Anthony's Film Review

(Video Game, 1998)

StarCraft is easily one of the best computer strategy games ever made...

In the 1990s, Blizzard Entertainment was a game developer that made solid games. When I say solid, I mean games that are flawless in their gameplay, graphics, storytelling. Early on, the company was known for three game creations. The first was Warcraft (and its sequel), a medieval fantasy strategy game where humans and orcs build armies to defeat each other. The second was Diablo, a fantasy role-playing game where the player, as one of three characters, defeat monsters in multiple levels of an underground labyrinth. The third was StarCraft, which takes the strategy game concept of Warcraft and brings it to a science-fiction world.

Blizzard Entertainment didn't settle for just making StarCraft similar to Warcraft. It made the game a step up from Warcraft. For one thing, StarCraft features not two but three races of creatures battling for dominance: the human Terrans, the insectoid Zerg, and the humanoid Protoss. As for the story, it's written better than the storyline for the first two Warcraft games, one that is more engaging and complex. And the structures and battle units among the three races are quite analogous to each other, but with a couple of unique differences.

The basic gameplay for all three races is similar to most military strategy games. You start with a few resources and units available, gather more resources and build more structures and units for defense, and grow your army enough to launch an offense on the enemy and accomplish objectives. The differences among the races are rather neat. Whereas the Terrans build structures and the Protoss warp structures in from elsewhere, the Zerg evolve into structures, sacrificing not just raw materials but also the creatures themselves. The technology of the Protoss is more advanced and therefore relatively more expensive. The beauty of all of this, as avid StarCraft fans have noted, is that the strengths and weaknesses of the three races balance each other out. No one faction has a real advantage.

At its core, the story centers on three races of creatures attempting to conquer each other. But it's more intricate than that. There are alliances between races, moments of double-crossing, and even rogue segments of each race. The characters in each race are quite memorable, and it's interesting how, during mission briefings, the characters address the player differently: a Magistrate for the Terrans, a Cerebrate for the Zerg, and an Executor for the Protoss. Even though the gameplay already makes StarCraft a notably good game, the story makes it even better.

Of the characters in StarCraft, there are two who are perhaps the most interesting and most important: the Terran military leaders Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan. Their first encounter is rather amusing, because Kerrigan already calls Raynor a pig, as her telepathic ability lets her know that Raynor has a crush on her. But they do work together, and Raynor does care about Kerrigan. But there is a turning point when Kerrigan undergoes a chilling transformation. After being taken away by the Zerg, she is turned into a hideous human-Zerg hybrid and joins the Zerg forces. Raynor and Kerrigan essentially become enemies.

StarCraft has been hailed as one of the best computer strategy games ever made, and I can definitely see why. It's a very fun and challenging game to play, and there's an engaging fictional universe and cast of characters to suck us in. The best part is the replay value. Even if a gamer were to put aside Starcraft for several years, the game will still feel fresh and exciting once he or she starts it up again. If there were a time capsule or archive of the most significant titles in video game history, StarCraft would no doubt be in it as a great example of strategy gaming.

(Note: StarCraft also has an expansion set titled StarCraft: Brood War. My review of Starcraft above does hold true for Brood War as well.)

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about StarCraft, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.


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