With the recent rise in popularity of E-Sports, gamers all over the world are familiar with Starcraft even if they have never played it themselves. Ask anyone who follows E-Sports in the US about Starcraft, and you’ll probably hear something about Koreans because that’s typically the gist of Starcraft to anyone who doesn’t play it. With Starcraft II receiving an expansion called Heart of the Swarm, I decided to dust off my backlog and finally put my hands on Starcraft. Was it worth delving into just for Heart of the Swarm?
Every gamer has that shameful backlog pile that we continue to amass, despite knowing we’ll probably never have time to play those games no matter how badly we want to. For me, Starcraft was in my pile of shame for the longest time because I’ve never been much of a fan of Strategy games, due to their often overly complex gameplay and, more importantly, their overwhelmingly lengthy time commitments. Until many years later, I simply wasn’t interested in playing a game where a single match could take over an hour, because I had a short attention span and feared I’d get bored. Thus, Starcraft went into my back log, because I was still heavily playing Diablo II at the time. Brood War was released, and I purchased it thinking I’d get into Starcraft finally, but months passed and the icon sat there staring at me without ever getting a single click. Years passed, and Starcraft II was released – to which I immediately said “oh no, I’m not falling for this again! I’m not going to buy it because I won’t play it.” despite getting asked by friends to play with them. After getting into League of Legends, I felt that maybe my preferences had finally changed, so when Heart of the Swarm released, I decided it was time to finally get my Starcraft on. I installed the base game and Brood War again, and played through their campaigns, then Wings of Liberty, and finally Heart of the Swarm.
If I learned nothing else from the experience, I learned I’m absolutely terrible at Starcraft. Thankfully, campaigns can be cleared on lower difficulty settings, so I worked my way through them. After finally realizing why I should care about the Protoss, Terran, and the Zerg, I found that the Zerg queen, Sarah Kerrigan is a big ball of crazy. To say that the story in Heart of the Swarm is a bit absurd is like saying that Call of Duty has¬†Emmy¬†award-winning acting. It’s convoluted, quite ridiculous, and about three notches below stupid. Despite having a story that wouldn’t even qualify for B-movie status, Heart of the Swarm makes up for it by introducing a faster style of¬†gameplay¬† allowing for less downtime and new unique strategies to really give playing the Zerg a unique feel. Units like the Broodmother can spawn smaller units, but the real focus here is on Kerrigan – as you’ll gain new upgrades for her hero unit which allows her to do all sorts of cool things (my favorite is being able to respawn dead Zerg units every so often) as she grows stronger.
With Heart of the Swarm being geared toward a more aggressive play style, newcomers may actually enjoy Heart of the Swarm more so than Wings of Liberty or the original game because it’s a lot more entertaining to just go dominate things with a massive collection of bugs. Returning players may find Heart of the Swarm to be a little too “hand-holdy” as everything you’ll do is fully explained to you so there’s very little room for confusion, which makes Heart of the Swarm noob-friendly even if you haven’t played Starcraft before. I enjoyed playing as the Zerg far more than I did the Terran, especially after playing through the other campaigns first, but if you’re looking to jump into Starcraft II, Heart of the Swarm is an excellent starting point if for no other reason than just to increase your knowledge of E-Sports.
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is available on PC and MAC via Battle.net or retailers everywhere. Heart of the Swarm was provided for review by Blizzard.
The Zerg are aggressive and it's nice to not worry so much about defense. Kerrigan gets some awesome abilities.
The story is dumb. The Zerg style will set you up for failure online if you don't play Wings of Liberty first.