Though video games have matured over the past decade, the brilliance of Starcraft cannot be discounted. As a vehicle for story telling, Starcraft brought a new level of maturity to a sea of PC gamers. The multiplayer aspect of Starcraft has survived in tournaments across the nation, and even went on to become the national sport of South Korea. While this is an achievement in gaming, the massive popularity also helped to take the light off of the games fantastic single player campaign. The following is an examination of Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades.
Before we begin our look at Kerrigan I think it's important to note the players role in Starcraft. In Starcraft, you play as a commander, following the orders of those above you. If none are above you, you're generally following the plan of attack one of your lieutenants worked out. This helps to explain the players control over unit production and his God like status over the various units. It also helps to establish a connection between the player and the setting, giving they player a larger stake in the events of the games world.
Not too early on in Starcraft's first campaign, you align yourself with the rebel group the Sons of Korhal. It at first seems that the Sons of Korhal seek freedom from the tight rule of the Confederacy, and eventually hope to eradicate the Zerg from the galaxy. It is on a mission to destroy a Confederate outpost that the player first meets Sarah Kerrigan. She is a Ghost, a person experimented on by the Confederacy. As well as being skilled in the use of the sniper rifle, she also possesses psychic powers. She soon becomes a powerful asset to your troops and accompanies you on many missions.
It is during a mission on Tarsonis, the Confederate home world, that tragedy strikes. In an effort to fuel his own means the leader of the Sons of Korhal, Arcturus Mengsk, sends Kerrigan deep into the capital with a beacon. After successfully helping Kerrigan make her way to the beacons drop site, Arcturus reveals his true intentions. The beacon will lure the Zerg to the center of the Confederate capital, effectively wiping out all life on the planet. A casualty of this tragedy is Kerrigan, presumed dead in the aftermath of the Zerg attack. Your other companion at the time, Jim Raynor, swears revenge on Mengsk and you soon switch sides, fighting against the man you once followed blindly. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the loss of Tarsonis, Arcturus declares himself Emperor of the Terrans.
The death of Kerrigan comes as a shock to the player. Forcing you to sit and watch as someone you've grown close to dies, literally taking control away from you as she is lost in the sea of Zerg, made the moment all the more chilling. It was a stunning reminder of the fragileness of life, a stark contrast to the popular strategy of throwing your units lives away as if they were nothing. It's difficult to get a reaction out of a player at the loss of a faceless marine, but give that marine a voice and a history and it suddenly becomes much more human.
I wish I could say that the following story was a happy one. That I was overjoyed with the revelation that I am about to share with you. Sadly, I cannot. For you see, Kerrigan never died. She was taken by the Overmind and mutated to increase her combat ability. While she is no longer human, she is also not Zerg. This proves to be Kerrigan's greatest strength, as she is not under the influence of the Overmind, but she still posesses the superior genetic make up of the Zerg. Furious with those that betrayed her, she aligned herself with the Zerg in a bid to wipe out all life in the Galaxy.
Jumping ahead in the story of Starcraft, the Overmind is dead. Killed by Jim Raynor and the Protoss, the Zerg are running amok on the the Protoss home world of Aiur. The Zerg cerebrates have assumed full control of the remaining Zerg forces, and the Protoss are performing a desperate evacuation to the Dark Templar's homeworld Sharkuras. The Zerg soon follow the Protoss, and an alliance is formed with Kerrigan ensuring that the cerebrates will be killed and Kerrigan will assume control of all Zerg forces.
Meanwhile, the forces of Earth have come to irradicate the Terran Dominion. Hoping to harness the Zerg for their own means, they eventually take control of a newly born Overmind, giving them control over Zerg forces in their sector. Displeased, Kerrigan launches an assault, destroys the Overmind, and again assumes all control over Zerg forces. Soon, the Terran Dominion, the surviving forces of Earth, and a vengeful Protoss lieutenant assault Kerrigan's base on Char. Though their efforts to defeat her are admirable, they are swiftly defeated, leaving Kerrigan the ruler of the sector. The game ends with Kerrigan sitting alone in her throne room, the camera slowly panning out to show the player her newly established empire.
The first time I played through this sequence of events, I was disturbed by Kerrigan's actions. That her power had corrupted her very being, bestowing upon her a hunger for complete control. Perhaps the experiments performed upon her during her youth helped to instill this hunger for complete control. Perhaps when she became the Queen of Blades, she lost the part of her that player could easily connect with. Her humanity.
As time went on, I began to realize that the Sarah Kerrigan I cared for and knew really did die on the day the Zerg took her. The only thing the Queen of Blades and the ghost Kerrigan share in common are name. This realization helped me to move past her selfish murder and complete disregard for all life but her own, and harbored in my a deep setted hatred for the Queen of Blades. Perhaps Sarah Kerrigan is still alive somewhere in that concentrated ball of hate.
I'll never forget Sarah Kerrigan, the once beautiful soldier turned science experiment. Her need for revenge eventually led her to ascension as Queen, betraying those she had once stood by as her comrades, and dooming herself to a life spent alone. To anyone who hasn't played this game, I suggest experiencing it for yourself.