Review: Heart Of The Swarm
You are Sarah Kerrigan, former Queen of Blades. Once the most feared entity in the galaxy, you now wait in a cell in the depths of a high-security research laboratory. Before the murderous forces of the Terran Dominion close in, you must plot your escape to the dark reaches of space… and reclaim your living empire at the Heart of the Swarm.
- High quality detailed graphics remain from Wings Of Liberty. From the way the sawrm infests your HUD, to the massive explosion of buildings blowing up from a Zerg rush. Some stunning locations each with a unique atmophere.
- Evolution pit, where you can upgrade and even transform your swarm. Wether it be increasing a Banelings armour, or giving your Zergs a faster attack speed. Evolution pit will aloow you to do it and change them when you want. For one time transformations you can do a evolution mission where you get to try out the two new
- New units and abilities. Heres a quick rundown:
The Tempest is a new capital ship that can fire at both ground and air targets from long range, doing additional damage to massive air units. When supported by other units, the huge range of the Tempest allows the protoss to harass and force action by opponents.
The Oracle is a psionic warship, built from a Stargate, that uses unique abilities to raid and harass the enemy. The first is Pulsar Beam, which is energy-based and does devastating damage to light units on the ground. Another ability, Envision, grants temporary detection to the Oracle. Revelation is an area effect ability that causes all units and structures in the targeted area to grant vision for an extended period of time.
The Mothership Core is unique in more ways than one. It’s a flying unit that has a fast firing, air to ground weapon; only a single Mothership Core can exist in your army at once. There are several abilities available from the Mothership Core. Time Warp creates a field that slows the movement speed of enemy ground units. Photon Overcharge is a defensive ability that temporarily grants a powerful, long range attack to a nexus. Finally, Mass Recall allows players to quickly recall the Mothership Core and units around it back to a Nexus.
It’s not really a new unit in Heart of the Swarm, but the Mothership abilities are slightly different from Wings of Liberty. The Mothership retains the Mass Recall and Time Warp abilities from the Mothership Core. It also retains its cloaking field from Wings of Liberty. The Mothership is now created by upgrading the Mothership Core after a Fleet Beacon is constructed.
The Phoenix now enjoys a range boost to its weapons, while the Void Ray get a new activated ability called Prismatic Alignment. Instead of Void Rays “charging up” their damage over time as in Wings of Liberty, the player can now select to have the Void Ray increase its damage to armored units for a short period of time.
The Widow Mine is a new unit built from the Factory that allows the terran player to control areas of the battlefield. The Widow Mine moves into position and sets to stationary mode, which burrows and activates it. When an enemy air or ground unit moves into range, the Widow Mine fires a missile that deals high damage to the targeted unit, and a smaller amount of splash damage around the blast.
The Hellion has been upgraded to a transforming unit similar to the Viking. When transformed into Hellbat mode, it has additional hit points and a stronger flame attack that covers a short forward-facing arc. This makes the Hellion more effective against large clusters of light units such as Zealots or Zerglings. The player can opt to transform the Hellbat back into its original, more mobile form as well.
In Heart of the Swarm, the Medivac gains a cooldown-based speed-boost ability called Ignite Afterburners, and the Caduceus Reactor upgrade improves its healing efficiency. Additionally, the Reaper no longer has a special building attack. Instead, it gains a passive health-regeneration upgrade that allows it to recharge hit points quickly when out of combat. The Thor now has a selectable ground to air attack, allowing it to switch from the standard area of effect missiles to a single-target missile that does added damage to massive air units. Siege Tanks no longer require an upgrade to be researched to gain Siege Mode, and finally, Hunter Seeker Missiles from the Raven have been given an improved range, but with a slight delay to firing.
The Viper is a new flying unit with three unique abilities. Blinding Cloud temporarily reduces the attack range of ground units inside the cloud to melee range. Abduct allows the Viper to physically pull a unit to the Viper’s location. Finally, the Viper can use Consume, a channeled ability that allows it to gain some energy back at the expense of damage to your own Zerg building.
The Swarm Host is a slow-moving ground unit that has no standard attack. When burrowed, the Swarm Host spawns slow-moving units called Locusts that can be used to lay siege and pressure entrenched enemy positions.
Mutalisks have been given a speed boost, and a new passive ability that allows it to regenerate health more quickly, and the Hydralisk has a new upgrade that allows them to move faster while not on creep.
- Tutorial covers the basics and gets you into the action quickly.
- Soundtrack is outstanding, Some of the battle music in particular. Collectors Edition owners can rejoice in the fact that they will have a hard copy of the soundtrack in their box.
- Twenty seven levels await you. Twenty levels are for the story and 7 are evolution missions. Each level brings you new creatures to control, each level ramps up the action into one climtaic epic huge battle scene.
- Improvements made to matchmaking, including new levels to play on.
- Plenty of graphic,sound options to enable lesser powered computers can run the game.
- All buttons can be user configured and stored.
- Kerrigan has her own upgrade tree which unlock powerful new abilities, more health.
- FMV play out very much like an action film. They have high definition visuals and really bring the story alive.
- The game overall is alot more accessible to new players due, to its focus more on action and fighting rather than building a solid base first.
- Kerrigan is really overpowered. Once you start unlocking new abilities and ranking up her health, She can easily destroy whole armies on her own.
- Can be accused of helping players too much. With frequent markers telling you where to go, what to build at your base and take with you. It does feel at times it has been dumbed down.
- Events from Wings Of Liberty to Heart Of The Swarm isnt fully explained. Luckily a book entitled “Flashlight” has you covered.
- Few character animation flaws, Had a few instances where units would get stuck in the scenery or even get stuck in an animation.
- Could be a DRM thing, But the game is always streaming data when loading a new level. This is a particular problem if your internet is running a tad slow.
- Story has some real cheesy dialogue and can even have you cringing. Even has a copycat cameo of Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger.
- Battle.Net at the time of playing was having a lot of issues from disconnects to achievement system crashes. They do seem to be fixed now.
- Colours used for the majority of the levels are your typical mash of browns and blacks, can look a bit dark and dreary.
In summary, The expansion on the whole is a riot to play. More emphasis on action and fighting with huge armies, RTS has never felt so satisfying. Yes the story in places can get a little below par, even predictable. Overall it is a good story and is really fun to play. Just commanding a huge army demolishing everything in your path is hugely satisfying. Playing as a bad guy is always a nice change in a game and this further cements my belief, I prefer being the bad guy! Blizzard have improved on the already successful StarCraft 2 game and has left me craving for more!