StarCraft: Brood War Review

StarCraft Brood War cover art box art PC windows

Take command of one of the three struggling races and lead intergalactic battles of supremacy and survival.

Story

The great Protoss hero Tassadar sacrificed himself in order to destroy the Overmind of the insectoid Zerg. The Protoss home planet Aiur is totally devastated after the Zerg invasion but thanks to Tassadar’s great effort they had struck a serious blow on the seemingly unstoppable Zerg. Now when the Zerg Overmind is no more, the remaining Zerg forces are cut off from their source for collaborate thinking. This causes the agitated Zerg forces to randomly rampage through the galaxy. The remaining Protoss fighters are struggling for survival. Soon the ruling powers of earth discovered the presence of alien races in the sector where the Terran forces had established their bases after many internal conflicts. Could the hostile aliens be headed towards earth? The human military could never allow that to happen – thus more conflicts are about to break out.

Introduction

The story in StarCraft: Brood War takes place only a few days after the events in the original StarCraft game. The game is about brutal conflict and intrigue across vast galaxies between the three races.

The Protoss is a slender race who use very advanced alien technology and tactics such as mind controlling, teleporting, psi-weapons, robots and energy shields. Generally The Protoss are intelligent but conservative and value honor, beauty and life.

The Zerg are an insectoid race who rely on vast numbers. They are vicious, relentless and always fight until the death, hellbent on genocide. The Zerg hives spread through space through the flying Overlords who oversee the otherwise unruly monsters.

The human fighting forces are known as The Terrans. The Terrans utilize well-known military tactics and weapons such as foot soldiers, siege tanks and nukes. Because they are so much more fragile than the alien races they are forced to use a defensive approach to the conflicts.star_craft_pc_1

The Game

StarCraft: Brood War is the official expansion pack from Blizzard Entertainment to the award-winning real-time strategy game StarCraft. Building on the original formula, this game lets you command a battle zone where you build bases, gather resources and train units and fight in order to conquer the area.
You can easily start playing Brood War even if you haven’t played StarCraft before – granted the base game must be installed before installing Brood War. StarCraft and its expansion pack has extensive single- and multiplayer options.

Controls

The controls are a pleasure to use. You use right-clicking to issue most basic commands such as moving units and repairing buildings, mining minerals and so on. There are a bunch of hot keys you need to learn to speed up performance with each race. Again, this can feel overwhelming but if you spend some time at it, you’ll see the benefits of it before long.

StarCraft requires you to keep multiple things in mind at one time. You can find yourself fighting in two fronts at the same time as you need to build units and new bases. In an intense game you need to make hard decisions all the time and this makes all the difference between victory and defeat.

Content

The single-player campaign in this expansion offers an additional 26 missions on top of the 30 presented in the original game. There are six new units (three for each race) which adds an impressive amount of depth to the already brilliant game – fact is that these new units has fundamentally changed the way people play StarCraft thanks to the medics who can heal units, the lurkers who can attack from underground and the dark templars who are invisible to the naked eye. This change is of course to the better.

Each race has incredible strengths and some weakness – the only way you can figure out which race you prefer is to try them all. It’s quite impressing to see how well-balanced the game is between the races – and this was true even before the many balance fixes (patches) that have been released since the release. It has gone from good to better, so to say.

The game has a tendency to feel overwhelming the first few times you play it. It’ll take some time to learn what each unit is capable of and how to use them in the field of battle. But first you probably need to learn how to build a base – what buildings are needed in order to be able to produce the units you want to use. If you aren’t discouraged by this you have a great chance to learn the game. This is not unique to StarCraft though – many similar strategy games can seem daunting at first. One reason for this is that the computer controlled AI shows no mercy and will totally annihilate you if you aren’t building and producing fast enough and fighting efficient enough. This will take some time to get used to. There aren’t really any shortcuts here, you’ll have to learn the hard way.

Besides from the single player content there is a huge variety of pre-made multiplayer maps to play on and even more fan made maps can be downloaded from the Internet.

Learning the different races by heart is the first step in finding ways to defeat the various units in the game. Above all StarCraft is about micro management of the units and knowing what unit you can use to get the advantage over the enemy units. It’s essential that you learn the most optimal build order – that is to say in which order you build your buildings. Depending on what you want to accomplish the build order will look different. As you can tell, StarCraft is a very advanced game to master – and while that is a great feat, it also presents a high learning curve.

Multiplayer

StarCraft can be played in many different ways. As mentioned, there’s the single player campaign, but there is also special scenario maps that can be played either alone or in multiplayer. StarCraft supports multiplayer on TCP/IP, IPX, Modem and Battle.net, which is Blizzard’s online hub for multiplayer games. Other game modes in include ”Top vs. Bottom”, ”Melee”, ”Free For All”, “Team Melee” and the very special “Use Map Settings”. The last mentioned is special because it has opened up the doors to a myriad of user created content. StarCraft has an included Map editor which is very easy to get into. Thanks to this users have created whole new ways to play StarCraft, and there is a die-hard community creating and playing these user created maps – here’s everything from variants to the now well established ”Tower Defence” to very obscure games like ”Matrix Defence”, ”TarPit Defence”, ”Fastest Possible”-maps, ”Simpsons”, ”Clayman” and it so on.

Graphics

The graphics and animations are good. The game doesn’t support high resolutions, so you won’t be able to fully make use of your widescreen monitor! You’ll easily be able to distinguish the various units as they all have their distinct look. The same goes for all the area effects and abilities of the various units.
In the single-player campaign there are very cool cinematic video clips that portray important plot twists, or just add flavor to the StarCraft universe. While the graphics in the game aren’t that exciting as such, it’s true visual potential becomes clear when you witness dozens upon dozens of massive Battle Cruisers roam across the landscape laying waste to everything in their path, or when you see hundreds of Zerglings rush in to tear any living creatures apart.

Sound

The sound is fantastic in this game. The soundtrack is very appropriate to the setting and is both epic and gloomy. It’s cool how they created a soundtrack for each of the three races. Every unit has their unique sounds too. It surely adds to the feeling to hear your Marines scream and die before the Zerg horde, or when you hear your Siege tanks start firing away with their artillery cannons. All the units sound very cool and they did a great work with the voice acting. The sound effects are simply great and you can’t really grow tired it.

Summary

StarCraft: Brood War is a very solid strategy game. It has tons of variety and there is a lot of different tactics you can use with each of the three races. It’s weaknesses are that it can be too overwhelming in the beginning and that the single player campaign can feel a bit too much like a tutorial through the whole campaign.
The fact that you can play many different modes, be it single player, co-op, team vs. team, or free for all, even with AI controlled opponents makes for some great replay value. The included map editor adds another layer of replay value on top of that and Battle.net works as a very solid and easy to use online service.
This is a timeless classic that has pretty much everything you can expect from a real-time strategy game – lots of tactics, intense battles and variation.

Developed By: Blizzard Entertainment
Published By: Blizzard Entertainment
Version Reviewed: Windows PC
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Players: 1-8
Also Available On: MAC
Released: 1999
Website: http://eu.blizzard.com/en-gb/games/sc/

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