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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: February 17, 1999
The Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss are at it again in Blizzard’s expansion set for Starcraft, Brood War. Spread over three distinct campaigns, Starcraft fans have more missions, new units, new maps and tilesets on which to try their hand. In addition to the three new campaigns, there are also a ton of new multiplayer maps to try. Of course, currently there is no shortage of good multiplayer maps from other players or Blizzard. Still, if you are looking for some variety and new challenges, Brood War awaits.
One main issue addressed in Brood War is the balancing of units among the three races. Debates have gone on for a while now on how to balance one races air power versus another’s, and so on. For the most part it seems that the Terran and Protoss units got a little help, and the Zerg units have generally been “weakened” by making it a little tougher to amass large numbers of powerful units to throw at the enemy. All of the unit balancing is not only for Brood Wars, but is also available in a patch for Starcraft, which also makes Starcraft compatible with Brood War. You can see the list of unit changes here. In addition to the balancing, each race in Brood War has obtained some new units.
The Terrans have picked up a Medic and the Valkyrie, an aerial unit that launches salvos of missiles at incoming targets. The Medic helps because it enables you to heal infantry units and offset the advantage of the Zerg (self-healing) and the Protoss (shield recharging). The Medic will automatically heal any units that are damaged within its range. It also removes any unwanted conditions as a result of an enemy attack (i.e., lockdown), except for Stasis Field. This unit has an offensive weapon called the optic flare, which essentially blinds the target unit and reduces its visibility down to one square. The Valkyrie is effective against multiple targets and is a good companion to the Terran Battlecruiser, which packs firepower but never did too well against massed aerial attacks (i.e., Zerg Mutalisk). Instead of just affecting one target, the missiles explode and damage units in the surrounding area, again making it a good defense against swarm attacks by closely grouped units.
The Protoss really have three unit changes/additions. First is the Corsair, which is an aerial unit designed to provide better support against ground units. Dark Templars have now been given the ability to merge into Dark Archons, which have three psionic abilities. Feedback makes the target unit lose all of its energy and will take damage equal to the energy it loses. Maelstrom allows you to stun all organic units within a specific target area so that they can’t do anything for a short period of time. Mind Control gives you control of an enemy unit…any enemy unit. It costs a ton of energy and basically renders the Dark Archon helpless because it loses its shields, but can help you grab a powerful enemy unit or even a basic one, like a Terran SCV. Zerg aerial attack and defenses are enhanced with the Devourer that offers air-to-air combat capabilities. The other unit is the Lurker, which is like a mobile Sunken Colony. Although it cannot attack above ground, when buried is sends out the spikes in a straight line towards an attacker. These spikes will do damage to any units, friendly or enemy, that it hits. The spikes can travel in any direction, but always in a straight line.
The game starts off with the Protoss campaign, followed by the Terrans, and finally the Zerg. I’ve found the campaigns to be a nice extension of the original. Some of the plot stuff is a little goofy in places, like finding the light crystal and the dark crystal and combining them. A tad too cliché for me…sounds like a bad animated film I once saw. Beyond the campaigns, the multiplayer experience is slightly changed thanks to the new units. I’ve found that I actually like playing as the Protoss, because the Corsair helps with the defense and the Dark Archons are fun to play with, although you have to be careful about how much you lean on them. Overall I’ve found that Brood War is exactly what I expected. It gives me a chance to play more campaigns, see how the storylines unfold, play with some new units and maps, and basically continue to enjoy a quality game.
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