StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

aka: SC2:HotS
Moby ID: 61229
Windows Specs
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Description

Heart of the Swarm takes off where the Wings of Liberty ended. Jim Raynor managed the impossible, and with the help of Mengsk's son, the young prince, and a handful of Dominion forces, he rescued Sarah Kerrigan from the clutches of Zerg influence and helped her regain her humanity. While she now appeared more human than when leading the Swarm, she still retained the ability to control the Zerg, but was stripped of her other powers. She might have even considered letting go of her grudge against Emperor Mengsk and leave it all behind with Jim, but when Dominion forces under Emperor Mengsk's command attacked the facility she was at, Kerrigan and Jim got separated and not soon after she was led to believe that Jim was captured and executed. What once seemed like a peaceful escape turned into raging lust for vengeance. She was determined to regain her foothold among the Zerg and once again take the lead of the Swarm. But in order to achieve that, she would have to thread lightly as she lost her once immense influence over the Swarm. Led by vengeance, Kerrigan is set to become The Queen of Blades once again and finish Emperor Mengsk once and for all.

Unlike in base game, this add-on features hero characters much more often on the missions, so Kerrigan will be present during the most ambitious conflicts between her Swarm and the opposing forces. As such, she can level up and upgrade her skills and abilities between missions. But unlike that of Terrans, upgrades with Zerg Swarm can be changed at any point between missions. Only mutation upgrades are permanent. Missions are much more versatile than in Wings of Liberty, new planets are introduced, new map terrain, and a plethora of new and upgraded units, both Zerg and other. While basic Zerg units can select one of the three existing upgrades changeable at any time during or between missions, evolution mutations are permanent. Before Zerg units can evolve, you will have to play evolution missions which will introduce both strains of evolution for the units, and then select the best suitable one for your campaign.

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Credits (Windows version)

3,951 People (3,933 developers, 18 thanks) · View all

Game Design
  • Blizzard Entertainment
Executive Producer
Story Director
Art Director
Business Director
Game Director
Production Director
Technical Director
Lead Artists
Lead Level Designer
Lead Programmers
Lead Technical Artist
Lead Writer
Artists
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 13 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.3 out of 5 (based on 27 ratings with 1 reviews)

What all the games in the genre should strive to become

The Good
It's a love story. Yup, it's a love story with memorable dramatic scenes and brilliant execution in both storytelling and gameplay. The game continues where the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty ended and Kerrigan was finally back to being a human... well, more or less. Her cool zerg hair and certain powers were still present, but she was no longer the Queen of Blades. Things turn for the worse, and believing that Jim Raynor died, any though of her settling down with her current status was flushed down the toilet and she was back on the course of vengeance and regaining her powers. And boy, how well was all that executed. The story. The story is simply sublime and this add-on makes a perfect balance of not bugging you with key story dialogues during gameplay which would be unnoticed during your concentration on the gameplay.

Now the gameplay, that one is second only to the story. Kerrigan stars as a slightly-stronger-than-regular-unit hero character, and over time becomes so powerful you can level bases with her alone. Don't worry, it was all done right and nicely balanced. You obviously cannot just go in the middle of enemy base or attack alone and hope to survive, but you can prod and strike from the distance and occasionally dash right into the heart of the enemy as long as you keep track on your health bar and have a few regular units to distract the enemy and aid you in your combat as your special powers too need time to recharge, although they do recharge much faster than your health.

Level are very versatile and you'll be surprised with ares and creatures you'll meet. And if you think you've seen it all by playing the Terrans in the first part of the trilogy, you've got it all wrong. There's plenty of new units and upgrade system is great to work with. Your swarm evolution can be ticked in a wanted direction, but once you select the strain you want there's no going back and changing it as you like. That is really great, imho, as having too many options can only be distracting. Dialogues with your comrades and lieutenants during mission briefings are also very interesting and overall level of details on Kerrigan, in any form she currently is is simply stunning.

She is drop dead gorgeous, even more than on the Brood War splash screen. Exotic to the max and Tricia Helfer's voice works just like a charm. While in-game soundtrack is on the level, I cannot think of a tune that would stand out, but the score in the cutscenes is really great and emphasizes every situation and dialogue perfectly, far surpassing those in Wings of Liberty, but that might be more to the fact the story itself has much better premise as it combines love, compassion, combat, brutality and vengeance.

The Bad
Well, the game was done by Blizzard and I am no fan of theirs, but what they achieved with this game is make me admit that they did the best RTS game ever made. I cannot even imagine what some other RTS game should look and be like to surpass this one. And it's amazing that they did such a masterpiece on an add-on and not on a base game.

Well, the fact you have to be online is certainly not a good thing, especially if you have ever-so-slow Internet as I always do.

The Bottom Line
Coming with an inbred love for the pioneers of the genre, the one and only Westwood Studios, I was always a fan of their original title, Dune II and the main Command & Conquer games from the series. Back then, Blizzard entered the genre with WarCraft and StarCraft, but they never worked for me as the WS titles have. Nor fun to play, nor imaginative, nor creative enough. Well, this game changed it all for me. It looks so damn real, the level of details is amazing, the missions are so well written and executed, and all the characters fit right into their place. Whether I like Blizzard or not matters not, with StarCraft II games they came right on top of the genre and stayed there... it's their domain now.

I always try to avoid new PC games for two things... they often require Internet connection, and they require strong computers to look good. Well, this game worked smooth at 1080p with high level of details on my rather old GeForce and not that fast CPU. And yes, it still look very detail rich without anything to complain about, in either speed or quality.

I would've stayed off of StarCraft II if this game didn't come out. The story premise looks so interesting I got both games in one swoop, and after a painful night of having to download some 10+ GB of data, I could start it the next day and it all worked fine. And despite the setup waiting, it all paid off, bigtime! I never really got the feel about Sarah's and Jim's love or that it was anything this strong until I played this game. It is really done right in every aspect making for an extremely memorable gaming experience. Zergling coming to cheer Kerrigan and such scenes are simply priceless. Direction, gameplay, sound... everything done right, simple sublime.

Windows · by MAT (241150) · 2015

Trivia

References

A poster for the game is shown prominently in the third episode of the third season of the Norwegian TV series Lilyhammer. It is shown in the house of a freelancer Roar Lien visits to confront him with a crossword puzzle where he is featured.

Awards

  • GameStar/GamePro (Germany)
    • 2013 – Best Strategy Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MAT.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added August 1, 2013. Last modified June 16, 2024.