Sunday, May 29, 2016

A happy ending

I finally bought and played the final chapter in the Starcraft 2 trilogy - Legacy of the Void.  I was disappointed enough with part 2 that I waited until I saw Legacy on sale to buy it, because I sure didn't want to be let down again.

I wasn't let down though.  Legacy wasn't all I might have hoped, but it was all it could have been.

Which sounds weird, but let me explain.  Part 1, Wings of Liberty, was one of the best games I have ever bought.  I played through the campaign over and over and I absolutely loved it.  The missions were themed well, had lots of variety, and were balanced to give me all the experiences I wanted.  I loved the characters and the story.

Legacy couldn't have been all those things.  It has good variety in missions, nice visuals, all of that.  The technical elements of the missions were all well done.  But there were some things that it could never be because it was a protoss game.  You just can't get people invested in aliens as easily or as well as you can get them invested in humans.  Little things like random signs on the wall or a look of utter exhaustion in a character's eyes don't come across when you are looking at an alien.  Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan have appeal that Zeratul and Artanis just don't.  Blizzard could make all the great missions they wanted (and they did!) but it wouldn't tug at my heartstrings the same way.

The technical implementation isn't perfect though.  Part 1 was amazing in that it had four separate plot lines you could tackle at whatever pace you wanted.  Figuring out what to do next was actually an interesting puzzle.  Choosing what things to research was tricky.  Deciding what upgrades to buy took thought.  However, in Legacy those choices aren't there.  You can choose to do A first or B first, but you have to do AB or BA.  All the currency you gather for upgrades is refundable so all choices can be reversed on a whim.  The ability to make a hard plot choice, one mission or another, listen to Nova or Tosh, is not there.

Which is all to say that Legacy mostly just suffers by comparison.  It is a good game, and I liked it.  I will play through again on harder difficulties to hone my skills.  But it wasn't as good as the first.

Nothing would be though, really.  Just being about the Protoss made it certain that it would pale in comparison, even if the other technical bits were just as good.  And they weren't as good, though they were still quite solid.

When the Protoss campaign ended and the final cinematic was done I was just about ready to flip tables - where was the proper ending?  What happens to the characters?  But then I realized there was an epilogue where we finally get to see the threads tied up.  It was all kinds of nonsense, magic stacked on magic, but Sarah and Jim finally got their happy ending.  I loved that, nonsense be damned.

I feel a deep sense of relief.  The series is done, the story is over.  The characters I loved so much walked off into the sunset together.  The game pushed me to be better.'s about time.

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