Not sure where to post this. I have been watching some custom campaign let's play in anticipation of playing Starcraft again after a decade hiatus.

First of all I wanted to review Echoes of the Swarm posted on Campaign Creations forum back in 2010. The premise is that the campaign portrays the Zerg PoV during Rebel Yell as the Zerg follow the psi-emitters, which immediately got my attention.

The campaign itself was a mixed bag. The author doesn't speak English as a first language and for whatever reason never asked for a proofreader or even used Microsoft Word spellcheck, so the dialogue is stilted, unnatural and full of spelling and punctuation errors. All the characters sound the same and lack any distinct speech patterns. For example, the Zerg's old testament/shakespearean speech is either absent or mangled into redundant statements. Several quotes are included at the beginning of missions, which doesn't really work with the SC1 interface.

There are a number of trigger errors in several maps, but nothing game breaking. The biggest was a massive error message that popped up when a Protoss base was teleported into a Terran base in mission 2 and couldn't load on top of existing buildings.

The missions try really hard to be unique by imposing limitations based on the realities of warfare and having objectives change mid-mission to account for changing battlefiend conditions. This is really impressive, but it doesn't work well within the limitations of the SC1 engine. The campaign would have worked better in SC2, which has a better interface for tracking objectives and has a in-game help menu to explain new gimmick mechanics.

The plot is questionable. There are a couple of continuity errors and breaks from canon, and there's no sense of timing or scale. To be fair, being consistent would require reading the wiki, reading novels like Liberty's Crusade and Speed of Darkness that elaborate on Rebel Yell, deciding whether the Antigan Revolt lasted half a year or half a day (some ignorant comic book writer retconned it), and making some interferences never spelled out in canon (like the Confederacy probably activating psi-emitters on Chau Sara sometime around the events of the Precursor/Loomings prequel campaign). In mission one, on Mar Sara, it's explained that this is the first encounter between Zerg and Terrans. The introductory exposition states this occurs after the purification of Chau Sara, yet that is never mentioned in the campaign dialogue. In a later mission, a Terran states they studied the Zerg for years. A number of the mission contexts are poorly explained, such as how the Protoss are able to blockade an entire planet when objects in space move in three dimensions (this also afflicts the second mission of Episode 2, though that's a tutorial mission and might be discounted as metaphorical), nor how infiltrating a space platform and destroying a base would break that blockade. Missions which occur parallel to missions in Rebel Yell may contradict canon events, such as having Protoss fighting Zerg on Mar Sara; this was only ever mentioned in the Revelations short story, and then only small teams searching for survivors. In one mission a cerebrate states they must report back to the Overmind, which doesn't make sense because the Overmind is a bodiless omnipresent entity; at another point the Overmind speaks as if has senses independent of the cerebrates, when the cerebrates exist specifically to interact with the universe on its behalf. Antiga Prime is stated to be the first time the Zerg encountered psi-emitters, when psi-emitters were stated or implied to be present in Mar Sara and other planets. And so on.

What is interesting is how the Zerg perceive the psi-emitter signal, which was never mentioned in canon. One cerebrate is shown warping in minions, which followed their stated ability to open wormholes. Some enslaved Zerg and the equivalent of hive mind emulators (which didn't exist before SC2 was released) show up, which is a really nice touch. The unique mission constraints are very interesting and add a sense of realism due to acknowledging logistics. A number of times the cerebrate must work with allied forces to secure objectives.

The characters include characters that appeared in the game or manual, as well as a couple new characters. The new characters have a couple of strange traits. The author was under the impression "praetor" was directly subordinate to "executor," when there's no evidence of this in the games. The new Zerg character is a "hunter zerg," a term I did not understand until google showed me it was a term from another unrelated custom campaign that referred to intelligent zerg that weren't cerebrates; this rank is redundant because queens, overlords, infestors and other commanding strains are already intelligent enough to hold conversations.

The campaign includes eavesdropping and conversations between Protoss, Zerg and Terran characters, which in most cases makes no sense. The Zerg characters often accidentally overhear the internal monologues of Protoss and Terran characters. The protoss praetor sends the zerg a message demanding surrender in one mission, even though the Protoss have no reason to believe the Zerg would understand them. (The only communication the protoss had so far was reading the minds of deep space probes, which were most likely not structured into coherent sentences. Zerg speech patterns are a translation convention, not literally how Zerg speak given that they lack human voice boxes.) At one point a Terran character and a Zerg character suddenly start talking vocally out of the blue and sharing a dozen paragraphs of immersion-breaking exposition. The exposition would make sense as cutscenes informing the audience of what the non-Zerg are thinking, but make no sense as dialogue with the Zerg.

Lastly, the name of the campaign doesn't make any sense that I can tell. What are the "echoes" in question? Is it a reference to the psi-emitter? To the echoes of metaphorical footsteps? I don't know!

All in all, Echoes of the Swarm is a diamond smashed with a rubber mallet. Its interesting gameplay is constrained by the SC engine and overshadowed by the iffy writing. These issues could be fixed by passing the script past some editors and continuity experts, then rebuilding it in SC2. But given that the author vanished shortly after the initial 2010 release over a plagiarism scandal, I doubt this campaign will ever be revised and remade. What a shame.