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StarCraft Expansion Set: Brood War, from Blizzard Entertainment, an expansion set for the original Starcraft, is a real-time strategy game by the makers of Diablo and the Warcraft series. The add-on disk (requires full version of StarCraft to play) enhances the Starcraft experience with new Terran, Zerg and Protoss campaigns and 100 multiplayer custom maps. Players head on a collision course for galactic domination. As commander of the Terrans, Protoss or Zerg species, players face 3 new do-or-die missions. Players battle Kerrigan, an infested Terran vying for control of the Zerg, as they fend off surviving members of the Protoss race attempting to reunite with the mighty Dark Templar. Players also encounter new Terran adversaries as humans from the United Earth Directorate invade the universe. The expansion set offers six new units including Lurkers, Valkyries and Dark Archons and exciting game play set in arid deserts, frozen wastes and twilight worlds of the Dark Templar. Price: $29.99. There is a PC and a Mac version. 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 Expansion Set: Brood Wars is a challenging game to play, even more difficult than the original. 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.
  • New Scenarios: conquer 26 new scenarios set within 3 explosive campaigns;
  • New Units: construct Lurkers, Medics, Valkyries, Corsairs, and Dark Archons;
  • New Worlds: Explore arid deserts, frozen wastes and the twilight worlds of the Dark Templar;
  • New Maps: dominate or die in over 100 new multiplayer maps;
  • Free Internet Competition: challenge players worldwide with free access to blizzard's gaming service.

Background--In Brood War, the saga of galactic warfare between the Zerg, Protoss and Terrans continues where the original left off at its conclusion.

With the shattered Zerg hive torn apart by fierce in-fighting, the Protoss seek to reunite with their Dark Templar brethren and begin the rebuilding of their homeworld, Alur. It is inevitable that trouble will follow them, and thus the Protoss must battle the Zergish horde on the Dark Templar homeworld of Shakuras. Terran Emperor Mengsk I, having achieved his goal of total power over the human colonies, must now turn his attention to both the rising power of the woman he betrayed--Kerrigan, the infamous Zerg Queen of Blades--and a conspiracy deep within his own ranks. The United Earth Directorate, a force from the original Terran planet is intent on bringing Arcturus Mengsk's empire back into their dominion. The United Earth Directorate (UED), getting anxious about hostile alien life in the galaxy, decides to do more than oversee the epic battle between the three races. With the leadership of Admiral Gerard Dugalle, they plan to to dispose of the Terrans, and use the Zerg to their advantage to destroy the Protoss. With the reigning Overmind destroyed, Kerrigan wants to take control of the Zerg broods. The newly spawned Overmind won't be easily overcome, this Kerrigan must scheme to overthrow it and take her place as ruler of the Zerg. The game progress through the three campaigns with the Terran side being played with the UED, and the order is altered: Protoss first, then Terran, then Zerg.

New Units and Upgrades--Each race has two new units and the Terrans and Zergs have upgraded units. Some of these new units and upgrades add balance, others create new strategic possibilities.

  1. Terrans: There are two new units and an upgraded unit. New Terran units from the United Earth Directorate have more technology than the original Terrans. The two units are the Medic and a heavy missile frigate called the Valkyrie. The Medic are women who are highly skilled with three special abilities: Heal, Restoration (heals and removes special effects or spells on a unit), and Optic Flare (ultra-bright flash grenade). These Medics are great for restoring the health and vitality of wounded soldiers and for curing various Zerg infestations such as Parasite or Ensnare. For defense, the Medic use the A-13 Flash Grenade Launcher to discharge a maximum burst in the visible white light as well as ultra-violet spectrums. This has the effect of severely damaging the retinas or photo-optic receptors of any targeted unit. The Valkyrie Frigates are a powerful addition to the UED Fleet. The Valkyrie missiles are capable of reducing most conventional star fighters and airborne structures to rubble. Valkyries are heavily armored and can take substantial punishment from enemy fire before they suffer any failure. The Goliaths have been upgraded. They are much more useful and cost efficient now, with the necessary range to defend against Guardians.

  2. Zerg: There are two new units and one upgrade. New Zerg units are the Lurker and the Devourer. The Devourer is an acid-spewing assault flyer that can quickly overcome enemy air units and are excellent for stopping Wraith or Scout rushes. The venom of the Devourer consists of toxins that can eat through any known substance, including the reinforced armor plating of the Terran and Protoss capital ships. The Lurker, a new Hydralish mutation, is useless above ground but watch out when it burrows. Lurkers emit waves of supra-dense spines against their enemies. Any warriors on the surface who are caught by these spines are instantly impaled. These spines are capable of tearing into flesh, steel, and even reinforced armor plating. And the only way to see them is to fly in a detector. They can easily take down Marines or Zealots. The Ultralisk have been upgraded and given thicker armor and faster movement.

  3. Protoss: There are two new units. New Protoss units are the Dark Templar and the Corsair. The Dark Templars were in the original game but could not be mass-produced. The Dark Templar warriors are able to bend light around themselves which renders them virtually invisible. Dark Templars can also merge to create Dark Archons, who wield impressive psychic powers. The Dark Archons don't have attack capabilities comparable to the Dark Templars but their three abilities: Feedback (used to drain enemy energy points), Mind Control (used to possess and manipulate opposing forces), and Maelstrom (nulls attack ability of organic units) are important weapons. Blizzard had done a good job of balancing the strength of the three races. Even though the Dark Templars have highly developed attack powers, they have not been made overpowering in comparison to the other two races. The Corsairs, air-to-air fighters, have the ability to block any form of attack on the air or on the ground. They can employ a disruption web to temporarily incapacitate ground forces and are good for dropping troops down from transports into an opponent's base.

Missions--The three new missions in Brood War contain complex plots, with early missions being as difficult as the midgame missions in the original. Scripted sequences and conditions provide interesting twists. Some missions require deep gameplay and decisions made in one battle will affect the number and type of units faced in the next. There are multiple objectives for most of the conflicts and players have the choice of targets. The addition of new units for the missions does not have a negative effect on the play balance achieved by Blizzard in the original StarCraft. The equilibrium between the races is even better, and the story is more complex. There is a large cast of characters that are believable and interact in a convincing manner. Blizzard has improved Artificial Intelligence on the opponents part. Improved AI and enhancements in the game design create more interaction between the characters in the game. For instance there are levels where allies will appear, perform a vital mission with troop drops, energy web, destruction of power generators, all without any need for player control. The computer does many more sneak attacks in areas of your base. This adds to the realism and the feeling that there are many parties with their own agendas, which are decidedly different from yours. There are many twists, turns, backstabbing, and suspense in the missions. You have to really think and use strategy. Your outcome depends on the unit makeup (defense/offense emphasis, health, reserves), so you have to keep in touch with all units and keep your strengths up. With the new units in Brood War each race now has the means to deal with enemy swarm tactics. Thus, you need to plan more. The player who just piles up one type of unit in a mission will lose to someone who combines his forces.

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

Graphics--The graphics in this Expansion Set are as good as in the original. The three new tilesets: Twilight, Desert and Ice World are excellent. Special effects such as the spectacular explosions look extremely realistic. The tilesets enhance and change the balance of power and add to the strategic experience of the game. The twilight world of the Dark Protoss is very atmospheric; the desert is similar to a nuclear wasteland; and the ice world is like something from Star Wars. The 3D modeled buildings are also great. There are not as many cinematics as in the original game, but the new intro movie and ending cinematics for each of the three campaigns are longer and more stylish. The animations are crisp and smooth for a 2D game.

Sound--The sound in Brood War is even better than in the original. There is new music, new sound effects, and new speech. Each of the three races gets a new music track, and surviving characters get many more speaking lines. All the new units in Brood War sound great and many of them have very amusing things to say if you keep on clicking. The dialogue used in mission briefings and during the in-game scripted events is convincing. The sounds help make the characters believable and they seem to have personalities.

Documentation--There is a chart of the three races and the units, as well as a CD cover/booklet that has information on the new units.

Blizzard has a reputation for putting out high-quality products and Brood War is no exception. The sequel better than the original. Other third-party companies have put out expansion sets for StarCraft but they can't compare to this one. Brood War contains all the care, detail, and ingenuity of the original. The game is fun and very addicting. You need new ideas and tactics. The music score is outstanding. Blizzard's goal was to add powerful new units, each with a new and vital purpose, without upsetting the delicate balance of power between the three races. The new units fill a gap in the original forces units so the races are better balanced than ever, at the same time making the game more varied and enjoyable, with an increased choice of paths to victory or defeat. There is enough treachery, deceit, and villainy for anyone.
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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