I’ve been a fan of Blizzard RTS games since the original Warcraft. I still have fond memories of hooking up two Macs with AppleTalk cables and playing Warcraft for an entire afternoon with a good friend of mine. Although Warcraft was a great RTS game, Blizzard redefined the genre when they created StarCraft.
StarCraft exploded onto the video game scene with a great storyline, and fun gameplay, but most importantly, a three-way faction paradigm. Almost all RTS games up to this point had been two, evenly matched forces that would battle each other out. Their abilities might have been slightly different, but it was key that they be balanced against one another.
StarCraft took on the difficult task of balancing strengths and weaknesses among three factions, instead of just two. What was probably a huge risk paid off tremendously, and set a pattern for how RTS game balance could really work. In StarCraft, the Terrans, the Zerg and the Protoss are distinctly different teams. They each have strengths and weaknesses that alter gameplay depending on who the enemy is at the time.
The Zerg are notorious for swarm tactics (which spawned the universal tactic of “zerging”), to overwhelm their enemies. The Protoss units are expensive and take a long time to build, but they have shields and are hard to bring down. The humans are a balance between the two, with a focus on mechanized combat. This type of balance between three factions makes for incredibly fun gameplay.
StarCraft 2 has been a huge success, and it was designed as a trilogy. The first release of the game focused on the Terran campaigns. A couple years later the Zerg sequel arrived. Now, the Protoss missions have landed, and the story that started in the first release has come to a conclusion. I picked up the final expansion last week and have been enjoying seeing the end to the journey. I’ve just about beat the game on casual, and might go back to pick up some achievements on normal mode after this.
I’m not very good at StarCraft, so I don’t both playing online. However, I have watched some StarCraft tournaments and it’s amazing to see these professional gamers do amazing things with this game. Watching their abilities is a blur of constant action after action, executing a defined plan as quickly as possible.
Blizzard changed the scene with StarCraft, and I’ve loved every minute of it.