Star Wars

Blizzard does it again, with one of the best RTS games of the year.

In an inevitable future, a far-flung galaxy awaits your judgement and supervision. A war has engulfed the neighboring star system and the independent existence of your race may depend upon the course of action you choose in Blizzard's innovative answer to futuristic and strategic gaming.

"Starcraft" introduces you to the unfamiliar (and yet predictable) world of interstellar politics. Three races beckon your services as a campaign leader; choose between the humanoid Terrans, the hideous alien Zerg or the civilized Protoss. The game takes you through multiple backdrops, where you learn to sharpen your skill and lead your units in futuristic planetary assault. All three campaigns offer you the very best facilities ,and the rules are universal for all sustained existence and campaign operation. The nomadic Terran forms the base level, and allows you to spend some time in boot camp to help you get your bearings.

Before you plunge into the campaign scenario, you're given meticulous instructions as the new magistrate or executor of your respective species. The Zerg Overlord, for instance, takes pleasure in frightening you with his grisly motives and briefs you on the severity of your mission in his raspy muddled overtone.

The entire game moves smoothly with its breathtaking SFX and becomes increasingly difficult as you advance from level to level. In each successive stage, you are given the opportunity to maintain and train your military units, while sustaining your infrastructure through the mining of minerals or the building of various units. The latter serve as important supply depots, and corroborate your effectiveness on the field when you face staunch opposition from enemy units.

Conquering a map is extremely tough and takes more than a few units of your best marines. Very often, the mission objectives simply order you to find an object or an organism on the map and sometimes they order you to eradicate all enemy infestations in the area (which involves a lot of work and a few busy hours at the weapons shop.) The game takes you from the sun-kissed skies of your training camp to the muddied fields of battle, where enemy units surround you and engulf you in this test of military tactics.

The game is adequately engineered with provisions for multiplayer competition through Blizzard's Battle.net gaming service and a worldwide player ranking for posterity. Another intelligent feature is the detailed Campaign Editor, which allows you to customize the topography and condition of any upcoming campaign. Taken together, this wealth of features, a powerful back story, great animation and cut scenes, and immense replayability make "Starcraft" one of the best games of this - or any other - year.

This article was first published on 01 May 2001.