I don’t like the mechanics of RTS games. I’ve always been bad at micromanagement and the like and could never have any warranted success. However, I’ve always loved the style, story, and plain quality put into games made by Blizzard. This was my thought process behind purchasing Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (as well as my thought process behind not writing a full review), and as someone who doesn’t enjoy RTS games I still love it.
Maybe I can tolerate SC2 because of all the extra features put into the single player story. The missions follow an almost GTA pattern, with different characters leading you down different paths. The story is made more interesting by giving you some sort of impactful choice at the end of each character’s mission path. Between each mission you can wander around your ship and talk to various characters, investigate the environments, and buy upgrades for your various forces. It gives a nice breather and break time between missions that in the past would be laid out one after another.
The single player mode also keeps things interesting by providing a good variety in what the missions have you do. If you’re like me and don’t enjoy/aren’t very good at RTS games, the original Starcraft probably frustrated you with the endless “go destroy the enemy base” mission repetition. That hardly ever happens in SC2. Don’t get me wrong, you destroy plenty of bases, but that’s often not the real focus of the mission. The variety is very welcome.
With a Blizzard game, I suppose it goes without saying that the story is interesting enough to hold your attention and that the cutscenes are exciting and well made. The game stands pretty well on its own, though the story and appearance of various characters likely won’t have much of an impact on you if you haven’t played through the first Starcraft and its expansion, Brood War. With the choices you get (that I mentioned earlier), you’ll even find some replay value in wanting to go back to see how the opposite choices affect the story.
Multiplayer is about what you’d expect from Starcraft. It’s highly competitive and taken seriously by the players and if you’re just a casual, so-so player like me, you’ll get destroyed by some of the guys out there. It should come as no surprise that people have memorized tech trees and the fastest way to get exactly what they need to ruin your day. There are even charts that let you analyze how fast (or slow) your gameplay style is.
Thankfully, SC2 features an excellent coop mode that pits you and some buddies against AI opponents in skirmishes. If you’re like me (I know I’ve been saying that a lot, but that’s really who this article is aimed toward), you’ll have more fun partying up with some friends and taking on a bunch of AI enemies. And if you actually do want to get better and prepare yourself for play against real people, it’s a nice way to become prepared.
SC2 may be an RTS, but it’s so much more. The single player mode has some features that are truly unique to the genre, engaging story and characters, excellent production values, great variation in gameplay, and more. The multiplayer can be rough if you’re not a serious, competitive player, but you can still find fun with buddies playing coop against AI. I never thought I’d recommend an RTS game so willingly, but Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is a lot of fun, worth the price tag, and will hold your attention for a good chunk of time.