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Thread: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

  1. #71
    Eivind's Avatar Junior Member
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    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    The story analysis turned out to be quite long, and I haven't even finished it yet! Here's the first part, which deals mainly with the main missions.

    2 Ė Wings of Liberty
    2.4 - Story analysis

    And so the time has come to look at the story in StarCraft 2. As I have already covered the structure of the story and the characters, and later will look at the themes, presentation, and the plot holes, retcons and inconsistencies, I will use this part to look at everything in-between, whatever that is.

    It all begins 4 years after Brood War, on the planet Mar Sara. The most observant ones of you already know this was the location of the first missions in the original StarCraft. Hell, not only is the location similar, but the time spent there is that as well: three missions (which is most common measurer of time in the Koprulu sector). There are several reasons for that, I think. The first is simply that Blizzard is paying a small homage to their own game. This was very successful. The first missions in StarCraft 2 are essentially the bridge between the two games, and act as a transition into the true core of the sequel. Now, I donít think the players needed to be ďsoftened upĒ to be prepared, but beginning on familiar notes before new ones were played made for a smooth segue that appealed at lot to me.

    It also underlines one of the gameís central themes: that not a lot changes. I wonít dive much deeper into that here, but I will use it as a transition into the second reason why the game starts on Mar Sara, which is to introduce the new role of Jim Raynor. In the first game, he was a marshal who joined the rebel group Sons of Korhal because the regime that controlled the sector, the Confederacy, was brutal and unfit to govern any sector. The leader of the rebel group, Arcturus Mengsk, successfully overthrew the Confederacy, crowned himself emperor of the sector, and created the Dominion, a new brutal regime that also was unfit to govern any sector. In other words: little changed. But while Raynor is still on the lower end of the ladder, his role is not the same. Sure, he is still a rebel, but things are different now. Before, he was a mid-level officer. Now, he is a leader.

    Those two things are quite different. Because he didnít lead the Sons of Korhal, he could exit it with more ease than if he was. While the Raiders serve the same purpose as the Sons originally did, Raynor has a different position. Before, he was the follower. Now, he is the one being followed, and the consequences for that are many. First of all: Raynor has to face the same challenge that Mengsk faced, more specifically to convince the people that the image the government ruling them presented of him was false. Since the media is peppered with propaganda, he has to do it from the ground up, and that is why he is on Mar Sara.

    Mar Sara is a fringe world, which we will learn is not what Mengsk cares a lot about throughout the game. Interestingly enough, Raynor does what a lot of populist right wing parties are doing right now in many European countries: he engages those on the bottom by playing on their anger at those on the top. I wonít engage too much in political discussion, but I will pinpoint that it is primarily the methods Raynor uses that made me want to draw the connection, not the actual politics. After all, some 60-70 years ago, left wing parties used the same methods to gain power. But the citizens of Mar Sara doesnít cheer on promise alone when it comes to Raynor. No, they cheer because he provides results. Unlike Mengsk, he doesnít give orders and sit back quietly, but engages in battle personally, with the risk of being killed. Itís as if he is Che Guevara or Fidel Castro, who both ventured into the Cuban jungle with less than a hundred men and came out the other end, victoriously (does this mean that if Raynorís revolution is successful, the new rule will be as ineffective as the Cuban government now lead by Castro?). Mengsk, on the other hand, seems more like George W. Bush: quick to play the ďwarĒ card, but hesitant when it comes to going out in the field himself.

    After we leave Mar Sara, the primary location becomes the battlecruiser Hyperion, which conveniently gives Raynor (and the writers) the ability to travel from world to world without much hassle. But itís not just the travel of method that has changed, but also the styles of the missions presented. The Mar Sara missions were pretty traditional (destroy the enemy base, hold out for 20 minutes), but the missions in the rest of the game are quite original. I have to applaud Blizzard here. Whether we are robbing trains, harvesting minerals on ground that is flooded with lava every few minutes, or fighting zombie-like Zerg on Meinhoff, every mission has an enjoyment level that is through the roof. Gameplay-wise, StarCraft 2 is truly a winner, and it wonít be as interesting going through the original campaigns after this.

    Though Iíve already said my opinion on the choice to have a branched mission structure, I will comment them a little further here. Those that remember will know that I argued for them and defended them, but I am not completely on the ďapprovalĒ side either, but somewhere in the middle. I think each story is great on its own, and I donít think that every side plot line that strains from the main one has to be weaved back again. But I have to address a fact: in order to enable the possibility of side missions, Blizzard had to take space from the main missions, and this hurt the main missions. Sure, a campaign consisting of 60-or-so missions might sound nice on paper, but such a grand undertaking takes a long to time to create, and I think most people can agree that a 12-year long wait was long enough. Interestingly enough, Blizzard found a way to bypass this by deciding to make a trilogy, which will result in a campaign with a total of 80 to 90 missions in the end. By splitting up the entire story in three parts, they managed to bypass the time constraints.

    So they gave themselves more time, but they still didnít get more space. They still had to make a game with a maximum of about 30 missions, and that was Wings of Liberty. And with those 30 missions, they chose to split them in two categories: main missions and side missions, which I believe hurt the former. In my opinion, almost every mission is great considered on its own, but they have to work together, and this is where Blizzard didnít deliver as much as they did with, say, the mission design. I am going to look closer into every one of the storylines, but before I get that far, I have to address the fact that the main storyline in Wings of Liberty is quite short. Some say itís only 6-7 missions, which is untrue, but it could be said that it isnít long enough to need more than 6-7 missions to tell (perhaps a few more, but not much).

    Now, letís actually look at the main storyline. It is essentially made up of the Matt Horner missions (the revolution) and the Tychus Findlay missions (the artifacts). I really liked that Blizzard made us believe the revolution is the main story, only to switch gears right before the third act. No, it wasnít necessarily surprising that the artifacts was more than just McGuffins, but I can honestly say I didnít predict their precise effect and where the story would eventually go.

    Because the stories are so twisted into each other, I am going to treat them sort of like one. The main story starts on Mar Sara. The revolution has been going on for a while, but hasnít been going too well, for reasons such as lack of funds and will. With the arrival of Tychus and his business offer, things change. From then on, the storylines are treated separately, with the Matt Horner missions supposedly acting as the main storyline. Apart from The Moebius Factor, none of the Tychus missions really advance the plot other than on a mechanical level. By that I mean that they have no impact on anything, save from introducing us to the TalíDarim and bringing us closer to completing the artifact. Not much changes with the characters, and the exclusion of missions such as The Dig and Supernova wouldnít hurt the plot much, if anything at all. Yes, there would be less artifact pieces to collect, but one could argue the other way too, by saying that since we have are supposedly content to have plot-less missions, they could easily have included another one. But does the plot really benefit from that? Not unless you add anything plot-related.

    In his assessment of the Protoss campaign in Brood War, The Stand, FanaticTemplar used a definition that I think fit well with the Tychus storyline: ďshopping list plotĒ. I mean, that is what it is, isnít it? It simply has no purpose apart from introducing us to the TalíDarim (whom we learn little about after Smash and Grab, anyway). I guess the reason for that is that Blizzard didnít want to call too much attention to the storyline, which I will say is a fair excuse, but as shown with The Moebius Factor, where we are introduced to the Moebius Foundation, meet up with Kerrigan again, and meet Narud for the first time, they are perfectly able of adding to the plot in a subtle way that doesnít call attention to itself. I donít think I have to tell you why Moebius and their enigmatic leader might be an important part of the coming storylines. The fact that we are still speculating and canít tell for sure exactly how they will fit in, just shows Blizzard were successful when it came to introducing to them without giving too much away.

    The artifact missions gain momentum with the arrival of Valerian, but before that, letís look at the Matt Horner missions. We begin by robbing trains, which leaves us with an old Confederate adjutant that supposedly has important information. We then have to decrypt it, which almost makes it fall into the hands of the Dominion, because Orlan, the mercenary who apparently has beaten 7 Insane AIs in FFA, thinks he can make a quick buck out of it. As you know, that doesnít happen. After that, the adjutant gives us quite the convenient piece of information, more specifically Mengskís quote about him wanting to rule the sector or see it burn to ashes around him. One could question exactly how small a chance it would be that such a handy plot device would end up in the hands of the Raiders, but I will let that slide, as I think the storyline has bigger problems, which I will specify in a bit, and because the Raiders found it by accident (which seems more plausible than them purposefully looking for it).

    Horner plans to use the message to bring down Mengsk without charging head in (the Tychus style) and unnecessarily risking both life and public opinion (which is bad enough already). To do that, the Raiders require the Odin, which they ďliberateĒ on Valhalla (yes, as a Scandinavian I do recognize the references to Norse mythology) and later use it to infiltrate the streets of Korhal. Eventually, they successfully manage to broadcast the message, and although Mengsk is not dethroned, he is dealt a serious blow that he is unlikely to recover from. The storyline ends there. As I have no problem with ambiguous endings, cliffhangers and ďto be continuedsÖĒ, I donít mind waiting for the expansion to see where the story goes (I mention this because some people donít have the same opinion on this subject as me).

    Now, I mentioned I had some problems with the storyline, but I didnít specify them. I will do that now. The main one is that it isnít much of a story. I mean, imagine yourself telling it to someone. How interesting would that be? Apart from the fact that the Raiders may fail, there isnít much drama, and like the artifact, itís essentially another ďshopping list plotĒ. The Raiders obtain an [important device], has to decrypt it, and then has to get a [powerful machine] so they can use the [important device] to achieve their goal. Now, itís handled better than in the Tychus missions, as you canít remove a mission without hurting the plot (for example, if you remove Engine of Destruction, the Raiders donít have any means to get into the streets of Korhal). But still, the whole thing is fairly mechanical. A good story is derived from drama and great character integration. The storyline has both, but the drama is almost absent and the characters sort of exist outside of the plot. About the last point: I am not playing down the motivation for the Raiders to be conducting a rebellion, but I am saying that if there was, say, more moral qualms between the characters of what they should do, the story would be more interesting. I donít think the story needs it, because, contrary to what I may make you believe, I donít dislike it at all. But I do think the story would benefit from it. A good example of how good it could be is Rebel Yell, the first Terran campaign in the first game, which also dealt with the obtainment of a device (the psi emitter) and the trouble of getting it used (due to both practical and ethical reasons), but it had more drama, and the integration of the characters into the story was better.

    Still, there is some praise to be made. The evidence that the Raiders use, the famous ďI will rule this sectorÖĒ quote, wasnít made up in Wings of Liberty, but has existed since the first game, for example. Using that exact quote gave Blizzard an advantage: it made the transition between the two games more seamless, as it made StarCraft 2 feel less like a sequel and more of a continuation. The difference can be exemplified by movies. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is more of a sequel than a continuation, as it is essentially a ďnew adventureĒ where our knowledge of the characters in the first movie is not required to enjoy the second one. The Godfather, Part II, on the other hand, is more of a continuation than a sequel. Knowing about the charactersí past is vital to the plot, and where the second Indiana Jones movie just started on scratch again, The Godfather, Part II continues on the course that the original story was headed in. Here, I have to praise Blizzard, as they left so many loose ends in Brood War that it was easier to pick up than if they had more definite endings. One could always argue about the efficiency of how they chose to continue the story, but it is harder to argue about the foundation they gave themselves to build the storyís continuation on. And while I think the rebellion storyline could have been better with more drama, I applaud the choice to use a quote that not only binds Mengsk to his own demise, but also binds him and Raynor together. The past, it seems, can always catch up with you.

    The best part of the main storyline is the arrival of Valerian and his plan to deinfest Kerrigan. True, one could argue about the convenience of the artifact and question why Valerian risked the life of Raynor, the very person he depends upon, by placing soldiers guarding his chamber that were intent to kill him, but if you let that slide (which I wonít, as I will be addressing gaffes in a later part of this thing) and focus on the storytelling, praise is in my opinion deserved. The artifact is indeed a convenient device, but the drama it creates is invaluable. With the adjutant found on Tarsonis, there was unison agreement that it should be used. But thatís not true with the artifact, is it? Raynor thinks that the best thing to do is use it, but as we know, not every member of his crew agrees with him. Horner, the thinker, warns of unforeseen consequences and the possibility that it might be a trap (he also questions Raynorís lack of objectivity and sympathy with is own men). Kachinsky questions the motivation on a principal basis, as working with the Dominion, no matter the consequence, is an act wrong in itself. Tychus fights the decision of selfish reasons; he is ordered to kill Kerrigan, and when Raynor has other plans than that, he naturally panics. Here Blizzard excels in creating drama between the characters in a way that is absent from most of the game. The final part of the game recalls the many arguments between Raynor, Kerrigan and Mengsk in Rebel Yell (where the priorities of the latter meant the defeat of the Confederacy was more important than the defeat of the Zerg) and the inability for the Protoss to unify even when a greater threat is on the horizon in The Fall.

    Itís with this kind of storytelling that the StarCraft series is at its best. Great storytelling, in my opinion, stems not so much about characters doing things than what they feel about doing them. Letís make another comparison: I have mentioned the TV show The Wire before, but I will do so again, as it can be used for so many examples. The Wire is essentially a cop show, though infinitely more complex than just about every other show of its kind. Not only is it more complex, but it also deals less with a black and white morality and more with one that has many shades of gray. In a regular cop show, a villain is established, and the cops spend an episode (or a season) trying to catch him. The drama comes from the difficulty of actually catching him. In The Wire, things are radically different. In a similar fashion, a villain is established early on, but the drama comes from the copsí inability to find a method they collectively can agree on using to catch the villain. I wonít go into detail on why the cops disagree (Iíd rather you just all watch the show and discover its brilliance on your own), but I will use it draw a parallel to StarCraft 2.

    You see, the artifact missions are essentially like the regular cop shows. There is a goal (the artifacts), and there is a goalkeeper (the TalíDarim) guarding it. To score a point, you have to employ siege tanks, marines and marauders to destroy the goalkeeper (oh, how much more interesting soccer could have been), and kick the ball into the goal. Itís dramatic, and itís engaging, but the alternative is even more dramatic and engaging. For you see, campaigns such Rebel Yell and The Fall, and the Valerian missions, are like The Wire. There is still a goal (deinfesting Kerrigan), still a goalkeeper (the Zerg Swarm), but your teammates donít agree with your formation and your strategy, and if you want to score a point, you have to convince your teammates that you are in the right. If Blizzard uses this kind of storytelling in Heart of the Swarm, they will be long on their way to creating a continuation that is superior in many aspects to its predecessor.

  2. #72

    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    I felt the main story was Raynor facing his demons and regaining what he lost in brood war. At the start he was loosing the idealism that made him different from someone like Arcturas Mengsk. If Raynor wants to change things he has to let go of the past. Each of the branches forces him to face his demons if you think about it.

    Colonists: allows him some solace from the guilt for failing to rescue Kerrigan; hanson's idealism also helps to reignite the spark he's lost, culminating in his decision to side against salendis despite the seeming futility of hanson's cause.

    Covert: Allows him to set the stage for landing a real blow againt mengsk, thus showing himself that the battle really can be won.

    Rebellion: Same

    Prophecy: As Raynor's reaction to zeratul, he's conflicted about kerrigan; on one hand, he loves the old her and is consumed with guilt for failing to save her; on the other hand, he not only despises the queen of blades, but also believes that she can't ever be redeemed. The fact that his failure to save her resulted in her transformation into a monster only increases Raynor's self loathing. The prophecy forces him to realize why Kerrigan has to be saved; if she dies, the universe dies.

    Artifact: ultimately the drop off to valerian;

    Valerian: Gives raynor the final push needed to forgive himself; if he accepts valerian's offer, he will have to put aside his vengeance for mengsk, but he will also be able to save untold billions by crippling the zerg. In short, he will be able to finally help change the universe for the better. It also allows him to finally forgive himself for failing to save kerrigan; he's well aware that the infestation played a large part in turning her evil, and if Valerian's plan works, she will be genuinely redeemed, something he dismissed long ago. If Raynor is the one who deinfests her he will essentially undo the failure at tarsonis; he will have not only saved her from her fate, but he will also return her into a good person AND change the galaxy for the better. It also raises the final question; Is raynor willing to let his hatred of mengsk blind him to the greater good? using the bullet meant for mengsk to save kerrigan shows that raynor is willing to put the good of everyone over his own selfish goals; in short, he has shown that he is a better man then Mengsk. When Raynor walks out of the hive, he has finally let go of the past, and as such can now work to truly make the galaxy a better place.

    That's just my take though.

  3. #73
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    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    So, what's your general opinion on the WoL story, Eivind?
    Karass aka XEL

  4. #74
    Eivind's Avatar Junior Member
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    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    Well, I am pretty positive. I've played the campaign several times (finally got all the achievements!), and I'm so engaged every time. The only time I felt disappointment was actually in the Protoss campaign, which I will elaborate further upon in the second part of the story analysis. It's odd, really. I've included some criticism above, but it's not something I really care much about when I'm playing. The way it's all made, and the interactions between the characters... I love it!

    I think I am somewhat of a fanboy, in the sense that I want to like the game, will defend it and almost instintively ignore faults (which is harder to do when you're writing a complete analysis).

    I think I like the presentation of the story more than the story itself, I think. It's not terribly original, but the characters are brought to screen in such a vivid fashion, and because it's a sequel and many of them are so familiar, it becomes more engaging. The "Fire and Fury" cinematic is a good example of what I feel. Isolated, it is a somewhat cheesy scene, and yet, when I watched it for the first time (and second, third, fourth, fifth, etc), my eyes were glued to the screen. I guess the point I'm making is that, prophecies and sci-fi cliches be damned, I love WoL.

    Am I making any sense?

    Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise, a French film from the 1968, is one of the most original films I have ever seen. It plays with the medium of film in a way that I've rarely seen before or since. It is incredibly boring.

    Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita is an Italian 3 hour classic from 1960. It's very original, and also quite engaging. I love it.

    My point is this: I rate entertainment on how I feel when I watch/play/listen to it. I have no preference between "intellectual" entertainment and blockbuster entertainment. Only good and bad.

  5. #75
    Eivind's Avatar Junior Member
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    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    As I have written quite a bit on the main storyline, I will move on to the alternate missions and finally, the Protoss mini-campaign. Letís start with the Ariel Hanson missions. As mentioned in the characters section, this storyline is primarily about Raynorís wish to do good, which is the opposite of what Mengsk tried to do. Whereas Mengsk did do good things, it was essentially because he needed to in order to gain allies. Raynor is truly sincere, and in the colonist missions, he will face the difficulty of doing so, as even the best of intentions cannot always combat the many harsh challenges of reality.

    It all begins on Agria, where the Zerg have invaded the planet. As we will learn later, is that they are there not because they are invading the sector, but to get the artifacts. As a side note, it is important to note that Zerg is neither an imperialist faction nor simply a gathering of aliens that wish to be the rulers of the universe. Thatís not to say that they arenít into the whole ďexpanding their rule by forceĒ thing, but every invasion they conduct have a very specific purpose. When invading the Terran sector, for instance, it isnít just to tame the Terran or to assimilate them. The purpose is to get a human psychic powerful enough to lead the Swarm if the Overmind dies, which they get with Kerrigan. Once she is one of the Zerg, what do they do? They leave Terran space, even though many Terrans still are alive. Itís a small detail, but one that I feel may be important to include, nonetheless.

    Now, letís get back to the colonists. After we leave Agria, our primary concern becomes Zerg infestation. On the refugee world Meinhoff, a Zerg virus has spread, and we have to incinerate the entire thing. Here, like on Agria, we see the inefficiency of the Dominion, who is either completely unable or perhaps uninterested in doing the fringe worlds any favors. Refugee debate is most certainly relevant in our own world too, and although we donít have Zerg, we do have viruses and diseases, particularly AIDS, which is common in poor countries. The mission ends on a note of hope, which only lasts until the final mission in the campaign, which takes place on Haven.

    The planet Haven is supposed to be the new home of the new colonists, but when the Protoss arrive, lead by high executor Selendis, itís clear everything is not as it should be. Indeed, the colonists on the planet are infested, and the Protoss want to burn the planet to hinder the infestation from spreading to outer worlds. With this kind of rhetoric, Selendis reveals herself to be devoted to her role, and she is smart enough to see the good outcome that may result from her brutal actions, and yet, the coldness of which she speaks of the purification doesnít make her very sympathetic. Yes, she is able to look at the big picture, and while her lack of hesitation may be an asset in her role as an executor, it is still scary how detached she is. I guess itís easy as she is a Protoss, who looks more highly on death than Terrans.

    Hanson is more sympathetic, but her idealism has little base in reality. She means well, but is hesitant when it comes to considering the consequences of her actions. Also: I canít help but ask what the hell becomes of the infested colonists if you choose to side with Hanson. Do they just disappear? I understand that having Hanson finding a cure would make the choice too easy, and also implausible, as the convenience of her finding a cure that has never been known to exist before (if it does at all) in this exact moment is a bit too large, but if you choose to side her, there are not an infested Terran in sight. The colonies the Protoss burn are not infested, and Raynor orders every inhabitant that can to evacuate to the main base, potentially risking the infestation to spread. Iím sure there might be a reasonable explanation to this, but I have no idea what it is. Perhaps someone else knows?

    The other alternative mission, Havenís Fall, where you choose to side with Selendis and burn the infested colonies in hope that you may rescue those that are still human, is much darker. You have to do something youíd rather not do, which sets the morality measurer of the Raiders back quite a bit (good intentions aside). But it too fails to answer a question: when is Hanson infested? The best explanation Iíve heard is that she tries to find a cure by locking herself into the lab and doing something or the other to infect herself in a desperate attempt to find a cure, but why doesnít the game say that? The way it is presented makes it seem that could have been infested all the time, which completely ruins the ďGood ManĒ ending.

    The first time I was faced with the choice, I chose Hanson, as I was intent on making what I thought to be ethically good choices. Selendis didnít seem to have much of a problem about it (curiously, but also understandably, she realizes her battle with Raynor is not personal, and even gives him kudos when he defeats her), and as we see in the ending, everything seemed to work out fine. The other ending, however, is more interesting to me, perhaps as I prefer moral ambiguity to more clear-cut black and white scenarios (which I may have indirectly shown already). The ďInfestedĒ cinematic is really one of the gameís finest, not only because of its presentation (StarCraft really should play the horror element more), but also as it shows that even Raynor is not a straightforward hero with no scars or innocent lives on his conscience.

    The second alternate storyline is the Gabriel Tosh missions, which essentially consists of you helping him building his spectre army without you knowing it. You learn this when Nova (whose cameo here might signal that StarCraft: Ghost is now officially dead) contacts you because she hopes this information will turn you over to her side, despite her being a Dominion assassin. Tosh, on the other hand, is surprisingly honest about keeping information from you earlier, though he doesnít directly address Novaís statement that every ghost that has become a spectre has gone on a psychotic killing spree (that this is false only becomes evident when Hanson tells you so after the mission is completed). Whereas the Haven choice was a question of ethics, the Tosh choice is more of a ďwho can you trust?Ē dilemma. I mean, neither Tosh nor Nova is the most reliant of persons, are they?

    The two different endings are both very good, in my opinion. The first, Nova, which sees the titular character kill Tosh in very cold blood, plays very much on humor. The second, A Better Tomorrow, is not only my favorite of the two, but also one of the best of the gameís cut scenes. The look, the sound, and the fantastic interplay between Raynor, Horner and Tosh are all ingredients in quite the successful meal. Whereas the Nova cinematic gives you the assurance that siding against Tosh was the right thing to do, A Better Tomorrow doesÖ exactly the same thing. Which is the point, as the cinematic is not supposed to give you a sympathetic view on Tosh, as there really isnít much sympathetic about him. His trust is built on a foundation so weak he will only let you live if you do what he wants. In other words, you canít disagree with too much and expect to live. Is that really a good ally? Maybe, but not definitely.

    A criticism has been made that the playerís ability to choose different outcomes is crippled because whatever ending you choose, you are assured right after that you did the right thing. That is only partially true. It is correct in the regard that, if you side with Hanson, you are the good man, and if you go against her, killing her is necessary. It is also correct in the sense that, if you side against Tosh, he tries to kill you, and if you side with him, he doesnít. But is it really that simple? True, killing Hanson might be a necessity since there isnít a known cure, but it is still a tragic event, and any reassurance you get after that it was the right thing has the purpose of making you feel better, not making you feel like you were in the right. There is a difference. And as for Tosh: Iíve already mentioned that A Better Tomorrow, for all its glorious presentation, is neither presented nor perceived as a victory. I personally think helping Tosh might have been the right to do, but Iím not certain.

    Iím curious whether or not the alternate missions will continue you into Heart of the Swarm or not. Itís obvious they can, and lead writer Brian T. Kindregan stated they even had the technology to check what choice you made, which might imply that there might also be a reason for that technology to be used. That reason might very well be that we havenít seen the last of Hanson and Tosh (yes, Chris Metzen said that helping them was the canon choices on the story panel of Blizzcon 2010). But I still havenít seen any confirmation that the alternate missions havenít ended yet, only speculation. I do know that if Blizzard decides to continue with them, much of the damage that was done to Wings of Liberty might be restored, as the choice to take space from the main story and use it in alternate stories can be defended, as everything will be one big story in the end. I personally think that would the best of all options. This will of course mean that helping Nova and Selendis cannot be considered canon, and that the cinematics attached to those choices are forever a representation of ďalternate timelinesĒ which we will never see a definite ending of (I donít think that is a bad thing, in the same way I donít mourn the fact that I can never know what would happen if, say, Kerrigan wasnít infested).

    A story we certainly know will play out in the later expansions is the one started in Zeratulís prophecy missions. Zeratul arrives on the Hyperion with a memory crystal, and Raynor gets to see what he has been up to since they last met. There are a total of four missions, three of which takes place in the past, and one that is essentially a vision of a possible future. The storyline itself picks up where we last saw Zeratul: discovering that Samir Duran has been breeding Zerg/Protoss hybrids, and that he is not Kerriganís pawn, but the servant of a ďfar greater powerĒ. Duran himself does not appear in any of the missions, but the ďfruits of his laborĒ pays a visit.

    It all begins on Ulaan, where Zeratul fights Kerrigan, who has gained some information about the future (little of which she shares). They both come out of it alive, and Zeratul escapes with some prophecy fragment that will later turn out to hold some really important information. To decipher the prophecy, Zeratul heads to the archive world of Zhakul, where three mighty preservers reside. Once there, he meets an awakened hybrid, Maar, who has imprisoned the preservers and tries to kill Zeratul. Zeratul kills Maar instead, and frees the preservers, who decipher the prophecy. However, it turns out to be quite vague, and when Zeratul gets a hunch that the ďGreat HungererĒ that the prophecy speaks of might be the Overmind (what a coincidence it is that he guesses right), he heads for Aiur.

    There, he is reunited with his fallen comrade, Tassadar, who sacrificed himself by using dark templar energies to kill the Overmind, but now turns out to be less dead than previously assumed. Exactly what happened to him is not revealed (though it is safe to say we will find out one day), but that doesnít matter much, as he has a lot of other information to share, specifically that the Overmind was enslaved by someone or something, and put on a collision course with the Protoss. To save the Zerg, Kerrigan was infested. As if all of this wasnít enough, Tassadar shares a vision from the Overmind from the future, where all Terrans are dead, the Zerg has been enslaved by the hybrids, and the few Protoss still alive fight an unwinnable battle against the their enemies that ultimately result in the destruction of their people. As the vision ends, the leader of the hybrids, the enigmatic Dark Voice, kill the Zerg, and the universe turns black.

    Despite the fact that the Protoss are my favorite race (at least gameplay-wise), I did not love this mini-campaign. I like the story, but the presentation is simply not good enough. This is kind of the opposite of how I perceived the Terran storyline, where I had some reservations about the story, but felt they were redeemed because the presentation was so great. This doesnít mean that I judge a story by its format, but it means that a format can sometimes be the decider of my enjoyment of it.

    The best way I can summarize my dislike for the mini-campaign is this: it feels homemade. Apart from the stunning opening cinematic, it has little that anyone cannot make in the map editor. That shouldnít necessary be bad a thing, as the map editor is quite powerful, but many of the moments deserve something better. Let me explain in more detail. The missions themselves are fine, but several pivotal moments (namely those that concern important plot points) feel lazily and hastily put together. The first of these moments is the discovery of the hybrid. Yes, Maar looks and sounds impressive, and I have no problem with his appearance, but he is introduced too quickly and in a manner too anti-climactic for him to make the most of his potential when it comes to his introduction. We left StarCraft over a decade ago with the creation of the hybrids as the main cliffhanger, and I think it is only fair that when we finally get to see one of them, it is designed in a way that makes the wait worth it (Piercing the Shroud does a much better job, as the build-up and the denouement is better executed).

    The second moment is Tassadarís vision. Again, there is no cut scene, just some Zerg in sepia tones and with the Zerg gameplay music acting as a soundtrack. I have a bit of the problem with the latter part, namely for two reasons. First: it is lazy to simply use a pre-existing piece of music for such an important event. Second: the music doesnít fit at all. It is, in fact, annoying to listen to, and while it may sound appropriate when playing Zerg in multiplayer, it doesnít belong in this scene. The third moment is the end of the Overmindís vision, where we see the Hybrids destroying the Zerg, again using no cinematics, which again creates somewhat of an anti-climax (the destruction of the universe should never feel anti-climactic). The mission briefings come off as lazily put together as well. All we have is a black background, green flames forming a circle, Zeratulís eyes on top of the screen, and a video screen in the middle. The mission briefings donít have to be advanced (they were fine for the Terran campaign), but they do need to look good. Iím sure Blizzard will fix this for Legacy of the Void, but doesnít make the Protoss missions in Wings of Liberty any better.

    ĒHastily put togetherĒ is the phrase that best describes the Protoss mini-campaign. Some say that goes for the storyline itself as well, but I donít agree with that. What is being told is fine. Itís the way itís told that bothers me. It seems Blizzard wanted to tell a lot without taking too much space, and ended up cramming too much into too little. It wouldnít have been so bad if there werenít the Terran campaign, which is not hastily put together, and which clearly looks, sounds and feels great, existing side-by-side with it. Another criticism to be made of the Protoss mini-campaign is that there is not a single voice actor returning from the original game. Obviously, the guy who played Zeratul couldnít return, as he is dead, but what about those who played Artanis and Tassadar? Arenít these roles important? They donít make much of an appearance in Wings of Liberty, but surely they will later? Michael Gough, who played the latter, is recording Deckard Caine for Diablo 3. Why didnít they get him?

    Ultimately, my verdict on the campaign is very positive. I have some reservations, but most of that really isnít as big as I may have made it out to be (mainly because I care less for smaller details than others). Even the Protoss campaign, which I was most harsh on, has grown on me. I look forward to the expansions.

  6. #76

    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    I agree with you assessment of the Protoss mission. The "material" is one thing, but to present the backbone of the SC story (Xel'naga/ Hybrid stuff) in such a manner as they did in WoL makes me wish they left it out completely until they polished it up some more.

    I like your discussion on those "choice" missions. For me though, there was no real choice - I was never going to choose Selendis or Nova because they just suddenly appeared with no development or foreshadowing. Not knowing the lore surrounding them makes this even more of a non-choice. Even if Tosh is supposed to be shown as untrustworthy, at least I 'know' (the devil you know) him in the sense he's been around with me longer rather than some random, sudden appearance of a (non) character who I just suddenly should trust and decide to go along with.

    The problem that people have with the choice being 'right' is that it feels like the initial presentation of the choice is revealed to actually be a false-choice. The outcomes of either choice are also fundamentally different such that the initial premise of the choice between being idealistic or pragmatic seems to be more about right or wrong, but is worse because you are denied the ability to choose wrong because either choice is 'right'.

    When invading the Terran sector, for instance, it isn’t just to tame the Terran or to assimilate them. The purpose is to get a human psychic powerful enough to lead the Swarm if the Overmind dies, which they get with Kerrigan. Once she is one of the Zerg, what do they do? They leave Terran space, even though many Terrans still are alive. It’s a small detail, but one that I feel may be important to include, nonetheless.
    I'm not sure if your premise is right. The Zerg invaded the Protoss sector - the Terrans just happened to be within that vicinity. If the Overmind was specifically looking for a human psychic saviour for his Swarms, it would have went to Earth.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  7. #77

    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    I'm not sure if your premise is right. The Zerg invaded the Protoss sector - the Terrans just happened to be within that vicinity. If the Overmind was specifically looking for a human psychic saviour for his Swarms, it would have went to Earth.
    What makes you think it knew of Earth?

  8. #78

    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar View Post
    What makes you think it knew of Earth?
    It was meant to be taken figuratively. If the Overmind was specifically looking for humans right from the get go, it would have tried to garner information from where they originated from instead of going to Protoss space and chancing that humans be there as well.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  9. #79
    Eivind's Avatar Junior Member
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    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    I like your discussion on those "choice" missions. For me though, there was no real choice - I was never going to choose Selendis or Nova because they just suddenly appeared with no development or foreshadowing. Not knowing the lore surrounding them makes this even more of a non-choice. Even if Tosh is supposed to be shown as untrustworthy, at least I 'know' (the devil you know) him in the sense he's been around with me longer rather than some random, sudden appearance of a (non) character who I just suddenly should trust and decide to go along with.
    Interesting. I chose Nova. I think subjectivity deepens the choice, as different persons might and would choose different things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    The problem that people have with the choice being 'right' is that it feels like the initial presentation of the choice is revealed to actually be a false-choice. The outcomes of either choice are also fundamentally different such that the initial premise of the choice between being idealistic or pragmatic seems to be more about right or wrong, but is worse because you are denied the ability to choose wrong because either choice is 'right'.
    I'm not sure killing Hanson made me in the right. Yes, it might have been necessary, but I'm partially responsible for it.

  10. #80

    Default Re: StarCraft 2 Campaign: Personal thoughts and opinons

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    It was meant to be taken figuratively. If the Overmind was specifically looking for humans right from the get go, it would have tried to garner information from where they originated from instead of going to Protoss space and chancing that humans be there as well.
    Ah, I see. Well, the Overmind was looking for humans from the get go, but it didn't know it was looking for humans. It was looking for a way to counter the awesome might of the Protoss (this being a completely unbiased quote, incidentally) but it didn't know that this counter would be humanity until it accidentally stumbled on humanity. So yes, the only reason it invaded the Terran Sector was because it was hunting for Terrans, but you are also correct in that it only accidentally stumbled upon the Terrans on its way to Protoss space.

    Hey, here's a question. If the Overmind knew so much about the Protoss from devouring Xel'Naga memories, how come it didn't know the location of Aiur?

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