by Incubus Folly
The ‘Value Propo$ition’ series of reviews are based on the amount of your hard-earned cash that each attribute earns. All values are tallied in the end, and if the total exceeds the MSRP, the title is wholly recommended. Slightly below indicates a rental and well under equals out to avoiding the game at all costs or purchase at a discount.
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty is an RTS (real-time strategy) that lives up to expectations in almost -every- way. The story, characters, gameplay, music, and design of the game are brilliantly executed and portrayed throughout the entirety of the experience. If I could grow extra arms to give it additional thumbs up, I would. The breakdown is as follows:
The plot. The game continues seamlessly from the first, but not requiring you to play the it to understand the gist of what is going on in the second. Of course, there will be tons of extras and references made if you’ve played the first title or some of Blizzard’s others to enjoy at your leisure, but they’re not critical to the experience, which just adds that extra bit of flavor that every remake needs but so few have. But I digress, back to the actual -plot-. The story has that same Blizzard feel that all of its games have. No epic plot twists, gimmicks, or hoaxes to catch the audiences attention in an attempt to keep them interested- just great old fashion storytelling that all of us have come to expect from the studio in recent years. I can’t begin to tell you how critical this is in making a game, much less a sequel. A hearty 10 dollars in a 60 dollar game making process.
The pacing. Pacing is important in developing a game. What makes the journey in this specific piece of software -so- outstanding is that the game progresses at your speed- if you choose to take your stories in bits and pieces, and like to experience things systematically, you can progress through the games story that way. If you like playing the game straight through with little to no breaks or if you like to do -everything- the game has to offer, that’s always an option as well. Not as critically important in a 60 dollar game as say, gameplay or actual plot, but it’s the little things coming together that eventually make a game great, instead of just good. An easy 3 dollars.
Nice look StarCraft 2; above and beyond. I hate this particular aspect only because I have to run the game on it’s lowest settings and it still looks halfway decent. The only issue is that I miss out on the custom decals you can put on your units and buildings, the color schemes and how their beautifully augmented into each structure and each unit, the extensive death animations created for each unit, and how each unit will die different deaths depending on how they die. Above that you have the CG animations, which are beautifully executed, breathing new life into an old game and making worn characters feel completely new. Aesthetic appeal is far more important in recent days than it used to be, and for all that hard work, another Hamilton in your direction Blizzard. A job well done!
The gameplay. It’s hard to go wrong with an RTS in terms of story and campaign. There’s not really a lot you can do to sabotage the gameplay mechanics. However, when it comes to the multiplayer, things can get sketchy. You must balance all of your races, make sure no race has one clear advantage over another. You have to be able to make each race appealing as well, as to not get a great influx of one race over another. StarCraft 2 not only balances it’s races and makes each one appealing in it’s own way, but institutes multiple strategies and puts emphasis on map exploration and high-ground/low-ground tactics. There have been some complaints on balancing issues, but none of these are game-breaking in the slightest, and I’m not entirely convinced these whiners aren’t just a bunch of trolls. Gameplay is critical, and solely the most important part of your game. 15 dollars StarCraft, so kudos.
The returning cast and the new additions. From James E. Raynor to Tychus Findlay, the cast is outstanding. Each character is given a role to fulfill (and hopefully) more of them will see the spotlight again in future games. There isn’t much I can’t say here without spoiling the game, but just be aware that every unit from the old game returns in one form or another for the most part, and the new additions fit in fantastically. An easy 3 dollars for filling up the world with great voices. To prevent this review from becoming several pages long, I’m going to bunch up the rest of these little things I found to be extremely fantastic. The achievements, the RPG elements implemented into the game, the branching story lines, the secret missions, the ending specifically, and the user interface. All of these things help refine the game and make it into a complete emprise. Another ten dollars of the games polish, and making it a finished product.
Last but not least, the multiplayer. Going above and beyond the minimum requirement, StarCraft 2 has not only set the standard for “eSports” (professional gaming) but has completely reinvented the way the future tournaments take place from local to regional to worldwide, the competitive and casual gamer will find something to do here with friends and on their own. Co-op vs AI, 1v1 matches, and custom made games re-imagine the StarCraft universe in the most creative ways. Fifteen dollars for this incredibly well developed system.
Now to get off my high horse, and deliver unto you the downside… if there even is one.
ALAS there is a down side, though I hardly blame Blizzard for having been raised in a capitalist country. The game, from the beginning, is to be released in three(3) separate installments. Not only does this leave you begging for more at the end of this first, but it also implies that there will be two more games you’ll have to purchase to get the full ending of StarCraft 2. That’s going to be at least another 80 dollars. My eyes are on you, Blizzard- your first game is whole and well made, so this game won’t suffer any deductions for that, but the next two… well, we’ll have to see about them.
- PLOT: +$10
- PACING: +$3
- VISUALS: +$10
- GAMEPLAY: +$15
- PRESENTATION: +$13
- MULTIPLAYER: +$15