Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], OS
Genre: Real-time Strategy
Rated: T for Teen
Fans of StarCraft II can continue on with the campaign in the first expansion ever in the series. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will put fans of the series back into action continuing it’s focus on the story of the Zerg and following Sarah Kerrigan as she reclaims her thrown as the Queen of Blades.
We start off Heart of Swarm in some sort of facility with Kerrigan in her newly changed human form were she is being tested on. The facility, which is run by Mengsk, is being used to house Kerrigan in an attempt to see how much of her skills from controlling the Zerg actually remain. Just like in Wings of Liberty, Raynor wants to protect Kerrigan and get her out but ends up getting left behind. This enrages Kerrigan causing her desire to gain revenge and regain her place with the Zerg. Thus giving us Heart of Swarm.
New to the StarCraft franchise? Well, although you will have to purchase Wings of Liberty to play Heart of Swarm, Knowledge of the series is not necessary to play this expansion. There is a tutorial option to help get you use to the controls, units and layout of the game, but again not necessary as StarCraft is pretty easy to learn as you play. And since Blizzard gradually introduces you to all Zerg and abilities as you play through the game you will not become overwhelmed.
Everything that impressed in Wings of Liberty continues to impress here. From the graphics to the audio fans will not be let down. Gameplay remains the same, but with an entirely new campaign with 27 new missions that will both challenge and entertain you. You can still choose your difficult setting; easy, medium, hard, or insane, and re-do them over and over to your hearts content. Be sure to make sure you pay attention to your tasks in the upper left hand of the screen as some of them are not mandatory in completing the level, but could earn you some extra character levels and even achievements.
Along with your missions, which can be found in the missions tab on the bottom left of your character screen, is a tab for the “Evolution Pit”, “Kerrigan”, and “Archive”. Most of you may be tempted to just jump right on those missions over and over and completely disregard the other tabs but don’t, they are kind of important.
The “Evolution Pit” is just as the name states. It is the place were you go to choose your Zerg abilities and mutations. If you fail to go here you will never get the mutated versions making gameplay both harder and well, not as fun. It also contains some missions, Mutation Missions, which teach you about the different mutations available before you make that ever important decision as to which one you want.
Next is the “Kerrigan” tab. This is a basic skill tree area where you get to choose your characters abilities as you unlock them. These abilities unlock at various levels and are not permanent. You can go in between missions and change them at almost any time.
Finally you have the “Archive” tab, which simply put is an archive of all your completed levels. From here you can choose to re-do any previously completed missions.
Fans of the multiplayer side of StarCraft can breath a sigh of relief as Heart of Swarm will also include some new online features. Fans will get a bunch of new maps and even some new units to play around with. The new maps will feature protoss space stations, viney jungles, icy wastelands and so on. And the the new units; Tempest, Viper, and Widow Mine, are available for all three in game race. As well as some improvements to the art and physics. These improvements can be seen in old maps as well. You will also see some new environmental features like for example, rocks that can be collapsed down and used to block off certain access points on the maps. Not to mention some pretty cool new death animations.
Overall Heart of Swarm is a must have for StarCraft fans and gamers a like. Whether you are new to the series or an avid fan StarCraft: Heart of Swarm is sure to please. It has a great story that provides plenty of replay value with its 4 difficulty settings and plenty of achievement based challenges. It also has awesome graphics and is relatively easy to learn to play and navigate, but also provides a challenge with its time strategy gameplay. Not to mention all the multiplayer options it provides this game is sure to keep you busy for hours.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5