Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm – Having a Gander
Oh yeah. We’re here. I didn’t feel like doing a proper review of this thing, but considering how much time I’ve already put into it, and how much I’m still planning to, I figured saying a few words would be in order.
There aren’t many things I can say about whether or not you should get this expansion. And it does work as an expansion. If you don’t have Wings of Liberty installed, you can’t play Heart of the Swarm, but you don’t need to have completed Wings of Liberty to start the HotS campaign.
If you like the Zerg, or you enjoy/are interested in the lore of Starcraft, you will like Heart of the Swarm. And if you’re in the Starcraft II multi-player scene, you’ve probably decided to get (or have gotten) HotS already anyway. If you still want to read my mini-review, please continue.
Warning: Some Wings of Liberty spoilers will occur.
Heart of the Swarm picks up shortly after Wings of Liberty ended. There is a book called Flashpoint, by Christie Golden, that connects the two games if anyone wonders what happened inbetween. And I really do, but I can’t afford to get it yet.
This time we follow the now-purified Sarah Kerrigan as she tries to figure out what her role in the universe is now. I can’t really call it a spoiler that she ends up back with the Swarm, though she handles things a bit differently this time.
The first big difference in how this expansion plays versus the original is that Kerrigan is a persistent hero unit. She is in practically every mission under your control, and can bring considerable power and support to bear against your enemies. Personally I found this to be fun and interesting, especially watching how she grows as she gains levels.
The second thing you might notice is that the difficulty is a bit better balanced this time around, and I’d also say the missions are more interesting. Though perhaps a tad many of them rely on timers, as I love taking my time and spreading creep everywhere when I play Zerg. Just slowly consume a map. You might also feel that playing on Normal is a tad too easy compared to WoL, but personally I liked being able to relax and enjoy myself.
They also seem to have taken some inspiration from World of Warcraft and created WoW-style boss encounters on certain maps. These actually work pretty well, as you have to watch for tells, dodge out of the way, time your attacks and not stand in the fire. I will grant that a few of them perhaps get a bit tedious as well.
And then there’s the simple fact that the Zerg NPCs you interact with between missions are just plain more interesting characters than any of the humans you found in WoL. At least, in my honest opinion. Abathur down in the Evolution Pit is especially interesting to talk to. I just wish he had more lines.
What more can I really say without this becoming a full review? It is fun. I have fun with it. I like finding new creatures, evolving them to different forms, patiently consuming map after map, world after world. The story is great, at least by Blizzard standards. Blizzard have never been the greatest storytellers, but they spin an interesting enough yarn, and as always the presentation is top-notch.
One final thing I’ll note before I end this. If you’ve played Zerg multi-player, you are probably familiar with the Queens. They work quite differently in single-player. First off, there’s no Infuse Larva. Hatcheries naturally spawn up to 9 larvae. Secondly, creep tumours do not require energy, they’re simply on a cooldown timer. And Transfuse is now an auto-cast, though that might have been implemented in multi as well. Been a while since I’ve played.
So yeah, if you like the Zerg, or at least are interested in the Starcraft lore in general, you’ll more than likely enjoy Heart of the Swarm.
Roach/Hydra for life.