Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm continues Blizzard’s Starcraft II storyline after the completion of Wings of Liberty. This expansion focuses on Sarah Kerrigan, who after being turned human again at the end of Wings of Liberty, is now out for revenge against the man who allowed her to be turned Zerg, Arcturus Mengsk. Kerrigan will stop at nothing to destroy Mengsk even if that means becoming the Queen of Blades again and reinserting herself into the Zerg hive mind.
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Title: Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: March 12, 2013 [/toggle_box]
- The Story: Much like all Blizzard games, the focus on story is still strong with Heart of the Swarm. You have a more linear type path with Heart of the Swarm than you did with Wings of Liberty but by no means does it impede on the strong narrative that is Starcraft II.
- Game Length: While most games tend to only be roughly 5-7 hours or so, Starcraft II continues the tradition of most RTS games by being anywhere from 10 hours to 20 hours depending on player skill and difficulty. I took roughly 12-15 hours to complete it, but that was considering when I finish a mission, I like to be completely finished with it, so I explore everything.
- Leveling Up: Heart of the Swarm brings in a new system for Hero classes. You can take a more direct control over the Queen of Blades and she has a health bar in the top left of the screen and plenty of abilities to choose from. The game allows you to level up your Hero by completing missions and through further incentive by completing all of the side missions as well. Through leveling up, you gain passive abilities or new abilities in order to wreak havoc and improve your swarm.
- Cutscenes: As this is a given, Blizzard is still wowing with their strong CG cutscenes. While all the CG cutscenes look great, the engine built cutscenes are quite remarkable as well, and they stand up on their own at times.
- Overall Look and Feel: Still looking great on the visual front. Most RTS’s go for just that environmental bloom for added visuals but Starcraft slams on unit textures as well. The whole game looks and feels remarkable and Blizzard should keep it up going into the final expansion, Legacy of the Void. Heart of the Swarm did also add some more physics effects like in Diablo so that when you kill a unit, it will glide around on the ground a little bit.
- Choices from Wings of Liberty: I was hoping that the choices you made in Wings of Liberty would have had a greater effect on the story in Heart of the Swarm. For example, if you sided with Nova to kill Tosh, then why did Tosh show up in Heart of the Swarm? I guess you could argue whether or not Blizzard is creating a specific canon even by giving you different choices.
- More Jim Raynor: While the game does focus on Kerrigan and her quest for revenge, I still was hoping for more of Jim. While he is a major plot focus for her story in the game, I wish they would have switched it up a little bit in order to give more of the Kerrigan and Jim love story some more backstory, but in the end, it does work out nicely.
- Always Wanting More: The BIGGEST complaint for me was the fact that when it was over, I still wanted more. Of course, this is an expansion, so it wasn’t as “full” as a brand new game but I want to know how this story is going to end.
When it is all said and done, it is safe to assume that Starcraft II is going to end up being one hell of an epic tale. Legacy of the Void will likely be shown off next year but Blizzard could still surprise us at Blizzcon this year (which I may attend). But as for Heart of the Swarm, good job Blizzard, keep it up. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is not only a Blizzard fan, but wants one of the best RTSs on the market. Note that I did not play multiplayer simply because I am horrible at it, but if you want to play with friends, then this would work out nicely with full mod support and complete game changers in how the game functions.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here. This game was also provided to us by Blizzard Entertainment for reviewing purposes.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 10
Amazing – This is a must have, you’ll see this game on top ten lists at the end of the year.[/toggle_box]