This is the moment I have been waiting for.
My original plan for the 30 Reviews in 30 Days was to do one final feature at the end in which I did a review of my top 5 games of all time. The closer I go to that time, however, the less that made sense. After all, I had already done reviews of the other games on my top 10, so if I did it that way, I was either not going to spend enough time on each game or write one massive article no one really wanted to read. So after careful consideration, I decided to review my top 5 with the last 5 reviews in the series.
Now these top 5 are in no particular order. I just plan on reviewing them in the reverse order they are listed on the About page of Everyday Gamers. At any given time, I might consider any one of these games my top game.
So, without further adieu, lets get to my favorite PC game of all time, StarCraft.
How real-time strategy should be
I used to not be a real-time strategy gamer. They just really did not interest me. Sure, I had seen people play the Command and Conquer games and WarCraft, but I had no real interest in playing them myself. The idea of balancing resource management with unit building and attacking the opponent just did not seem that interesting to me.
The Terrans: Easy to learn, deadly in the hands of a master.
So you can imagine my reluctance when, while in Canada for my best friend’s wedding, some of his friends told me I had to try StarCraft. They finally got me into a LAN game, and before the game was even half done, I was hooked. When my friend told me he wanted to get me something for being his best man, I think I surprised him by telling him I wanted the StarCraft Battlechest. I have since introduced others to the game.
So what makes StarCraft the best RTS in my opinion? Well, several things. The first is the game just feels intuitive; it really did not take long to master the controls, which is not always the case for this type of game. Another is the memorable units; ghosts, battleships, ultralisks, carriers, archons… They just stick out in your mind, set apart from the cannon fodder of other RTSs.
In the end, though, two things really stand out that make StarCraft the best.
It’s all about balance
StarCraft manages to pull off something that many other games have tried and failed: creating three races that play completely differently and yet are completely balanced:
Terran: This would be the human forces. The humans are a well balanced race, strong in both attack and defense but not overpowering in either. Terran forces rely upon upgrades in technology to make them strong enough to really battle, and you need to really consider how you group units to attack with them if you want to have any kind of success.
Two words that strike fear in any StarCraft player: Zerg Rush.
Zerg: The Zerg is the race you want to use when you plan on just overwhelming your opponent. Its basic unit, the zergling, is very easy to mass produce, leading to the ever popular Zerg Rush. the problem is the base level of units for anything created by the Zerg are weaker than the other races. Sure, you can produce them in mass numbers, but you have to upgrade them to really go toe to toe against the other race’s heavy hitters.
Protos: The Protos are the hardest race to master in the game, though for many people, once you have mastered them, they can be the most fun. The Protos is the most powerful race in the game, but the units you create while playing them are also the most costly. You cannot just create mass numbers and try to attack with them as you will run out of resources quickly.
So you have three races who play about as differently as you can imagine, but they are balanced against each other amazingly well. Sure, you will probably find one you gravitate toward (PROTOS ROCK!), but in the end, they are all great.
RTS games are all based on the rock-paper-scissors gameplay mechanic (one unit is stong against and enemy unit but weak against another enemy unit) , and StarCraft is no different. The fact Blizzard managed to balance this type of gameplay among three different races is just incredible.
Amazing Stories all tied together
As good as the balanced races are, the stories built into the game may be better. Many RTSs have a throw away story at best. It may not be horrible, but it does not generally stand out. StarCraft is the exception to this rule. Each race has its own unique storyline containing 10 missions. In these missions, you will get connected with the heroes of those races, being drawn into their struggles as they try to survive in a universe torn apart by war. There are even a few points, like the abandonment of Kerrigan, that will grab you an not let go.
The Protos: Power overwhelming, but manage your resources wisely.
What makes the stories even more amazing, however, is that they are interwoven. Characters from one race’s storyline will appear in another race’s missions, helping you understand how everything in the universe is connected. This carries over to the expansion, Brood War, giving you a chance to see what happened after the major Protos battle at the end of the first game.
So you have balanced races and great stories that tie together into one epic storyline, but those alone would not have made this game still extremely popular 10 years after it was made. So what has kept it going? How about the ability to create your own maps and scenriaos, a multiplayer community on Battlenet that still plays the game, or the tournaments that go on in Asia. The game is so popular in South Korea that Blizzard decided to announce the sequel at an event there as opposed to even announcing it at BlizzCon.
StarCraft is a game that has taken on near mythic status over the years, and for good reason. The stories and balanced gameplay have made this an RTS that has yet to be topped. There is a reason the Battlechest still sells for $20 ten years after the game was made. StarCraft gets a 5 out of 5.
You know, writing about my Top 5 games is going to make me want to play them all again.