Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 11, 2013

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Campaign Review- Three Years Later

For those who don’t know, watch:

I replayed Wings of Liberty campaign which I hadn’t done since the game came out. So it is around three years later. I wanted to refresh myself before Heart of the Swarm is released (which will be in a couple of days). How did Wings of Liberty hold up?

After the first few missions, I was so excited. I was having a blast. I couldn’t stop playing. I was saying, “Damn, this is so much fun.”

When I was done, I was thinking, “Thank goodness it is finally over” and “I have no desire to replay this until three years from now when Legacy of the Void comes out.”

So what happened? How did I go from ‘having a blast’ to ‘get this over with’?

What I noticed killed momentum for the campaign was the Protoss mini-campaign. You can’t use any of your upgraded terran units (or any terran units for that matter), and the entire mini-campaign felt like a chore. It was a stupid piece of linear storytelling. When I finished the Protoss mini-campaign (which you want to complete early on since it gives you Protoss and Zerg DNA for research but no money), the campaign no longer felt about ME KICKING ASS. It felt like I was watching BLIZZARD KICK ASS. All the missions began to enter a linear storytelling phase. The story of the Agria colonists is a linear story thread. The story of the artifacts is a story thread. The story of Tosh is a story thread.

“This is such bullshit,” I said. I don’t want story threads. I want the campaign to revolve around me getting more powerful and more awesome. With story threads, I feel like I’m in a taxi and not in the driver’s seat.

The plot of Wings of Liberty is fine, but the dialogue writing is cringeworthy at times especially at the last few missions. I enjoyed the in between mission dialogue and the news segments. They were fun. But the campaign doesn’t know how to present serious villains. Kerrigan always seemed like a joke, like a Saturday morning villain. Although, at the very end of the last mission, Kerrigan talking in Sarah’s voice and saying ‘Don’t give up,’ was a masterful stroke. I totally had forgotten about that.

The campaign needs a map. I need spheres of influence. All we have are these planets hanging out nowhere. The original Starcraft and other RTS games like Command and Conquer felt like you were pushing forward in territory, something that even Classic Zelda and Super Mario Brothers 3/World are able to do. But the worlds of the campaign are meaningless because their locations are meaningless. Apparently, the Hyperion can just appear anywhere in the universe with no repercussions.

As for the missions, they hold up very well. They all offer something unique. My favorite ones would be Outbreak (where you defend during the night and attack during the day), Supernova (you hate this one when playing it, trying to escape the flames, but you feel awesome when you win. I think it is because this mission is so heavily map dependent), Cutthroat (where you compete to get money to hire a mercenary), and Media Blitz (probably the best single player RTS mission ever made).

My least favorite are the Protoss missions and the Tosh missions.

One of the failing parts of the campaign is the ‘choice’ missions. Believe it or not, Blizzard, I don’t want a choice. Origin realized players didn’t want choice either when they observed how people played Wing Commander. Every playthrough, you feel like you missed missions because you did. You can’t do a 100% playthrough. It’s dumb. And despite the ‘choice’, it still feels linear. The story should revolve around my army, not around dumbass characters who no one cares about.

Strangely, the strongest parts of Wings of Liberty was references to Starcraft 1 especially the cutscenes re-depicting Starcraft 1 events.

The ‘choose-your-own-mission’, protoss campaign, and the dialogue writing were massive failures. Despite that, the campaign is aging well.

Here’s hoping Heart of the Swarm comes out better. (I know, I know, but I want to be optimistic…)


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