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StarCraft, from Blizzard Entertainment, is a real-time strategy game by the makers of Diablo and the Warcraft series. Players head on a collision course for galactic domination. As commander of the Terrans, Protoss or Zerg species, players face 30 do-or-die missions while battling in space, on planetary surfaces and within installations. With each mission, more of the epic story of the universe unfolds. These three intergalactic species have unique units, technologies and abilities. Price: $50.00. Blizzard Entertainment has a great Web site with contests, demos, clubs, forums, links, and news. Blizzard also offers a free online gaming service to StarCraft owners called The service is very easy to use, relatively lag-free, and provides a comprehensive ladder system.
StarCraft is a challenging game to play. I would suggest it for teens and adults that are advanced beginners, intermediate or advanced game users. If you have played this type of game before, you should have no problem. Some units move so fast that it can be quite a task to follow them quickly enough with your mouse to select them. Multiplayer games are fast and furious, and it can take a while to get used to how alliances and teaming work. Scenarios are fun, but unless you've played for a while already and are familiar with the game, the computer players will beat you every time. Save those for when you're used to playing.

Background--You play one of 3 races, the humanoid Terrans, the bug-like Zerg or the reptilian Protoss. Each race has its own advantages, with unique units, graphics and personality. There is a well developed storyline for the game in the player's guide, with histories of each race and run-downs of the characters you'll encounter in the campaigns. The setting is 24th-Century futuristic, after Earth citizens have burned themselves out and have migrated to other parts of the galaxy. They run into the Zerg and the Protoss while fighting for planetary dominance on the Galactic Rim. As you play (and win) 30 missions (10 from the unique perspective of each of the three species), you reveal the entire story through mission briefings. All three species rely on minerals and gas to survive, but that's where the similarities end.

  1. Terrans: a fragmenting (i.e., human) empire called the Confederacy. They are more conventional and need barracks, supply depots, and tanks. Most Terran forces consist of tanks, flamethrowers, robotic droids and starships. Terrans are masters of mobility and versality. Using converted industrial vehicle mobile bases, they move from world to world, pillaging as they go. Their military consists of both "resocialized" criminals and elite soldiers.
  2. Zerg: are larvae that mutate into heinous aliens; they are actually bio-engineered creatures, designed for maximum killing efficiency, capable of burning foes with spewed acid. They can grow into whatever their race needs, from starships to buildings to mobile artillery. Their hives are also living creatures which slowly infest the area the Zerg inhabit with "the Creep," a thick blanket of organic matter. Zerg forces range from Zerglins, fast little attack-lizards, to the Queen, a sort of flying octopus that spits acid, turning enemies into mutated Broodlings. Zerg forces lack the raw firepower of the Terrans or Protoss, but make up for it with sheer numbers.
  3. Protoss: are the perfect warrior species. They are masters of energy who slash opponents with charged blades and destroy enemies with bolts of antiparticles and a stream of psychic ripples. Protoss forces consist of Zealot assault-warriors, Archon warriors, which are sort of living psionic thunderstorms, and space cruiser/carriers to name a few. The Protoss forces are not great in number, but man for man they are probably the most powerful units in the game due to their psionic forcefields.

Missions--The mission objectives are clearly laid out, and unlike most other games, StarCraft has very few cut-scenes in between each mission, but they are of high quality and have connections to the storyline. In StarCraft, you actually have to devise different strategies for each race. You just cannot apply a Zerg rush strategy when using the Protoss. Also, all races have pros and cons, so they're equally balanced. This helps increase the replayability of the game.

The excellent variety in unit types helps keep the missions intriguing and fun: Terran infantry have ranged weapons, where the Protoss and Zerg infantry attack adjacent units. Zerg units swarm in massive, slavering hordes, where Terrans and Protoss have unique "super bomb" units and invisible units. Terrans can repair their buildings and encase infantry in hardened bunkers, where half the Protoss units' health is a regenerating shield.

Maps--Maps vary dramatically from mission to mission, requiring careful offensive and defensive strategies.

Features & Interface--StarCraft is similar to most games of this type, game play is on a playing field, with controls and a mini-map at the bottom of the screen. Units are controlled via mouse or keyboard shortcuts.You gather resources, in this case minerals and Vespene gas, to afford to produce workers, military units, buildings and upgraded technologies. You can play as a single player on different campaigns and scenarios or multiplayer via network or on the Internet at Play, especially in battle situations, is very fast and the games can be long.

Graphics--The graphics are excellent. The game is best viewed at a screen resolution of (640x480) because of the smallish size of the units. The whole visual effect is very dark, which can make units difficult to see sometimes, so you may want to turn up the brightness on your monitor. The graphics, though not enhanced with 3D-technology, were convincingly realistic, highly detailed, and imaginative. The movement was fluid. With varying scenarios, futuristic/alien buildings and units, unique visuals of the currently selected unit, this game will not have you bored. Light sourcing and translucency make for some impressive battlefield explosions. Cinematics between missions are great.

Sound--The sound has also been well implemented. Protoss units make a humming sound when selected. Zerglings grunt, screech and growl. Distinguishing between some of the odd sounds the units and buildings make may take some experience.

Documentation--There is a tech tree chart of the buildings and a good manual that comes with the game. Reading both before play is a good idea. The manual gives background on the storyline and each of the 3 races, plus gives more specifics about each unit. Considering that many units look similar and there isn't a lot of on screen information about what each unit is and does, the printed material is a big help.

Multiplayer--You can go on and pit your skills against other players or try fighting against StarCraft normal AL in custom maps with friends. You can also self-design single or multi-player scenarios, or modify design on some of the already installed scenarios. StarCraft excels as a multiplayer action game with its ton of game types, a wide array of maps, and some of the best play balancing. There are four multiplayer options: free play on the Internet, modem, LAN, and null modem/DCC play.

Campaign Editor--You can actually create you own campaign and even mission briefings with triggers created by Blizzard. Or if you are more adventurous, you can take your time to make your own StarCraft map. The editor is easy to use and has many features.

StarCraft has realistic graphics, great sound, and the program has the most original storyline and most addictive gameplay. The races are well-defined, balanced, and you really do have to devise unique strategies for each instead of just building tons of units to overwelm your enemies. Great game. Should give you many hours of fun playing.
Processor: Pentium 90 or higher
Operating System: Windows 95/NT 4.0
Memory: 16MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 80MB
SVGA Video Card (DirectX-compatible)
DirectX-compatible sound card for audio
2X CDROM for gameplay (4X for cinematics)

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