StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Recensione

Author: Jacopo Mauri
Date: 2020-07-30 21:58:40
The StarCraft II trilogy finally experiences its second episode, launched simultaneously on the world on 11 March - a rather "hot" date, historically, for the world of video games - and entirely dedicated to the Zerg breed, the "swarm", which makes claws and aggression the bulwarks of one's existence. The unboxing of the edition aimed at collectors has also been filed, it is time to focus our eyes on the best StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm has to offer, that is the single player campaign that - over the course of 20 missions - asks us to take on the role of Sarah Kerrigan, abandoning our will to the Queen of Blades to chase, halfway between dream and obsession, the flavor of the final revenge.

The introductory movie is now known by any fan of the strategic Blizzard, but seeing it once more, just before firmly grasping the reins of the game, gives a strong adrenaline rush, almost to awaken from the torpor for the long wait for this second episode. Awakening that, in practice, occupies the first missions, absolutely introductory and designed for those who should have let their mouse rust during these months. It is the plot, in fact, that in the first few bars takes charge of pushing the action, relegating the pure gameplay to an almost marginal and executive component. Animated sequences and dialogues alternate in placing the pawns on the chessboard, in a progressive and captivating process that does not aim so much to surprise as to hit the player, making him foretaste what will be possible in subsequent missions. From the beginning, one thing is however made clear: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm wants to be the maximum expression of the Blizzard strategy, but without giving up strong contamination RPGs. Furthermore, it is the strong narrative thrust that tries to involve the player in a highly personal way, thus giving depth to the actions on the battlefield.

As far as the first aspect is concerned, the generous role-playing component takes place at several levels, not only giving the opportunity to grow one's alter ego Sarah Kerrigan in basic elements (life points, strength) but also unlocking active and passive skills that accompany the player from the first to the last mission, thus becoming an essential element of the global strategy. However, it is the entire Zerg army that is subject to upgrades, so much so that some specific "evolutionary missions" are made available to show the possible crossroads in the evolution of a given unit, asking the player for a clear and irrevocable choice that participates in the structuring of a real long-term strategy. Finally, the RPG element also manifests itself in a more dynamic and equally stimulating dimension, since each Zerg unit can be "modified" in three different ways - this time in an anything but definitive way - allowing the player to manipulate the qualities of the own army from mission to mission, adapting them to the specificities of the task to be completed. Just to make sense of the words, an incredibly useful Kerrigan is able to recall a small swarm of Baneling, especially if the Baneling themselves are "modified" so that when they die they divide into further genies, triggering devastating effects on the battlefield . An example that is more than representative of how much each choice is able to weigh in the overall balance of the game, especially because, if combined with further options, it unlocks particularly effective combos.

Evolutionary missions serve as a useful preview of possible unit upgrades.

Speaking instead of the plot - and net of the component, for obvious subjective reasons, of the level of appreciation for the narrated facts - it is the narrative setting that strikes, thanks to the main character, certainly among the most charismatic of the series (together with Jim Raynor , key character of the first episode and co-protagonist of this second). The evolution of Kerrigan, the affection that the player feels towards him, the impersonation of the character himself in long missions: all this contributes to creating a privileged relationship between player and alter ego, in a satisfying identification that pushes, from the emotional point of view, the succession of events up to the grand finale. The generous use of cutscene, then, acts as the perfect glue between the missions, unleashing in all its spectacularity the interludes that tickle the player's curiosity and vanity, offering an always exciting show and simply unique beauty features.

However, we must not forget the action, or rather the actual gameplay, which acts as a filling for this fascinating external coating. From this point of view, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm does not disappoint, but it certainly offers its side to some possible criticism from the "purists". In the first place because, as mentioned, the strong RPG component tends to reflect concretely on the game mechanics, thus offering greater variety, but thus risking to disturb those who were looking for an approach aimed at pure strategy (still preserved intact in the multiplayer mode, which is also enriched with new units). Then there is no mystery of a rather moderate level of difficulty, which in "normal" mode is difficult to worry the player. Anyone wishing to encounter some difficulties along the campaign would do well to start directly on a "difficult" level, so as to spur artificial intelligence in putting a little more effort into devising attack strategies.

Sarah Kerrigan in all its glory: don't make her angry ...

Where instead the challenge is not missing is in multiplayer mode. Designed to allow everyone to "get the hand back", this offers the classic training, which is followed by much more demanding appointments, whether it is skirmishes against the CPU (offline) or games via the Internet. It is going to determine the skill of the player that the system gradually assigns "level" opponents, allowing at least to compete on an equal and increasing basis with the challengers present on the Net. At the level of novelty, if not 'is a single, overwhelming element of change, however, many finishes can be noticed that end up evolving the entire multiplayer section. The new units introduced, seven in all, in fact open new paths for the most skilled strategists, who will soon notice how the style of play has become decidedly more enthralling, in a certain sense adrenaline and, as always, as difficult as it is satisfying once best mastered. Learning to use the new Terran, Zerg and Protoss units, as well as mastering the new dynamics, becomes a fundamental element for success. Alone and, above all, with friends, now easily accessible thanks to the possibility of creating real Clans, which make team battles much more enjoyable and immediate to organize.

Without departing excessively from the gameplay, a couple of further considerations must finally be made: a few flaws often arise with regard to AI, with path-finding problems evidently still unresolved which complicate the movement and organization of the troops on the battlefield, especially if in large number (who said swarm?). Secondly, although the plot is punctual in guiding the player towards the exploration of multiple tactics and game strategies, one has the impression that sometimes the use of specialized units proves to be less effective than a mixed Zergling-Baneling rush, especially at moderate difficulty levels (to which the CPU shows a lot of indulgence in slaughtering our troops by air). In any case, it is not necessary to be deceived by these who, after all, remain details. Details because, above all, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is a game of enormous depth, and with all the credentials to end up in the collection of any gamer who loves real-time strategy who can truly be defined as such.

Jacopo Mauri would have liked to become the Prince of Blades, more to marry Kerrigan than to ambition to conquer the world. He has a perversion for the accumulation of resources in strategy games. This leads him to dilate the completion times of each mission in an inhuman way. You can try to help him by contacting him on Facebook.