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Thread: Covert Ops Review

  1. #1

    Default Covert Ops Review

    Let's break this down into the good and the bad.

    The TL;DR of it - I liked it. I felt like this was a nine mission mini campaign worth the 12.99 I paid for it, and I would be interested in seeing Blizzard do more mission packs like this if they keep up the level of quality with new assets and fun gameplay. Not blindly saying I'll buy anything they throw at me but I'll take a look.

    So, here's the pros and cons

    Pro - Gameplay

    Each mission was very fun, obviously some were based on the old campaign style, but not really. We had a good mix of Ghost-type infiltration missions and base-bound missions. But even with the campaign-based ones they mixed it up, like Night Terrors obviously being based on Welcome To the Jungle with a dash of Outbreak thrown in.

    The last mission in particular wasn't like any campaign map. Spoiler-free description, a boss-type enemy constantly respawns and attacks five things you have to defend from it. The boss gets new abilities each time it powers up, but instead of just being like Maar where he suddenly has Blink or Shockwave, each new ability is represented by a different part of the boss powering up, and each part can be destroyed separately. The boss can only be damaged when its parts are destroyed and it retreats to be repaired, thus you push to its repair bay to destroy it. In the meantime there's waves of enemies to attack your base, ghosts that try to nuke you, and you have your own respawning hero that will push to the boss's base ala Raynor in the HotS finale. Overall it feels like an all-out war is happening with attacks coming from all directions and you having to quickly react to threats while balancing defense and offense.

    Nova was a fun hero, the ability to customize her equipment is very interesting, and her abilities are more creative and fun than the last time they tried this with Kerrigan. It feels like every tech choice you make for Nova significantly affects how she will play and it all adds up to make for several unique builds. You can make her a frontal assault attacker, a supportive defensive tank, or a stealthy infiltrator. Each mission in turn doesn't really demand a specific playstyle from her, some elements are easier, of course, but that's it. That said, the plasma rifle pretty much makes every other weapon she has obsolete since it does everything they do in one (Snipe's anti-air attack, Shotgun's crowd control, Blade's line-of-effect damage), but otherwise it's a good mix. The 7th mission felt like we graduated to the full potential of Nova, having to scout out the enemy base and being given supply caches along the way to change equipment to what is best suited for each area.

    Her units are also cool, the tech upgrades are interesting and versatile and you really have to think about how you use them. It adds a lot of replay value to individual missions to try out different tech and unit combinations. Some seemed rather arbitrary, like Reapers being able to cloak is just useless compared to what else that tech option could be attached to, or Hellion-Hellbat transformation speed (Hellions are useless in this campaign, period. Stick to the Hellbats). But overall it was a nice idea and of course not every combination can be viable.

    Con - Story

    As it is a much shorter campaign, Covert Ops has a much shorter timeframe to work in than the main three. It has three missions to establish its story arc, establish its characters, develop both, and take them to a satisfactory conclusion. It succeeds in one of these areas - establish and develop a story arc. The other two, not so much.

    The biggest problem of the story boils down to one thing - Nova. She is not interesting. She could be, but Blizzard pointedly tried to not make her interesting. How? Let me set this scene for you: Nova is heading down the corridor to confront Davis. Davis contacts her by full name, saying she remembers the Terra family from the Confederacy and even Nova herself, they were in the same circles back them. Nova's response?

    "The past doesn't matter."

    Nova is revealed to have a personal connection to her villain, and she doesn't care. She refuses to have a backstory, to have character depth, to have moral confusion. She is just this uber badass sexy Ghost who commands this cool army and is loyal to the Dominion. No! When she returns to Tarsonis, her home, and sees it completely infested, she has no reaction. No mention of her childhood here, no mention of her family. She's looking at the burnt out remnants of her home and doesn't even seem to notice. Nova is so bland and boring. I have no investment in her story whatsoever.

    That's a problem further given to the other characters - everyone is one-dimension with no depth to them. When Nova confronts the brainwashed Stone this should be a big deal, two friend and operatives that have worked together turned against each other. But it isn't a big deal. Because we don't know about Stone. Who is he? How does Nova know him? How long have they worked together? What does he like to do in his spare time? Again proof Blizzard refused to give him depth is that this major supporting character has no unique portrait or voice. Pierce and Delta get even less for them, and man is Delta a waste of a character. Swapping Stone and Delta and giving the latter dialogue with Nova about the Ghost Academy would have been great. Instead what was a supporting character in the Ghost manga is relegated to what might as well be a random NPC in an RPG.

    Reigel has a cool design and voice, but again, no depth. He finally gets a hint of a backstory in the final cinematic where he confirms he used to work for the Moebius Foundation and joined them to create cool science, but nothing else. Did he know Narud? Was he aware of the Hybrid? I don't know.

    And then our main villain, General Davis. So much wasted potential. She apparently wants to take control of the Dominion because she thinks Valerian doesn't deserve Arcturus' Empire. But why? Was she a lover of Arcturus? Does she think Valerian is a weak ruler? Does she advocate war? Hell, forget why she's doing it, think of all the potential reasons. She's apparently a former Confederate, maybe she's trying to restore them. The campaign seemed to want to hint the Defenders were Confederate remnants after all. Maybe she's just an ambitious schemer who has always wanted more power but Arcturus kept her in check. But Davis has no motivation or depth beyond being evil and wanting to overthrow Valerian. The final segment where Nova walks down that corridor would have been a great time to expand on both of them. Make that corridor longer and the two converse as Nova looks for Davis. Davis can infodump on her motivations and backstory to convince Nova not to kill her, Nova can rebuke her.

    The first two packs did a good job building up the mystery of the Defenders of Man, things unfolded well and kept me interested. This third pack though wasted its potential. The Defenders of Man as an organization make no sense. Nova was apparently working for them before thinking they were with the Dominion, and you overhear some troopers here thinking they like the idea of the Dominion working with them. So what are they? Are they an arm of the Dominion undermining the Emperor, or are they a bunch of rebels that stand independent of the Dominion? You can't be both. You can't have them being the people the public turns to when the Dominion fails them if they're a part of the Dominion, but you can't have Nova willingly work with them if they're an independent group. Explain precisely what the Defenders are, please.

    The Tal'darim were complete filler in this story, they were there to pad out the story with pointless conflict. Why did the Defenders attack them? Davis is basically starting the Third Great War in her quest to take control of the Dominion, but it's not needed with the scale of her operations. Alarak then had the Conflict Ball shoved down his throat in the final missions, turning on Nova and the Dominion because he's all "I like killing things, don't tell me not to!" The penultimate mission should have been flipped - the Defenders rally to rescue Davis, Alarak arrives to save your ass and Nova and the Tal'darim team up to fight the Defenders. Instead we fight the Tal'darim for no reason but Alarak is an asshole. Yeah, he's a jerk, but he's not stupid. He's declaring open war on the Dominion here and everyone on both sides treats it like its a personal conflict between him and Nova. Might have worked if it was just Ji'nara commanding a smaller fleet that Alarak had no direct influence over, but not like this.

    Overall the first two packs had a fine story, but the third screwed it up, and throughout them the characters are just not explored enough to make us care about them.
    SC2 handle - "DrakeyC, code 929"

    I ARE A PROPHET! I've predicted three major aspects of SC2 correct, more or less.

    June 2007 - I predicted the Protoss campaign would give you new tech as you conducted diplomacy among tribes.

    Hidden Content:
    July 18th 2010 - I predicted Raynor would broadcast information of Mengsk's actions on Tarsonis to discredit him and incite rebellion.


    Hidden Content:
    June 16th 2010 I predicted the Voice in the Darkness was the commanding force behind the Hybrids. I'm calling it half-right.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Despite how shallow and narrow this story was, and how dry Nova is and always will be.

    this was STILL better than like 90% of SC2's storyline (only the Protoss stuff is barred)

  3. #3

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Nova has ceased to be a puppet, but what is given is a person who thinks in a shallow way an impulsive killer, really already the thread between tosh and nova is very thin (well they would have invited him). My opinion in slightly different reality I liked the introduction, but the intermediate part seemed more dry as the story told in the last part I take me back in history, alarak is more like that does not want to appear weak so he executes actions exaggerated in Retribution. I loved the super mecha terran in all its concept aero propelled with drones of combat a genius machine in concept, well I was disappointed that it did not make an armored suit for ghost and they decided to go more to the protoss style like shield . Well nova has suffered multiple brainwashing and it seems that a unique way of self-definition is from a point of is terran dominion
    Last edited by drakolobo; 11-23-2016 at 06:08 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Quote Originally Posted by KaiserStratosTygo View Post
    Despite how shallow and narrow this story was, and how dry Nova is and always will be.

    this was STILL better than like 90% of SC2's storyline (only the Protoss stuff is barred)
    The SC2 storyline wasn't crap, Stratos, just executed poorly via HotS and then Blizzard didn't know what to do after, they should have just remade HotS and go from there.

    Quote Originally Posted by drakolobo View Post
    Nova has ceased to be a puppet, but what is given is a person who thinks in a shallow way an impulsive killer, really already the thread between tosh and nova is very thin (well they would have invited him). My opinion in slightly different reality I liked the introduction, but the intermediate part seemed more dry as the story told in the last part I rtake me back in history, alarak is more like that does not want to appear weak so he executes actions exaggerated in Retribution. I loved the super mecha terran in all its concept aero propelled with drones of combat a genius machine in concept, well I was disappointed that it did not make an armored suit for ghost and I decided to go more to the protoss style. Well nova has suffered multiple brainwashing and it seems that a unique way of self-definition is from a point of is terran dominion
    Which only shows that she would no longer follow orders blindly, and that's nothing new. Besides we saw as early as mission 3 that she distrusted Valerian.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Drake Clawfang View Post

    The first two packs did a good job building up the mystery of the Defenders of Man, things unfolded well and kept me interested. This third pack though wasted its potential. The Defenders of Man as an organization make no sense. Nova was apparently working for them before thinking they were with the Dominion, and you overhear some troopers here thinking they like the idea of the Dominion working with them. So what are they? Are they an arm of the Dominion undermining the Emperor, or are they a bunch of rebels that stand independent of the Dominion? You can't be both. You can't have them being the people the public turns to when the Dominion fails them if they're a part of the Dominion, but you can't have Nova willingly work with them if they're an independent group. Explain precisely what the Defenders are, please.

    The Tal'darim were complete filler in this story, they were there to pad out the story with pointless conflict. Why did the Defenders attack them? Davis is basically starting the Third Great War in her quest to take control of the Dominion, but it's not needed with the scale of her operations. Alarak then had the Conflict Ball shoved down his throat in the final missions, turning on Nova and the Dominion because he's all "I like killing things, don't tell me not to!" The penultimate mission should have been flipped - the Defenders rally to rescue Davis, Alarak arrives to save your ass and Nova and the Tal'darim team up to fight the Defenders. Instead we fight the Tal'darim for no reason but Alarak is an asshole. Yeah, he's a jerk, but he's not stupid. He's declaring open war on the Dominion here and everyone on both sides treats it like its a personal conflict between him and Nova. Might have worked if it was just Ji'nara commanding a smaller fleet that Alarak had no direct influence over, but not like this.

    Overall the first two packs had a fine story, but the third screwed it up, and throughout them the characters are just not explored enough to make us care about them.
    This was something I wasn't happy about Davis's character. It seemed to imply that she wanted power under Mengsk, and Valerian would have taken it away, but it wasn't explained. The picture shown at the beginning of part 3 seemed to imply they were comrades in arms or something, I had hoped for more and the story didn't explain it. Obviously she was a former Confederate, likely she got used to the way power worked back then, which continued under Mengsk's rule and she wasn't happy about Valerian trying to change the system.

    Bringing the Tal'darim into the field was meh for getting support for the DoM, it's only a shame Nova didn't try to explain a bit more to Alarak on the situation. Not that I expected he'd have listened, but this waging war on the Dominion just didn't sit well.

    It would have been better to put it into 4 parts instead, and try to tie it up by part 4, despite Nova having left the Dominion

  6. #6
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Pro: Gameplay, Con: Story
    So, basically, it is a continuation of the StarCraft series.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    So, basically, it is a continuation of the StarCraft series.
    The first 2 parts weren't. It's the last part that didn't tie everything together, which wasted Davis's potential and all that.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    So, basically, it is a continuation of the StarCraft series.
    Yeah, it sequentially and chronologically occurs after LotV...
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  9. #9
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Ya don't say? Amazing. I wonder how I missed that during my three playthroughs of it.

    I couldn't care less about that though. I just want to make sure that tradition is being upheld with good gameplay, shit story since anything else would be jarring and disorientating.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  10. #10
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Covert Ops Review

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEconomist View Post
    Ya don't say? Amazing. I wonder how I missed that during my three playthroughs of it.

    I couldn't care less about that though. I just want to make sure that tradition is being upheld with good gameplay, shit story since anything else would be jarring and disorientating.
    It's quite comforting really.

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