It started with an awesome official trailer…
Two weeks ago, Blizzard released the third and final installment of Starcraft II, titled Legacy of the Void (LotV). I purchased and downloaded the expansion pack on launch date. It was my first game purchase since GTA V, and I was super eager to finally see the end of the saga.
Less than 12 hours of in-game play time later (on Normal difficulty), I finished without an ounce of happiness. In fact, 1/4 of the way through the campaign, I stopped feeling any excitement for one of the greatest titles in video game history.
What went wrong? Warning: game spoilers ahead.
In order to answer that question, we should backtrack to the first installment: Wings of Liberty. We saw great in-game cinematics, the backstory with Zeratul, and terrific character development with James Raynor.
In the beginning, we see an antihero Raynor, still messy from the loss of his dear Kerrigan. We then see him transform alongside Captain Horner and team; they begin a renewed struggle against Arcturus Mengsk. By the end of the game, they finally incapacitate the Queen of Blades. With the last second betrayal from Findlay and cliffhanger, Wings of Liberty ends with a meaningful bang.
Heart of the Swam (HotS) began strong. We continue the plot as Sarah Kerrigan in her human form. A couple missions later, James gets kidnapped and “executed,” which transforms Kerrigan back into her Queen of Blades form. She rages and does her psi-thing, destroying everything in her path.
This is where the story went wrong. Playing as Kerrigan, we are supposed to accept that she is using free will to destroy every living being, just as she once had under the Overmind’s control. We’re also introduced to many new characters, none of which we are able to relate with. Unlike seeing and empathizing with the Terran struggle, we see simple Zerg upheaval as a result of no longer having an alpha (fe)male around. Whoop dee freakin’ doo.
With the release of LotV, I was hoping to get a change of momentum. We were teased that Fenix, Tassadar, and the old heroes of Starcraft I were making a comeback. This is the final installment where all three races are supposed to unite in a stand against a true enemy Amon.
LotV began decent. Young Artanis is about to take back the Protoss homeworld Auir. Zeratul blinks in last second with a warning, to no avail, and the Protoss besiege their former homeworld. This attack fails miserably; the Protoss get mind controlled by Amon. This happened in the span of two missions and was too fast paced. Moreover, Amon was first introduced in WoL’s Zeratul missions, but we know little of him. HotS barely touches upon him, but now he’s become the main antagonist. There wasn’t enough lore to explain his significance.
But whatever. I forgive this oversight because of the epic duel between Artanis and Zeratul. Then Zeratul dies. He freakin’ DIES. HOW CAN YOU KILL ZERTAUL?
Zeratul is just a peaceful gramps… who has lightsabers as hands.
I get it. Artanis learns a valuable lesson. His death was necessary to help the young patriarch lead His people to reclaim their legacy. Shamed hero must rise again, reclaim his homeworld, and defeat the mega-evil apocalypse that is bound to doom the Koprulu Sector.
But after that dueling scene, we get a repeat of HotS missions. Zero character development. Fenix is introduced as half-mech and zero substance. Other Protoss heroes play such insignificant roles. Raynor shows up once. Kerrigan shows up a couple times. They’re supposed to fight together to defeat Amon, but instead we get fancy custom Protoss units that we’re supposed to marvel over, simply because of nifty changes in animation or increased damage/range/perks. Kids could have done better with any wild imagination.
I tried to get excited about seeing the old units in action: Corsairs, Reavers, Arbiters. That part was kinda cool, because this “old but powerful” technology became the only option for the Protoss as they lost control of the majority of their armies. Cool, I guess.
But that’s simply a repeat of over-CGI’ing The Hobbit. Here’s an analogy in fantasy novel terms:
- Starcraft :: The Fellowship of the Ring (this is pretty good)
- SC Brood War :: The Two Towers (wow this is really good)
- SC II Wings of Liberty :: The Return of the King (HOLY SHIT LET’S MARATHON THIS GUYZ!!111)
- SC II Heart of the Swarm :: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (I wouldn’t watch this again)
- SC II Legacy of the Void :: The Battle of the Five Armies (I want to walk out of the theatre)
It doesn’t matter how much CGI you put in. Lack of substance, no matter how pretty it looks, is still lack of substance. There was so much potential to outdo the Mass Effect series in fan reaction. Instead, the ending in LotV was even worse than that of Mass Effect 3.
We finally get to see Xel’Naga. We see that it looks like the Starship Troopers superbug. Or Nihilanth from Half-Life. Either way, just some super ugly alien bug. The creator of the galaxy is all-powerful, yet made itself look like a moronic alien bug thing.
…And then Kerrigan becomes Xel’Naga.
She literally transforms into Marvel’s Phoenix and battles Amon as a superhero, and wins (obviously, because she’s fucking Phoenix). And the Koprolu Sector is now… safe? I guess?
Yeah. That was why Zeratul said she couldn’t be killed. It’s because she was actually Kara Thrace. The Harbinger of Doom. The prophecies foretold.
So much disappointment. I hope the Warcraft movie will be good, so I can forget about this mess.