Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm was released today, but I am not ready to give it a score. Blizzard unlocked the game for everyone (including press) at 12:01 am this morning, which includes the online multiplayer, and single-player campaign. Check back often to see how I am discussing the game as I will update this thread often throughout the week.
Ok let’s jump into some single player shall we. One hour in and I am enjoying it so far, which isn’t a surprise. I enjoyed the Wings of Liberty campaign, and its great to see the same production quality in Heart of the Swarm. The in-game cutscenes are amazing, and flesh out the characters. If you haven’t played the previous installment, I do sense that you will be missing a little bit of the story.
The first opening missions are essentially tutorial missions for you to get used to Zerg. The AI is really easy at this level so don’t expect a challenge. Everything at this point is setting up plot points later on in the story. Next time I pick this up the difficultly should be escalating, but I am having a blast so far.
The story is some what a mix bag for me. Why do terrain soldiers allow Jim Raynor to escape with Morrigan knowing how powerful she is with the Zerg. Shouldn’t you be killing the swarm not harvesting it? On a serious note the pacing is fantastic. Levels are broken up by mission objectives, and are varied in their own way. In one mission you could be playing as one unit trying to escape an opposing force, then the next your harvesting, and growing your army. Time adjectives are added into the mix so no matter what you always get a new gameplay experience.
After concluding the first stage of the campaign, the game finally opens up. As you progress you unlock new units, and upgrades for existing units. I have already upgraded my Zerglings speed to make them speed demons on the battlefield. I don’t know what’s around the corner, but it’s these little things that make want to continue with the campaign.
After WordPress blew up, I have returned to update my review in progress.
After logging 15 hours into the campaign, its just generic. I believe there are too many tutorial missions that handicap your ability to control your army. The campaign main point is having you understand how to build an economy, and every once in awhile the challenge will introduce a situation that throws a bone into your original strategy. What changes the gameplay in the campaign is the ability to personalize your army. Through this option you are allowed to play with units that aren’t available in multiplayer.Most of the upgrades available are more for cosmetic, and don’t really change how a unit, but some do. Very early into the game I was able to unlock Banelings that could climb terrain, making it an effective unit for base raids.
The more I play through the campaign the more I sense they wanted to add a player-choice element. In the very first mission you are given to choice to use Zerg, or gas to free your escape, but its a gameplay element that hasn’t been revisited yet. Every time I finish off a boss, It gives that impression that for a split second I will have the choice to kill him or let him join my cause. Sadly the game forces you down a linear path, but you can see where they wanted to go with the story.
So what I am going to do next
I still haven’t played the multiplayer element in StarCraft, which is something I am going to hammer out over the weekend.