Monday, March 18, 2013

A Swarm Interlude

How can you not love a face like that?
I just finished Heart of the Swarm's campaign.  You know, that expansion to some game called Starcraft 2?

The Good:

It's fun.  The campaign on normal is a little bit on the easy side, but it's a fun romp through a middling revenge tale.  The units all seem to have a point and purpose.  Expanding a Zerg base is fun, and expanding the creep is wicked fun.  I have mild OCD about spreading the creep across the entire map, every time.  The cutscenes are pretty, if sometimes silly.  Kerrigan, your main heroine, gains abilities and gets to customize her swarmlings as the campaign progresses, which provides satisfying variations.  Those are all variations on swarm the enemy with lots of bugs, but it's a fun theme to play variations on.  The various mission types are a nice variation on build-swarm-repeat, with timed missions, control point and DOTA inspired elements showing up in various places.

The Bad:

Streaming cutscenes are annoying as crap.  I never got a high quality cutscene in my entire playthrough.  If you leave the game, the downloader apparently stops downloading.  Some of the load times are interminable, with no indication of how long remains.  Some of the pacing for side missions is questionable, and being a completionist results in weird breaks of the narrative progress.  Some load screens seem randomly placed, especially when you are chilling on the Leviathan between missions, click on the spawning pit, and a load screen pops up.

The Ugly:

The first cutscenes with Raynor and Kerrigan.  Ugh.  I have a hard time seeing the Queen of Blades going all googly-eyed for anyone.  If you play through the campaign, you'll pretty much know what the final expansion is about, which ruins a little bit of suspense.  And since we probably have 2+ years until that campaign, a little suspense would have been nice.  Overall, the plot was cool if uninspired.  Also, there is a whole mission that is pretty much a race to see which hero can charge to OVER 9000, DBZ style.

Random Thoughts:

It seems that all three races have people that understand there is a big picture, but then everyone ignores that big picture in the name of Kerrigan's revenge.  I'm sure every Terran who lived on the planets Kerrigan wipes out understands that millions of dead is totally worth killing Mengsk.  Does any bit player in the world know or care that he's a lying bastard?  And at this point I think Kerrigan has killed more people than Mengsk anyway, so the whole thing gets rather Korean-gun-fu-revenge-story where everyone loses.

Why are the ancient primal Zerg so damn stupid, after millenia of implied development?  Why do all Terrans of any importance wear shoulder pauldrons large enough to serve a turkey on?  Why is that one primal zerg dude killing humans and talking about collecting their essence, when he states he cannot collect human essence?  Why do Mutalisks flap their wings in space?  Why does no one ever listen to Zeratul, ever?  Has the dude ever lied or led someone down the wrong path?  Why does every character have to hit, shoot, torture or otherwise display force to process any information?

But seriously, it's fun.  I laughed out loud more than a few times playing through the missions.  More fun that I remember Wings Of Liberty being.  If you already have SC2, just grab HotS and waste a weekend.  Zerglings will make you happy inside.

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