Home > Starcraft II > Starcraft II: Reviewing the story of Wings of Liberty

Starcraft II: Reviewing the story of Wings of Liberty

Starcraft II is a great game both single- and multiplayer, but how is the story?

WARNING: This post contains major spoilers about Starcraft I & II’s story and campaign gameplay. This is a review, not a summary, check the great starcraft wikia site out for information about the full story and characters.

I remember the story of Starcraft as being pretty great. It started with Marshal James Raynor trying to protect his people against an unknown menace (Zerg) and thus joining the rebels led by Arcturus Mensk. The betrayal of Kerrigan by Mensk and her return as Zerg was a great plot twist (which lead Raynor to become a rebel again, this time against Mensk) and the end in which Protoss and Terran forces made a way for Tassadar’s final sacrifice was just epic in scale. Brood War was less memorable, but it did leave Kerrigan as the sole controller of the Zerg and set her up as the next major threat.

Some major points

Starcraft II starts immediately by painting a rich background. James Raynor, our hero since the very first mission of SCI, has visibly aged. Hanging around in beautifully created bar on the Mar Sara Colony he continues his campaign against Mensk right when the Zerg return. Also returning is a former comrade of Raynor’s named Tychus Findlay. Findlay is carrying a big sign saying “I’m going to totally betray you, Raynor”, which everyone except Raynor can see. Anyway, Findlay is being coerced in finding some Xel’Naga artefacts. The job is paying well, but he needs an army to perform it, while Raynor could use the cash to finance his rebellion.

Unfortunately, the artefacts are protected by Protoss fanatics and they are sought after as well by Mensk and Kerrigan herself. It turns out that Prince Arthas, correction: Prince Valerian, son of Arcturus Mensk, is doing everything he can to protect his people against the Zerg. Together the artefacts can be used to turn Kerrigan human again and so remove the ‘brain’ from the Zerg. During the campaign, Raynor is visited by Zeratul, who shows him visions of things to come: monstrous Zerg/Protoss hybrids led by some evil force called the Fallen One. And apparantly, only Kerrigan can save them, she is especially created by the Overmind for that purpose. This Fallen One is apparently also responsible for driving the Overmind to attack the Protoss in the first place. So the evil mastermind of the previous series was just an attack dog?

The crystal actually works, no plot twist, Kerrigan turns human, Findlay reveals that he has been working for Mensk all along and that he has to kill Kerrigan. Raynor shoots him in the face, because Findlay is too stupid to put his visor down. Raynor carries naked Kerrigan into the sunset. Happy end!?

Discussion

There is one thing to keep in mind while reviewing the story and that is the demand of the game that every faction is split in at least two sub-factions at any time, because we have to fight all three races during the campaign. Terran is easy: Raynor vs Mensk, Protoss has the ones that Raynor is friendly with, basically, Tassadar and Zeratul’s alliance, but there are plenty of fanatical Protoss as well and a group controlled by Zerg/Protoss Hybrids. The Zerg, however, are united under Kerrigan. So we know that something has to happen that will split the Zerg and it either happens during Wings of Liberty or early during the next chapter, Heart of the Swarm. I doubt that Kerrigan is really done with the Swarm, but it is easy now for the Big Bad to take control of most of it.

Blizzard has always been good at creating an atmosphere and they have done it again. While the characters are mostly one-dimensional and stereotypical, they stand in a rich background, while they also have enough personal dialog to give them some depth and create a bit of attachment to them. Clichés are not always bad. Starcraft II is full of them, but in a good way. Raynor excels at being the weathered, honorable leader, for example. It also helps that they are all voiced well (except one character who sounds exactly like a WoW Troll…)

The side stories contain some plot twists depending on your choices. This game is not Mass Effect. There are a few choices to make and some gave me pause. Whatever you do, you will always end at the same cut scene. However, there was no major twist in the main story at all: at first you knew that the fragments were important to everyone, but not why, then you learn that they can be used to save Kerrigan. Then you save Kerrigan with the assembled Crystal. Job done, pretty straightforward. Oh and there’s some dark, evil threat somewhere out there. The ending left me feeling ‘this is it?’, while it should have made me want to play the story of “Heart of the Swarm” right now!

Conclusion

Starcraft II has a straightforward story set against a rich background with some great cliché characters. It does pale, however, compared to the quality of the art, the missions and the gameplay. It does not detract from the fact that Starcraft II is simply a must-play game.

Finally, remember to check the TV after every single mission!

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