This is how much of a StarCraft noob I am – until a few months ago, I had no idea the original game had any narrative value at all, I thought it was just one big multiplayer experience. Boy was I wrong! So, I caught up on the story from the first game and delved right into the second. Now I’m about half a dozen missions in and it is actually a fun, exhilarating experience!
Because I’m a noob, as the title of this article states, I started on “Casual” difficulty. What that means, exactly, is anyone’s guess, because playing versus the computer in multi-player mode, I get my ass handed to me time after time on “Casual” difficulty. However, so far, the campaign seems a bit more tame. The key words are “so far”. So, what are the things that an RPG guy like me latches on to in a real-time strategy campaign like we have here in StarCraft II? Narrative, upgrading units and researching new technology, that’s what.
First off, let’s talk a little about researching technology. So, you complete objectives during story missions to unlock either Zerg or Protoss research trees. It seems to me, at a basic glance, that these trees are there to help you acquire new abilities for your units and buildings that will, more often than not, help you against the specific enemies they target. The first thing, of course, that came to mind when I saw these was the talent trees from World of Warcraft. Okay, that isn’t surprising considering that is also a Blizzard game and those talent trees are descendants of the research trees available in the Warcraft RTS titles. See, I can connect the dots. You should all be in awe of my logic. Bow before me!
While you seem to only be able to choose one thing to research on each tier of those trees, when it comes to unit and building upgrades through the armory on board your fancy spaceship, you can acquire them all, assuming you have the funds available. Upgrading units and buildings – by either of these ways – is fun, because it is a simple RPG concept that I can latch on to easily here. While I may not be enthralled by the actual game play of most RTS titles, this one gives me something to work towards and look forward to at the end of each story mission.
What new technologies can I research? What new upgrades become available? It all motivates me to play through the missions, to acquire Zerg or Protoss artifacts and, ultimately, to enjoy the game.
Because I never saw the story of the first StarCraft face to face, I may lack appreciation for what is going on here. However, the pieces of the story seem to be dropping in place pretty well. I like how it is told through both cut scenes and dialog within the missions themselves, and I look forward to seeing which way it goes. Speaking of the missions, the branching mission structure is nice, so you can hop around and do what you feel like doing at any given moment. I also think it is a neat idea to allow you to replay missions you’ve already completed. Once I get more comfortable I may just go back and redo them on normal difficulty because I’m an achievement whore.
Finally, I tend to think the campaign is more noob-friendly than the multiplayer. As I mentioned earlier, going solo or with another new player against the AI, even on casual difficulty, is pretty brutal. But, I don’t get that same vibe from the campaign missions, at least, not yet. While there are mistakes to be made and I am sensing that it is definitely possible to fail these missions, the amount of leniency is nice, at least long enough to get my bearings and figure out what exactly I’m supposed to be doing.
Will I continue playing the campaign through to its conclusion? Most definitely. Will I become the uber-gifted StarCraft II player that can hold his own against even the hardcore? Unlikely. If I reach that point, it will likely not be fun for me anymore. I’ll just be satisfying with getting my ass handed to me by most people I play with, that way when I do win, it will be more of a victory.