When I hear that a game that I look strongly forward to is being delayed, it puts a chill in my spine. That’s because when a game is heavily delayed, it usually means that something is seriously wrong and the final product will be a total disaster.
Take Battlecruiser 3000, for instance. Here we have a product that was supposed to be the ultimate in space exploration; something in the likes of Privateer, Elite, etc. After who knows how many years of delays, what was brought to the public was an unfinished disc, complete with bugs, crashes, incomplete manuals, and everything else wrong in the distribution of games. Heck, it’s still being distributed via the Internet and still it’s not finished!
But I digress, I felt that this disaster was going to happen again. When I heard that Blizzard, who was responsible for both Diablo, and that god of all real-time strategy games, Warcraft II, was going to release a space version of their strategy classic, I fell right out of my seat, wanting to play it so badly.
Alas, every few months after the initial announcement, I heard the same thing over and over again, that it has been delayed. My hopes were starting to wear thin, and I decided that the final release had better be something worth playing.
That worrying is past now. Starcraft has finally been released, and I am proud to say something that I have never said in a long while…THIS GAME IS DEFINITELY WORTH THE WAIT!
Never since Red Alert have I been so engrossed in a strategy game of such tremendous magnitude, that I have been staying up to the wee hours of the night observing the epic struggle between the Terrans, Protoss, and the bugs…er, I mean Zerg. I even broke my mouse during a pitched battle.
The whole game looks like a cross between Starship Troopers, Aliens, Babylon 5, and Independence Day all wrapped into one CD.
The Terrans are your typical earth-based marine force. Their specialties include the ability to move base installations to other locations, which means that if you wish to mine crystals and/or Vespene Gas (the two resources that need to be mined, similar to wood and gold in Warcraft II), you need not build a new command center. Just airlift it to the new location, send a dropship to pick up your SCV’s (Space Construction Vehicles, aka peons) and send them to the new area to continue their work.
Terrans also have the ability to cloak their vehicles to sneak into enemy hideouts. In fact, the Terrans have their own cloaked soldiers, called Ghosts, who can spy on their enemies, and ultimately plant a nuclear device onto a facility.
The Protoss are a very unique sort. Being the only race in which every unit has shields, the Protoss can take a lot of punishment before they can be eliminated. Their only catch is that they take a while to develop.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Bugs…excuse me again, I mean Zerg, are reminiscent of the xenomorphs from the Alien movies. They are mobile killing machines that strike fast and hard. Some attack at close range, while others spit acid to attack. Their facilities also appear to be living, and they actually bleed when destroyed. The life cycle is so scary to witness, as the ground near Zerg facilities tends to breathe with life.
Zerg reproduction is very fast, since they are generated from simple larvae produced in their home colony. Bugs also have an advantage of being able to heal themselves when they are on the verge of death. However, the only catch is that the Zerg die easily.
One thing I loved about the Warcraft series is that each side had their own special characters which had an integral part in the story, and you felt that you were doing something that could alter their life. Starcraft succeeds in keeping this tradition in mind, as new characters are brought into each episode (1 for each race), and it gives a strong feeling of possibly leading this character into the thrill of victory.
Starcraft also keeps the very simple game structure that made Warcraft II a winner. A handy tutorial guides you into the interface and it does help, believe me. It might not be necessary for Warcraft veterans, but for newbies, it’s really is a useful guide.
Entire campaigns can be created via the custom Campaign editor that is packed with the game. New campaigns can also be downloaded from various sites on the Internet, and can also be distributed through Blizzard’s own excellent Battle.net service.
Like I said before, very few heavily delayed games can be well worth the hype. Fortunately though, Starcraft deviates from the norm. I know it’s too early for GIN to decide on a Game of the Year yet, but I’m sure that when December hits, Starcraft will be one of the top candidates.
Developers: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo 64, PC