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StarCraft (Windows)

89
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Stijn Daneels (45)
Written on  :  Aug 30, 2014
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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Summary

Considered a legit sport in some countries. And for good reason!

The Good

StarCraft was a game I heard much about before I actually played it. I heard that it was considered a huge E-sports game in some countries (particularly in South Korea) and that it was considered one of the greatest games of all time. After seeing the game along with its expansion Brood War for just 3 Euros in my local videogame store, I finally decided to buy it. And it was money very well spent.

There are plenty of great stuff in StarCraft that I want to talk about, but I will start off with the story. StarCraft takes place about five hundred years in the future and focuses on a conflict between three distinct races. The first one is the Terrans, in other words, us, homo sapiens. The second race is the Protoss, a technologically highly advanced humanoid race with superior physical and mental powers. Both species are being targeted by the third race, the Zerg, which are a mixture of various assembled alien species. The Zerg plan is to become a master race and destroy everything else in the universe. In other words, there are like some kind of space Nazis.

While the story may sound cliche at first, Blizzard made it very compelling with a diverse cast of characters for all three species and there are plot twists galore. Alliances are formed and broken, hidden agendas are discovered and significant characters get killed. Hell, one particular character not only changes sides but undergoes a complete physical and mental transformation (fans of the series will definitely know who I am talking about).

Not only that, but Blizzard created an entire, highly detailed fictional universe with its own history and lore. If you are planning to read the manual, you better take time for it as StarCraft's full story consists of more than twenty pages, with plenty of them fully dedicated to all three playable species and their respective sub factions.

But enough about the setting and story, time to talk about gameplay. StarCraft is a Real-Time Strategy game that plays very similar to the Command & Conquer series. You build a base, gather resources, create units and destroy the enemy before they destroy you. But they are two things that made StarCraft's gameplay stand above your typical RTS game.

The first thing are the species themselves. Every side has its own unique set of units, structures and style of play. The Terrans rely on flexibility and guerrilla tactics. They have stealth units, fast moving vehicles and can move virtually their entire base in case they get attacked or if they have depleted all local resources. The Protoss, on the other hand, have the strongest and most efficient units in the game, but all their units are slow and expensive to produce. If you are proficient with them, however, you can kick some serious ass using a small group of Protoss forces. Finally, the Zerg are the most primal of all three species as their style consists of nothing less than building lots of weaker units in order to swarm the Terran or Protoss settlements.

The second great thing about StarCraft's gameplay is the overall game balance. You will never feel at an unfair disadvantage no matter what side you choose or fight against. Every unit has its own purpose. Some walk, others fly. Some units can only attack ground or air units while others can attack both. Take the Zerg Ultralisk for instance, a giant, mammoth-like beast that can both deal and take enormous amounts of punishment. Its only weakness, however, is that it can only attack units on the ground. So send some air units its way and it will perish faster than a fly on a cobweb surrounded by a dozen spiders.

When it comes to music and sound, everything is top notch too. Every side has its own musical style. Terrans have an adrenaline pumping mix of rock and techno, the Zerg have dark ambient, threatening noise-like "music" and the Protoss have mysterious, somehow very relaxing music that would suit well for yoga sessions. The main character's voice actors do a good job at bringing their characters to life and every unit type has its own distinct voice (although the Zerg units rely only on growls, screeches and other animal sounds). I personally love the voice of the Protoss Archon, sending a group of those baddies to an enemy settlement while they say one word battle cries like "eradicate" and "destroy" certainly get my blood pumping.

The Bad

While the enemy AI can be quite challenging and smart at times, they are also pretty predictable when you get to know how it works. Most of the time the AI you fight against limits itself to a more or less predetermined combinations of units. It does not happen all the time, but I did notice it quite a few times while playing the single player campaign.

And speaking of the AI, during some missions the AI has access to more than one species at the time. Do not be surprised if you have to duke it out with Terran and Zerg units at the same time or multiple sub factions at once. This may be intimidating and unfair at first, but eventually you can always find a way to even the odds.

The Bottom Line

If you have not yet played StarCraft then I would almost force you to play it. The game's story, setting, presentation and gameplay are awesome and then some. And despite this game being released more than fifteen years ago, fresh copies of this game are still being made and shipped today. So snoop around a bit on Amazon or your local video game store and you will certainly find a copy of this game packed together with its expansion pack for like 5 euros or something. Now go buy it, before I will send a swarm of Zerg Hydralisks you way, or do you prefer Terran Goliaths or Protoss Carriers!