Published on November 23rd, 2015 | by PsychoSparky0
StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void Review
I must confess, I have not got a clue where my weekend has gone. Since the launch of Blizzard’s third chapter of StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void I have lost track of time. My thankfully very understanding wife has kept me fed and watered while I have been battling all manner of space aliens and leading the Protoss on a crusade to reclaim their home planet, Aiur. It has been a long time since a game has held my attention span for this long, making me constantly rethink my strategies as the game challenges the way I approach each mission.
For those of you that are new to the StarCraft franchise it is quite simply an AWESOME real-time strategy game whereby players build armies and fight for control of the battlefield, commanding either a few squad members or an entire full-blown planetary invasion force. StarCraft was first released for the PC in March 1998 and introduced us to three factions; renegade humans called Terrans, noble psionics known as the Protoss and finally nasty insectoids called Zerg. The campaign missions allowed the player to follow each race as they fought for dominance in a remote part of the galaxy gathering understanding of the StarCraft universe, main characters’ personal stories and relationships. In addition to the single player episodes, LAN and online skirmishes were available to wet the appetite of the hardcore gamer as well as the lunchtime office champion, (yes I worked at a fun company back in the day!)
StarCraft has come a long way since StarCraft II: “Wings of Liberty” was released in July 2010. Blizzard sold 1.5 million copies of this Terran based adventure in 48 hours of its release, making it one of the fastest selling PC games in the world. Advances in PC hardware along with other software houses raising the gaming bar ensured that StarCraft II would be a refined graphical masterpiece, leaving the the 1998 low-res graphics well behind, they certainly succeeded in achieving this.
Blizzard released a second episode focusing on the Zerg named “Heart of the Swarm” in March 2013, continuing the story outlaid by Wings of Liberty and once again sold a staggering 1.1 million units within the first 48 hours of its release. To compare, Legacy of the Void has so far been reported as selling over 1 million units within its first 24 hours.
The beauty of the StarCraft II episodes is that they are standalone whereby they are not released as downloadable content that requires the original StarCraft II game to work. This is brilliant for attracting new players to the space conquest as they are not forced into paying for past content, no mentioning of other software houses, you know who you are!
The third episode, Legacy of the Void, allows you to jump straight into the campaign as the Protoss and features a well crafted tutorial for anybody that is new, or like me, has forgotten quick keyboard commands that come in handy when your screen is full of Zerg running riot through your base upsetting your last hours work.
So what do you get for your money I hear? Well worry no more….
Legacy of the Void features a single player campaign playing as Hierarch Artanis of the Protoss, as they attempt to reunite their faction, take back their Zerg infested home planet Aiur and destroy Amon, an ancient evil that is threatening to eradicate all life within the universe. The chapter story is a lot shorter than the previous two however it draws a good conclusion to the well written story that has been played out by each of the factions, wrapping up satisfyingly.
Fancy playing with a friend and conquering the world? Well now you can in “Co-operative Missions”. Choosing from one of six heroic leaders such as Raynor of the Terran faction or Kerrigan of the Zerg each with their own unique abilities and weapons, you and a friend (or stranger) can undertake missions together as allies. The units that you wish to use can be chosen for each mission with a leveling system in place to unlock further units and abilities as your commander gains experience and reaches a new level. The missions can have the difficulty adjusted, allowing you to customize your experience and suit your current skill level. Missions typically lasted around 25 minutes however for me many only lasted a fraction of that time as I made many tactical errors leading to a very early demise! Additional bonus objectives that appear during the missions are taken on at your peril as there is definitely an element of risk in negotiating them however the XP and rewards add to a greater payoff. I was happy to see some of the older units from StarCraft Broodwar could be used such as the annoying Zerg Lurker unit that used to annihilate my troops as I stealthily crept up to their base. It was refreshing to begin missions with 12 harvester units (known as SCVs) instead of 6, allowing you to quickly build units and buildings right from the start. Co-operative missions vary from defending fortresses to devastating supply lines of the enemy across many different worlds, taking on a variety of environments and situations. These features help keep the gameplay fresh as tactics vary and collaboration is essential if you want to be successful. The hysterical chat between the two of you when the battling gets intense makes for an awesome fun atmosphere!
Adding to the online experience of Legacy of the Void is “Competitive Multiplayer” whereby you can select your favourite faction and take on other players around the globe, proving your might through ranked and unranked matches varying from 1v1 through to 4v4. There is also an automated tournament that you can take part in throughout the day whereby you simply sign up within the game and face off against others in elimination rounds to become the ultimate dominance. The tournament is open to players of all skills and nothing is off limits. I have to say, after my success in the campaign I was brought down to earth rather rapidly while playing against non AI players! However as frustrating as it was, it is a great way to gain experience in how to build bases and units effectively as well as a greater understanding of tactics. I should add that within the multiplayer section you can choose to take part in training as well as fight against AI in an attempt to master your faction’s units and upgraded abilities. I did find this useful as although the managing of the bases has been somewhat simplified, there is a lot to take on board regarding unit abilities if you want to have a good chance at beating other players. As people say with most things, preparation is key!
Fancy even more fun to add to your StarCraft experience? Well you are in luck! Arcade mode is an amazingly fun place whereby you will find customized games that have been created by the StarCraft community. The creativity here is symbolic of the massive following that StarCraft has. For example you can play an 8v8 hockey game where you control a single unit and have to pass the puck to team mates in a timed match to score goals and win. Another brilliant game I came across was an 8 player co-operative mission called “Day of the Dead”. As you can imagine it was 8 players versus a relentless onslaught of blood thirsty zombies. There is definitely something here for everyone, I love how the modified missions have their own section within Blizzard’s game, a homage to the dedicated StarCraft players.
I have had the pleasure of playing Legacy of the Void for a week now and I am pleased to say that despite my long gaming history of playing real time strategy games, I am definitely still on a learning curve with StarCraft II. There is so much to steadily take in, refine, use effectively. I have suffered many cruel defeats, had many close calls, and to be honest not many online wins, but something keeps making me reload the game when I come back from work, don my headphones, and head back into the unknown once more.
The graphics are well drawn with great looking map tiles and awesome detailing on the units allowing you to submerge yourself into the equally dynamic gameplay. The heavy metal rock soundtrack gets your adrenaline pumping as you begin to to build up your base and units while keeping one eye on the map and listening hard for any indication that you are about to get rushed. StarCraft II is very much alive and there is so many game modes to keep you occupied for a very long time.
StarCraft II Legacy of the Void is available now on PC for £29.99 for the standard edition or £44.99 for the digital deluxe edition that unlocks unique portraits, unit skins as well as pets, transmogs and card packs for world of warcraft, hearthstone and Diablo III.