Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Review: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

2:00 PM on 03.19.2013 // Aerox

A solid middle entry for the series

It appears Blizzard's learned quite a bit from Diablo III's launch, as Heart of the Swarm was instantly playable on release with virtually no server problems -- a bit of a rarity, it seems, with recent PC releases.

It's a good thing, too, since as soon as I logged in at midnight, I got hooked on StarCraft again. Heart of the Swarm brings engaging RTS gameplay, sets up a story I found to be more interesting than what was presented in Wings of Liberty, and serves as an excellent middle entry in the StarCraft II trilogy.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC)
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release: March 12, 2013
MSRP: $39.99

Heart of the Swarm picks up right where Wings of Liberty left off -- Kerrigan has been saved and returned to a mostly-human form (shame about the hair), the Zerg threat has been diminished, and she and Raynor are free to run about curbstomping the Dominion.

Or, that's the initial plan. Since Heart of the Swarm is, of course, about the Zerg, within an hour of starting the game Raynor promptly finds himself in trouble and Kerrigan once again takes control of the Swarm. This time around, the story focuses much more on Kerrigan herself -- while Raynor was the hero of Wings of Liberty, that game's story tended to focus more on the Terran army as a whole and the various mercenaries you dealt with. Heart of the Swarm shines the spotlight directly on Kerrigan.

While Kerrigan can still control the Zerg, Raynor's artifact essentially restored her soul. The antagonism between Kerrigan and Arcturus Mengsk may seem like the central plot line, but in my opinion Heart of the Swarm is really about how Kerrigan comes to terms with what she did as the Queen of Blades, and the internal struggle she faces to cling to her newfound humanity as she slips deeper and deeper into the power of the Zerg. I found the story this time around to be far more engaging than the fairly standard war story of Wings of Liberty, and a huge part of that is because Heart of the Swarm feels more personal and intimate than the previous installment.

When it comes to gameplay, the new missions in Heart of the Swarm don't deviate too much from the style seen in Wings of Liberty, but are unique enough that they don't come across as a simple rehash of Wings, just with the Zerg. The only real notable difference is the introduction of Kerrigan as a persistent hero unit, reminiscent of Warcraft III. In most missions Kerrigan is present on the battlefield and directly controllable, and she gets stronger and develops more powers as you level her up by completing mission objectives. Base building is still the focus of the game, but Kerrigan usually plays a major role in fights as her abilities tend to be profoundly useful.

Much like Wings of Liberty, a majority of the missions generally focus on one or two types of units, and the mission is designed to teach you how to use that unit and its abilities. Sprinkled throughout the game, however, are missions that tend to focus on Kerrigan and her abilities, much like the first Zeratul mission back in Wings. I actually found these to be the most interesting, simply because of the variety they provided. My favorite mission involves Kerrigan essentially fighting three "boss monsters" as she moves through the map, with the fights feeling like a combination between playing a MOBA and battling a World of Warcraft raid boss. I like base building as much as the next StarCraft fan, but it's always nice to mix things up.

As you progress through the single-player campaign, you have the opportunity to select minor and major evolutions for your units. Minor evolutions unlock as soon as you acquire the unit, and tend to be small stat boosts or a passive ability. Major evolutions see you decide between one of two new forms, and require you to complete a short "Evolution Mission" that shows you the abilities of each new form before making your selection. These missions naturally unlock as you progress through the story -- you no longer have to find out-of-the-way collectables scattered around the maps like you did in Wings. Instead,  optional mission objectives provide additional levels to Kerrigan.

Multiplayer has remained essentially unchanged outside of balance tweaks and the introduction of a few new units, and it's still great if you're into competitive real time strategy games. Players who haven't hopped online since Wings of Liberty may be surprised to see how much the general skill level has risen, and can expect quite a few frustrating games if they jump into ranked, especially since this season just began and the matchmaking system is still sorting people where they belong. Don't be surprised if you run into highly skilled players in the lower tiers of play during these first few weeks.

The multiplayer replay system has a couple new fun additions. You can now watch replays with your friends and, even better, pause a replay at any time and have you and your friends take control of the game at the point you paused. It's a solid tool for practicing matchups if you have friends willing to work with you, but I think the most interesting aspect will be the ability to download and mess around with pro-level tournament games, assuming they put replays up.

Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic addition to the StarCraft series, and quite frankly feels on par with a $60 game. It brings almost nothing new to the table, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula you know works well. If you enjoyed Wings of Liberty, or just like RTS games in general, there's no reason not to pick this one up.



StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Reviewed by Aerox
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

  Nov 23

TotalBiscuit and Day[9] discuss StarCraft II and eSports

Shedding light on why we need the term 'athlete'

  Nov 23

Red Bull Battlegrounds is under way

Huge StarCraft II tournament all weekend!

  Nov 20

StarCraft II World Championship Series plans out 2014

2013 WCS just ended, and already looking ahead

  Nov 08

WCS finals at Blizzcon begin today

Winner moves to Red Bull Battlegrounds

  Nov 04

Three more qualify for Red Bull Battlegrounds in NYC

Scarlett, HyuN, and PartinG win out this weekend

  Nov 03

Tune into the Red Bull Battlegrounds Qualifiers right now

Winner advances to the main event on November 23

  Oct 24

Longest StarCraft II match lasts THREE HOURS

Becomes a study on commentator's patience

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Fast HGH Facts

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

So I Got a 3DS

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Fuck racism man, shit ain't fair. Can't stand it and I shouldn't have to. Nobody should.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Embedded pictures in Quickposts seem to be broken for me right now.
Flegma avatarFlegma
To my surprise, I've more or less figured out Rodea Wii U controls. Still a different game from the Wii version, but not as decidedly inferior in my eyes. Did the legacy medals do anything in Wii version?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
"Am I a kid, or a squid?" I ponder as I stare off into the horizon. A wise man once told me "Son, you can be whatever you want to be. You are only limited by your lack of ambition " And I want to be a squid. A squid now.
Parismio avatarParismio
Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped!: [youtube][/youtube]
lewness avatarlewness
Gah, wanna go Alexander farming but The Old Hunters ;_;
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Holy shit, Splatoon is addictive.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Duck Hunt was a trickier unlock than I expected. Jigglypuff, you are next on my list! [img][/img]
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Yay, this arrived today. Nekro is quite happy, as he's been looking forward to playing this game for a while. [IMG][/IMG]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Dtoid mobile has apparently broken again. This is it. This how the dtoid ends. *black hole opens, dtoid disappears*
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Gave Ronin one more chance before I chucked it in the "never to be finished" pile, glad I did. It could have been so much better but as a frustrating time waster it's not bad.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I'm sitting on the Fapcast's most recent recording. I just feel like I need a day for myself after, you know, freaking out about rent.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Why is every Quickpost now spaced out like poems with random amounts of stanzas that never ever rhyme?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Was anybody else here extremely disappointed by the ending of Assassin's Creed 2?
Parismio avatarParismio
Just tried Fallout 4 on my PC Via my Cousins steam account and nope, it does not run for me very well. Buying the PS4 version it is!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know who never took any shit from anybody? Dr. Blight.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Am I the only one who has to pull up their sleeves to play competantly at videogames? When my hoodie's sleeves are down I play like a piece of shit but when i pull them up, I have more flexibility.
Shinta avatarShinta
PSA: Just picked up Falco amiibo at Best Buy. They had about 20 Tom Nook, 10 singles of Splatoon Boy/Girl, the Splatoon triple pack, about 30 Marths with a big sign saying "Look Who's Back!," Dark Pit, and probably about 15 others. Not too shabby.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
I long for the day that people get over their weird circle jerk hatred for FFXIII related things and just ignore things they don't care about.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I'm upgrading my PC on the cheap and I'm going with AMD, out of these two CPUs, wich one is better?, A8-7650K or FX-6300?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -