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21 Reviews

StarCraft 2

Master-Crafted

Page 2 of 4

The emperor himself, Mengsk, is a sort of space hick with a Texan drawl, who was busy spending the empire's resources on tracking down Raynor - until the Zerg menace reared its salivating head again after four years of remission. As a result, everyone goes for their guns.

The storyline is pretty complex for a video game, and while it is sometimes blighted by the usual cheesy dialogue you'd expect from the medium, it's engrossing enough that the frequent CGI movies which roll the story along throughout the campaign never feel like an imposition.

Wings of Liberty's single-player campaign is mainly concerned with the Terran perspective, and the 30 or so missions will see you defending convoys, holding out from invasion until an evacuation can be arranged, espionage into enemy territory with a couple of elite units, or just levelling an Zerg base Raynor doesn't like the look of.

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It's basic enough stuff, certainly to start with. In fact, some of the missions could have come straight out of the original Command and Conquer, but they do get much harder and more engrossing later on. If you're an old vet at these sorts of games, whack it on hard and you'll find it to be a very enjoyable, if retro, experience.

Between missions, there are now something akin to RPG elements. Aboard Raynor's flagship the Hyperion, you can buy mercenaries, adapt weapons, and conduct research on alien artefacts - all of which yield advantages in later missions.

Sometimes this element seems a little like window dressing, and the degree to which you can customise the outcome of future missions can be overstated. But it's a nice little touch, and overall adds a certain depth to the campaign.

That said, StarCraft didn't remain one of the most played games for 12 years because of its single player campaign. The real meat of StarCraft was, and remains, the multiplayer.

FRIENDLY FIRE

The multiplayer beta of WoL has been available for some time now, and has gained a pretty strong following already. This is where the developers earn their money. The three races manage to remain so utterly distinct, yet perfectly balanced.

Even in early stages of combat with the game's most basic units, the balance is there. Whether you choose Terran, Zerg or Protoss, it's always a fair fight. (If you can imagine a fair fight between a fat bloke with a gun, a ten foot acid-salivating lizard, and a growling mystical alien that likes punching people in the head with light sabres for knuckle dusters.)

It's here that your own interpretation of play becomes all-important. Early on in playing multiplayer, I'd just gotten used to having my arse handed to me by Zerg players, who would send an early rush of Zerglings in to take out my Terran SCVs (worker units) before they'd got a chance to finish their cornflakes - let alone get an effective war machine up and running.

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Trying to counter this tactic - this time against the Protoss - I got a quick squad of marines out before anything, at the cost of early production and further SCVs. No attack came. Upon a brief, tentative scout, I happened upon a Protoss pylon just outside the end of my base - and beyond that, a row of photon cannons.

My foe had sent off a drone as soon as the game started and hemmed me in. He nearly had the game wrapped up without even building a military unit. He got served in the end, I'm proud to say - but it just goes to show how the game allows you to throw a different spin on proceedings, even at this early stage of its lifecycle.

You'll get to learn which tactics work best for you. Will you concentrate on building a lot of barracks straight away and rustle up a massed marine/marauder strike force quickly? Or will you turtle up and sit behind your defences until you've prepared a devastating fleet of massed Protoss Void Rays? Either way, prepare for it to be countered. If there's one this the multiplayer game isn't, it's forgiving.

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