Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Blizzard has done it again, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will ruin your social life but you'll be smiling every time you fire it up

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Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty hits the market over 10 years after the original and its expansion pack
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  July 29, 2010

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Key Specs

Age rating: 16
Online play: Y
Price: $65
Release date: July 27th

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Starcraft and its expansion pack Brood Wars are still very popular to this date, despite the fact that both games were originally released over 10 years ago. In South Korea particularly, Starcraft has become part of the culture where professional players participate in matches, earn sponsorships and compete in matches that are actually broadcast on TV. At last check Starcraft and Brood Wars had sold well over nine million copies around the world. The successor to Brood Wars, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (WOL), has a lot to live up to and, being a Starcraft fan, this reviewer is ecstatic to say that it exceeded his expectations.

Starcraft II is set four years after the events of Brood Wars and all of the original races (Terran, Protoss and Zerg) make a return. WOL offers both single and multiplayer gaming, like its predecessor, but this time around the single-player campaign only allows you to play as the Terran race. If you want to play the Protoss and Zerg campaigns, you'll have to wait for the ‘Legacy of the Void' and ‘Heart of the Swarm' expansion packs respectively.

One of Starcraft II's strongest points is its unbelievable presentation. The game's installer, menu screens, in-game animation, video sequences and in-game graphics are simply unmatched by anything that's on the market today. Everything just has tons of polish and explains exactly what Blizzard was doing since the original game and its expansion were released all those years ago.

Playing missions or engaging in multiplayer matches, long time Starcraft fans are in for a treat because while Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty retains the basic feel of its predecessor, it has been updated to the point that it feels like a brand new game. WOL offers about the same number of units as Brood Wars and while some of the fan favourites - such as 'Siege Tanks' and 'Battle Cruisers' - return they have been updated and so still fit with the game's newer units.

WOL has loads of new elements and each serves to make the game that much better. Whereas before you progressed from mission-to-mission with only the videos separating one mission from the next, this time around you get the beautifully rendered videos and the chance to actually interact with the game world. When you first start the Terran campaign, the protagonist James Raynor (voiced to perfection by Robert Clotworthy) runs his raider group (known as Raynor's Raiders) out of a bar on the colony of Mar Sara. Before and after each mission you get the chance to flick through some tunes on the juke box, watch news updates (these serve as the game's comic relief), look at trophies and even talk to people.

Once you progress in the game, you get to wander around Raynor's captured battle cruiser, the Hyperion. Here you have even more options available; you can talk to a lot more people, research new technology, hire mercenaries for use in missions and play side-missions that don't advance the storyline (but are still fun and worth playing). Another addition to Starcraft II is decision-making - unlike the original you actually get to make decisions about what you want to do from time-to-time. In one instance we had to choose between destroying ‘infested' colonist or protecting them long enough for a cure to be found.

Playing missions and multiplayer matches it looks as though Blizzard has managed to balance each of the three races perfectly once again. Due to this there's no unfair advantage to be gained from going with one race over the others. Winning matches and completing missions then becomes a pure test of your skills as a strategist - just the sort of things this reviewer loves.

As polished as Starcraft II is, it isn't perfect. That said, the issues aren't actually related to the game itself but rather the developers. As we said earlier Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty only focuses on the Terran campaign and as brilliant as it is, we wondered why Blizzard couldn't just release all three campaigns in one game? After over 10 years of waiting it's disappointing to find out that we have to wait even more to experience the Protoss and Zerg campaigns. It also seems a rather blatant way for Blizzard Entertainment to squeeze gamers out of more cash.

The other issue is that WOL lacks LAN/network multiplayer support. Due to this you're forced to use Blizzard's service even if you actually have two PCs in your home on a wired or wireless network. This is far from ideal if you have a dial-up connection or a slow broadband line.

For: If there's a real time strategy game out there that's better presented than Starcraft II, we don't know about it.
Against: No LAN/network support, lacks the Protoss and Zerg campaigns.
Verdict: With Starcraft II Blizzard Entertainment has added yet another fantastic game to its name. The long development time has produced a game that's true to the original but still bang up-to-date.

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