First there was Warcraft, followed by Warcraft II. Then there was Diablo. Now, Blizzard Entertainment has pushed back the boundaries of strategy gaming with Starcraft. The ultimate in space combat, Starcraft features 30 levels of totally immersive gameplay as you take the perspective of three intergalactic species – Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss – each of which has unique weapons and characteristics. There are 10 campaigns for each species.
Levels start with a briefing leading to an objective, from setting up outposts to killing anything that moves. The difficulty level gets high quickly – the objective for mission 3 in the Terran campaign is just to stay alive for 30 minutes! First time out, I got to within 19 seconds...
In many respects, Starcraft is a cross between a sim and a strategy game. Finishing a level inevitably requires the building of various structures - as a Terran, the basics include supply depots and barracks . The barracks are then used to ‘train’ (create) marines and firebats, standard-issue fodder for killing the Zerg enemy. Of course, the minerals and gas soon run out – over-commit your forces and the replacements run dry, ending the mission. The computer’s artificial intelligence is awesome and there are times you feel the game is cheating you. Having completed the previous level with a one strategy, it’s natural to start with the same routine again - only to find that the enemy has a new set of attacks and defences! To make life more difficult, a high-ranking official often has to be kept alive. Do you consign him to the front line and take the risk of failure, or nurse him back at base?
A short review can only scratch the surface of this superb game. Intelligently, Blizzard has included a campaign editor in the package (no waiting for a third-party utility) which will lead to countless new scenarios. Also, multiplayer gaming is catered for via an AppleTalk network, direct link, a pair of modems or Battle.net, a TCP/IP connection to the Internet.
If you are going to buy one strategy game, it’s a straight choice between Myth II and Starcraft. Hard, but I’d opt for Starcraft.