rd(majority here) category meaning the singleplayer will almost certainly be more important then the multiplayer for the majority of people.

Singleplayer: The story is terrible, which creates writing where some of the voice acting isn't just cheesy, but comes off as really bad. Also the majority of characters are entirely forgettable and non-unique(lets be honest if Dhaka wasn't conveniently used for a future mission he would literally serve no purpose). The mechanics are literally the same as WoL(which makes sense, but when someone does that in an expansion for any other game type people complain about how its more of the same), except now you have this hero unit in Kerrigan who is godlike and dumbs down much of the game. Many of the missions are less unique then the WoL missions. I will admit the "boss" battles with the primal zerg were cool, but that is literally the only "new" thing adding any positive merit from a SP standpoint.

Multiplayer: If you are NOT currently playing starcraft 2 multiplayer, this expansion WILL NOT be a reason for you to start, its literally the exact same stylistically. There are new units(making the current tournaments more interesting to watch for a bit) and balance was preserved quite well, but spending $40 for just this aspect is pretty terrible for the cost.

This expansion essentially added nothing new or better for the average Starcraft 2 consumer and for a dedicated Starcraft 2 consumer it only adds new multiplayer elements in new units and strategies from them. The mechanics from the engine are still great and it is still the only real RTS in town, but that doesn't help if you have your writer's children write the story.

Posted by blueredandgold

Looking for the Giant Bomb Group....can't find it and don't know how to use the interface to search for it either!

Edited by BelligerentEngine

I love to talk shit on Brad for better or worse. However regardless of that, this is a very well put together review anyone who reads the entirety of it should have a very cognizant opinion on whether this expansion is for them or not. Nicely done.

Posted by happypup70

I personally don't see how this "expansion" could receive 5 stars. I could conceivably accept 4 stars simply because its a blizzard game and the only RTS around, but even then...

There are 3 types of people who will buy this expansion: 1) those that still play the multiplayer, thus want to upgrade to the new units(many pros don't care about the campaign), 2) those who play both the multiplayer and are interested in the singleplayer, and 3) those who stopped playing and now want to just play the campaign for the story and might play some multiplayer, if any at all, for a bit while its fresh. The majority of people will probably fit into the 2nd and 3rd(majority here) category meaning the singleplayer will almost certainly be more important then the multiplayer for the majority of people.

Singleplayer: The story is terrible, which creates writing where some of the voice acting isn't just cheesy, but comes off as really bad. Also the majority of characters are entirely forgettable and non-unique(lets be honest if Dhaka wasn't conveniently used for a future mission he would literally serve no purpose). The mechanics are literally the same as WoL(which makes sense, but when someone does that in an expansion for any other game type people complain about how its more of the same), except now you have this hero unit in Kerrigan who is godlike and dumbs down much of the game. Many of the missions are less unique then the WoL missions. I will admit the "boss" battles with the primal zerg were cool, but that is literally the only "new" thing adding any positive merit from a SP standpoint.

Multiplayer: If you are NOT currently playing starcraft 2 multiplayer, this expansion WILL NOT be a reason for you to start, its literally the exact same stylistically. There are new units(making the current tournaments more interesting to watch for a bit) and balance was preserved quite well, but spending $40 for just this aspect is pretty terrible for the cost.

This expansion essentially added nothing new or better for the average Starcraft 2 consumer and for a dedicated Starcraft 2 consumer it only adds new multiplayer elements in new units and strategies from them. The mechanics from the engine are still great and it is still the only real RTS in town, but that doesn't help if you have your writer's children write the story.

Brad fits in category 2. Quibbling about 4 stars versus 5 stars is ridiculous. Maybe if they had a bigger staff they wouldn't put the starcraft fan in charge of the review. This game is fun. You may be right other RTS games that don't exist could be fun. you should write your own review and assign your own star rating

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