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Overview

StarCraft is an influential real-time strategy game released by Blizzard Entertainment on March 31st, 1998. The game is set in a unique science-fiction background and includes three playable races: the Terrans, which are the equivalent of humans; the Zerg, an insect-like race; and the Protoss, a technologically advanced humanoid race.

The game has been successful worldwide, selling over 11 million copies. The game is especially popular in South Korea, where professional leagues featuring elite players are followed by hundreds or even thousands of spectators. StarCraft, and its expansion, is renowned for its brilliant class balance and continued support even over 10 years after its original release.

Development

StarCraft's initial alpha build, running on the Warcraft II engine.

StarCraft was originally criticized for looking too similar to WarCraft II, as it was built from the same engine, and was dismissed as "Warcraft in space" by many critics and fans. Taking this criticism seriously, Blizzard radically overhauled the game in game play and in visuals.

Unlike the two mostly similar races featured in WarCraft II, StarCraft would focus on three distinct races that required very different play-styles and strategies. Also, StarCraft would later adopt an isometric view, pre-rendered sprites and backgrounds, creating a new visual style far removed from that of WarCraft II.

Gameplay

Both the original release and the expansion pack, StarCraft: Brood War, feature three full campaigns, one for each race. Unlike many other RTS games, StarCraft places a very heavy focus on massing large armies of units. Although micromanagement is crucial to defeating advanced players, it is not as central to the game play as in games such as the Dawn of War series. Resource management is vital to success, however players are only given two resources to manage: minerals and Vespene gas. Minerals are used to buy units and are used heavily throughout the game, while Vespene gas is often used for the research of more advanced units in the later stages of a match.

The reason that StarCraft is still played over 10 years later is because of its extraordinary unit balance. Each unit for each race has a legitimate counter, and there is no strategy that is guaranteed to make a player victorious time after time. Only by truly out thinking one's opponent will one emerge victorious. Of course, professional players and online veterans have developed advanced strategies after many years of practice, so the game continues to evolve and change.

The early game forces players to focus on setting up a base, laying out a defensive network, building units quickly, and securing reserves of minerals and Vespene gas. The Zerg units can be built the most quickly, causing Zerg players to often rush an opponent in a move known as the " Zergling rush." After the first few minutes of gameplay, the Protoss gain the advantage with their powerful Zealot units which can devastate buildings and basic units. Finally, the Terrans gain the upper hand, with the quickest access to middle-end units such as Siege tanks and Vultures.

The middle game focuses on resource management and expansion. The Terrans arguably have the strongest middle game since their buildings are mobile and their units are not prohibitively expensive. The Protoss and Zerg both have a slight lull between their initial tier of units and their advanced units.

The late game favours the player that has managed the early and middle game the most efficiently. The Zerg and the Protoss are arguably the best late game races due to their very powerful units. While the Terrans do have Battlecruisers, they are no match for a fleet of fully upgraded Protoss Carriers. In fact, a properly managed group of 12 Protoss carriers with minimal backup (some distracting units and detector units) can often decimate an entire battlefield of bases.

A typical match lasts between 20 and 90 minutes, with the ideal number of players being between 2 and 4. Larger games of 6 to 8 players are exciting with team play or when all players are of a similar skill level. Of course, some matches will last only 5 minutes if a player is effective at rushing and another player is not mindful of setting up a defensive network. Matches can last several hours if all players are very low on resources, very rich, have few attacking units, or have heavy defensive networks. The vast majority of matches end up in a single victorious party, but between 5 and 10% of matches will end in a mutually agreed upon draw.

Races

Terrans

Terran Marines.

The Terrans are a colony of humans and use fairly standard units and tactics in terms of RTS games. Terrans are generally considered to be the most defensive race in the game, as they possess many assets which can make their bases especially difficult to penetrate. Bunkers can be filled with up to four basic ground units and may be quickly repaired by their worker units. They offer excellent base defense, particularly when backed up by Siege Tanks. Siege Tanks, while unable to attack air units, have the longest attack range in the game and deal massive damage to ground forces. Many Terran structures also have the ability to fly and relocate, although they move rather slowly.

Terrans also have many methods of cloak detection and also tend to be the most micromanagement intensive race when it comes to combat. Even their most basic units, Marines and Firebats, have a researchable activated ability Stim Pack which heals units makes them considerably more effective in combat if used at the right time. Other notable units include the Goliath (a superb ground-to-air specialist that also attacks ground units), the Battlecruiser (the unit with the most hit points in the game), and the Ghost (another speciality unit with the ability to call in tactical nuclear strikes).

Terrans explore the far reaches of the galaxy in order to expand their empire. Jim Raynor, a terran Marshal on the planet Mar Sara, is one of the main protagonists in the single player campaign. Due to several misunderstandings about the intentions of the Protoss and Zerg, Raynor is forced to join a group of soldiers that rebel against the Confederacy, the main governing body of the Terrans. This group, known as the Sons of Korhal, is how Raynor comes to know Sarah Kerrigan, the game's other main protagonist. Kerrigan is a powerful psionic human, who plays a major role in the later part of the single player campaign.

Arcturus Mengsk, a high ranking member of the Sons of Korhal, clashes with Raynor during the campaign and the conflict between these two characters is central to the story.

List of available units

Command Center

Barracks

Factory

Starport

Protoss

Protoss Zealot.

The Protoss are a technological race that have shields for all of their units. Their units follow a "quality over quantity" philosophy. Protoss buildings must be constructed within range of pylons, which are also needed to raise their unit supply level.

The Protoss defensive structure is the Photon Cannon, which attacks both air and ground units, and serves as one of their two methods of cloak detection. Protoss units and buildings have both regular hit points, which they have no way of regaining, and shields, which recharge slowly over time and may be recharged instantly using shield batteries.

The Protoss are likely the first race to be used by new players, since their units are slightly more powerful and setting up a defensive network requires less work than either of the other two races. Notable units for the Protoss include the Zealot (a powerful early game ground unit), the Dragoon (a mobile photon cannon that can attack air and ground units), the Dark Templar (a very powerful mid-game unit that is permanently cloaked) and the Carrier (an incredibly powerful unit that can send out up to 8 automated Interceptors at a time).

The Protoss seem to be based on the ancient Greeks, with their traditions of honor and deeply philosophical musings. The hero Zeratul fulfils his duty early in the Protoss campaign, but a critical mistake causes the Zerg to learn the location of the Protoss home world of Aiur. Executor Tassadar and Executor Artanis are two other heroes in the Protoss campaign who serve their people with great honour and distinction.

List of available units

Nexus

Gateway

Robotics Support Bay

Stargate

Zerg

Zerg Hydralisk.

The Zerg are an insect-like race who have developed their combat abilities through forced evolution of various conquered species. They spawn new units and buildings from larvae rather than building or training them. One of the biggest advantages of the Zerg is that all of their units come from their central building, the Hatchery.

Therefore, the Zerg can quickly make an army of any particular unit. This can also be a liability, however, as hatcheries are expensive and slow to build. Instead of a building, Zerg supply comes from Overlord units which also serve, with the proper upgrades, as cloak detection and unit transports.

The Zerg follow a basic hive mind structure and are similar in many ways to the Borg from Star Trek. They are ruled by The Overmind. The Overmind then presides over Overlords, which govern Zerg units on the battlefield. Notable Zerg units include the Hydralisk (excellent ground unit with ground-ground and ground-air attacks), the Mutalisk (basic air unit that is very effective in groups), the Ulralisk (the most powerful ground-melee unit in the game and very durable) and the Zergling (which are produced two at once and can be devastating to buildings or larger, slower units).

The Zerg seem to be the antagonists of the game, offering essentially no reason for brutally attacking both the Terrans and the Protoss. They invade the Protoss homeworld of Aiur, destroy several human colonies, and eventually infest Sarah Kerrigan. Kerrigan becomes an immensely powerful Zerg hero unit, becoming known as The Queen of Blades.

List of available units

Ground units

Air Units

Nintendo 64 Version

StarCraft 64

StarCraft 64 was a port of the original StarCraft to the Nintendo 64 system. The game is entirely intact with a few notable exceptions. There is no voice in the mission briefings, some cut-scenes were shortened and the controls have been altered for use with the Nintendo 64 controller. However, the game featured a few additional missions. There were two additional tutorials and a new secret mission called Resurrection IV which follows Jim Raynor on a mission to rescue Alexei Stukov.

Modes

The game featured the original StarCraft campaign, with the additional Brood War campaigns being unlocked with the use of the N64 Expansion pack. The game included split-screen cooperative multiplayer in two different modes: individual players versus AI, or both players starting in the same base with control over the same units. There were also free-for-all and melee options, though the split-screen aspect removed most of the strategy from competitive multiplayer. In addition, there were some select 'custom' scenarios such as football and king of the hill to emulate the custom map scene on the PC version.

Controls

The controls in StarCraft 64 were only slightly changed to accommodate the use of a controller. The analog stick controlled a mouse cursor, while the C buttons worked as hot-keys for unit abilities and build orders. While unit abilities were streamlined to operate exclusively with the use of the C-pad, buildings still used the 3x3 block of commands, requiring the player to manually select options beyond the four that it decided were the most frequently used.

There were commands to select all units on screen, or all units of same type on screen. The unit selection cap was also raised from 12 to 18, to accommodate for the reduced ability to ' micro' your units without the use of a keyboard and mouse.

Unreleased German Version

German StarCraft 64. Complete with translated text and voice.
On August 28th 2010, the unreleased German version of StarCraft 64 surfaced on the internet. The game was uploaded in a .rar file anonymously.

Multiplayer and e-Sports

A televised StarCraft match in South Korea.

StarCraft as an e-sport is gaining popularity in Europe. In South Korea, thousands of fans follow StarCraft in person and by watching matches on television. Elite players are seen as celebrities and can earn thousands of dollars in endorsement deals. Multiple leagues are created specifically for StarCraft, including the MBC Starleague, OGN Starleague, and the World Cyber Games.

Controversy

In 2010, there was a major scandal involving professional StarCraft players in South Korea. A widespread amount of match-fixing and illegal betting was uncovered, forcing some of the very top tier of players into retiring.

Soundtrack

StarCraft Soundtrack Cover Art

The music for the original StarCraft was composed by Jason Hayes, Derek Duke and Glenn Stafford.

Track #Song TitleRunning Time
01
StarCraft Main Title
2:26
02
First Contact
1:56
03
Terran One
4:56
04
Terran Ready Room
0:45
05
Terran Two
3:56
06
Terran Defeat
0:50
07
Terran Three
4:24
08
The Death of the Overmind
1:49
09
Protoss One
10
Protoss Ready Room
1:26
11
Protoss Two
4:51
12
Protoss Defeat
1:00
13
Protoss Three
5:03
14
Zerg Ready Room
0:31
15
Zerg One
4:40
16
Zerg Defeat
0:24
17
Zerg Two
5:07
18
Zerg Victory
0:34
19
Zerg Three
5:06
20
Brood War - Aria
2:06
21
Funeral for a Hero
0:32
22
Terran Victory
0:52
23
Dearest Helena
0:54
24
The Ascension
0:52
25
Char Falls Under Directorate Control
0:43
26
Fury of the Xel'Naga
3:07

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 95 or NT or superior
  • Processor: Pentium 90 MHz or higher
  • Memory: 16 MB RAM
  • HDD Space: 80 MB
  • DirectX: DirectX 3.0 or higher

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