Friday, 28 August 2015

StarCraft


Here’s a picture of me and my good mate Nick (I’m the handsome one). We’ve been friends since we were eleven I think, and in that time we’ve shared plenty of gaming experiences. After I mentioned my brother in my last blog post, Nick went totally skitz and demanded that he get a mention as well, owing to his recommendations during the mid to late nineties being the reason I got into PC gaming in the first place.


As always, he is wrong, my intro to PC gaming was a point and click adventure game based on the Nickelodeon TV show “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” but nonetheless he did introduce me to some awesome games back then, one of the best being Starcraft. Also I wanted an excuse to post this picture -



That’s actually what he’s going around looking like at the moment. His hair looks like he lost a bet with a sociopath and those glasses are only reading glasses that he insists on wearing all the time. I’ll leave that with you.

Anyway, onto the game.

What do you do when you want to make a real time strategy game featuring Aliens (the Ripley kind), Predator (the Arnie kind) and Humans (the…….Liam Neeson kind?) but you don’t have the rights for the individual properties to make it? Well, if you’re Blizzard Entertainment you go ahead and make it anyway, but call everything something different!



So while I might have just accidentally declared war on South Korea (Starcraft is essentially their national sport) I have also done a great disservice to the game. While Aliens and Predators might have been an initial point of inspiration, the breadth and depth of different creatures and upgrades available to each species in the game, the lore behind each and the way they interact in the fiction shows a dedication to the franchise that has been well researched and nurtured in its own right.

Pick any one of the cinematic trailers for Starcraft 2 for example, and you will see something infinitely better than the diatribe that fox seems fit to put out under the Alien Vs Predator banner. While not entirely relevant to this article I wanted to put this paragraph in here just because I fucking love Aliens and Predators and fuck you Fox your AvP films are shit.


Consisting of three distinct storylines dependant on which race you chose to play as, Starcraft provided a revolutionary experience on its release back in 1998 owing to the individuality of each unit within each race. Where previous Real Time Strategy games had more often than not reskinned a single unit for re-use by different factions, for example, the same tank could be simply drawn and textured differently to match whatever faction it was a part of, the Starcraft factions all utilised entirely different units.



 The Terran (Humans) used mostly traditional Sci-Fi equipment, all familiar to anyone who enjoys any sort of futuristic films and games. Space Marines fought alongside Futuro-Tanks and were picked up and dropped off in dropships very similar to that seen in Aliens.



The Zerg were the “Aliens” in my copyright-infringing-and-fanboy-baiting analogy. An entirely organic faction, the Zerg grew from eggs and larvae, morphing into the units and buildings the player required.


The Protoss were an ancient alien race that harnessed the power of the Xel’naga, who they revered as gods and consequently merged with. The “Predators” here, they are a tribal but technologically advanced race that mostly ally with the Terran to counter the Zerg, who are seen as the common enemy.

I’ve just reread the games' storyline on Wikipedia and to be honest it’ll fry your swede if you’ve never heard of the game or it’s factions. As it’s told in game though, it’s extremely well written with none of the factions (except the Zerg) being united in their cause. This allows for some really good plot twists and turns, the highlight of which being Terran Kerrigan’s transformation into the Queen of Blades and Leader of the Zerg swarm.

Buying Starcraft is still possible direct from Blizzard's’ website for £9.99 in the UK including the expansion set, Brood War. This is a good deal, but I find it hard to recommend when the sequel is available for a similar price and surpasses the original in pretty much every way. It’s got some tricky DRM in it which “apparently” allows offline play but I don’t think I’ve ever had much success there, however that being said, if the always online requirement doesn’t bother you, go ahead and get Starcraft 2.

Is this writer about to write an article about Starcraft and not mention it’s MASSIVE multiplayer scene? Seriously? Yes, yes I am. Here’s what I know about Starcraft’s multiplayer scene -
  1. It’s pretty popular in South Korea
  2. I’m awful at it.
As usual, feel free to come hurl abuse, praise, and your comments about the article @themightyodog or in the box below. If you have an idea for a relic from PC gaming’s past you would like me to tackle, get in touch on twitter and I’ll do my best.

Olly.