StarCraft 2’s Campaign is amazing

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Cantina abord your capital ship that you can interact with. Notice the dancing Night Elf?

The title says it all.  I’ve spent the entire day playing the campaign (not even near finished) and I can’t put it down.  Blizzard has taken the RTS model that they already mastered — and were leading in the industry — and innovated on top of it and reset the bar even further out of anyone’s reach.

I’ll spoil absolutely nothing about the story here so worry not.  What I want to talk about is how Blizzard has inserted between missions this hub-like area where you see characters rendered as full models (like a MMO, if you will) and you can click on various things in the room.  I have no idea how to describe this type of interaction but imagine if you will a room where things are interactive by… clicking on them.  Okay I’m repeating myself.  Just look at the screenshot on the right.

These intractable areas are full of things to do like interact with characters, view the next missions, and the best part is that you get to customize.  Your play-through of SC2 might be different than mine.  You get to upgrade units and buildings, buy upgrades from a skill ladder, and choose the order to complete many missions.  Graev did his so different from mine that he had Vikings on a level where you have to defend a base and I had siege tanks and special turrets.  He unlocked his vikings by playing a different level first.

The Campaign is so very, very different from multiplayer.  I lost count at around 20 things that are not in multiplayer.  (SPOILER: Firebats, Medics, Goliaths) and a slew of other completely unique vehicles and building upgrades.  Why these were left out of multiplayer baffles me.  Some of them are so friggin’ amazing. You even get to buy mercenaries that you can purchase to help you during missions.

Blizzard has taken the RTS elements of the game so much further by personalizing the experience and attaching you more to the characters by having you feel like you’re apart of what goes on behind the scenes.  The story unfolds around you instead of in front of you.  As for the story itself, I’m grinning ear to ear just thinking about how awesome it is so far.  Yes, I’m gushing about it.

The achievement system worked in better than I thought.  Bonus objectives and various actions you take just while playing will reward you.  Achievements do add a layer of depth by providing you an alternative way of completing the missions.  Sometimes I don’t check the achievements and just finish the level just to find out that if I had done it differently or maybe tried just a tad harder to protect a particular building that I would have gotten an achievement for it.

Blizzard’s easter eggs are quite funny too.  I’ve found several WoW, a Pirates of the Caribbean, Office Space, and various pop culture references.

A++ on the campaign, Blizzard.  This was such an amazing purchase that I feel strongly will be my game of the year and I haven’t even touched the Multiplayer yet!

PS: Why doesn’t Blizzard take this engine that they’re using to render cutscenes and these interaction areas and create a game with it?  It would make for a phenomenal RPG or something.  The graphics are gorgeous and the game runs so well.

  • Have to say I’m 100% with you on this one Keen.

    There really isn’t anything about the campaign that I could think to improve.

    I love that all the missions are so diverse from one another. I haven’t played a single mission that didn’t have a unique hook to it.

    It makes me wonder what kind of amazing game play ideas will result from the map editor in the months to come, given the tremendous flexibility it’s shown.

    Damn.. I want to finish work and go play some more! 🙂

  • I wish I liked RTS more. Every time a get a cool looking RTS, I get psyched up over the talents trees and unit progression, but my enthusiasm always wanes about halfway through the campaign as I try to balance my frustration over my lovingly nurtured 1337 units dying at a far corners of the map while my focus was diverted at another flash point, with the inevitable realization that I just need to build up a pantsload full of units and zerg their defenses. Is the gameplay different in some fundamental way from others in this genre?

    Even though the RTS may be touted to be more realistic than the turn-based games of which I am so fond of, at somepoint I will be screaming at the computer screen, “Oh great, like I meant for my units to do that! Yeah randomly run into their crossfire like retarded children hearing an ice cream truck bell!”

  • I hope you’re gonna give blizzard a tissue to clean themselves off with. Especially after the load you just blew on them.


  • I’ve not been a Starcraft person, and am only a mild RTS player, but when my friend popped online yesterday and said he bought it and that it came with seven hour trial keys I decided I’d check it out, so far I’m in agreement with you, completely. I may have to go back and pick up the anthology of the original Starcraft before I go purchase Starcraft 2. Will I be horribly disappointed by the story or gameplay mechanics if I do?

  • Unfortunately, looks like most folks didnt realise the Cantina is nothing new. Look at old WingCom4, its a similar setup how to tell a good story from mission after mission.

  • This feels like 1995. The mass-rts genre seems dead imo. The RPG part with the Hellion interior seems nice but aint new at all. dow2 for example was way more fun to me than any base mission in sc2 where in the end you just have to have x units to conquer. Always.

    I even was kinda dissapointed wiht the lack of CGI’s. Blizzard is going for engine rendered movies what doesnt really feel like the old blizz experience 🙁

  • I am most disappointed in that the campaign is still about producing a large number of units, lassoing them all and sending them to the next flashpoint. I only did the first four maps yet, but it bored me. It will be hard for me to continue on

  • @Tooth I’m in the same boat as you.

    “Why doesn’t Blizzard take this engine that they’re using to render cutscenes and these interaction areas and create a game with it? It would make for a phenomenal RPG or something. The graphics are gorgeous and the game runs so well.”

    Come on keen. Haven’t you seen “The making of” when they show how these are made? It’s a fuckload of work.

  • I´m with panzerfaust, SC2 is good. But it´s not that good and it is nowhere in any form innovativ. However i think DoW2 was horrible.

    Anyway they have done a very good job with the story so far, which was the reason i bought it. I´m looking forward to see how it will unfold. Considering the strategy, i´m disappointed, Starcraft one was way better single and multiplayer and simply had more strategly deepth. (it doesn´t help that the faction balance isn´t anything worth mentioning and no LAN just hurts in my eyes).

    Thinking about the long production time, it makes me wonder what the heck they did all these years, except being lazy.

    I´m just happy that i got the game very very cheap, with only the human campaign, i couldn´t see myself buying the normal price.

  • Probably out of the multiplayer because of balance issues. SC 1 was so well balanced they have a an insane reputation to live up too. If a unit or a feature provided even the slightest imbalance people would complain a lot.

  • @Keen
    The ship feels sort of like your camp in Dragon Age. I know some old games from the 1996-1999 era had menu interfaces like this. I really do like it though.

    There are missions later on with some variety that aren’t just “build units out of a base” but honestly that is the style of RTS that StarCraft is. DoW2 wasn’t for me but I can respect your taste.

    Most the progamers think the game is fairly balanced. The win/loss metrics of the 3 races put them with in 2-3% of one another over all the leagues. The “perceived” strongest race, Terran, hasn’t won a big tournament in awhile. Furthermore the original StarCraft was considered very unbalanced until BroodWars came out, then patches for the following 6 months.

    Yes it sucks that there is no LAN, it hurts me more than most. I’m in the military and often times can’t get an internet connection so we rely on LAN to play games. The single player is amazing in my eyes and the multiplayer is extrememly balanced.

  • As cool as it sounds, without LAN play, I won’t be picking this up — we never play RTS games except at LAN parties, and I’m usually too busy with other stuff to bother with the single player… =\

  • My question to you Xeno, if it did have LAN would you really have bought it just to play at a LAN party? Or would you have burned a copy?

    Nothing is preventing people from hosting LAN parties. Yes the game isn’t ACTUALLY hosted via LAN, but how does that change the social interaction of a LAN party? Most places that would host a LAN would have an internet connection, making the connection to pointless.

    My friends and I are planning on having a SC2 LAN party soon.

  • It’s funny how the idea that worked so well in games like Wing Commander and Tie Fighter also mesh really well with RTS.

    Also the missions really don’t feel like just a training for the multiplayer, lots of variety and a lot of cool things done with the in mission engine. And I like the upgradeable, took a page from Company of heroes there.

  • the reason that not all units are available in multiplayer is for the 3 versions of the game Blizzard is going to require you to buy to have the full experience. It’s like buying an expansion pack … but for the price of the full game!

  • I was highly critical of Blizzard’s decision to make three games. However, after playing and completing the campaign I would happily buy into the next games.

    Perhaps they’ll be made available in the expansions.

  • Keen,
    I totally agree. I always knew I would buy all 3 games, but after finishing the campaign I can’t wait for the other two to come out. It feels like I just watched the first season of a mini series and I can’t wait for the rest.