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StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Review

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Players: 1 to 8 Player Game | Release Date: 03/12/13 | Genre: RTS

The first thing I have to say about StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, is: Congratulations, Blizzard! In recent memory, I have never be disappointed with the stories you tell in your titles. “Back in the day,” I played Brood War and got pretty dang good at it. In the days of my youth, I had time to devote myself and could beat even some of the better Korean players. Things are a bit different in the present day. Players have improved their skills, strategies have changed, and there is a lot to re-learn. As things change when you get older, I just don’t have the time to keep up with the “kids of today.”

As with all the past titles in the StarCraft franchise, the multiplayer is great. However, we will touch on that a bit later. First, I want to talk about the campaign. As this is the first expansion to StarCraft II, Heart of the Swarm is set immediately after Wings of Liberty. You have liberated Sarah Kerrigan from 'the control of The Swarm.' Some unfortunate events happen, soon enough; and Kerrigan ends up in control of the Swarm, once again. 

Yeah, I know, 'Dang it!' right? I was sitting there, when first playing it, going, 'But, but, but whyyyyyyyy, Kerrigan? Jim looooooves you! Don't do iiiiiiiiiiiiiit!' But, despite my yelling at my screen; she did it anyway. But, despite the initial disappointment in the characters' choices, all turns out right, in the end.  The campaign in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm gives us a great, interesting, and at times, emotional storyline to enjoy.

The choice that Blizzard made, to focus on the Zerg, in this expansion; was definitely something that the franchise needed needed. Previously, in SCII multiplayer, Zerg players could be strong if they followed a strict build. If they deviated from it in any way, they were easily squashed. This is due, mainly, to balancing issues that gave them limited options. Heart of the Swarm, thankfully, gave Blizzard their much needed opportunity to delve deeper into the play-style of the Zerg, find the weaknesses, assess them, and fix them. In addition to this, we also received some cool new units.

In addition to the Zerg, the Terrans and Protoss also got some nice, new units. One such unit that I like is the Widow Mine. This is both a great defensive and offensive unit. It can be used as a defensive line for your base to hold Xel'Naga towers. In addition, it can be burrowed just outside your enemy's base to prevent some of their units leaving their base and allow you forewarning if they are sending units in your direction. There are many applications for the Widow Mine and I, personally, find it as the best new unit addition to StarCraft II. You will need the Heart of the Swarm expansion to use it.

In Heart of the Swarm, the Protoss gained the Mothership Core unit. This unit has an ability called 'Time Warp’' that creates a mid-sized dome for ground units to enter. Better yet, this unit is not terribly expensive and is available fairly early on in the tech tree. When used properly it can provide a great advantage in early-game fights, as well as create great tactical opportunities in the late game. You can even build it into a full-sized Mothership. This unit has great versatility and is a close second to the best addition in the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm expansion.

As fans of the genre and franchised had hoped, Heart of the Swarm has proven to be extremely beneficial to StarCraft II. By improving the multiplayer with new units, bug fixes, and balacing issues, and providing another epic campaign, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is the best RTS I have played since StarCraft II. Now, how long do we have to wait for the third expansion?

By Davis Wiitala - 03/30/13
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