View Full Version : StarCraft Review

12-23-2013, 01:29 PM

StarCraft is a Sci-Fi, real-time strategy game developed and published by Blizzard for the PC in 1998 with the N64 version developed by Mass Media and published by Nintendo two years later. It stars three different sets of species and puts you into the commander seat much like in Command and Conquer. The game opens with a human male in armor battling against an alien species later identified as the Zerg until help comes in the form of one extra man. Meanwhile up above in a ship looking down at the chaos are two men discussing the ramifications of releasing such an infestation like the one happening below. The obvious leader of the two asks the other if he's willing to go all the way with it in which he responds with a yes and the ship takes off leaving those down below to their most unwelcome fate at the hands of the Zerg.

Controls: You're going to be doing a lot of clicking. Left click highlights a unit or a structure and after doing so clicking right click on a part of the map moves them to that place and right clicking on enemies moves them to attack. The same can be said for units that are tasked with gathering items to build your reserves which I'll get into later. You can also cycle the mini map on the bottom left corner of your screen by pressing the tab button.

If you want to select more than one unit you can hold down the left mouse button and then move the mouse over the units you want to control to select them all at once. Moving the mouse around, or just pressing on the directional buttons on the keyboard, can move you across the map to look at other areas, or you can just click on a specific part of the map to be taken there immediately. Saves time.

After our opening we're taken to the title screen which has your single-player campaign, a campaign editor mode which I'm not going to touch with a twenty foot pole because I know I'll break something and then finally multiplayer. The single-player campaign is separated by three episodes one for each major species in the game. Going from the Terran (humans of the future) Zerg (aliens) and the Protoss, a humanoid species with access to psionics abilities. You're unable to play the Zerg and Protoss campaign until after you finished the Terran.

The story is told through the used of mission briefings and cinema cut-scenes at key points throughout the campaign. Instead of the mission briefings being full motion video and performed by actors, it's in a screen with words going by like a teleprompter and circles around the message where the faces of the character talking at that time appears in CGI animation.

The game is nice enough to start you off with a tutorial mission to show you the basic of gameplay. We have our main base called a Command Center, which you don't even have to build, where you can create units known as SCV (Space Construction Vehicle) which are required to gather minerals, gas, build other structures and repair damaged buildings and vehicles. The more minerals and gas you collect, the more structures and units you'll be able to supply yourself with (this goes for each species) as you need a certain number of both resources in other to keep building your forces. From there you can build other such structures like Barracks, Refineries, places to put together ground and air vehicles to use in battle but you also require Supply deports which provides the supplies necessary to continue building these structures, if you're low on supplies you'll be told and then instructed to build another Supply deport.

Each unit have more specific commands you can give them over in a list on the bottom right corner of the screen. As I mentioned with the SCV he can gather and repair as well as construct structures, move and attack. Many of your soldiers can patrol any area you select on the map or hold their ground. Other things, like a drop ship for example, can store up to several units (even ground vehicles) and fly them over areas they wouldn't be able to get to otherwise and at first are critical in completing a mission.

Visually everything looks great, it doesn't feel like I'm playing an old game at all and the characters on the screen feel so alive in colorful environments. From simple lines such as, “You want a piece of me?” to a sarcastic, “Yeah, I hear ya, sir!” every unit has their own personality that registers to the player and makes the game all the more fun and easy to get into.

The Terran faction are accompanied by a sort of A. I called the Adjutant, but some times is just referred to as computer although it's more humanoid hardware and looks like a cyborg than a standard computer. She appears in all the briefings for the Terran explaining the mission, patching through other communications, informing you of important updates during the mission like when you need more supplies, if a target you need to take out appears, how much time you have left until help arrives, etc. etc. With the Zerg faction the Adjutant is replaced with an eye ball. An eye that gives you orders. Don't question it! And then on the Protoss side of things we have Roy Campbell – I mean, Gally “Vanish” Gregman – I mean... Aldaris. A Khalai Protoss of the Judicator Castle sent to instruct you. Whose also to just so happen share a voice with the eye ball. I wonder if the Zerg and Protoss have some kind of arrangement with Paul...

Being ever as diverse as humans are, there are a couple of organizations among the Terran that separates them. For example we have the Confederacy which is a government organization you take orders from at the start of the Terran campaign. Confederacy, Confederate, I bet I know what their banner looks like...


Dude, I was kidding.

The Confederacy are pretty much what you'd expect a government body to be in a game like this. Unlikeable from the get-go, shady, up to no good and an extreme pain in the neck who only cares about their own interests and something to ultimately rise up against and overthrow.

Then we have the Sons of Korhal who is a rebel group that stands up against the Confederacy and has since been labeled a terrorist organization by their enemy. I guess it's true what they say, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It's the Sons of Korhal who come to your aid when the Confederacy decides to leave you high and dry.

Back over on the Zerg side of things (Zerg Rush!) whose main base of operation is the Hatchery which is constructed by a Zerg drone that mutates into the structure being built. It can also mutate into a lair and later a hive granting you a tougher foundation and more knowledge of the Overmind, will of the swarm. From the Hatchery you have the creep, a living organism required to nourish Zerg structures and larvae (base unit in which all other units ultimately come from) and are required to take up vacant space for structures to be built. Both the Terran and Protoss are unable to build their own structures on the creep or land on them, but they can lift off from them.

The larvae come from the Hatchery and can morph into other units needed to build your Zerg forces. There's basically a lot of mutating and evolving going around with the Zerg which is really quite fascinating and makes me want to put them underneath a magnifying glass for further study but they'd probably kill me for that. The larvae has high armor and resiliency but few hit points to speak of and they'll die automatically if something happens to the creep underneath them. Left to their own devices the larvae will just wander around the building that spawned them. Even if all of your units and structures are destroyed a larvae can still evolve into a drone and rebuild your forces from the ground up given time.

Next up we have the spawning pool, a pit of green ooze which holds the genetic makeup of the Zerg and is required in order evolve the larvae and the Hatchery. It also gives them a power boost of sorts that can be utilize like faster movement and attacks. There's one structure among the Zerg that you can't build and that comes by having the queen enter a badly damaged Command Center that belongs to the Terran and infesting it. It retains its lift-off ability allowing you to move it to a safer location and then make units the way Terrans would to create the Infested Terran unit. I think I talked a good deal about the Zergs for this review so let move on to the third and final species you play in the game, the Protoss.

The Protoss foundation building is called the Nexus, a mammoth pyramid shaped structure that towers over the rest of a Protoss settlement and paves the way for the probe, basic construction unit for the Protoss. From there you can build other such structures like the anti-air and ground Photon Cannon, the Pylon which is needed to tap into the psionic matrix where your buildings and soldiers draw their power from, the Stargate (not to be confused with SG1) allowing you to warp in aircrafts, the Templar archives that leads into the high templar to allow for research of their more advanced psychic abilities and a Shield Battery for support and then finally the Robotics facility that allows for automated war machines to support your troops. There are more but I think I covered the main ones.

Units wise after the probe we have the Dragoon, the assault walker which is more for shooting down aircrafts. The Zealot are the ideal choice to take the blunt end of all the ground attacks by enemy forces given how strong they are. The Carrier is a heavy command ship that can be used in battle. The Observers are mobile detector units and are usually cloaked, however due to low health on their part you need to be careful of anti-cloak units (yeah, those exist) as they'll be little time to escape if caught. On the plus side they're cheap to make so you can have a lot of them to accompany a single attack force. There's also the Scout, a space fighter with strong anti- air attack to challenge heavily armored enemy air units.

For one reason or another I can't access multiplayer, to my knowledge the servers on this game are still open but I still can't get hook up to it so I won't be talking about multiplayer in this review, sorry.

Cons: There's a limit to how many units you can take control of at a time when selecting multiple units. This wouldn't even be a con if it wasn't for the fact these units could still fit on screen and you still won't be able to take control of all of them, you'll get most and then a couple of others will just stay behind unless you manage them directly. If they all fit on the screen and I can drag my mouse over them all then I should be able to highlight them all, what the hell? If you have too many units moving at one time the ones in the back will stop, turn around and start walking the other way. Wait, come back, it's this way you morons! Would it h ave been so hard just to have them stay in wait until the ones in front get out of their way? Why do they have to be moving about like that?

During one mission against the Zerg I had all of my units and structures destroyed. Did that trigger a game over? Amazingly, no. The game just kept going, the clock kept ticking down and then the rescue team arrived to have no one to rescue and I completed the mission anyway despite all my people being dead. And people say games today are too easy? I have no idea what happened there. Did I have a guy off to the side somewhere that the Zerg didn't get to yet? Who knows.

Conclusion: It's not hard to see how this game managed to get Game of the Year when it came out and was the #1 Best Selling PC Game of 1998. The gameplay is heavily addicting and all the species you can play as are fun. The characters down to the smallest of units just feel so alive and the story is great to watch unfold. If you're a fan of Blizzard, Sci-Fi or real-time strategy games then I absolutely positivity recommend this game for you.

Final Score: 7/10

Next Time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4yr409HioE)

12-23-2013, 02:07 PM
Maybe I missed it somewhere in your review, but did you know you can assign units to control groups? Basically select the ones you want to control and press Ctrl plus a number key. Then you just need to press that number key to select that unit again in the future. Makes controlling armies a bit easier. Though you still can't select more than 12. Ironically the limit doesn't exist because of technical limits. They added it in Warcraft because they thought letting you control everything at once would just lead to throwing big armies at each other and seeing what happens.

Not the best way to solve that problem.

12-23-2013, 02:12 PM
I didn't, actually. No.

I always end up playing these games the hard way whether I mean to or not -_- Instruction manual wasn't much help either.

12-23-2013, 02:32 PM
Yeah, I think back in the day it was just the sort of thing you found out from friends and stuff. I can't even imagine playing through the game without using the control groups and building hotkeys. It'd be awful.

12-23-2013, 02:43 PM
Yeah hotkeys are definitely how to play the game. I usually had groups organized and hotkeyed, plus comsat/observers/overlords (depending on race) hotkeyed as well. It made switching between groups and scanners and such really easy.

Great game; I only ever played it multiplayer but Blizzard did something amazing with the way all of the races play so differently and distinctly and yet feel so balanced.

12-23-2013, 02:50 PM
Does the hotkeys carry over to StarCraft II? I'll be playing that in April.

Blizzard knows how to make a fun and addicting game, that's for sure. I think this was around the time they were getting hot, wasn't it? I know Diablo came out around the same time as StarCraft that's another fun series of theirs.

12-23-2013, 02:54 PM
Oh yeah, the hotkeys carry over as do much of everything else. If you've played the original SC you can jump right into SC2 with no difficulties.

Starcraft came out after Diablo but before Diablo II, I think.

12-23-2013, 03:01 PM
They do have hotkeys in SC2 and I'm pretty sure you can use the classic ones if you want, but with some of the units changing you'd still have to learn some new ones. And honestly, most of the newer hotkey layouts are more ergonomic. Moving all over the keyboard in the original is a pain. It's nice that they have multiple options now though. If I were starting the game from scratch I'd probably learn the grid layout since it requires the least hand movement.

And StarCraft was about where they really exploded. They were already popular since Warcraft and Warcraft 2 were pretty well known, and the first Diablo came out two years before. Then they had StarCraft followed by Brood War and then Diablo 2 two years later, and Warcraft 3 another two years after that. They were on a hot streak for quite a while there.

12-24-2013, 09:26 AM
That's right; I forgot that some of the default hotkeys changed between SC and SC2. It was kind of a pain to relearn but I dealt with it.

A lot of the "new" units are basically just the same as old ones but renamed. Like Protoss dragoons were turned into something else (I can't recall what because I haven't played SC2 in forever)

12-24-2013, 12:57 PM
Stalkers are kind of like Dragoons with a new ability and pathfinding that doesn't shit its pants, yeah.

12-24-2013, 03:25 PM
Since I haven't learned anything on that front it shouldn't be too difficult.

w00t! w00t! It's only been a day and StarCraft already has 31 views on my official blog. If it keep going at that rate it's going to be in my top ten before long.

12-24-2013, 05:27 PM
And StarCraft was about where they really exploded. They were already popular since Warcraft and Warcraft 2 were pretty well known, and the first Diablo came out two years before. Then they had StarCraft followed by Brood War and then Diablo 2 two years later, and Warcraft 3 another two years after that. They were on a hot streak for quite a while there.

And then WoW happened. Which was fun, until you realized that it meant that we'd never get another true Warcraft game. And then Diablo 3 happened, and I don't think I even need to say anything about that one.

Now StarCraft is pretty much all they have left. And I'm sure they'll find a way to ruin it as well.