By Guest Writer
on 8.16.10

It was the spring of 1998. The Lewinsky Scandal was in full swing, Windows® 98 had yet to be released, and Billy Crystal hosted the Academy Awards. Most importantly however, the original StarCraft was released. Eight months later the StarCraft expansion pack, Brood War, was released, providing fans with hope for a potential sequel and hours of wasted youth.

Our in-depth review continues after the jump.

It has been twelve long years since the original, but StarCraft II has finally arrived…part of it at least. On July 27th Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty ($60) was released as the first installment of a three part series. Wings of Liberty picks up where Brood War left off, following the story line of Marshall Jim Raynor in his quest to overthrow an authoritarian Terran regime. However, the single player campaign ends here. Though Wings of Liberty is, in all regards, a complete gaming experience, fans will have to wait for the Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void expansion packs in order to play the respective Zerg and Protoss races’ single-player campaigns. That being said, Wings of Liberty is an enormously impressive game (after twelve years in production, one would expect nothing less). The sequel provides all of the familiarity one would expect from a well-crafted sequel, and also provides a swarm of new content and experiences, including 30 new units.

For those of you who didn’t waste away your youth playing the original StarCraft, Wings of Liberty provides ample introduction to the series including a history of events narrated during the lengthy installation process, a host of basic tutorials, access to online guides, and the ability to view technology trees in-game. Additionally, StarCrafts’ online experience has been tweaked so as to be more inviting for beginners and diehards alike. Before delving into competitive online battle, users have an opportunity to play in a practice league in which new players are pitted against each other (or in cooperative mode against AI) in slower matches on easier maps. Once these matches are no longer challenging users are invited to play in five placement matches. The results of these five matches are used to determine a user’s gaming level and place them against foes of similar skill levels in subsequent matches. In short, this feature should prevent you from being dominated by a 12 year-old boy from Korea every time you play online. However, if you do find yourself defeated you can now watch a full replay of your match to learn from your mistakes.

Complete with unlockables, rewards, achievements, match histories, leagues and ladders, the scope of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a bit overwhelming. However, both diehards and new fans of the series will agree that the quality and depth of Wings of Liberty was well worth the wait. StarCraft movie in 30 years, anyone? Hit the full specs button to read about its requirements for Mac and PC.

Buy Now: $60

By Scott Mannear