Politics As Usual

This add-on to the original Starcraft introduces new units and more difficult maps.

It's unusual for a sequel to be better than the original - Hollywood has failed miserably at it, as have any number of one-hit wonders in the music world. But you can always count on Blizzard to break all the rules - and that's just what they've done with "Starcraft: Brood War", their follow-up to the wildly popular "Starcraft" RTS.

If you've played "Starcraft" before (I hope you have!), much of "Starcraft: Brood War" will come as no surprise. As in the original, there are three races, each with its own unique characteristics and skills, locked in a battle for territorial domination. There are resources to be harvested, units to be built, missions to be accomplished and maps to be conquered. Most of the visual elements of the original "Starcraft" remain unchanged, and the interface will be immediately familiar; both novice and expert users should have little trouble getting to grips with Blizzard's superb control panels and navigation systems.

As always, there's a back story to keep things interesting. The Protoss and Zerg are at loggerheads once again, trying desperately to wipe each other out, while Terran Emperor Mengsk is slowly widening the range of his influence. A mysterious group known as the UED, led by General DuGalle, is attempting to bring an end to the conflict, but has to contend with the violent politics and frequent outbreaks of violence common to the region. And Kerrigan, Queen Of Blades, isn't in a good mood either...

Of course, "Starcraft: Brood War" is more than just a bunch of new campaigns and maps. A number of new units have been included in this game, and they more than make up for the minor flaws in balance found in the original. Terrans now have a Medic, who can heal wounded soldiers, and a new aerial battleship, the Valkyrie; the Zerg have the very cool Lurker, which can attack enemy units from underground; and the Protoss have the Dark Archon, which can now invoke damaging Maelstroms, or control the minds of its enemies. New heroes (and new villains) complete the picture, and you'll also have the opportunity to re-encounter Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan and Praetor Fenix.

If you enjoyed the original "Starcraft", this upgrade is not something you should hesitate to buy. It has more campaigns, dozens of new standalone maps, and a bunch of compelling new units. It also fixes some of the gameplay bugs from the original, and includes adjustments to finely tune the balance between the three races. Don't even think twice about it - just walk down to the store and pick up your copy now!

This article was first published on 10 May 2001.