Let me just get this out of the way right now: I played the original Starcraft and loved it. I played that game so many times, as well as playing the expansion pack and I look back incredibly fondly on the series even now. Wings of Liberty did a fantastic job of reintroducing the franchise with modern graphics and overhauls that made things look better-but under the hood the game series still feels like it plays the same, with the same old voice lines for characters and lots of similar units, a fantastic blend of nostalgia and new stuff with compelling upgrade systems and research to add more unique strucutres and units to customize your play style. I loved it, even if the story could be a little shlocky and predictable at times. 

So as someone who loves the zerg as a playable race, you can imagine my excitement when I loaded up heart of the swarm and began playing, shortly after my second playthrough of wings of liberty. So how do I feel about the second installment in this series? 

A bit less enthusiastic then I was expecting, honestly. I definetely think that partitioning this game into three was a poor choice, and maybe its just my opinion but I feel like this game was not worth the full price release black friday saved me from. 

You see, my main issues are as follows, and I hope to elaborate and explain why this game was slightly dissapointing, though as my score indicates still quite good.

1. Length

Perhaps I'm wrong, but for some reason this campaign feels shorter than Wings of liberty, and considering that the zerg are my favorite race this is a little unfortunate. Things feel like they move just a bit too fast as well, with broods attacking other planets and simply conquering them, rather than being compelling missions and just being tossaway cutscences. The mission variety is pretty good, but ultimately the game feels shorter and that's really dissapointing. 

2. Story

Again, one of my missions is how fast everything happens. Wings of liberty set a pretty good pace, and multiple planets were explored, with unique modifiers altering how you had to set up and play. Yes, this game does that as well, but it feels like it zips way too fast and theres not enough meat on the stories bones to truly satisfy. Additionally, there are rarely cutscences on the leviathan, which hurts some of the characterization that could have happened. You can still have discussions, but theres less cutscences ups and downs to keep the story moving at a proper pace. I enjoyed the story, but nothing surprised me and it didn't feel nearly as well fleshed out as wings of liberty. Yes, I am going to keep comparing the two, because I feel like Wings of liberty did everything amazingly well, and the next two expansions must be compared to that to see how they stack up. And ultimately I feel like this ones story is a bit weaker in comparison to liberty. It just doesnt have as much going for it, and that's pretty unfortunate. Also the characterization of the other characters on the leviathan doesnt develop as much as on the hyperion, which compounds the problem. 

3. A waste of concept

One of my favorite missions in this game is an early one that explores  the concept of evolution of the swarm. As someone who digs microbes and therefore evolution, seeing how it played a role in this game was really intriguing.

During the Ice mission you have to find native creatures and steal their genetic information, allowing your units to not only move during flash freezes, but also giving you an advantage over the protoss units you are fighting, with each optional objective making you better during flash freezes and showing how evolution and adaptation are such a strong part of the swarm. Its brilliant and simple, but shows one of the reasons the zerg are so dangerous. 

This concept never really shows up again.

Evolving you units with evolution missions is a cool take on this, allowing you to choose how your swarm operates, and switching powersets of units on the fly is also cool but the adaptation thing never shows up in another mission. This is really unfortunate, because I loved the idea and its gets tossed to the wayside. Additional objectives simply power kerrigan up or unleash more units, which gets a bit stale and I honestly wish they had taken more advantage of the evolution concept within missions, but unfortunately that;s not the case. 

 

However despite these gripes, the games systems still work well, the zerg are fun to play and the game looks fantastic. The voice acting is still pretty good, and Abathur is a delight to listen to as he talks for some reason.  There's good mission variety and the upgrade system feels different than in wings of liberty to a degree, and part of the long running story gets closure. I enjoyed the game overall, and I would still recommend it, but I am still a bit let down by this one. Hopefully legacy of the void can correct for these issues, but we'll have to wait and see.