Picking up where “Wings of Liberty” left off, “Heart of the Swarm” is the second entry in the Starcraft II trilogy. Each game of the 3-part series is set to focus on one of the 3 primary races of the franchise (terrans, the zerg, and the protoss). While the first title was primarily centered on the terrans, or human colonists / exiles from Earth, “Heart of the Swarm” is devoted to the Zerg.
In terms of the plot, it is a twisting roller-coaster that’s at once familiar and distantly original. The game kicks off with Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan (who also happens to be the Zerg queen) stampeding down a corridor away from a group of hostiles. Needless to say, you’re going to be scratching your head wondering why Raynor is helping the Zerg, and so on and so forth; just let the story unfold and enjoy the game, the answers will come. You’ll actually play as Kerrigan in this one and gain a glimpse of what true power actually looks like via her amazing abilities and skills (which are also upgraded and leveled-up as the game rolls forward). This is a game that was designed to please Starcraft fans, there’s more of everything…what’s not to love?
Graphically speaking, “Heart of the Swarm” is definitely up to par. Blizzard really put forth a lot of effort to ensure that this title is able to stand up visually to the demands brought on by its twisted storyline. As previously mentioned, this game includes a lot of content, environments, missions, you name it… Likewise, great care was apparently taken to ensure that the appropriate levels of detail and dynamic lighting were implemented. All in all, SCII: HotS shouldn’t give fans anything to complain about as far as graphics are concerned; the game looks and plays wonderfully.
If there’s on nagging point about this game it’s that it might be a bit too easy. Controlling Kerrigan is a blast because she’s so incredibly powerful; she respawns where she drops and boasts a host of impressive powers which will cut through just about any enemy in the game with relative ease. In other words, if you like challenges as opposed to adventure and storytelling, you might find this game to be somewhat undemanding; however, it’s still loads of fun.
The gameplay itself is still firmly rooted in its strategy-based roots, so nothing to fear there. It’s nice to see that Blizzard is always looking for small ways to evolve their basic approach to gameplay with subsequent releases, and “Heart of the Swarm” is no exception to that.
“Heart of the Swarm” is an excellent follow-up to “Wings of Liberty” and is also a great game in its own right. There is an awesome amount of actual content within the game, the likes of which will keep most gamers busy for quite a while. Additionally, this release is to enhance the overall functionality and available resources within the multiplayer element, so “3 cheers” are in order there. If you’re a Starcraft addict, definitely get this.