Through military strength, espionage and
deceit, the Terrans formed a unified government (the Confederacy) and managed to
establish some form of peace. But when resources run short, these Confederate
nations start exploring and in the process, encounter the highly advanced,
Let's just say "first contact" ended
disastrously for the Terrans. Meanwhile, a previously unknown and deadly
species known as the Zerg (picture the monsters in the Aliens movies) enters
Terran and Protoss space and is destroying everything in its path.
What do you need?
StarCraft runs on systems that are deemed
obsolete by today's standards. For the PC, you would need a Pentium 90 or higher
with minimum 16MB RAM, a DirectX-compatible video card, a mouse, a quad-speed
CD-ROM drive and at least Windows 95. For the Mac, you need at least a PowerMac or
better, 16MB RAM, System 7,6 or higher, a 640x480 display of higher at minimum
256 colours and a quad-speed CD-ROM drive. And yes, StarCraft is available on several
console platforms as well (Nintendo 64, Sony Playstation, etc). The Brood War expansion requires you to have
What do you get
StarCraft features single player and
multiplayer games ... the latter over a network or over the Internet (via
Battle.net). Play over the Internet is impractical in PNG, but Tok IT did try
playing StarCraft over a peer-to-peer network. We'll get to the multiplayer
In the single player mode, you get to play one
of three distinct races. You can choose to play a one-off session or choose
campaign play. In the one-off session you choose a map, the
number of opponents (controlled by the computer) and the AI's slant (Melee or
Free For All ... Melee means the opponents will gang up on you, Free For All
means the opponents will take on each other and you). The campaign game is superb. You start off
playing the Terrans, and the game guides you through 10 missions, during which
you discover the Protoss and the Zerg incursion. After three missions is a
mini-movie (or cinematic), and believe me, it is worth watching. Then you play the
Zerg, and finally the Protoss
How does it play?
You start with your home base (Command Centre
for Terrans, Hatchery for Zerg and Nexus for Protoss), and four "labourer"
units (SCVs for Terrans, Drones for Zerg and Probes for Protoss). You use the "labourer" units to mine
minerals, which are required for the basic structures (which defer depending on
the race). Along the way you have more structures, which allow you to
train/morph/warp in more units. Send in your troops and vapourise the enemy! In short, the game is like any other Real-Time
Strategy (RTS) game.
But there is a difference
In most RTS games, the individual races are in
name and looks only ... a peasant-like unit is the same for all the races, a
soldier for humans is the same as the grunt for the Orcs, etc (as was the case
in Warcraft). But in StarCraft, the races ARE unique.
The Terrans are your generic humans (albeit
with a Redneck attitude). The Zerg are a reptilian species with a hive-like
mentality. The Protoss are an ancient alien race with superior technology. The Terran basic unit, the
SCV, mines minerals
and Vespene gas, builds structures and repairs damaged buildings. The Zerg basic unit, the Drone, mines as well,
but in order to build anything, the Drone morphs into something. Yes, Zerg
buildings are alive. The Protoss Probe places a "beacon"
and then move along doing other things (like mining), and the beacons
"warps" in a building. Most Terran buildings can lift off and fly, an
interesting defensive capability. Zerg buildings must be built on Creep, which
is a layer of organic stuff which, well, creeps on surfaces, and they can
regenerate damage. Protoss buildings must be built near Psionic Pylons, and they
come with forcefields (which recharge over time). The Terrans have nuclear strikes and siege
tanks. The Zerg have plague-like attacks and can infest Terran command centres.
The Protoss can create illusions and render large numbers of units invisible.
What about multiplayer?
StarCraft is stable,
and with the addition of Brood War, certain bugs which may have irritated some
players were ironed out. You choose a map and the number of players. You
can go up against your friends, ally with them against the computer, or ally
with one or more against the rest, or whatever.
And during the game....
The Terrans first fight both Protoss and Zerg
and naturally find themselves close to extinction. The Protoss ruling class, suffering from a
major case of superiority complex, fail to see that the Zerg CAN jolly well
eradicate them. Those Protoss who see the light are exiled. These exiles ally themselves with the
and they make for the Protoss homeworld of Aiur, which has by then been taken
over by the Zerg. In the end, the allied forces destroy the Zerg
Overmind (the brains behind the monstrosities). The end scene shows Protoss High Templar
Tassadar, at the helm of a Carrier (a battleship), sacrificing himself to
destroy the Overmind.
What about Brood War?
In the aftermath of the Zerg over-running of Aiur, the Protoss fights to regain their
homeworld. Then the guys from Earth turn up and demand to
have a piece of the action (running tests on Zerg and all). And meanwhile, the new master of the Zerg (a
former Terran absorbed into the Zerg, and who has gained Protoss abilities), the
self-styled "Queen of Blades", struggles to maintain her hold on the
The player starts with the new Protoss
campaign, then Terrans and lastly the Zerg. With new units and improved gameplay.
And three long cinematics after each campaign. You get new units: the Terrans get the Medic
and the Valkyrie (one heals, the other destroys) thanks to the United Earth
Directorate; the Zerg get the Lurker (a key Zerg combat unit gets even more
dangerous) and the Devourer (definitely ups the Zerg air fighting capabilities
considerably); and the Protoss get the Dark Templar (invisible Zealots - cool!),
Corsair (another air unit with powerful defensive abilities) and the Dark Archon
(very, very manipulative chap).
What does the game offer in terms of gameplay
features? Variable terrain, waypoints (multiple movement
destinations), burrowing (for the Zerg) and cloaking units (invisible), ability
to hotkey groups and locations, ability to train multiple units in a building
(up to five at a time), game modes like Capture the Flag, Greed (who can harvest
the most resources in a set amount of time), Team play (2-4 players controlling
the same race - let one guy build, another guy scout, another expand, etc.), and
most other features that are pretty much standard in today's RTS games (but were
innovative years ago when StarCraft was released). StarCraft also comes with a Campaign Editor, so
you can make your own maps.
Does it look and sound good?
Three years ago, StarCraft
won plenty of
accolades for its graphics (in 640x480 mode). Today it looks a mite dated. The
cinematics are still a joy to look at, however. But with pretty low graphics
requirements (I first played StarCraft on a machine with a 1MB video card), who
can complain? Sound-wise the game is adequate ... the
background music is excellent, even by today's standards, setting the mood
without being too obvious.
Should I get the game or not?
StarCraft, like we said earlier, is not a new
game, but it certainly STILL has what it takes to stay chummy with the best.
Plus, older systems can run the game just fine - no need for 3D graphics
accelerators or high-end processors. What does that tell you?
StarCraft & StarCraft: Brood War
Pros: Minimal system requirements, excellent
music, good story line
Cons: Almost four years old, which means
overall gaming engine is dated
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC/Mac and most Consoles
StarCraft's units come in different forms and
sizes, but here are a few which I have found most useful:
Marines - Marines are the first line of defence
for many of the Terran colonies. Although not too impressive at first, in large
numbers the Marines can be a very potent force. In addition to that, they can
attack both air and land enemy units. An upgrade greatly improves the Marines' attack
range, making them all the more lethal.
Ghosts - Ghosts epitomise the height of human
evolution and physical conditioning. These brave men and women, born with
incredible psionic (mental) potential, are adopted by the Confederate Government
and trained from infancy to benefit mankind. The Ghost can be trained to Cloak (become
invisible), which makes them valuable in the field of reconnaissance. Their ability to disrupt electronic fields, a
Lockdown, paralyses mechanical units long enough for them to be taken down.
Arclite Siege Tanks - The heavily armoured
AAV-5 Arclite Siege Tanks are renowned throughout the Confederacy for their
cannons' unrelenting barrages of plasma-charged doom and their stalwart
emplacement/advance tactics. In siege mode their cannons do massive splash
damage. A definite addition to any defensive line.
Battlecruiser - The massive Behemoth-class
Battlecruisers are virtual flying fortresses, built to keep the peace within the
Terran Sector. Armed with the Yamato Gun, the Battlecruiser
has the most powerful weapon other than the nuclear strike.
Medics (Brood War expansion unit) - The Medics
of the United Earth Directorate (UED) follow a time-honoured tradition of
selflessly marching into combat zones to aid their injured brethren. They extend the lives of Marines beyond the
standard 17 seconds and can heal Zerg disorders as well.
Zergling - The small, savage Zergling is one of
the few breeds that a core species has been found for. Mutated by the Zerg to be
efficient killers, the voracious Zergling are capable of ripping a larger
creature to shreds with their razor-edged forearms and sharp fangs. Use in large numbers for a true horde-like
Hydralisk - The Hydralisk is easily the most
versatile breed for the Zerg. With the ability to strike both ground and air
targets, Burrow (once evolved), and health regeneration, the Hydralisk is a
force to be reckoned with.
Queen - The Zerg "Queen" (a misnomer,
as it does not produce Larvae) is capable of producing biotoxins that have
dramatic effects on both Zerg and other lifeforms. The Queen's most useful ability is its Parasite
power. With it the Queen infects a target. Thereafter (for a long, long time)
the area around the infected victim can be seen by the Zerg.
Defiler - Vaguely resembling a scorpion in
appearance, Defilers are veritable cancer factories. They can cause Plague,
which eats into armour, flesh, anything. But their most useful ability is to unleash the
Dark Swarm, which is a cloud that prevents ranged attacks from causing damage.
Create the Dark Swarm and send in the Zerglings....
Lurker (Brood War expansion unit) - One of the
newer and deadlier Zerg Strains is the Lurker. These creatures serve as
defensive warriors for the Hive Clusters and outlying Zerg colonies. They can only attack when Burrowed, but once
they are, they cannot be detected (unless by those with Detector abilities).
Place them at the entrance of your base or your enemy's, and watch them spike
opposing forces to oblivion.
Devourer (Brood War expansion unit) - Bred from
the Mutalisk strain, the Devourers are a deadly addition to the Swarm. These
large, flying behemoths are capable of spewing their vile acid at any airborne
ships or creatures, causing significant corrosive damage. Their splash attack also reveals
"invisible" units and weakens armour.
High Templar - The High Templar are seasoned,
veteran warriors of the Protoss armies that have walked far down the path of
Khala. Those who choose to accept the mantle of the High Templar set aside the
frenzied rage of the Zealot, and instead use their highly potent psionic
abilities to bolster the warriors of Aiur. Use the High Templar to create an illusionary
double of a unit, then send it in ahead of the rest of your army. While the
enemy is busy firing at the illusion, your troops can wreak some major havoc!
Observer - These small drones are employed to
survey vast wasteland areas or observe and record battles for study. Their
complex sensor array leaves little energy for defences, but they can detect
cloaked or concealed units with ease, making them invaluable on the battlefield.
Observers are Robotic spies for Protoss forces
on the battlefield. Their huge advantage is the ability to stay permanently
Carriers - The massive Carriers serve as both
command centres and devastating weapons of war. Heavily armoured and shielded,
the Carrier mounts no weaponry but instead manufactures and launches flights of
robotic Interceptors at vital enemy targets. The computer-controlled Interceptors are
capable of quickly tearing apart even the largest of vessels with their
relentless strafing runs.
Arbiter - The only warship to be crewed
exclusively by non-Templar, the mighty Arbiter is used to provide special
support for assault groups. Psychic Judicators crew the Arbiter ships, and
they use the Arbiter as a focal point to project a reality-warping field that
serves to conceal all friendly units within close proximity. Since the Arbiter must be anchored firmly in
space-time to safely generate such a large field, it is immune to the effects
and remains visible, even when surrounded by the field of another Arbiter.
Dark Templar (Brood War expansion unit) -
Banished from Aiur for refusing to submit to the Khala, the Dark Templar have
wandered throughout the far reaches of space for generations. These mighty warriors, drawing secret powers
from the cold void of the cosmos, are able to bend light around themselves,
which renders them virtually invisible (yes, they are permanently invisible). Armed with modified
Psi-Blade technology, the
Dark Templar relentlessly strive to protect their race and the ancient secrets
of their tribes.
Corsair (Brood War expansion unit) - These
fast, medium sized warships were built by the Dark Templar to safeguard their
wandering fleets. Employing a devastating Neutron Flare in a ship to ship
combat, the Corsair is a versatile addition to the Protoss fleet. With its powerful Disruption Web, the Corsair
can even prevent warriors deployed on planetary surfaces or defensive structures
from attacking. This ability, when used as part of a large siege, is an
invaluable asset to Protoss warfare.
Dark Archon (Brood War expansion unit) - During
their long exile, the Dark Templars have faced many challenges. Struggling and
adapting their arsenal of skills and converting their biology to suit their
harsh environment has ultimately resulted in the Dark Archon. Like their High Templar brethren, two Dark
Templars sacrifice themselves in a Psionic melding giving rise to the Dark
Archon. The powers of these avatars of Psionic might
extend well beyond those of the regular Archon, more than compensating for their
lack of any physical attack capability. With the ability to control the minds of the
enemy, the Dark Archon is a fearsome Protoss indeed.