My Top 12 Games of 2015: #07 Starcraft II: LOTV
Much like the cold void of space, today I find myself once again writing with freezing joints. It is what it is, provides me with a lot of narrative juice [which unfortunately freezes in my sulci]. Unfortunately this is another game I’ve already reviewed. But unlike last time I’ve got three entire games I can talk about with this post! So why don’t we?! “Because you are cold and would rather just veg while playing Xenoblade Chronicles?” You are totally right, but sometimes I’ve got to force myself to finish something. If I went to #7 in a top 12 list I’d feel like a total dog sack. No offense to dogs, or their sacks, just how I’d feel.
Legacy of the Void was the final entry in the Starcraft II arc. I don’t know how many of you reading this are aware but I actually really like Chris Metzen. A few years back Blizzard had an ill fated magazine project that rose and fell like a Phoenix. And like the Phoenix it was a thing of beauty. I’m still saddened that they stopped publishing it. It got to four or five issues, each really well made with excellent interviews and content. They seemed to believe that they couldn’t compete with the internet but in my mind that magazine showed that print could still whip the socks off of digital. Every page was just dripping with quality. If I walked in on you rubbing a copy on your junk I’d probably not even think twice. “Yeah, it is pretty damn good.” I’d say. You’d awkwardly stare at me, frozen in place. Finally I’d break the tension. “Well when you are finished I’ll be ready for some LAN Starcraft.” You nod slowly, the full weight of the moment wearing you down more than it should. I understand what you’ve done and I won’t tell Dave. Well, maybe, ok I might tell him. This is pretty amusing.
But I’m digressing. The magazine was wonderful and in it was one of the most inspirational interviews I’ve ever read. It was an interview with Chris Metzen that talked to him about his time with Blizzard and how he felt about a great many things. I’m going to paraphrase but when asked about how he feels about his writing he said something like: “I write because I love creating. And for me, if someone loves my work, or hates my work, the outcome is roughly the same. Just knowing that they experienced it is enough to keep me going. That relationship is very fulfilling for me.” I’m tempted to pull out my copy and get the exact quote but you get the jist. That notion of not fearing how people will react to your work was incredibly enticing to me. I’m always an anxious mess, every moment of my day eats away at me a little more than the previous moment.
So back to the game. I actually really liked the story to Starcraft II. Metzen adores love stories. Most of his stories are adventures wrapped around the love of two or more characters. He’s not writing to amuse some pantywaist literary critics. You know the people, always telling you how they could “Fix” this genre or that. He writes because he loves writing and he writes what he loves to write. I admire that personally. I don’t need him to be the next Tolkien. I need him and the others writing for Blizzard to be confident and to have fun with what they do. Because when they have fun it bleeds through the end game. This is why their video sequences are such a joy to watch. Everyone at Blizzard is there to not just make a product, not just make a game, but to ultimately make something super nerdy and super fun. For all the skinny little shits like myself to fantasize about being something greater. To push back the Zerg, to stop the Cataclysm, or to defeat the Lords of Evil themselves.
The journey of Raynor as he tries to rescue Kerrigan is a delight for me. Especially considering of the two of them he’s easily the one that needs the rescuing. His love has become a potentially galaxy destroying superpowered creature. She has at her side basically the entirety of the Zerg. In many ways I’ve always seen Raynor as a strong man with a fragile heart. He’s not out to save Kerrigan because she needs saving but because he needs to save her. That journey is what keeps him moving. Much like for her the desire for revenge (and perhaps redemption). All along the way the Terrans feel more like secondary observers than actual participants and I love that. Humans just don’t seem to me like a faction that would really be anywhere near the front stage of an interstellar war. We do a lot of cool things but I feel like any kind of galactic interaction will find us on the lower end of the totem pole. And if we weren’t, if we truly were the top dogs, I don’t think we could handle that.
All three games are excellent in my opinion. The quality from start to finish is without question in my mind. Almost every mission is fun, a few of them are frustrating as fuck, but that doesn’t make them bad. They are challenging but still well designed. All of the cut scenes are great. The dialogue is either awesome, corny, or awesomely corny. In each case I can tell that people had a really good time making it and I’ve had a really good time experiencing it.
All together you can buy the entire series for something like 50 bucks. That’s crazy balls and one of the best non-sale deals available in 2015. Anyone with a passing interest in RTS games owes it to themselves to play Starcraft II. The unit selection in these games is just wonderful. The rock-paper-scissors mechanics throughout really mesh well and it’s fascinating just how balanced the game is. I can’t personally recommend the multiplayer because in my experience it doesn’t take long before you are up against people who could beat you using nothing but their kneecaps to press buttons. This is one of those games where people generally peak in their mid 20’s because the strain is just too much on any normal human being. But if you want to casually play with a buddy or two that’s probably fun.
The gimmicks for all three story arcs are cool. I love upgrading things, I love choices, and I love that there are all sorts of people to chat with between missions in all three stories. I’ve played a lot of RTS games that just phone it in. But Starcraft II really does go balls deep in a lot of ways.
The biggest mistake in this closing game was the Archon Mode. Why, oh why, was it not for the entire Campaign? How amazing would it have been to play with another person along the Campaign in hard or brutal? What a waste. It’s only available in like 9 maps and they are fun but not THAT fun.
For me, the story as a whole is certainly complete. There is something about it that is very bittersweet. Some knowledge that I glossed over in the original trilogy that did ultimately make everything a little hollow. Hollow in the sense that you get when something you care about passes away. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s how I felt. It was the closing of a door. I sat there realizing that everything had culminated in the ultimate conclusion and that, at least for now, the tale was over. I know there will be story packs coming and whatnot but I don’t know if they can really top what they’ve done. But even if they don’t, in ten years time when Starcraft III comes out, I’ll be there and I’ll be playing it.