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
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

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.



THE VERDICT

9

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.

Aerox,
 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 *.disqus.com 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!


Video Gaming Bits -- Rampage: Total Destruction

Roses are black, PS4 lights are blue; This is a game, and it has valkyries too?

Cblogs of 02/10/16 and WONDER-isms

Modern face of survival horror

Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

Narrative Mistakes: Mass Effect's Reapers As Primary Villains

Journey to Become a Jedi Knight - Jedi Outcast

Waifu Wars - The End

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

ScionVyse avatarScionVyse
Finally got my in game time down to under an hour in Super Metroid. I'm pretty happy about that.
Shinta avatarShinta
https://killscreen.com/articles/falling-through-a-100-million-stories-in-gravity-rush-remastered/ Really great article about Gravity Rush's director (director of Silent Hill), and his 1970s French comic influences.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Unpopular opinion time: I not only consider Kanye West to be one of my favorite rappers of all-time — yes, I'm being serious — but he's one of the very few people in the world whom I'd consider to be a role model. I truly wish he would notice me one d
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Trying to play through Undertale's Genocide Route. After forcing myself to kill the Greater Dog, I'm really not sure if I'm emotionally capable of handling this game anymore...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
"I would buy [game] if I had a Wii U." THEN WHY DON'T YOU!? "I don't want to." So you want to play [game] but you're not willing to buy hardware to play it? "Yes." Guess you don't really want to play [game]. "No, Nintendo should make games for Xbox." ಠ_
Torchman avatarTorchman
Nathan D, they say ROCKET PUNCH!
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
There should be an online multiplayer version of Gwent.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Torchman, what do the five fingers say to the face?
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Can we just get a yarn version of Bionic Commando already?
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Alright. All Waifu are garbage because they're all fake. There, I said it.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
All of your waifus when someone gives them a dollar.
Torchman avatarTorchman
IN THE NAME OF GLORIOUS ZEUS, I PROCLAIM YOUR WAIFU TO BE SHIT
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Alright, Torchboy. If it'll shut yo ass up about our waifus, here is Yukiko's privileged little white bum presented for your, uh, "pleasure".
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Obligatory: All these waifus are best waifus. Yours ain't got shit.
Shinta avatarShinta
Just platinum'd Gravity Rush Remastered in 3 days. Super hyped for Gravity Rush 2.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Several minutes into Spectre and I swear I thought I put on a hentai by mistake.
TysonOfTime avatarTysonOfTime
Uncontrollable with slightly less Engrish.
Scrustle avatarScrustle
Hachi Roku is my waifu.
Occams avatarOccams
#Darksiders2
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Finally getting around to cataloging all the intergalactic-level augments I want to use for post-game Tyrant killing in XCX. The grind feels more substantial than Monster Hunter but then again there are no four-story-high monsters in MH.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

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 -