It is difficult to compete with a legend. When StarCraft first came out in 1998, it was well received, and sold around 1.5 million in its first year- a respectable, albeit not spectacular number. Somewhere along the way, the sci-fi real time strategy game managed to transcend the realm of average and become something different- just ask gamers in Korea, where the StarCraft brand has generated nationally televised competitions, a professional league complete with large cash prizes (and game fixing scandals), and even a television station. The game has gained a cult following, in the most extreme way possible.
So while a sequel seemed inevitable, it also seemed problematic. With millions of fans that have been playing for over a decade, the scrutiny heaped upon StarCraft II has been nothing short of intense, and in order to satiate fans, the game would need to be better than good- better than great. It would need to be epic. And in almost every way it succeeds. It isn’t perfect, but StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty offers one of the best games in the real-time strategy genre ever made.
For those that have expunged the original’s story after so many years having passed, here’s a brief recap. Brace yourselves, the story has had 12 years to spawn expansion packs, novels and the fertile ground of gamers’ imagination where it has grown to epic proportions.
In the 25th century, humanity will be known as the Terrans, and we will still be kicking the crap out of each other, just on a galactic scale. On a backwater planet, a marshal named Jim Raynor steps into the role as an unlikely leader, and fights off a horrifying attack from an insect-like swarm race known as the Zerg that are the stuff of nightmares.
Unfortunately the Zerg aren’t the only problem for Raynor and the Terrans, as the oppressive Confederacy of Man moves in and unjustly arrests Raynor. Raynor then joins the growing revolution against the Confederation, where he meets Arcturus Mengsk. The two join forces and soon Raynor falls for Mengsk’s second-in command, Sarah Kerrigan.
In what was a fairly major twist, Mengsk betrays everyone and shows his true colors as a tyrant. It is revealed that Mengsk was using the Zerg, and luring them to inhabited worlds to further his own goals by attacking his enemies. Through his betrayals, Kerrigan is left to die, but is instead captured and mutated by the Zerg. Raynor, believing her dead, forms his own resistance group called “Raynor’s Raiders”, and the war grows. Kerrigan returns as the Queen of Blades, betrays everyone, and helps push civilization to the brink of destruction. The Protoss, the most technologically advanced race in known galaxy join the fight against the Zerg, and total war engulfs the galaxy.
As the flames of war begin to burn everywhere, Raynor and a Protoss commander named Tassadar, discover the key to defeating the Zerg was to destroy the Overmind. Raynor joins a desperate final assault on the Overmind, and Tassadar gives his life to destroy the Overmind. It was fairly epic stuff.
The sequel picks up four years later, and again follows Raynor, as he continues to fight Mengsk and the Terran Dominion. Soon, the Zerg begin an all out attack, led by the Queen of Blades, who is seeking several mysterious relics. To give away more would do a disservice to fans who have been waiting for the campaign, but suffice to say they should be happy with the depth of both the characters and the storyline.