A Girl's Game Review: Starcraft 2
Why Starcraft 2?
It's not a typical "girl game," and that's why I want to play it. I don't believe girls should be segregated to one type of girly, simplistic games. We should be able to shoot people, destroy armies with the click of a button, and race cars too! Not all of the games I'll review will be "girl games," but I will review a few of them, if it's requested. I suppose, though, that I'm not the typical girl, hence I don't really like the typical "girl games." Starcraft may not be a game I excel at, but it's one that I thoroughly enjoy playing in my spare time just for fun.
SC2 is mainly a solo game, unless you have friends that have their own computers, then you can form groups, chat with each other, and play games together. Otherwise, it's pretty much play with random strangers from all over the place and kill or be killed. I have had LAN parties, or a group of computers all set in the same room on the same network playing the same game, and not just with friends, but I've even enjoyed one or two with my husband. I'm the one getting him into gaming, because he never really was into it before he met me. Now I'm the bad influence!!!
Collectors Edition Box Set
I Love it This Much!!!
About the Game
Being one of my all-time favorite games, and one that I have been hooked on for over 12 years, I decided that this one would be an easy one to start out on. Starcraft 2 (SC2) is a PC RTS set in the future after the human race has expanded to other planets and systems. There are three races to choose from, Terran, Zerg, and Protoss, and each has its own benefits and draw backs. The game itself has three installments: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void. HotS is due out next year with no set release date yet, and LotV has no word whatsoever. Blizzard, the game's creating company, is known for the long waits and unexpected game cancellations, as well as slow bug fixes and updates. But all in all, the 12 year wait between Starcraft and Starcraft 2 was well worth it.
The campaign part of the game is quite basic, but involves a lot of strategy, quick thinking, resource division, and even some memorization on unit counters. During the campaign, you are given basic units and structures with limits on what you can do and when. There are some missions that involve turtling, or building up your defenses to last wave after wave of the enemy to a set time. Other missions give you a set army with no buildings and have you going through a large maze to free other captives or gather intel. Then there are normal missions that have you build up your base, create an army, and kill everything you'd like to get the one main mission objective. There are achievements to work towards, unit and building upgrades, and even choices of which quests to accept, and the story and units available will change based off your decision on who to help, who to betray, and what to upgrade.
WoL, the first expansion, is based on the Terran, or human, race. Your main mission in the game is to take down the Dominion, tyrannical rulers of the Terrans, gather all of the mysterious Xel'Naga artifacts, and take down Sarah Kerrigan, now known as the Queen of Blades, who became the ruler of the Zerg, a race of bug like creatures that are slowly taking over the galaxy like a plague. You'll have the hindrance of not just the Dominion and the Zerg Swarm, but also the Protoss, a race of advanced energy-loving creatures, with force fields and cloaking abilities. There are side missions where you travel back in time to one of the main Protoss character's memories to learn some history and some very interesting facts about past Dominion experiments. The campaign itself is fairly straightforward, and I don't want to give too much away, so I won't say anymore about it. Just know that practicing the campaign will help greatly in the multi-player, which is where all of the action is. Any hints and tips used online, will help with the solo play, so practice, practice, practice!!!
Starcraft Launch Trailer
The Heart of the Game: Multi-Player!!!
By far the most difficult, rewarding, and fun part of SC2 is the multi-player. It isn't quite as good as the original Starcraft or it's expansion, Starcraft: Brood War, but it's still where the heart of the game lies. There are different options in the multi-player, so there are always different types of games to play. There's the league games, which are 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, or FFA (free for all), and they're based and teamed off your win/loss record. The first 5 games you play will put you into your league; Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, or Grand Master. You work your way up the leagues by playing and winning regularly, which means a lot of practice on strategies, counters, and builds. Be prepared to get addicted and spend a lot of time on Battle.net (Blizzard's online gaming community).
The best way to figure out how this game works is to just play it for a while. There's not a huge amount of buildings and units, and each one is only good for a certain amount of things, so that's not really the complicated part. What is sort of complicated is figuring out how to counter your enemy's army, or build the units that will wipe him out the fastest with the least amount of casualties to your own army. If your enemy is using air units, don't build units that only attack ground. If he builds armored ground units, make sure to build units that not only attack ground, but are stronger against armored. Playing through the campaign will help you figure out which units are best against what to an extent, but practicing against the computer will help you out even more, and not just with countering.
The Cooperative (Co-op) games, or games of 1-4 against a like amount of AI (artificial intelligence) controlled computers that you select the difficulty for. Each computer is programmed to make a certain type of army and builds at a certain speed. The harder the computer, the quicker the rush, or the speed and strength of the first attack. Co-op games are great practice to get your skills up and to work on your builds in an environment that is not scored. These games do not count towards your league levels, so don't worry about losing. Just understand that the computer has a set skill ability and a set speed. When playing league games against other human players, there are no guarantees as to what they build and how quickly they build it. Use co-op to get counters and builds up to par, but don't expect that just because you can defeat 4 computers in under 10 minutes with the 3 gate build, doesn't mean that in the league you will win. They might just sweep your base with lings before you get your second zealot out to defend it. (Sorry, I know that's confusing, but 'll explain a little better further on.)
Lastly, there are Custom games, also known as UMS (use map settings) games. They don't really involve playing the game the way it was built to play. They are custom games and maps that have certain points, characters, and objectives. For example, one of the UMS games that I like to play when bored is Nexus Wars. All you do is build buildings that automatically produce one or two units after a set time, and try to destroy the other side's Nexus by countering what they are training, upgrading your own army to be the most powerful, and collaborating with your teammates. Not too much of a strategic game, so it's more point, click, and wait, but it actually gets kind of exciting once the armies get to be huge and you have to start using nukes to survive. I'd recommend trying a few UMS games after you get more comfortable with the actual games. You can also make a private custom game of you against however many computers you'd like, and even make a few computers your teammates. Again, these games don't count towards your league score, so don't worry about losing on these. It's all just for fun.
Terminology and Hints for the Game
Like I said earlier, the biggest part of SC2 is the online play. There is certain terminology that was started in the first Starcraft, and has since gone on to many other games. It is still important to understand this terminology today, so here are some of the basic things to learn.
- gl - good luck
- hf - have fun
- gg - good game
- op - can be one of two things based off of context. Either overpowered or, in forums, original poster
- 3 gate - a build that, when playing as Protoss, involves building 3 gateways at certain times in order to produce a better, bigger army as fast as possible. There is also the 5 rax for Terran, and 6 pool for Zerg.
- Cheese - a term used to describe poor gameplay based off of not using any strategy whatsoever, just winning while insulting everyone else. The two biggest cheese wins out there is sending out all of your resource gatherers to the enemy base as soon as the game starts and taking them out because they're not prepared, and cannon rushing, which is playing as Protoss, and when the game begins, scouting to the enemy's base and building pylons, a forge, and a wall of cannons directly in their base before they can even get their army started. A lot of people hate cheese and will complain the entire time they're losing, but some people, me included, believe that cheese is just another strategy for winning when the odds don't seem to be in your favor. I don't use cheese, but I don't freak out when it's used on me. I just wasn't expecting it, and part of the game is being prepared for anything.
There is a lot more terminology out there, but most of it is best learned in-game. Despite being a male-dominated game, most of the people out there are pretty friendly and not afraid to help you learn and advance. There are the typical arrogant, rude, and slightly violent players out there, and unfortunately they're in almost every multi-player game out there, but don't take them seriously, just ignore them. They probably have no life and no self-confidence anyway...
Tips and Tricks
- Build as many resource gatherers (drones, probes, and SCV's, depending on the race) as possible early in the game. You will need mass amounts of resources to build a massive army, and waiting for minerals while being attacked just isn't worth it. Don't be afraid to build slow at first so you can build an army quicker later on.
- Wall off your base as early as possible. Walling is building structures, such as barracks, supply depots, gateways, pylons, and spine and spore crawlers in the choke point of your base so that if your enemy rushes, they can't get to your main base without having to stop and take out your wall first, which gives you time to build a defensive army.
- Scout your opponent's base early and often. This way you know what they're building, how quickly they're building it, and what you need to build to counter them and take them over. There are many different ways of scouting for each race, but the basic and early way is to send one of your resource gatherers around the whole map while continuing to build your own base. You may lose one or two, but in the long run it may save you the game.
- Use hotkeys and shortcuts as often as possible. The computer mouse is an invaluable tool for the game, but so is the keyboard. Learn the shortcuts for the builds you favor, and use them as often as possible, so that way you can keep an eye on the fight going on or the scout you sent out and still continue to build your army. (Ex. Ctrl + 2 with all of your Barracks selected puts them into a group. Now anytime you press 2 on the keyboard, it brings up all of your Barracks, so all you have to do is press m for marine multiple times and get your army going.)
More Gameplay Screenshots
- Strategy - Liquipedia - The StarCraft II Encyclopedia
Get your strategies going with the help of this wiki page. Great stuff!
- StarCraft II
Official Website of Blizzard's Starcraft 2.
- Blizzard Entertainment: StarCraft II
Blizzard's main website.
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC - IGN
IGN is the ultimate StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty resource for trailers, screenshots, cheats, walkthroughs, release dates, previews, reviews, soundtracks and news.