StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

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Nobody would claim that "StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty" by Blizzard Entertainment was rushed through production, coming about 12 years after its predecessor. Where "Chinese Democracy" became over-saturated during its incubation, however, "StarCraft II" distilled from Blizzard's tremendous developing expertise a deeper, mature and multifaceted gaming experience that avoids many of the streamlining pitfalls which claim too many anticipated titles.

One frustrating tendency of the sci-fi and fantasy genres is the temptation to include new races, regions, playable units and general content while neglecting real abstractions and departures from previous games, in part due to budget and creative constraints. Luckily, "Starcraft II" leaves many of these elements relatively undisturbed. Players engage in battle with the same races and most of the same units which drove the narrative in the series' debut, but for there are also new options which can be utilized or ignored depending on preference, such as usable items and abilities which improve interactivity with the environment.

The stage remains similar, but "StarCraft II" plans three distinct acts (two expansion sets to be released later) on which to explore the varying game-play styles to which the game lends itself well. "Wings of Liberty" attempts to open up the galaxy for exploration, free-roaming and non-linear adventure, a take on the open formula that has fascinated the gaming industry in recent years. "Heart of the Swarm" is a real-time strategy take on role-playing; in the head of returning character Sarah Kerrigan, gamers will focus on the impact a single soldier can have on a battle while improving her proficiency through 20 missions. "Legacy of the Void" wraps up the tour de force of intermixing genres and focuses on the power of choice - while attempting to hold the Protoss races together, players will alienate some tribes while empowering others, deciding which troops will be available and what their goals will be.

The Map Editor packaged with the original "StarCraft" is an enduring treasure and contributed greatly to the game's replay value, with thousand of downloadable maps coming from fans and the "StarCraft" community. It returns for the second installment much improved with this function in mind, as it also allows for modification creation (like new terrain, units, and abilities) as well as a feature to upload created maps online more easily. The new editor also offers interface customization and the ability to create third-person perspective missions.

The "StarCraft II" trilogy aims to please fans long after its debut, and appears to be even more prepared for that endeavor than the original.

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