What to say about a sequel to a "legendary" Starcraft? I know I am a little bit too late for a review but I recently played Legacy Of The Void and now I can give this game a proper review. I will review all three games and give it an honest opinion which is not biased. I am not neither Starcraft fan or Blizzard fan, I am just an average guy who like RTS games and who can appreciate them.
Let's start with Wings of Liberty.
First off you must know a little bit of background on the game itself. Starcraft was released in 1998. It was a blast back then because there were not many similar games. Now you have games with similar setting like Supreme Commander, Grey Goo or Universe at War. Back then there was a handful of RTS games, so Starcraft was a first RTS game to feature 3 distinct races which were very different from each other and all that put in Sci Fi setting. Also Starcraft team who made the game drew the inspiration from Command and Conquer 95 (later known as Tiberian Dawn). The way of building bases, collecting resources (Tiberium and blue crystal from Starcraft look very similar) and the wide variety of units. The game was a smashing hit because Blizzard invested a lot in multiplayer which kept the game going, it was balanced.
The original and its expansion, Brood Wars, ended on a cliffhanger, so those who loved the game for its campaign were excited to know there will be a sequel, those who loved the game for its multiplayer component knew there will be a graphical update of their beloved game. Everyone waited for it patiently.
Finally in the year 2010, twelve, 12! TWELVE years after the first game we finally get the sequel!? Problem with that kind of waiting is the hype, it builds up too much and developers have to give their best to deliver.
I will divide this game into section for easier reading.
GRAPHICS: Even then, the game looked average, the same level of detail, if not better was achieved in 2007, 3 years ago by Tiberium Wars. In the time when Starcraft II, Wings of Liberty came out, Warhammer Dawn of War 2 was out and it looked way better, also there was this game called R.U.S.E. by Ubisoft, it also looked better. Textures of the game looks cartoony, they are not sharp and matte but very bright colored and glossy. The game looks like something out of Borderlands. If you zoom in on marine you will notice what am I talking about. Also vehicles have this strange animation which makes then shake while moving, as if the vehicle is from cartoon and it is about to fall apart. This only plagues Terran faction. Although, the effects are quite nice, the overall graphic feel of the game feels like cartoon. Zerg are not menacing looking, they are just brown animals that screech, not insect like creatures that would make you fill your pants. Protoss are the best looking out of all three but unit design is not matching the one in the first game, they seem different. The game overall suffers from Red Alert 3 syndrome. Cartoony units with bright graphics and goofy style. The very same style can be seen in Tiberian Twilight and now in this game. The same vehicle shaking can be seen in Red Alert 3.
SOUND: In this game, sound and overall feel is top notch. I just can't say nothing about it. Music is catchy, voice actors did a good job and weapon sounds are marvelous, when Siege tanks fires you can tell how powerful the blast is by just listening. Music is really nice and goes well with battle. The only complaint is that you barely hear the music sometimes in the battle, as if it fades out, I even cranked up music volume to 100 and decrease others to 50 and still can't get it to work like I want. But overall, sound was done masterfully.
GAMEPLAY: Well, gameplay is not as shiny as I expected. Clearly there are some things that clamp the game in order to bring the balance but it makes the game boring to some extent. First is population cap. Population cap is there only for balance but sometimes it clamps you, by the time you start making your army you will hit the population cap. If your army is destroyed you will need to build another one which takes time. In other games I could build one huge army and then divide it into several smaller ones and pull out some crazy stunts like pincer attacking a single base or baiting out an enemy army our of their base while wrecking chaos into said base, or if I lose my army I could easily pull in my backup army. In this game if you divide your army you will have a handful of units.
Another bad thing are build times, they are massive. You have to wait a very long time for units compared to other games and even longer for upgrades.
Also, base defenses are almost non existent. In campaign you get some additional buildings but in this game you get base defenses that are only a waste of money, they attack slowly and do rather poor damage but cost a lot compared to units they lose to. This lack of proper defenses allows for stupid rush strategies which only involve quick reflexes and zero strategy. The only proper defense is terran bunker which is only available in campaign, in skirmish you get the vanilla one which is just a building which you can garrison. For example, in Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance there are more than enough base defenses, namely UEF Ravager when built will be efficient and will actually matter in the defense of your base, it will not just hinder your opponent but will actually destroy any opposition.
In Starcraft II this is not the case, Spine Crawlers, Bunkers or Photon Cannons are more of a nuisance than actual danger. Most of the times you will defend your base with your army.
Also many of the cool units that are present in the campaign are not in multiplayer which is a bummer.
Campaign itself is well made, missions are nice and have a good mix of everything. You will find everything you wanted in a RTS campaign.
But overall, the game deserves a 7, it is a good game, developers invested a lot of money and production into it which you can notice in sounds but failed with graphics and did a mixed job in gameplay. For the sake of balance many units from campaign are missing and there is still this dreadful unit cap. Many of these can be lifted by using in game editor but that is not the real deal.
Also, for a 12 year period, this game could have been a lot more, 12 years are not short, that is a lot of time to make an epic game, instead we get a good RTS that could have been much more. If you like RTS you should play this game but it will disappoint you in some aspects. Simply because Blizzard waited for too long to release the game. Hype did its thing.
Look into my account if you wish to read Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void reviews.