Those wizzards at Blizzard have done it again; Starcraft breaks all the bad habits that the real-time strategy genre had gotten into and looks good doing it too!
Starcraft is set in the furture in a sector far, far away. Here a conglomerate of human criminals, sentenced to colonize a planet near the Solar System by the United Powers League, found themselves after the navigation computers of their sleep ships malfunctioned. After finally reaching the technological standards of Earth they found themselves caught in a war between the benevolent Protoss and the ravaging Zerg. That sums up the premise of Starcraft which, in my opinion, is fairly unique and avoids most of the rts cliches. The plotline, although starting slow (with an average rebel vs. empire Human campaign), is driven by roundtable briefings and excellent cutscenes and ends in an involving story with a grand finale.
Moving on from the plot to the gameplay; Starcraft has an incredible variety of units with three very unique races. Unlike most rts games with multiple races, Starcraft's races does not have any equivelant units. In fact, the very method of base-building and wageing war is completely different for each race. Although you would never win a war of attrition with the Protoss, the Terrans, wielding long-range and hit-and-run weapons, can easily prevail in trench warfare. The units are varied and even your basic Terran marine is usefull to the last mission; there is no "ultimate unit".
For the most part the mission maps and goals, while nothing spectacular, are good and clear, but it's the base design that really shines. Each base has multiple possible entrences with sometimes the addition of outposts;furthermore, the bases adhere to the objectives, mentality, and A.I. that is unique to each race. Since there are many ways to achieve your objectives, Starcraft allows many gameplay styles; you can really decide which area is the most open to your attack style and which units you will send there.
There are a few problems that need to be addressed, but nothing that would effect the enjoyment of the game. First of all, although there are three of them, the campaigns are so short (10 missions) that you can never get enough missions with your favorite races; I was seperated from my Terran marines and their depleted uranium bullet firing machine guns (ha,ha,ha :}) too soon! Second of all, most of the Protoss vs. Protoss missions were so mind-numbingly hard that I almost gave up several times on each one before finally beating them. Finally, as an extention of my first complaint, the game is too short! I can't get enough of it! MORE, MORE, I MUST HAVE MORRREEEEE!! Now I must conclude this review while I go on a rampage to Blizzard's office and demand a sequal (Brood War wasn't enough either).
The Bottom Line
If you only play one rts, play Starcraft. A derfinite must for all serious gamers.