StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Cover
Platforms Windows, OSX
Genre Zerg squishing RTS
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

Not since Half-Life 2 has a PC game release needed no introduction. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has sold millions, will sell millions more, and is just the first game in a billion dollar trilogy. Of course, games are generally popular for a reason, not always the right reason, but in StarCraft II’s case, it seems we actually have a great game on our hands too.

You undoubtedly know what StarCraft II is already, so I’d rather talk quickly about how nearly every interested gamer can play the first hour (and more) of Wings of Liberty for free! Each copy of the game comes with a 14 day / 7 hour free trial, and since at least three of your friends already own the game, just pray they still have a code available.

So let’s just play, here’s the first hour of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - The first hour of StarCraft II begins as I log into and create a character named Greg. I start a new campaign and set the difficulty to Normal. Loading begins... There was also a tutorial option, but I’m hoping the game will give me enough information to get off on the right foot.

01 - A cutscene kicks off with a man watching a news broadcast on television. The Brood War was just four years ago, and a Zerg invasion is still a very real threat.

02 - The man pours himself a few glasses of booze as the news anchor on TV says that Jim Raynor will be brought to justice. Is this Jim? He looks longingly at a picture of a red-haired woman. This isn’t a pre-rendered cutscene, and it looks really good.

03 - Something called Adjutant pops its virtual head out and it and Jim start talking about what I presume will be our first mission. I launch it. Another short cutscene of Jim and Adjutant continue to discuss the mission. I guess we need to take something out.

05 - Loading finishes for Liberation Day, our first mission. Jim and a group of four blue marines hop out of a flying vehicle and we start moving. Adjutant informs me there are some tutorial videos available... fine.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty News Anchor

06 - Actually, no, forget the tutorials, this is just point and click right now. We encounter some Dominion and my men gun them down quickly.

08 - A real quick cutscene of some Dominion leader giving a speech from a holoboard plays, and then I’m advised to destroy it. That we can do.

09 - Whenever I tell Jim Raynor to go somewhere he says “raiders roll” or “sounds like a plan.” Sounds like this is getting kind of annoying. We wander into the center of town and encounter a bunch of baddies, but then some friends of ours drop in and help take out the Dominion. I now have a squad of 13!

11 - Another cutscene of the Dominion herding up the locals and shooting civilians. Raynor tells the squad to “move in!”

12 - Bad guys get gunned down quickly, this feels less like an RTS and more like... Fallout.

13 - Civilians are tossing molotovs with us now, making firebombing the remaining buildings a bit easier. I finish the mission have liberated 54 out of 61 civilians.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Mengsks Propaganda

15 - Between level cutscene now of Raynor at the bar and a man in a giant mech suit walking in (from the pre-first hour cutscene).

16 - Jim and Tychus seem to have a history, sounds like they’re going to team up to “liberate” some artifacts from the Dominion.

18 - Jim is sitting in the bar now and I can click around like I’m playing a Monkey Island game. A news clip recaps my last level, but is very anti-rebellion.

20 - Tychus and I have a chat about how he got out of jail, says he killed a bunch of guards with his bare hands! Haha, there’s a cover of “Suspicious Minds” playing on the jukebox.

22 - I look at a picture of Kerrigan on the wall... I probably should have played StarCraft 1.

23 - Next mission is called “The Outlaws” and features Jim and Tychus going after the alien artifact.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Dominion Weapon Depot

25 - Now this looks like a classic RTS mission, tutorials reveal there are resources to collect and units to build. Guess I’d better check out the videos this time.

27 - All very informative but no big surprises, let’s do this.

29 - I send my workers to harvest the crystals and then build a vespian gas refinery to collect the other type of resource. It’s very cool to watch it being built.

30 - After I collect a bit of gas I build a tech lab extension to my barracks so I can train medics.

31 - Now I’m maxed out on the number of units I can build so I need some more supply depots.

33 - I have no idea how many soldiers I’ll need for this mission... guess I’ll just build up a few more and check things out.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Home Base

35 - I rescue a town that’s under attack from Dominion and strengthen my numbers a bit from the soldiers in town. Everyone loves Raynor around here!

36 - Some Dominion Hellions approach, basically a little vehicle, but our mass of guns eliminates them quickly. It’s cool how the medics heal our soldiers with these little beams. Nice effect.

38 - I love razing buildings in RTS games!

40 - Once all the buildings are destroyed we raise the artifact up with the crane and win the mission.

41 - Back in Joeyray’s bar, Jim and Tychus have a few more chats. Sweet Home Alabama starts playing on the jukebox.

43 - Haha, watched the news, and once again, the on planet reporter gets cut off when she starts telling the truth about what the Dominion are really like.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Hyperion Cantina

46 - Our third mission has us holding out until transportation can arrive to pick up the artifact (and us?).

47 - Oh oh, the cutscene reveals the Zerg are on their way! Not good! We’ll need to hold out in the bunkers. From their conversation, Tychus never fought in the first war. Must have been locked up the whole time.

49 - The counter starts down from 20 minutes, obviously won’t finish this within the hour. I load some troops into the two bunkers guarding the bridges and then start my mad micro. Which is actually pretty pathetic. But I’m learning!

51 - The first Zerg make their way in but the line holds. Some guys at Backwater Station ask for help and I send a few marines to pick them up. I can use the extra hands.

53 - Some Zerg flying units attack but the auto-guns take them out. Interesting...

56 - I go out to rescue another group of soldiers but the rescue team gets killed after meeting up. That was a huge group of Zerg!

60 - The Zerg are attacking more frequently now as the clock continues to run down, no sign of that third rescue mission yet, but I’m building up soldiers to prepare. Well, that will have to wait, as that’s the end of the first hour of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty Hyperion mar Sara Zerg

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 6

What I loved: I’m really surprised with the story so far, it’s not especially grandiose or anything at the beginning, but it seems very personal and a great introduction into the universe. On one hand we have Jim Raynor, who fought in the last war and has one too many experiences fighting the Zerg under his belt; and then we have Tychus, while a battle hardened ex-con soldier, is more or less unaware of what the Zerg are like and unfamiliar with the general political climate. This seems like a great way to ease both veterans and newbies into the series. Everyone can identify with someone.

The characters are interesting, but the way the plot is laid out is also great. StarCraft II never wastes a moment providing more details on the universe. Whether it’s a short cutscene during a mission or the Monkey Island like point and click sequences between levels, I felt like I took in a lot of story quickly. It’s cool how exploring the bar is optional too, if you’re not interested in finding out more about Tychus, don’t click on him!

The graphics are really stellar, the character models and environments are very well detailed for a real time strategy game, and all the characters respond when clicked, a Blizzard staple.

What I liked: It’s hard for me to really comment on how good the gameplay is because I really don’t play a lot of real time strategy games. The last one I played through was Rise of Nations, and that was... years ago. It feels good though, on normal difficulty I was never really pushed too hard but I still felt like there was a challenge. In the timed level, Zerg teams were well spaced apart to allow you time to build up, but the game still optionally asked you to venture out and do some rescuing at the same time.

Gameplay: Definitely a good easing into the game so far, the optional objectives allow you to challenge yourself if you’d like.

Fun Factor: I was definitely enjoying StarCraft II, but I don’t how long that will last.

Graphics and Sound: Top notch, feels like I could zoom all the way in on a single character and see the smoke from his cigar. Also like the voice acting, though the constant feedback from Raynor seems like it’s a bit much.

Story: I like the way StarCraft II tells its story better than the actual story so far, let’s hope it’s able to keep up the master storytelling while upping the odds a bit.

Would I keep playing? Yes, I’d at least finish off my seven hour trial, not sure how much further I would go beyond that, but I have a feeling some really cool stuff starts happening right around the six or seven hour mark...