StarCraft sequel brings the sublime
Having created the world’s greatest real-time strategy game – and retained a fiercely loyal Starcraft fanbase, despite the game's old-school gameplay – you might expect Blizzard to rest on its laurels and crank out another episode that sticks with the classic formula. But with Legacy Of The Void, the RTS king has delivered a standalone expansion that will thrill battle-scarred fans of the perennial classic, but also reaches out to new players, enticing a new generation to sample the space opera’s heady delights.
To speed the pace of traditional Starcraft battles, the number of available workers in Legacy Of The Void has been doubled and resources are exhausted more quickly, forcing players to stay on their toes, rapidly expand their operations and become a formidable force in a shorter period of time: an ingenious tweak that encourages faster and more spontaneous gameplay. New warriors for the Terrans, Zergs and Protoss also bring energy to the skirmishes – including the intimidating Protoss Adepts, which cause havoc by teleporting directly into enemy bases. As each of these units can be developed into unassailable fighters with intensive micromanagement, players are compelled to strike a careful balance between nurturing their big hitters while keeping a close eye on the broader battlefield challenges.
Alongside its faster pacing, Legacy Of The Void also reaches out to casual players by offering new multiplayer modes that offer a variety of ways to enjoy the Starcraft experience. The best of these fresh additions are the co-op missions where players can team up with a friend or random ally to take part in rip-roaring missions, and control heroes who each boast incredible powers. The new Archon Mode, where two players occupy a single base to share the pernickety management and battlefield histrionics, is less successful than the co-op assignments, but nonetheless offers a new spin on the familiar formula, and is an interesting alternative to the PvP clashes that still remain the game's most engaging part.
On the downside, the single player campaign isn’t as much fun as the epic mutliplayer, and is let down by confusing cut-scenes that are overwrought, clichéd and laughable. It also features far too many cookie-cutter ‘defend the base’ missions that will be painfully familiar to real-time strategy stalwarts. But in a world where contemplative real-time strategies are losing the battle against their breakneck MOBA rivals, Legacy Of The Void is a cerebral delight that blends old-school charm with modern-day bravado, and is a fine swan song for the Starcraft II trilogy.