Phew, there are not many moments available these days where I can blitz through a real-time strategy title but today was one of those days. I made the most of it by finally finishing StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. It was the final push having made it to the Korhal missions after purchasing and downloading the game a day after launch date.
I paused the game several times though and my wife, being the curious angel that she is decided to tinker around had a go (well, 2 minutes of it) on the mission where you are supposed to destroy the force shield. Needless to say, if I were to left her to her own devices, Kerrigan and gang would be dead before I finish my french toast.
My thoughts on the game? It has been a really fun romp. The enhancements to the controls and UI introduced right before the expansion felt really good and the single player experience from Heart of the Swarm proofed to be different from Wings of Liberty. The gameplay had more in common with that of MOBA titles where hero units ruled. In this case, it was the bad-assed Queen of Blades, re-zerged and pissed like hell. Kerrigan gets an almost RPG-like points system which enhances her HP and upon hitting certain thresholds, unlocks new abilities .
As such, it pays dividends to finish bonus mission objectives as the points offered help unlock her abilities earlier. And here’s the cool part, players get to choose which skills that she gets to carry into each level and since she plays an integral part of each level she’s in, this practically guarantees a different experience each time you start up a level.
The backdrop of Heart of the Swarm is still a romance story (between the star-crossed lovers Jim and Kerrigan), and of revenge. Cliched dialogue make up most part of the conversations but hey, don’t hope too much for a video game storyline. The CGI work stands out as usual and the cut-scenes done using in-game engine are pretty brilliant as well.
Aside from one technical issue (the level loads can be ridiculously long even on an Core i5 MacBook Pro), Heart of the Swarm manages to not feel like a tacked-on expansion, and instead it feels just short of a full game (it is no Brood War, that’s for sure). Not only that, it pushes the typical single player StarCraft experience to parts that have not been well-explored, mirroring Kerrigan’s story into the unknown.
Nineoverten.com rates StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm at a 4.5 out of 5. Review rig: MacBook Pro Core i5, HD 4000 graphics, 8GB of RAM.