Starcraft 2: Story Time

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 20, 2013

Filed under: Game Reviews 180 comments

It has been suggested by some that the campaign story in Starcraft 2 is hammy, obvious, and slathered in thick, cheesy melodrama. I can’t really argue with this, but I don’t think Blizzard’s storytelling has gotten any worse. I think the problem is that their production values got way better.

It’s sort of intuitively understood that the events we see during gameplay are abstracted and stylized a great deal and that we shouldn’t take them literally. I mean, if we did we’d have to conclude that a barracks was about the size of your average living room, tanks are minivan-sized, and the dreaded Protoss Carrier is barely larger than a schoolbus. We don’t want our small units to be teeny tiny things that are impossible to click on and we don’t want our large units to cover the entire screen so we can’t see under them. Averaging out the sizes solves both problems. We also have the sides wearing vibrant colors and nobody can see more than twenty meters in front of their face.

Try to picture that marine climbing into the cockpit of that plane.
Try to picture that marine climbing into the cockpit of that plane.

There are really good gameplay reasons for this, and nobody minds these abstractions because the game would look ridiculous if we tried to depict it in a photorealistic way.

Keep in mind that while the original game had animated cutscenes, they were not used to tell the story. Often the events depicted were completely unrelated to the stuff you were doing. Once in a long while a main character might make an appearance, but generally these little vignettes were just there to set a mood and show what the world “really” looked like outside of the abstracted depictions that we were given during gameplay. They were a fun reward for completing the recent block of long, grindy missions.


The bulk of the story was told in mission briefings. Every mission briefing was basically a Google Hangout with the principal characters, but with lower video quality. (The future of the past always looks kind of strange.) They would talk, argue, emote, and threaten, all while the same few seconds non-lip-synced head animation looped.

Sometimes it was even told in blocks of text.


Like the abstracted visuals of the gameplay, the story itself is told in broad, exaggerated strokes. Since the story happens with talking heads, it would be very, very easy for this to become tedious. The writers keep it lively by filling the story with vibrant, over-the-top characters. You’ve got flawed heroes, noble idealists, scheming opportunists and devious backstabbers. The performers lay it on thick and try to sell the drama with just their voice.

And then we get to Starcraft 2…

In Starcraft 2, we’re no longer constrained by the graphical and budgetary limitations of 1998. Blizzard has heaps of riches, tons of skill, and lots of processor power to throw at the problem. If they want their story to look like a movie, it can. It does.

Link (YouTube)

Continuing the practice of telling the story with talking heads is no longer viable. Okay, for a lot of us that would have been just fine, but we all know that some people would say it looked “cheap”. Over the past fifteen years Blizzard has perfected the art of making gripping, epic cutscenes. Their efforts now exceed even Square Enix, the previous masters of lavishly over-produced spectacle and fan service. It was inevitable that they would want to bring that talent to bear when it came to telling their story. We could imagine a hypothetical timeline where the suits, the designers, the producers, the artists and the writers all signed off on the notion that they didn’t need eye-grabbing, YouTube-friendly, viral-ready shorts to tell their story. But only if we imagine really, really hard.

So they changed the format of the story from conference call to a series of animated shorts. I’ll admit it looks great, but the transition has done odd things to the tone.

Check out this scene:

Link (YouTube)

That’s a cutscene from Starcraft 2. It’s a flashback to a moment from Starcraft 1. In the original game, the same dialog played out in raido messages while you were managing your units. Now it’s a movie. When I saw the newer, sexier version of this scene my first thought was, “Wait. Why did he leave her behind again? Wouldn’t it be super-useful to have a badass Ghost like Kerrigan on our side? What possible benefit could there be to ditching her?” Suddenly the story is a movie and now I’m expecting movie-type things like proper character motivations.

In the first game, Mengsk busts Raynor out of prison. No explanation, nothing. He just does. Duke changes sides and all his nebulous forces come with him, no questions asked. And all of this is fine because at this removed distance we don’t expect to see much detail. We just need the characters to be iconic and vibrant.


But now we don’t need ham and overwrought dialog. If we want to show Raynor is harboring a grudge, we can have a cutscene where he slowly loses his cool. He doesn’t need to jump into Google chat with us and tell us he’s upset. We can zoom in on his eyes and see him nursing that old wound, deep down. We can see him pouring himself another whiskey from a now-empty bottle. We see him carrying around that revolver with one bullet and see how he fidgets with it every time Mengsk comes up in conversation. The game can show instead of tell, and it’s actually really good at doing so.

It’s a bit like the transition from stage play to motion picture. On the stage, performers needed exaggerated body language and emoting to convey the action to the people in the cheap seats. Then we put those performers in front of a movie camera and their performances seemed outrageous to the point of unintentional comedy. In the first game, Arcturus Mengsk is a cartoonish mustache-twirling villain in a cartoon world and it’s fine. (Oh yeah, spoiler for you time-travelers from 1998: Mengsk is a bad guy.) In Starcraft 2 Arcturus Mengsk is a cartoonish mustache-twirling villain in a semi-serious universe and he suddenly seems less like an insidious threat and more like a jackass troll.


So what does Blizzard do in a spot like this? Do they dial back the characters so they fit in this newer, more detailed world? Then the old characters might not feel the same and they could come off as bland. Or should Blizzard keep the characters as vibrant as ever, thus making them seem kind of ridiculous? This is the way they went, and yeah – people do suffer from a bad case of being Incredibly Obvious Archetypes.

I haven’t really played the Halo series beyond the first game, but I gather it’s suffered from the same growing pains. A faceless space marine was just fine for a 2001 shooter, but as the series went on he became increasingly anachronistic. Everything in the world became more detailed except the main character. They couldn’t “update” Master Chief without running a very real risk of ruining him (giving him a face would be like giving Gordon Freeman or Samus Aran a voice) but they couldn’t keep him the same without creating this odd tension between the characters and the world.

Zeratul’s dialog is so cheesy that Kraft Foods is currently researching ways to put it on macaroni.
Zeratul’s dialog is so cheesy that Kraft Foods is currently researching ways to put it on macaroni.

So what I’m getting at is this: The characters in Starcraft were kind of trapped in their little Google Chat windows just like Master Chief is stuck behind his mask. Yes, the ending of Wings of Liberty is absurd and transparent fan-service, and the subsequent twists are similarly silly. The flashback to Zeratul’s vision of the future is an overly convoluted and brute-force way of establishing the stakes. But I think this is the result of tension between the origins of Starcraft and this newer, sleeker, higher-budget version. These new twists aren’t sillier than the previous events, we’re just looking at them up close and we’re suddenly judging them differently.

And now, total spoilers for everything Starcraft.

Having Said All That…


Even allowing for cartoonish comic-book level storytelling, I’m still kind of perplexed at some of the choices the writers made here. The entire first campaign is spent turning Kerrigan from Zerg to Human form again, only to have her reverse the process a few missions into the next campaign. Kerrigan has now gone from Human to Zerg to Human to Zerg. The mystique and horror are gone. It’s just a switch the writers can flip.

Kerrigan re-Zerging herself does strike me as a Dumb Thing for her to do, but in the context of this topsy-turvy world it’s hard for me to argue against this from a character perspective. Everyone feels VERY STRONG EMOTIONS and WILL! NOT! BE! STOPPED! by their adversaries. Jim, Mengsk, Sara, General Duke… they all do some ludicrous things because they’re VERY UPSET about some damn thing.

I am reminded of the death of Commander Shepard at the start of Mass Effect 2, only to bring him back a couple of minutes later. It doesn’t matter if this “makes sense” from the standpoint of in-universe lore, it’s a terrible thing to do to your story. Having things happen and then un-happen and then re-happen just shows the audience that this universe is arbitrary and that the rules don’t mean anything. When I run into stories that reverse themselves like this it makes me want to skip to the end. The author [hopefully] has a fixed destination in mind, and they see the space between here and there as a void to be filled with shouting and bullets.

I don’t dislike the Starcraft 2 story. But now I retroactively enjoy the Starcraft 1 story a little less.


From The Archives:

180 thoughts on “Starcraft 2: Story Time

  1. Robyrt says:

    And for those of us who are bothered by Starcraft’s size abstractions, there’s always the Supreme Commander series. It doesn’t matter that your buildings are 100 times the size of your units, or that fighter jets have a turning radius larger than the screen, if you have a decent “zoom out” button.

    1. Trithne says:

      Supreme Commander’s scale isn’t much better really. Ships break it.

      Eugen Systems’ games, however, are amazing when you realise they really are true scale. And that you can zoom right in and see the scale, then zoom right out and realise just how big that map really is.

      1. RCN says:

        For me the artillery range is a bit more bothersome than the ships.

        Still, for a game to convey scale and still be playable, I think Supreme Commander did very well. Ships are still very large compared to units. Certainly better than the Battlecruisers/Carriers that are so tiny and fragile you’d think they’re from a toy set. It is more a case scale and balance though.

        Also, everything feels tiny in Supreme Commander 2 in comparison, and the reason is that units can’t go to the scale they did in Supreme Commander with the simplified economy… sigh. Well, who needs SupCom 2 with Forged Alliance Forever to keep me busy (when I’m not killing myself with study on my thesis).

        Sins of a Solar Empire is also pretty good at conveying scale, even though it is still really broken, especially when you compare ships to planets. Strike Ships are so tiny you have to zoom in just to see their afterburner tracers (or whatever it is) and zoom in even further to see them proper. I don’t care that these strike craft are the size of a large island, they feel like they’re very very small in the game.

        Talking about Eugen Systems, I really have to give RUSE a go. I’ve even bought the damn game but still haven’t had the free time to invest in a new strategy game…

    2. Mephane says:

      The Supreme Commander series was also one of the very rare RTS where you can zoom out decently far enough. In basically all other RTS, the maximum zoom-out distance is way, way too close, and often a few buildings already fill the entire screen. The only way to make this worse is to force automatic changes in camera pitch when zooming in and out (instead of, well, letting the players adjust the pitch themselves).

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Also Homeworld. Why you’d want to, I don’t know, but you could play the whole game from the strategic map.

      Although there is a slight question about where you park all the fighters and frigates in the Mothership.

      1. Taellosse says:

        Once frigates and larger ships are built or captured in Homeworld (at least the original, I haven’t yet played the sequels), they never go back inside the mothership. They open their own hyperspace windows between missions, and just line up next to it at the beginning and end of a mission.

        Now, that said, it isn’t clear where they’re keeping the raw materials to make those ships (there’s no way what you’re gathering is sufficient to produce what you make). Or the people to pilot them (the mothership launches on a test flight, and probably wasn’t even fully staffed, when the game opens. The VERY best case is you recovered 600,000 colonists, and probably fewer, who could be defrosted, but you kind of need to avoid spending them casually so you can start a new home once you reach your destination, and presumably it takes quite a few people to staff a frigate. And it takes exceptional skill, or cheating, not to lose a few ships, large and small, over the course of the campaign. Nevermind the open question whether they all know HOW to staff a military vessel – they’re colonists, not space naval officers), for that matter.

    4. Eruanno says:

      Having things to scale and zooming in and out takes time, though. Starcraft would rather concrrn itself with quick strategic decisions rather than fiddling with the controls to select and move that one unit hiding behind the large building. Function over aesthetics.

      1. RCN says:

        Huh, the general consensus is that being able to zoom in and out is far more functional and convenient in a strategy game than fixed camera angles and distance. Much faster and capable of conveying more info than either a minimap or scrolling the screen.

        Heck, Supreme Commander is the foster-child of function over aethetics. In fact, it is Starcraft that favored aethetics in order to keep every model and proportions exactly on the same level it was twelve years prior on hardware limitations. And since when did anyone ever had to fiddle around to select a unit behind a building? Strategy games either have unit icons or silhouettes and disregard buildings in a drag-select that includes any unit.

        And finally, it was all done on Supreme Commander precisely to highlight strategic decisions over tactical ones.

        1. Falling says:

          Kinda late on this, but hotkeys are infinitely faster and having a consistent zoom is far more functional in my opinion. SupCom2 has this lovely problem of hotkeying the units the same as the building that is hotkeyed.

          For instance, I hotkey a Factory ‘6’ with the hope that if I double tap ‘6’, my screen will instantly change to have the factory centred on my screen. Instead I find all the tanks produced from the factory have also been hotkeyed to ‘6’ thus screwing up this function.

          Pressing ‘1,1’ to get to your hotkeyed army and then pressing ‘6,6’ to get to you factory is much, much faster than zooming in and out and then trying to keep the zoom at a reasonable height to actually control units. (Fortunately for SupCom2, unit control doesn’t matter nearly so much as all the cool micro tricks of Starcraft BW.

  2. Thomas says:

    The best size discrepancy is with the science vessel/battleship because there are some levels that take place on one with hundreds of units who were barely half the size on screen now all fighting epic battles inside

    I think my greatest problem with the human-zerg reflip was the motivation behind it was incredibly weak and based off a ridiculously obvious twist. Any reactions to a twist like that make the characters look a bit stupid and builds everything on top of sand, but apart from that I quite enjoyed the bright colours story of hots

  3. krellen says:

    No matter what cheesy things they do to the story, we will still always have the Battle of the Amerigo.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Man those cutscenes were great.I love em.

      1. Usually_Insane says:

        “Thank god for cold fusion”

        That cutscene was the best, still love it :D

        Think the intro cinematic for broodwars is the second best too:

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          The Brood War intro cutscene is, without a doubt, the Citizen Kane of Brood War cutscenes.

    2. Tizzy says:

      So that’s what this one was called! It was even better than I remembered.

    3. aldowyn says:

      personally I was thinking of that first one with Fenix where his psi-blades or whatever they’re called go out.

      And the final one with Tassadar is probably the most story relevant and ‘epic’ of the original SC and BW cutscenes…

    4. Dev Null says:

      I love this stuff…

      …but every time I watch a scene of heavily-armoured space marines taking on the advancing hordes of Geiger-Alien ZergStealers, I have to wonder: why do the marines wear armour? It obviously slows them down and makes them extremely clumsy, in exchange for… not protecting them in the slightest. Its apparently a fashion statement, but me? I’m ditching the armour for another gun and some running shoes.

      1. krellen says:

        Two reasons:

        1) It protects them from the vaccuum and cold of space. They’re still space marines.

        2) It actually does protect them from many zerg attacks. Those particular hydralisks are actually Hunter-Killers, the “hero” version of hydralisks who are significantly more powerful than regular hydralisks.

        1. Cannibalguppy says:

          You have a point, but can anything justify the zergs ability to kill battlecruiers and carriers? I really struggle with this as a ship of that class would have so much armor, weapons and such that no bio enemy could even get close. Numbers dont count when it should be able to destroy planets at will and move fast :P i never understood this about bio enemies in games and fiction and it makes me cringe so much!!

          1. Chamomile says:

            An inanimate rock can destroy an aircraft carrier if it’s big enough, and just being really big doesn’t make your ships any less vulnerable to acid, which is the primary Zerg ranged weapon. Now granted, bringing down a battleship with hydralisks makes about as much sense as bringing it down with marines, but the idea that Zerg could bring down a battlecruiser at all isn’t any more far-fetched than the idea that a single fighter could drop one well-placed torpedo and bring down an entire enemy battleship. And that totally happened in WWII.

            1. Bubble181 says:

              And in Star Wars ;)

            2. Cannibalguppy says:

              Well you are right. up until the point where acid does not even scracth most durable alloys or ceramical armors. And theres the fact that a bio creature can never ever regardless of how you justify it be faster than a ship. Never what so ever.

              1. Kavonde says:

                Yeah, I hate to jump in on the “we need realism!” side here, but that’s totally true. If an acid is strong enough to melt the kinds of super-ultra-advanced alloys the Terrans and Protoss are using in their ships, then it has to be INSANELY powerful stuff. Which means that the hydralisks’ stomachs must be made of materials that are even stronger. Which means that the Terrans and Protoss really ought to start covering their ships in hydralisk stomachs.

                Just imagine it. Entire armadas of giant, spacefaring haggis.

                1. Taellosse says:

                  That image makes me wish there were a ‘Like’ or ‘recommend’ or something button in these comments. That made me giggle.

                  “Giant, spacefaring haggis.” Hee hee.

                2. broken_research says:

                  its stomach doesn’t have to be stronger, it just has to be an acid that reacts strongly against metals and alloys – the stuff usually used to build spaceships – but is inert against certain kinds of organic materials. Of course, then you get to the problems where the same attack does damage to ghosts as well as siege tanks, to which I can only say “a wizard did it”.

                  1. Tim Charters says:

                    Theoretically, the Hydralisk’s stomach could be coated with a specific material that doesn’t react with the acid because of chemistry, but isn’t necessarily stronger than metal or whatever. Think back to Breaking Bad. “Hydrofluoric acid won’t eat through plastic. It will, however, dissolve metal, rock, glass, ceramic…”

                    But this is probably giving the “science” of Starcraft too much credit.

                    1. Hydralysk says:

                      I’m going to have to be that guy and point out that hydralisks actually don’t use their acid to attack. In both SC1 and SC2 the hydralisk attacks by firing spines from their carapace at extremely high speeds.

                      In SC1 the attacks did look like acid instead of projectiles, but if you hovered over their weapon portrait it was titled “Needle Spines”.

                      Roaches use acid to attack though, so feel free to apply everything you said to them instead.

                    2. LunaticFringe says:

                      Also, you can go the ‘Starship Troopers’ route and argue that the acid is made up of two chemicals combined via spray. Don’t hydralisks only have muscle-fired bone spikes or something?

                3. Klay F. says:

                  This is really no different from the movie Alien. A single ounce of facehugger blood was enough to eat through several decks of the ship. Had that stuff been spilled near the reactor, it likely would have exploded immediately. I’m not saying that is realistic, but you are about 30 years late in complaining about the realism of such things.

              2. The term “acid” here is, I’m assuming, somewhat inexact. “Organic goo that corrodes things” is what’s implied, and the potential properties of such goo are pretty much whatever one can imagine a genetically engineered being producing. The stuff could even be in some sense alive, if incapable of indefinite reproduction–actually *eating* its target and producing more goop up to some maximum number of divisions, or something.

                1. Pickly says:

                  Simplest example I can think of along these lines: units that shoot goo (roaches, guardians, devourers, possibly corrupters, maybe more I’ve forgotten), 2 part enzymes, or enzyme that turns a non-corrosive substance into a corrosive substances. these chemicals are made separately, than merged when they get expelled. Think something like stomache digestive enzymes, or how clotting works (and probably a number of othersignalling/metabolic systems I’m not aware of.)

                  As for zerg taking out air units: The flying spine type attacks that hydralisk and queen use I suppose you just have to accept as similar to marines firing guns at flyers. The air unit attacks might be zerg flyers going for weaker points, in addition to the power of whatever the released organisms and acid do.

                  1. Felblood says:

                    Defilers, and in turn corrupters probably, actually throw living biological matter, that eats the victim alive.

          2. Fleaman says:

            This is actually super easy to justify.

            Bear vs. M1-Abrams. Winner? Of course, it’s the Abrams. The Abrams is made of metal, the bear is made of meat.

            Ultralisk vs. Siege Tank. The Siege Tank is made of…

            Well, they’re both made of minerals and vespene gas, aren’t they?

            Zerg are biological in that they have genetic material and gooey parts, but they also literally eat crystals and drink rocket fuel. They walk around like it’s nothing on space platforms exposed to actual space. We’re really not talking about regular meat here.

        2. Dev Null says:

          I guess. But mostly when you see them wearing it their helmets are open, and there’s a guy in no armour standing next to them, like in the cut scene we’re talking about. And you basically never see a cut scene / video of a bughunting marine take a hit from a bug that bounces off his armour. My point being that it tends to work in the actual games – marines with armour upgrades DO survive zerg attacks – but in the stories built up around the games? Armour is always worthless and clumsy, which makes me feel like an idiot for wearing it. (But then, you also feel like an idiot for using a handgun instead of a guided missile driven from orbit, but that would be much less fun.)

      2. guy says:

        It lets them breathe in space and zerglings take a couple seconds to rip through it.

      3. anaphysik says:

        OSHA regulations.

      4. Kian says:

        They need the armor to hold the guns. It’s not just armor, but power-armor. The guns would be too heavy and the recoil would rip their arms off if they weren’t in the suits.

      5. Pickly says:

        -It actually does provide protection, we just see events where the zerg get good hits on it.

        -It is powered armor (so actually speeds things up, and has other functions, such as environment protection or support for weapons.

        -It provides protection against less strong forces that we don’t see in the game for whatever reason (rebels, weaker zerg, etc.) (In some starcraft:ghost previews, marines were apparently one of the stronger foot soldiers for the terrans, and something similar might apply for zerg and protoss.)

    5. Hargrimm says:

      Heh, I must have watched that cutscene about a thousand times.
      Thoug I gotta say, I like the localized version a lot better. The voice actors in the english version seem a bit too quiet for me.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually,kerrigan didnt go from human to zerg to human to zerg.The changes to her body are irrelevant,its the changes to her mind that are important.Her first transformation was from human to overminds slave.And even when overmind died,she was still his slave.A slave to his needs and ambitions.Turning back to human made her free,and her subsequent change to zerg was on her own terms.She no longer feels the urge to kill everything simply because she is a mindless beast.She no longer is the bitch queen of the universe.

    Does that make her a better character?Well not to me.I loved the bitch queen kerrigan.But it does make it better than the flip-flopping you are making it to be.

    1. ehlijen says:

      She’s still flip flopping. She likes raynor. She gets turned into a zerg. She fights raynor. She fights raynor some more. Raynor unzergs her. Raynor likes her. She zergs herself again to help raynor. Raynor hates her for zerging herself. She zergs some more. Raynor likes her again and helps her zerg some. They split up again because she’s zerg.

      She’s not flip flopping from zerg to human and back, they are both flip flopping from enemies to friends at the drop of a hat, and by all accounts they will keep doing so in future starcrafts. It’s the kind stuff that was invented to make soap operas and romcoms last longer.

      1. Tizzy says:

        I found Raynor’s reactions to be particularly egregious. I could hear the writers: “Hurray! Cheap source of drama!”

      2. Cannibalguppy says:

        She never disliked Raynor. In fact she let’s Raynor go in brood war because she likes him so much. If anything they have been consitent to a point of ewwww on that.

        1. Fleaman says:

          Totally killed Fenix though. Raynor didn’t seem cool with that at the time, but I guess he got over it.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Just because something is a trope used in everything doesnt mean its bad or nonsensical.Kerrigan became a zerg,and wants to kill everything because of overminds will,and thats ok,it makes sense.Jim prefers to find a way to get her back instead of killing her,and that is consistent with his character.Turning her back into a human,ok that was the low point,but hey,xel’naga artifacts are powerful,so why not.Kerrigan going back to zerg because she thinks jim is dead,and she has no boundaries into turning her body into an abomination again also makes sense.Jim thinking that she threw away everything he sacrificed for her and getting angry because of it also makes sense.Him cooling down and coming back to his senses is also ok.

        The only problem with all of this is the execution:The melodramatic ending to wings of liberty and the off screen “death” or jim(seriously,why not at least try to fool us that he is dead?Give us a cutscene that ends with him laying on the ground like he actually is dead).

        1. aldowyn says:

          The weak spot there IMO is definitely her thinking Jim is dead. It was SO obvious. Mengsk was broadcasting that he was dead and I was instantly like ‘no he’s not, he’s trying to manipulate her’ (which… backfired spectacularly, yet again)

          1. Tim Charters says:

            On a forum that I frequent, someone posted that his 8 year old son was watching the cutscene with him, and he immediately said “they’re probably lying” in response to the report that Jim had been killed. And in response to Kerrigan freaking out, “she should calm down and think about it.”

            Couldn’t they have at least showed a video of Jim being executed, and then later said that the video had been faked with space-Photoshop?

            1. guy says:

              I also immediately assumed Mengsk was lying, mostly because offscreen death of a major character. What confused me was that Mengsk actually captured Raynor, then did not kill him and told everyone that he had. I can’t quite trace the chain of logic there.

              1. Pickly says:

                Something similar to this. However, they did set up Raynor getting caught by the ghost beforehand, so it didn’t hit me as nonsensical. (Plus the bit about the zerg threat being removed is accurate to a large extent, as far as Mengsk knew, so the rest of the announcement gives no reason for believing it is a lie.)

                1. guy says:

                  I think I’ve just seen too much anime (which does fakeout deaths a lot for short periods) and read too much Tvtropes over the past year. My viewer instincts said that if Raynor were really dead we’d have seen his onscreen death. There was simply no storytelling reason to cut away from him in an obviously dangerous situation and then tell the player he died shortly afterwards. Though I personally assumed Raynor had escaped somehow and Mengsk was pretending to have killed him to save face or dearly hoped it would become true soon.

                  Frankly, the best way of writing it would probably have been to simply leave out the bit with him after he got separated from Kerrigan.

        2. ehlijen says:

          Each instance makes sense if you ignore that they were only brought about by deliberately crafted circumstances. And there is only so many times you can get away with forcing the narrative like that before any sense of realism in your story goes away (yes, acid spitting aliens aren’t real blahblah, but blizzard still wanted us to think of the people as people and that requires them seeming real). Once that is lost, people will stop thinking of the faces as characters but instead see them as walking trope collections. Compare the comments about ‘yeah, mengsk is lying’.

          Raynor and Kerrigan started as characters, but went on for too long in their oscillating patterns. Now they are just that pattern, not characters anymore.

    2. Asimech says:

      The changes to her body are relevant. It establishes in-Universe that the writers can just “flip a switch” and change characters between zerg-human at will. This trivialises the change. If a writer needs to do something like this in order to create character growth, or they’re doing it simply to add symbolism, they’re not very good writers.

      Of course all writers can just “flip a switch” in their Universes to change something, but good ones don’t remind people of that within their stories.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        How exactly are 3 unique events that cannot be repeated trivializing the change?

        1. Taellosse says:

          To be fair, 2 of those 3 events are not described as being unique, just very hard. Kerrigan’s original transformation isn’t something that cannot be repeated ever, it’s just a resource-intensive process for the zerg to manage, and odds are pretty good it would kill a weaker subject. Similarly, her re-conversion on the primal zerg world isn’t something no one else could ever do, it would just have to be someone who is as strong/determined/powerful/whatever as Kerrigan to survive it.

          It’s even possible the artifact that magically made her human again could be recharged and repeat its trick if the right power source could be located/devised. It wasn’t destroyed in being used, after all. Quite the contrary, since what it apparently did is absorb the “energy” of her zerg form to be used to resurrect the mysterious uber-villain who will be the antagonist of the final chapter.

          But, from a more general narrative perspective, when you do a thing 3 times, it is clearly no longer a unique event. It is a thing that the writer has demonstrated they can and will do whenever they feel like it, for the sake of convenience. They may dress it up in different trappings at a later date, but it has lost much of its weight and significance by being overdone. Sort of like death in comics, or the holodeck malfunctioning in Star Trek – use a plot device too many times, and you degrade its value for all future stories.

        2. ehlijen says:

          Because they are not unique. Kerrigan going from human to zerg happened twice now, twice is not unique. The writers have demonstrated that they are willing to make it happen where they need it for the story, regardless of justification or quality.

          Given just how happy them seem to rerun plot events in general and flip character motivations around at a moment’s notice, there is no reason to assume she won’t change at least twice in Starcraft 3.

          If anything can happen at any time, there is no tension.

            1. ehlijen says:

              Would you like some more?

              My sample size is twice as large as in that XKCD example :p

              Out of 4 starcraft releases, her genetic makeup changes 3 times. That’s 75% odds of at least one change in the next game!

              But to be serious, this isn’t about a numbers increase, but about story needs.
              In SC1, she was needed to change to have some kind of character tie the zerg campaign to anything that happened in the preceeding human campaign, as already noted earlier in this thread.

              In WoL she was changed back so Raynor could be heroically victorious, but that was fan service for raynor fans, not kerrigan fans, because she’s basically a mcguffin indisress.

              The kerrigan fans wanted her back as a zerg for HotS, and so blizzard obliged, of course. Denying the fans their favourite character takes guts and a solid plan, but as the SC story is a means to an end, that’s not worth it here.

              But now what we have is a bittersweet parting of ways. For an audience accustomed to happy or tragic endings. Ie it’s not an ending but a setup to redo this same plot next game, because they are soap opera tropes at this point.

              For a story that just needs to give excuses for RTS missions, that’s fine. It just doesn’t make it a good story.

        3. Asimech says:

          They’re not unique. They’re all changes between being Terran & being Zerg. Having them all happen to the same person establishes non-permanence and removes gravitas from the event. Therefore it’s trivialised.

          The writer is lowering the reader’s trust and context can only patch that, not make it disappear.

  5. bloodsquirrel says:

    Starcraft 2 also suffers from Blizzard’s comic-book-writing problem, where they don’t know how to start a new chapter in a story without busting out the retcons.

    Hey guys! The overmind was actually a good guy- sort of! And there’s really this super-powered evil that was behind everything before but nobody knew!

    They’re just getting started with Starcraft, but they’ve pretty much run WoW’s story into the ground with it. How anyone can keep up with that disaster of a mythos is beyond me. Is the next expansion going to introduce Jesus and archangels into the mix? Who knows!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Didnt they have something like that in their expanded mythos?If I remember correctly,there were a bunch of titans(archangels)and a rebel amongst them(lucifer)who was cast out,and thats how everything started.

      1. krellen says:

        Sargeras (Lucifer) was tasked with protecting creation from evil. After encountering a second “all evil” race (the Eredar), he decided the only way to protect creation from evil was to destroy creation.

        At least that was the story before Metzen forgot he wrote it.

      2. bloodsquirrel says:

        They’ve got something like everything in their expanded mythos. Doesn’t stop them from cluttering it further.

        It was all so simple back in the days of Warcraft 2. You had a few demons running around, and the guardian. Orcs were bad guys and humans were good guys.

        Then came Warcraft 3, and Sargeras wasn’t really a demon anymore, he was a titan. And the demons were actually aliens? Kind of? Oh, and orcs were suddenly good guys now, and they only turned evil because they drank some demon blood, and that totally means that they’re a poor, persecuted underdog instead of a race that tried to commit genocide of every race on Azeroth, even though they totally did that and aren’t really sorry about it.

        Then came WoW and suddenly there’s some shit about dragon aspects, and old gods, and naga gods, and then some people starting screwing with time.

        1. Pickly says:

          That is interesting to read the point of view from Warcraft 2. (Warcraft 3 was the first Warcraft game I played, and it was weird how people were making such a big detail out of all these Warcraft 2 characters in World of Warcraft.)

          That said, some of the horde/alliance politics I’ve read about WoW having do seem to be goofing up the storyline quite a lot, at least from a non-player point of view.

    2. Humanoid says:

      I believe the fan nickname for the Malfurion character (important druid guy) is already Jesus.

      1. bloodsquirrel says:

        No, the memetic WoW Jesus is Thrall.

        1. *Shudder* I actually played for a while afterward, but the near deification of the Thrall character was one of the things that nearly had me quit WOW during the Cataclysm expansion. I still can’t believe they had Thrall defeat the final boss of the expansion, with your only contribution to the fight being stabbing the boss’s toenails to annoy him for a while.

          1. bloodsquirrel says:

            That’s been a running theme, actually. We basically had an NPC kill Arthas for us too, right after he insta-killed the entire raid group.

            Because it was part of his brilliant plan to let us kill all of his most powerful minions, that we had to gang up on 25-to-1 to kill, so that we could be his new generals. Even though we were both individually weaker than any of the guys we killed and weaker as a group than they would have been as a group.


            1. Cannibalguppy says:

              So no one had any trouble that the ending of Frozen Throne clearly states that Arthas has become the destroyer of worlds and is a god in terms of power and in wow hes just another killable boss? He was not just “the powerful evil dude” he become “ALL THE EVIL BOSS DUDE”.

              I hated wow because it ruined the kind of cool story that warcraft 3 set up. Oh how i hated that it took them 2 expansions to even mention the GOD DEMON ARTHAS that all 3 strategy games led up to. hahaha comedy

              1. bloodsquirrel says:

                The real comedy was Arthas’ goonish bumbling through WoTLK.

                “Oh look, my enemies beat one of my minions. I better step in, kill him myself for failing to kill you, then walk away and let you live. BWAHAHAHA I AM TEH EVULZ!”.

              2. aldowyn says:

                well, the Burning Crusade would also kind of be a big deal, and I think Illidan was the end boss for that… and I don’t think TFT was too specific on just how powerful Arthas would be as the Lich King

                1. Syal says:

                  I haven’t played WOW but I have played Warcraft 3. I never got the impression Arthas was supposed to be any more powerful than the Lich King already was, he was just supposed to let the Lich King walk around and stuff.

                  1. aldowyn says:

                    Yeah, that’s what I thought. He’s (just) a super powerful death knight with an insanely cursed sword that can control (most?) of the undead in the world (BTW, how big a fraction of the undead are the Forsaken in WoW, anyone? You play as Forsaken, I’m pretty sure…)

              3. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Something tells me you’re really excited for Elder Scrolls Online…

          2. Velkrin says:

            Dungeons and Dragons Online managed to do the same thing actually.

            You rescue the same NPC not once, not twice, but three separate times, in three separate dungeons because she is apparently an epic level damsel in distress.

            The first time she’s already captured well beforehand. The second time is after she runs off on her own through enemy infested wilderness to try to puzzle out what the enemies want (Spoiler: It’s the reoccurring NPC that only appears in this questline). The third time, is a fine example of idiot ball in action. (Caution: TV Tropes Link).

            You’ve cleared your way through the enemy’s main fortress in order to put a stop to their siege of the peasant village. D&D Gandalf brings (or possibly kidnaps) the girl to the fortress, and then sends her with you to fight the boss. The boss everyone knows is currently trying to find the NPC. As per cut-scene tradition, you can’t do anything as the NPC kidnaps herself through the portal to the big bad’s realm. Yes, she runs herself through the frigging portal. I’ve just learned to assume the voices in her head told her there was candy on the other side.

            Then you run a raid rescuing her (escort mission with an NPC you can’t heal in a normal way, and an AI that earns her the middle name Jenkins) and fight the big bad boss mostly by grouping up together and hitting her in the liver until she stops shooting lasers at you (twice). Your reward for this is a cut scene in which the NPC zaps the boss in the face after nearly being captured for a forth time.

        2. Dragomok says:

          I thought Thrall was Chuck Norris with /cleave instead of roundhouse kicks.

          1. guy says:

            That was Saurfang.

        3. Humanoid says:

          Guess I was thinking more along the lines of the “back from the dead” thing. Though I guess in hindsight Thrall sort of had a death moment too, albeit one that maybe lasted half-an-hour.

          WoW is the only game with “Warcraft” in its name that I’ve played, so I am missing a bit of context.

          EDIT: Also reflecting that Thrall has a bit of Moses about him.

        4. Scampi says:

          And here I thought Thrall was Warcraft’s Moses, leading his tribe to better lands out of the slavery in egypt, hum…Azeroth?

  6. Type_Variable says:

    In the first game, Mengsk busts Raynor out of prison. No explanation, nothing. He just does. Duke changes sides and all his nebulous forces come with him, no questions asked. And all of this is fine because at this removed distance we don't expect to see much detail. We just need the characters to be iconic and vibrant.

    I’m a lore junkie and I can tell you now that they felt so bad about those plot holes that they wrote a book called Liberty’s Crusade that filled in those holes. Long story short, they invented a character to tie all the main players of the first campaign chapter together better. I loved SC/BW and its story, and I have all those books. Not so much the newer stuff.

    And SC2 really is so disappointing in it’s storytelling. Zeratul went from wise teacher, witty snarker to some end-of-the-world prophecy-spewing doomsday hobo. Boo. And this whole Dark One storyline feels like an axed warcraft pitch.

    1. Scampi says:

      And this whole Dark One storyline feels like an axed warcraft pitch.

      I’d think more along the lines of Yu Gi Oh;)

    2. Fleaman says:

      Zeratul was SO COOL in Brood War! I can’t stand how awful he is now.

      And the thing that gets me about so much of Blizzard’s writing is that it would be so EASY to justify, just with a tiny bit of dialogue. Zeratul’s personality has disintegrated, but of course it has! Dude went through some shit. He gets to return to his home planet only to see it destroyed, makes peace with an ancient foe only to be betrayed by him, finds out that dude was totally right and because they didn’t trust him now he’s got to kill his own leader who’s been possessed by xenomorphs, and to top it all off he ends up accidentally running into an actual Lovecraftian revelation about things before time (and for an 800 year old dude, that’s some serious business). Guy’s well within his rights to become a doomsday hobo.

      If they had just SAID any one of those things in Starcraft 2.

      But no, instead it’s just the gods the gods the gods the prophesy the prophesy the prophesy.

  7. Magistrate says:

    Starcraft 2s story actually pissed me off a LOT. Mostly because yeah, the characters from 1 were caricatures and hammy, but they were also at least kinda interesting. And 2s story seemed designed to assassinate every scrap of interesting from both Jim and Kerrigan, the main 2 characters of the freaking game.

    Mainly my beef is with the fact that Jim Raynor, to me, is cool because he’s a traditional good good hero guy in a universe that doesn’t really cater to that shit. He does the right thing and in the end he doesn’t actually win. Making him successful was to me equivalent to making him boring. And queen bitch Kerrigan was interesting, while ridiculous hero Kerrigan that needs to be saved by Jim at the last minute because huh? Is just boring boring boring.

    Basically the end of heart of the swarm completely murdered my interest in the series.

    1. aldowyn says:

      I was pretty upset with the characterization of Kerrigan in HotS, too. Raynor I’m not so troubled with.. maybe that’s why I liked Wings of Liberty better.

      1. Jace911 says:

        Which characterization? There are several over the course of the game, and most of them conflict with each other.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Mostly the ‘absolutely obsessed with Mengsk beyond the point of all reason’ part.

    2. Klay F. says:

      Yes, exactly this. The plot of Starcraft 1 isn’t anything special. But the characters, although hammy, were still interesting. More importantly, the characters drove the story. This reason alone is why the story as a whole is greater than the sum of its plots, settings, and characters. Fast forward to SC2 and the entire thing is covered in bullshit prophecy, and half-assed characters, and physically painful dialog.

    3. MelTorefas says:

      I consider myself a pretty big Starcraft fanboy, and so I still hold out hope that Legacy of the Void will bring back the old goodness. That being said, you aren’t wrong about Heart of the Swarm. There were so many things wrong with the ending (discounting all the things wrong with the rest of the story) that it pretty much shattered my ability to enjoy the world setting.

  8. bloodsquirrel says:

    Regarding Halo-

    I don’t think that’s ever really been a problem with Halo. Master Chief has enough of a defined- but very reserved- personality so that he never really sticks out. He’s even been heavily characterized in the books, in ways which are actually very consistent with how he is in the games. There are a lot of really cool, if understated, character moments in the series.

    “I thought I’d shoot my way out. Mix things up a bit.”

    Halo 4 actually manages to tell a surprisingly personal story with him and Cortana which feels very organic in how it’s grown from the rest of the series.

    Halo 3’s biggest story problem was that Bungie likes to remain vague about details with its grand ancient mythical alien stuff. This was fine in the first game, but by Halo 3 a lot of people started to become frustrated with the story, as it was becoming increasingly reliant on the mythos that was never really explained all that well. There was also a bit of the “You’ve set up this epic trilogy, now you have to pull it all together successfully” problem that a lot of works suffer from.

    Halo: Reach didn’t even have Master Chief, and didn’t have much of an overarching story either. It was just “stuff that happened during the fall of Reach”. Bungie just didn’t have much in the way of interesting ideas to throw at it. Halo 4 was a mixed bag, where the Didact’s cartoon villainy and continuity bloat made it had to take the story seriously, when there really were a lot of interesting things going on besides that.

    1. aldowyn says:

      I actually liked Reach’s story, personally. Maybe I just liked the characters on Noble team?

      1. bloodsquirrel says:

        It wasn’t really bad, it just lacked anything remarkable about it.

        1. Eh. Sorry, no. I hated that story. It butchered a perfectly good book. So many plot holes.

          1. Cradok says:

            I thought Halo as a story started to go downhill when they started doing whatever they felt like and messed around with everything that Nylund had done. And then they hired Traviss…

            1. Yeah, pretty much. Though there is still enough that could be salvaged, I feel.

              But don’t get me started on Traviss…

              1. bloodsquirrel says:

                Traviss being hired to write the novels is when I officially jumped off of the Halo EU train. I finished up the Forerunner Trilogy, but the main storyline can go hang.

    2. Yeah, Halo never really had Star Craft’s problem, but the world did become more rich in place of Chief’s “reservedness” while simultaneously–as you said–trying to hide ,or not bring forth, its mythos when it was needed most. Even important aspects of Chief’s stoicism (which is admittedly all he had going for him in the games) were only in Nylund’s books.

      It kind of culminates in Halo 4, and the problem you mentioned with the Didact. That is the first time I ever looked at a game’s story and felt like it was a rushed “book-to-film” adaption, with some admittedly confusing stuff you’re not lore savvy. But I do think they set something interesting for the Chief at the end of 4. Here’s hoping they don’t screw it up.

  9. Tomas says:

    The “unit scale” thing reminds me the toys I had when I was a kid. That Lego passenger jet plane that could carry like four people. Or the Star Wars toys, where the X-Wing would look absolutely huge when placed next to an AT-AT.

  10. Tizzy says:

    My sense of the Kerrigan zerging/dezerging/rezerging.

    They zerged Kerrigan because getting us to engage in playing zerg would have been overwhelmingly difficult without some sort of human surrogate to brief us. I remember starting SC1, and really dreading the end of the terran campaign and having to play these weird xenomorphs… Mission accomplished, Kerrigan really played her part well in that respect.

    So in hindsight, rezerging her almost immediatly in HotS was predictable. The zerg need a humanoid figure to attach the player to; I guess zerging someone else instead might be an option, but Kerrigan worked really well in the role, and is familiar.

    Now, this brings up the question: why dezerg her at all? This is trickier to figure out, but I think it gave a bold objective to WoL, one where the personal stakes become more important than the generic “fate of billions in the balance” which has been a given anyway ever since SC1.

    1. Brandon says:

      A good way to solve this would have been to have the de-zerging fail. Or maybe appear to succeed, but turn out to be temporary.

      Having Kerrigan in the research lab at the beginning of HOTS, appearing human again, and then going back full Zerg overnight, maybe retaining her more human mentality and losing the Queen Bitch attitude could have happened too. But all everyone else sees is her reverting to Queen of Blades form and they panic, attack, and your first couple of missions are you breaking out. Then have a cutscene where she faces down with Raynor, she beats him down in self defense but spares him, maybe saves him, leave him with an “I’m sorry Jim, I love you” and runs.

      Maybe not the best thing, but would have cut out Kerrigan’s “quest for re-zerging” at the beginning of HOTS, and it would have pretty much put the plot in the same place. Then you have her coming to terms with the face that she has to be zerg in order to survive.

      This also leaves the Wings of Liberty ending intact, leaves the player (and Jim Raynor) feeling victorious at the end of that campaign, and just makes them realize at the beginning of the next game that they celebrated too soon.

      1. aldowyn says:

        I’ll go with that. Kerrigan DELIBERATELY re-zerging herself didn’t feel right at all (although I DID enjoy the missions… hearing about the origins of the Zerg was cool.)

        1. Timothy Charters says:

          It also undermines her whole motivation. “I’m going to turn myself into a zerg so I can get revenge on Mengsk for turning me into a zerg.”

          Yes, I know, she also wanted revenge because Mengsk made it look like he killed Raynor. But after she found out Raynor was alive, she still attacked Korhal because…?

        2. HeroOfHyla says:

          The origin we heard here seemed to me like it clashed with the origin given in the SC1 instruction manual. Maybe I’m misremembering, but I always thought the first zerg were evolved by the Xel Naga from fire resistant leeches on Char, not from some highly evolved race that was basically already the zerg without the hive-mind.

          1. guy says:

            Well, the homeworld was always Zerus. This new origin isn’t all that difficult to reconcile; it was established that the Zerg had begun developing combat mutations after the initial Xel’Naga experiments on them. According to the story in the manual, they then created the Overmind to keep the Zerg in line, but aside from the motivation behind the creation of the Overmind and the implication in the original that it was approved of by the Xel’Naga as a whole it fits rather well.

          2. Dragomok says:

            You’re not the only one. I remember the leeches too.

    2. Timothy Charters says:

      “Now, this brings up the question: why dezerg her at all?”

      Yes. Seriously, why dezerg Kerrigan if you know you’re going to do a zerg campaign? This isn’t even an issue of lack of planning; they must have planned on making a zerg expansion during the development of SC2. So why didn’t they do something to set up that future campaign? Put Kerrigan in a position where she has a goal to work towards, or if they really wanted to dezerg her, introduce a replacement leader of the swarm.

      I can understand wanting to have a bold, personal objective for WoL, but there are any number of bold objectives they could have used that wouldn’t undermine the stories of later expansions.

    3. MelTorefas says:

      I would definitely have preferred your way to the way they chose to do it.

      But, what I really wanted was the game they started to show us in the first mission of HotS: Human Kerrigan controlling the swarm, struggling with her darker impulses and the power of having total control over this ravening army of death that everyone fears.

      Also, I really liked being able to “save” her at the end of WoL. Call me a sap, if you want, but yes.

      So my question would be, “Why re-zerg her?” I think the story would have been a great deal better with her remaining human.

      But really, either way works. Either don’t un-zerg her or don’t re-zerg her.

      (EDIT: Actually, reading what Brandon said, I really like the idea of the de-zerging being a temporary thing. Just have her revert when she thinks Jim is dead, then realize she was never truly free of it to begin with. Also, this scenario would spare us from her purple body glitter zerg form. >.>)

      1. Fleaman says:

        Arrgg, I HATE HATE HATE being able to save her. Because I hate that Kerrigan and Zerg Kerrigan are two different people. That was never the implication in Brood War. When the Overmind died, Kerrigan immediately set about killing all of his remaining Cerebrates so that they wouldn’t be able to compete with her for control over the Zerg. How does that make sense if the Queen of Blades is still “under Zerg control”?

        And not just that, but she allies with everyone else to make that happen. In Wings of Liberty she just stomps around and growls impotent bad guy threats, but the entire Brood War campaign was just her manipulating and outmaneuvering everyone else in the galaxy one by one. She wasn’t powerful, she was brilliant and ruthless. She wasn’t a Zerg monster, she was a criminal mastermind.

        But no, Raynor has to save the girl. So, she was possessed by demons. Fenix who? Also prophesies.

  11. Tizzy says:

    I really liked those cinematics in SC1, especially because they had nothing to do with the missions. It was a nice snapshot of what else was going on, a more personal touch over all these big battles. I remember especially fondly two early ones: the two terrans in their jeep, and the Alien-esque marine mission to an infected space platform. I don’t recall the broodwar cinematics to be quite as good, merely serviceable.

    The briefings were fun too. They started out pretty dull, can’t expect much more during tutorial missions anyway, but then they got really exciting, with people popping on and off almost sitcom-like, arguing, threatening, saying bad things behind each other’s backs… fun times!

    By brood war though, I thought that the story was already running out of steam. One of the problems was that the story dynamic mostly relied on the alliances and betrayals, with endless quests for McGuffins to provide filler missions. Eventually, there are only so many possible permutations to alliances between a fixed set of characters. So you end up throwing in newer, under-developped characters who are clearly stand-ins for other characters you don’t want to use any more, and the betrayals become embarrassingly predictable. (You would think that our protagonists who have been through so much would learn to be wary of new alliances, but whatever…)

    This is when I lost nterest in the overarching story and attached briefings/cinematics.

    1. aldowyn says:

      They brought an entire new Terran faction in in Brood War, I don’t remember hardly any of it…

    2. krellen says:

      There’s at least one good cinematic in Brood War: the Terran campaign ending. Very much like those “Would You Like To Know More?” segments from the Starship Troopers movie.

      1. Zekiel says:

        What about the epic ending to the Protoss campaign in BW? Sure it was hideously overwrought but at the time it was amazing. I remembering being impressed that they actually managed to convey a facial expession on an mouthless alien (Artanis, to be exact).

  12. Zak McKracken says:

    I’ll argue that SC1’s plot actually had a lot more sublteties than SC2’s.

    The whole story between Raynor and Kerrigan was much less pronounced. Not just because of fewer ways of depicting it but because they were both not the kind opf person to make a great deal of what they thought of one another while there was a war going on. Actually, when I first played SC1, I didn’t even realize they had anything more than a professional relationship.

    … and now Raynor’s all whiny and stuff, and no two cutscenes go by without the topic coming up, there’s flashbacks to make it more dramatic in retrospect… naaa. I think SC2 has both more possibilities of telling a “cinematic” story and at the same time is much more over the top than the original was. Just look at that science guy!

    … that said: The stories in both games serve mainly the purpose of establishing which races are going to be fighting against each other in the next mission. So there _needs_ to be a lot of coalition-switching going on, otherwise it’d be five games TvZ, then 3 TvP, then TvZ again until the end (or so). In order to have more diverse missions, every faction has to ally with every other one and fight against every other one, and the player has to go through all races, and fight against any combination of races, and if possible in equal parts. And now make a story out of that.

    … but I’d still like it better if people didn’t over-act in the cutscenes…

    1. Dev Null says:

      The stories in both games serve mainly the purpose of establishing which races are going to be fighting against each other in the next mission.

      Good point. Starcraft isn’t a story supported by a game, its a series of games strung together by little bits of story aimed at getting you to the next game. That they don’t make much overall coherent sense is hardly surprising.

      1. Timothy Charters says:

        Of course, that raises the question of why they bother trying to tell this epic story with lavishly produced cutscenes if it’s all just a thin excuse for the action scenes. If you’re going to spend that much time and money on a story, it would be a good idea to put some effort into actually making it good.

    2. Pickly says:

      Agreed with you here.

      The big one I noticed was Mengsk, actually. Mengsk in starcraft 1 comes across as a ruthless, power desiring type, but not the insane “most evil person in the universe” supervillain that starcraft 2 is going more for.

      Also, the terran characters in starcraft 1, at least, didn’t run as all ham, all the time, lots of the things they say were relatively simple bits of conversation, or something I could see someone in that situation saying day to day. (the zerg and protoss are a bit more flowery, but you are watching a different culture and situations with them.)

    3. Sannom says:

      The stories in both games serve mainly the purpose of establishing which races are going to be fighting against each other in the next mission.

      I remember that I was convinced (and disappointed) that we would never face-off against the Zergs in the Zerg campaign because the whole race was under the complete control of one entity and there could be no strife between them. And then, BOOM!, Zeratul offs that jackass Zasz and his larvae went mad and his brood started attacking everything and we had to annihilate it.

  13. guy says:

    I felt they sold the cyclical zerging pretty well via Zeratul, although Kerrigan doesn’t care one bit about his prophetic mutterings. Basically, the whole point of the exercise was to swipe the Zerg from Amon, so she needed to get de-zerged to make her not be a genocidal madwoman and also prevent Amon from controlling her, then re-zerged to let her control the Swarm.

    Essentially, Zeratul is main-plot man, and everything he didn’t tell people to do is them fixing their personal issues before the final battle.

    I also had no problem with the Betrayal cutscene. Kerrigan was questioning Mengsk’s orders after the psi emitter incident, so he decided to get rid of her before she became a problem. That backfired spectacularly.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      The thing is, in the original Starcraft (Take a drink), it was played through the end of a mission, where the Zerg you were trying to protect all of a sudden decide to swarm you, and you had Kerrigan on the field, just before the “Mission Success” window came up – you had no time to get a shuttle to Kerrigan and get her out safely because you couldn’t get *anyone* out safely (Unless you used “power overwhelming”, but stop cheating the story!).

      To have it cold open with the same game scenario, only to discover it was a flashback, would’ve been much more engaging. Even perhaps playing as Kerrigan’s Commander trying to survive the onslaught, showing a bit of a “what-if” scenario that Raynor wasn’t able to see but perhaps began to imagine, prolonged.

      Would’ve pulled the player’s strings too, as they have to abandon the base with everything and Kerrigan wants to hold a last stand.

      In fact, they had this exact idea in the later scene with the Protoss fighting off the big bad where the optional objectives are to keep killing enemies without losing your base.

      Oh man, now I want to play the original Starcraft again…

      1. guy says:

        No, no, Mengsk fed the entire strike force to the zerg on purpose, ordering the main fleet to break orbit as the tidal wave of purple death started to sweep down the ramps. The dialogue in the “Betrayal” cutscene is straight from that mission. Generally the mission would end shortly after your bunkers were overrun, and if Kerrigan were deployed out to fight the Protoss on the other side of the map it’d probably be a couple minutes before they got around to her.

        Kerrigan wasn’t asking the base commander to evacuate her, she was asking the fleet to evacuate the entire force.

        1. Atarlost says:

          The problem with this is that New Gettysburg is the first mission you can build battlecruisers. If, when presented with one of the two shiniest units in the game you don’t build your strategy around it you have no soul. That means airborne assault.

          What feels natural to me is to use a small BC group to crack the air defenses and then run dropships through with wraith cover and use infantry or armor to gut the base. It’s only the urge to keep objective units safe that puts Kerrigan in danger because the offensive force has its own dropships and air cover. If you use her at the front for lockdown and vision extension you’d have dropships right there.

          So, yeah, that scene has always bugged me even though I didn’t bother picking up SC2. And the SC2 cinematic is actually worse. Kerrigan is in one of two places. Either she’s standing next to your command center because you never moved her or she’s with your offensive ground forces and surrounded by marines, goliaths, and/or tanks. Either way she shouldn’t be alone when she speaks those lines. The visor also doesn’t match the one she had in her original portrait. I don’t miss the terrible lipstick, though.

  14. aldowyn says:

    I’ve said this in replies higher up in the thread, but I REALLY didn’t like Kerrigan’s characterization in HotS. She’s literally a totally different person from either pre-zerg Kerrigan or her as the original Queen of Blades (who was a fun character, I thought). Everyone’s turned emo :(

    I had fun with Zeratul, though. That ‘flash-forward’ in Wings was super fun XD

    (Also, on the Blizzard cutscne topic: I didn’t like most of Diablo, but the Act 3 cutscene with Tyrael tearing off his wings and choosing to leave heaven is INCREDIBLY hammy and all the better for it :D)

    1. Tizzy says:

      Raynor was a bigger shock for me. I wouldn’t have guessed from these SC1 portraits that he was built like an Olympic weightlifter with a $100 haircut…

      1. Hydralysk says:

        That was something that came as a shock to me too, though mainly because the SC1 portrait for Raynor was the spitting image of my uncle.

      2. aldowyn says:

        Same for Mengsk. No one looks anything like their portrait… At least Kerrigan is recognizable because of her wing things.

    2. Kian says:

      “You cannot judge me. I am justice itself! That has to be one of my favorite quotes of all time.

      1. Dragomok says:

        If Diablo 3 was written by the people who wrote Remember Me‘s trailers, Tyreus would say “I am the judge, why am I judged?”.

  15. Dev Null says:

    Try to picture that marine climbing into the cockpit of that plane.

    I’m picturing that marine riding that dune buggy… Dr Strangelove-style, astride the body, waving his helmet in the air. But thats probably just me.

  16. Lame Duck says:

    Blizzard really seem to be the masters of making spectacularly lavish and visually engaging cinematics for stories that really don’t deserve them in games where they feel ridiculous next to the actual gameplay. I kind of wish they would work on other companies’ games; it really feels like a waste to have Blizzard’s cinematics department working on Blizzard’s games.

  17. Phantos says:

    I haven't really played the Halo series beyond the first game, but I gather it's suffered from the same growing pains. A faceless space marine was just fine for a 2001 shooter, but as the series went on he became increasingly anachronistic. Everything in the world became more detailed except the main character. They couldn't “update” Master Chief without running a very real risk of ruining him (giving him a face would be like giving Gordon Freeman or Samus Aran a voice) but they couldn't keep him the same without creating this odd tension between the characters and the world.

    That is exactly what I was thinking when playing Halo 4. Like Starcraft 2, the budget and the ambition is so much bigger now, and it’s clear they’re trying. FPS games are Bigger, with Cutscenes and Emotion now. But you can’t get blood from a turnip, and you can’t get emotion from the Doom Marine.

    I’ve always felt that the Halo series just needed a new face. Someone that can keep up with the franchise’s stronger emphasis on storytelling(well, compared to Halo I mean). In fact, they tried this with some success. But Halo is a series played mostly by kids, and kids really didn’t like the change. They like the Master Chief too much to let him go for some reason.

    Even when the series gave us Nathan Fillion instead!

    So they’re stuck using a mascot who can’t keep up with the series’ new-found need to be taken seriously. It’s like if Pikachu were the main character of a new Zelda game. (Or if Link were the main character of a new Zelda game…)

    1. MaxFF says:

      I’m not sure why you think Halo is mostly played by kids. Its been over a decade since Halo was first released, and I’m sure all the kids who played it back then are now adults.

      1. Phantos says:

        That’s what I thought too! But in my experience with this franchise, I’ve noticed eight-year olds outnumber the adults in matchmaking at least 9-to-1.

        I wonder if they’re the same people from 2001, and the game is just the fountain of youth or something. It’s disappointing to think the secret of immortality is calling people racial slurs for getting to the Rockets first.

  18. Decius says:

    It was foreshadowed in Brood War that there would be Human-Protoss and Zerg-Protoss hybrids to go with the Human-Zerg hybrid (Kerrigan).

    Why hasn’t that happened?

    1. anaphysik says:

      There have actually been lots of zerg-protoss hybrids (especially with that being the supposed xel’naga intention): They’re kinda a big deal :/

      Protoss-human is much less explored; I think this might be the only one:

      Really, though, I’d find it more interesting to see more factions within each of the races – you know, factions that could ally with other races’ factions :/. Dammit, I want canon PZT vs PZT! :D

      Because I’m a materials scientist, whenever I read “PZT” I think of lead zirconate titanate ;P

    2. nerdpride says:

      I didn’t see any indication of human/protoss hybrids in BW. There were humans in the secret mission but I don’t recall any of them being experimented on, they were just lackeys.

  19. anaphysik says:

    Anyway, speaking of the Kerrigan flipflopping:

    Maduk ft. Veela – Ghost Assassin (SC2 DnB)
    or mirror at

  20. Chamomile says:

    “Wait. Why did he leave her behind again? Wouldn't it be super-useful to have a badass Ghost like Kerrigan on our side? What possible benefit could there be to ditching her?”

    Because you can make badass ghosts pretty much at-will and the base/fleet you have in that mission is way more valuable, so risking it against an overwhelming Zerg offensive isn’t worth it. There’s plenty of explanations depending on how exactly you were running that mission. For example:

    1) As the cutscene suggests, Kerrigan is actually on the frontlines fighting the Zerg for…Some reason. Strategy Wiki actually does recommend sticking her in one of the bunkers, but I always keep my heroes in the heart of my main base where it’s safe, since you lose the mission without them. In any case, the battlecruisers and the base can lift off, but you’ve only got so much time before the crazy oversized Zerg assault breaches your defenses. Sacrificing Kerrigan, along with all the marines and firebats in the bunkers, makes perfect sense.

    2) I don’t remember the composition of the Zerg assault on New Gettysburg, but if it included a bunch of mutalisks or other flyers, the entire base may have been in danger. The battlecruiser fleet you use to destroy the Protoss base can egress at-will and is also the only hope of saving the base, but those battlecruisers are worth a lot more than the base and the people in them. Risking the battlecruisers to save the base when they might not even get there in time and endanger themselves for nothing is a noble but reckless move. Mensk is smart for choosing it. In fact, if he’d played his motives closer to his chest, it wouldn’t even necessarily have been a clearly evil move. Those men on the battlecruisers don’t deserve to die anymore than Kerrigan.

    3) Alternatively, ignore the setup of the New Gettysburg mission and look at the only the cutscene itself. Kerrigan is overwhelmed by Zerglings less than two minutes after requesting an evacuation. The dropship never would’ve gotten there in time to save her anyway and sending it into an area overrun by Zerg to rescue someone who was never going to make it is a spectacularly stupid idea.

    The set up of StarCraft strongly implies that armies are not even slightly loyal to the Confederacy. They’re loyal to colonial governors, so in order to keep order, the Confederacy has their Squadrons (including Duke’s…I think his was Alpha Squadron?). These are large forces loyal solely to their general, which are larger and more capable than your average colonial military (even when on emergency high alert the Zerg will kill us all oh God please save us, the extent of your forces as a colonial governor are marine squads, vulture bikes, and missile turrets, and you don’t get any tanks or battlecruisers until Duke joins your side). So the Confederacy keeps the generals happy and they keep order in the Confederacy. What this means is that once Mengsk had Duke on his side, Kerrigan, Raynor, and the player were all small potatoes, pawns he could freely sacrifice (assuming the player is even a real character at all, because while characters do speak directly to you, you pretty much play as Jim Raynor through the whole Terran campaign).

    Honestly now, Raynor is your chief of police, and Kerrigan is a lieutenant. How important are either of these people compared to a man with a general, who has at minimum dozens of lieutenants and an order of magnitude more soldiers at his command? It’s not like a vulture/ghost with more HP is some kind of gamechanger at the scale you’re playing at.

    1. Syal says:

      That mission had no flying Zerg. I know this because I shoved five bunkers at the foot of each ramp and slaughtered the entire zerg onslaught down to the drones.

      1. Chamomile says:

        But bunkers with marines kill flying units as easily as ground ones, so how does that make a difference?

        1. anaphysik says:

          “I don't remember the composition of the Zerg assault on New Gettysburg, but if it included a bunch of mutalisks or other flyers, the entire base may have been in danger.”

          1. Chamomile says:

            Yes, but I’m referring to this:

            “I know this because I shoved five bunkers at the foot of each ramp and slaughtered the entire zerg onslaught down to the drones.”

            Bunkers kill flyers too.

            1. Syal says:

              Because flyers don’t come down the ramps. They come from everywhere.

              1. Chamomile says:

                Not necessarily. Just because Zerg fliers could go around the bunkers doesn’t mean they automatically would. Computer opponents in the original StarCraft didn’t often try to attack from unusual angles, instead typically sending their forces along the most direct route available to the target. Since the Zerg base is pretty much directly adjacent to yours and the ramps are a direct entry from their base to yours, so computer-controlled fliers will follow the same route as the land-based attackers. They could take another route, but they don’t.

                To double-check, I just looked up a walkthrough of the mission and skipped to the end. The attacking Zerg force does have mutalisks.

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          Mutalisks would’ve been able to go around the sides of your base and enter in.

          Also, Overlords, who could then quick-drop units into the mineral line.

      2. Pickly says:

        This is probably also a gameplay story seperation situations. (Sure, in game you can wipe out the protoss with battle cruisers and fortify the base against everything, but in “reality” the battle would be fought in a different way, you would not be harvesting minerals, the protoss would have different types of forces, etc.)

      3. Sleepyfoo says:

        Why starcraft 2 never happened : )

        There were clearly mutalisks and ultralisks. Assuming the push went on forever, eventually the base would be overrun, but not before you could build several shuttles and withdraw.

        Putting a very thick supply depot wall between you and the zerg worked quite well, actually, in that game.

        1. Syal says:

          Weird. Now I’m left trying to figure out why I didn’t wall the entire hill with bunkers.

    2. guy says:

      The plot made it pretty clear that Mengsk deliberately declined to reinforce the detachment at New Gettysburg and instead ordered the main fleet to break orbit in a deliberate effort to get Kerrigan killed. In the next mission, Raynor opts to take everyone he can trust and get out before Mengsk kills them too.

      Kerrigan was questioning his orders re: getting the entire population of Tarsonis eaten by zerg, and Mengsk let the zerg overrun the entire force at New Gettysburg to kill her.

    3. Zekiel says:

      New Gettysberg was a funny mission. It introduced the Protoss, who only had their most basic units (zealots, dragoons, scouts) while at the same time giving you access to the terran uber-unit (battlecrusier) for the first time. Even more than the rest of the vanilla SC missions, it was a walkover and got boring. Then it had this amazing ending. I still remember it as one of the best story moments of my early game-playing. Marvellous.

  21. Jason says:

    Yeah, Shepard should have died at the end of 1. That would have made it actually mean something.

  22. Jotun says:

    They couldn't “update” Master Chief without running a very real risk of ruining him (giving him a face would be like giving Gordon Freeman or Samus Aran a voice)

    Yeah, about that…

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      They gave him eyes.

      Unless Halo 5 showed his full face, this is like giving Samus yelling noises in Metroid Prime – not exactly the same thing.

    2. Lol!

      But seriously, two eyes in shadow. Doesn’t tell us much of anything we didn’t already know.

      1. aldowyn says:

        Tali had eyes. Even a nose!

        1. They broke new ground there, didn’t they? 0_o

          Well, unless you include the part-face thing they hid in the Spartan helmet for the Halo 3 beta.

        2. Thomas says:

          I hated those eyes. When I first saw her I missed them, writing them off as helmet reflections or something and she looked really cool. Then I saw the eyes and it all looked rubbish. Especially since it made it seem like the eyes glowed

    3. Jotun says:

      Well, at least now we know that he overdoes it with the eyeshadow.

  23. Michael says:

    Funny thing about the “giving Samus Aran” a voice comment…

    I hate to be That Guy, but Samus dropped the silent protagonist thing in Super Metroid’s opening. It just so happened that the pre-Other M games followed the rule of “if you can’t write any good dialog for her to say, don’t have her say anything.”

  24. Mimir says:

    I really don’t see how starcraft 2’s story is not good as compared to most stories in games. It may not be subtle drama, but at least it’s not confusing nonsense like CoD or horrible drivel like Fallout 3. in fact, i think in terms of originality and complexity it is one of the better AAA games recently.

    though i will admit, the zerginess of kerrigan going back and forth is rather weird.

  25. Eleion says:

    StarCraft 2 feels like a considerably worse story. The original was pulpy and exciting science fiction. The characters were interesting, and made interesting decisions. Turning Kerrigan into an enemy that was also a protagonist was a lot of fun, and in Brood War they actually let her win. I don’t feel like Blizzard of today would have the courage to let the ‘bad guy’ win. StarCraft 2 just feels… overdone. Everything is too dramatic, too romantic, too stupid. The characters stopped making sense. The attempt at having choice in Wings of Liberty was severely undercut by the fact that the universe bends to Raynor’s will and makes either decision the right one (For example, if you side with Tosh he will always be loyal to you, if you side with Nova, it turns out he was planning on betraying you) Finally, MYSTERIOUS SPACE PROPHECY is never interesting. Writers, I don’t care if some ancient people declared that something crazy was going to happen in the future. This never leads to an interesting conclusion. Either the heroes prevent it from coming true, or it comes true and the heroes prevent horrible things from happening anyway. I don’t want all of the different factions to team up and defeat evil, I want them to continue to scheme and politic and betray. That was the interesting part of the original game! *sigh*…

    EDIT: I think that making StarCraft 2 more subdued in tone actually could have worked really well. The original was dramatic, but was inherently subdued by their storytelling method. If you dropped the angsty, overdramatic tone from the SC2 cutscenes, but left in the dramatic plot, I think it would have made StarCraft feel more mature and nuanced (if not actually more mature and nuanced). Now it just feels like a soap opera in space.

    1. Cody says:

      About the “MYSTERIOUS SPACE PROPHECY.” Why did the Xel’Naga have something lying around in a random temple(and not the fun Zerg killing kind like in BW) that just says “Hey guys we are totally coming back to kill you all later, here is how you can beat us.”

      The levels of bad writing in SC2 are many and deep, took real talent to make a story that bad.

    2. Scampi says:

      I don't feel like Blizzard of today would have the courage to let the “˜bad guy' win.

      Funny, considering they appeared to have a pretty good run in their early days, giving villains lots of opportunity to shine:
      Diablo: The hero wins, then gets taken over by Diablo in the cinematic
      Warcraft I: Azeroth gets run over by the Orcs, has to be evacuated to Lordaeron for WC 2
      Starcraft: Tassadar sacrifices himself to incapacitate the overmind…but guess what? It’s all the introduction to the
      SC Expansion Pack Brood War: Kerrigan becomes the Queen of Blades and reigns supreme atop the Zerg Swarm after the incapacitation of the overmind.
      Warcraft 2 gave us the exodus of the orcs as the canon ending, with some of them being enslaved by the humans, while others returned to their homeworld of Draenor. I guess this is the first case of a clearly “good” canon ending in a Blizzard story. But, since the 1st game ended on the canon of orcish victory, it was to be expected there would be retribution by the humans to keep the series going…to me, personally, it wasn’t so much a good canon ending, since I always was a fan of orcs in general, and it appeas less “goodish” since WC3 gave us the new prospect of orcs being “fantasy klingons” instead of a totally brutish race of savage warmongers.
      Diablo II showed us Mephisto and Diablo being defeated only for Baal to get hold of his soulstone, come to power and mustering an army against the barbarians of Harrogath in the
      Lord of Destruction Addon: Baal is defeated but the world stone corrupted, leaving Tyrael no other choice but to destroy it, causing then unknown events to happen, which never appeared to be a solution to all future problems but something destructive, which Tyrael only chose because he saw no other way to prevent worse alternatives to happen (if it was an amazing idea to boot, why not destroy the WS in the first place, right?)
      Warcraft 3 presented us with the immortal lands of Kalimdor giving up their immortality to defeat the invasion of the burning legion, what is more bittersweet than a happy ending,
      resulting in the Frozen Throne Expansion, with Arthas and Illidan duking it out as Agents of the Lich King and the Eredar Kil’Jaeden, Arthas ultimately defeating Illidan and becoming the vessel of the Lich King himself, undeniably an ending that would only be a choice between dark and black (if the player wasn’t clearly pitted on one side of that conflict).
      Since that was the last Blizzard game I actually played, I don’t know about the current Blizzard. Did they really change so much?
      This pretty much amounts to 1 good ending (WC 2), 3 bittersweet ones (SC vanilla, Diablo 2, WC 3 vanilla) and 5 bad ones (Diablo, SC BW, WC 1, Diablo 2 vanilla, WC 3 FT) in my book-or did I miss any aspects or games?

  26. Cody says:

    Out of all the story faults with SC2, from the first 2 games that basically go nowhere for about 50 hours of gameplay to the lack of any decent humor that was in the fluff cutscenes of the first game, the thing that constantly makes me face-palm is the “Primal Zerg” and the Overmind retcons. That entire race went from an all devouring borg like collective that took the best genetic traits it could from all around the system to friken POKEMON, and the bad guy went from an ageless eldritch horror made from super aliens to, slave to just one of them that was a bad guy I guess? I mean they didn’t even try to cover up how badly the current writers didn’t know the backstory and lore of the first game.

    1. krellen says:

      There’s no such thing as continuity in Blizzard games. Their head story guy believes too firmly in the Rule of Cool.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    A while back on the forums, I spun out some rambling diatribe about a work’s realism threshold and its impact on audience expectation.

    It might have been pretentious, tremendously unfocused and way too long, but I have been very glad since then to see both an article on the Escapist and this post by Shamus echo some of the same things I tried to lay down.

  28. The Rocketeer says:

    A while back on the forums, I spun out some rambling diatribe about a work’s realism threshold and its impact on audience expectation.

    It might have been pretentious, tremendously unfocused and way too long, but I have been very glad since then to see both an article on the Escapist and this post by Shamus echo some of the same things I tried to lay down.

  29. zob says:

    I’d like to make the obligatory,
    “Starcraft was a ripoff of Warhammer 40k and Warcraft was a ripoff of Warhammer Fantasy.”

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      I wonder when we’ll see the release of Hammercraft. Or Starhammer. Or Star War…oh.

    2. ehlijen says:

      Funny you should say that. Dawn of war 1, I think, did what SC2 was trying to do (epic story in cutscenes) a lot better. The use of the ingame engine helped tie it all together, but of course the evil librarian was no kerrigan in fan appeal.

      Meanwhile Dawn of war 2 embraced SC1’s minimalistic storytelling techniques for a decent result.

      1. zob says:

        Just to make it clear, I was talking about the tabletop games with miniatures and dice.

        1. ehlijen says:

          I am aware. I chose to expand that comparison into seeing how starcraft and the 40k rts compare in the question at hand to give this line of thought some topical relevance.

  30. Davzz says:

    Here’s my pet peeve: At the end of Brood Wars, Raynor gets over his “It’s all my fault Kerrigan is a Zerg SO MUCH GUILT!” and develops into “Kerrigan, I’m going to be the man that kills you.” determined.

    By SC2 he’s… back to being all brooding and a rather cliche “depressed and alcoholic” type character who’s STILL pining for Kerrigan and beating himself over the guilt of “abandoning” her.

    And the writers basically just give a lame excuse of “well 10 years can change a person!” which might make sense “realistically”, but when you set up something in the narrative like “Raynor will kill Kerrigan”, you really don’t just go and drop that thread for some weird Romance plot instead.

    And apparently they completely forgot all about Fenix throughout WoL too, and really only tossed a minor line near the end of HoS probably because all the fans brought it up and they needed to throw them a bone.

    1. Eleion says:

      Keeping Raynor’s character arc intact would have made SC2 infinitely more interesting. Or Kerrigan’s, for that matter.

      If they hadn’t taken so long to develop SC2 that they needed to reintroduce StarCraft to a new generation of gamers they could have made the first story arc about the Zerg wrecking shit and taking over the galaxy.

      Though maybe the wrote themselves into a corner. There were so many unlikely alliances and unexpected betrayals in SC and BW that I don’t know how many more they could have done without it being silly.

  31. Ian Miller says:

    I never played StarCraft I, and probably never will. However, for me it actually is really cool how Kerrigan goes from mind-raped Zerg underling to ruler of all Zerg, is then freed from the original destruction of her mind, and then choses of her own will to become ruler of the Zerg again. Yes, it does make it seem a bit arbitrary – but at the service of Kerrigan’s arc, which makes a lot of sense to me. The breaking up of the storyline into three does make it a bit more awkward, but if you see WoL and HotS as really just two chapters in one story, I think the de-Zergifying and then re-Zergifying don’t seem quite as problematic.

    Or maybe it’s just that I am playing the games through now, in succession with no break, and it’s not a problem because I didn’t have to wait three years. :)

    1. Davzz says:

      Adding SC1 actually makes Kerrigan’s SC2 portrayal more problematic, because one of the big themes in SC1’s Zerg campaign is that the Overmind gave her free will to do as she pleases as long as it benefits the Zerg somehow. It’s meant to be rather ironic that an alien insect-like hivemind race is giving her a lot more trust than her former human employer.

      And then BW happens which basically cement the fact that even with the Overmind dead and Kerrigan having absolutely no obligation imposed, she’s going to spite the heck out of everyone who she feels “betrayed” her in the past anyway and wants to become the top dog so that she will never again feel powerless and helpless in the same way.

      edit: You know, I think that’s the big problem with SC2’s plot in general. Continuity. It’s one thing to create a cheesey, stand-alone plot as long as no one is coming in with the idea that the game is going to contain some kind of deep message, but SC1 really didn’t go that route and yet SC2 turns the cheese up to a billion levels. It’s such a jarring tonal shift.

      Diablo 3 also suffers from a lot of the same problems with tonal shifts compared to the previous games

      1. Cody says:

        Blizzard has a chronic case of “We have only written MMOs and pop culture ripoffs for the last tenish years itus”

        It’s not to surprising that their writing is crap when they have just been doing nothing but “Go collect 10 ghost farts” writing for the longest time.

        1. Scampi says:

          To me this sounds like the typical anime fan fic/franchise movie issue with characters who behave nothing like in the original plot, relationships and places created out of thin air and the plot along with all the formerly beloved and interesting characters generally being bent over until it can take a deep look up its own ass.

  32. caiman says:

    I haven’t played Starcraft in a long time, so my views might be slightly skewed by nostalgia and dead neurons. Having said that, I always thought there were pretty obvious motivations for the characters actions:

    “Mengsk busts Raynor out of prison. No explanation, nothing. He just does.”

    At the time, Mengsk was the leader of a small terrorist organization (Sons of Korhal, I believe). Raynor was a competent figure that had already shown he didn’t care much about the Confederacy. Mengsk was looking to recruit Raynor for his organization. Recruiting people in prisons is a very common modus operandi for terrorist and criminal organizations in the real world.

    “Duke changes sides and all his nebulous forces come with him, no questions asked.”

    Duke was an overambitious general (or admiral, or whatever the title was) obsessed with power. When Mengsk showed him a way to increase his personal power, he took it. Mengsk essentially promised Duke he would be the second most important person of his regime, just after Mengsk. As for his forces, it is very common for the military to be loyal to their commanders, especially if they are renowned and charismatic (Duke was the “star” general of the Confederacy).

    “Why did [Mengsk] leave [Kerrigan] behind again? Wouldn't it be super-useful to have a badass Ghost like Kerrigan on our side? What possible benefit could there be to ditching her?”

    There are two reasons for this:
    1) For the first time in his life, Mengsk was at a position where he could take over the Confederacy. He had destroyed the confederate capital, and had a massive military to boot. Kerrigan was in an isolated position in the frontlines. Saving her, would require committing his military force to fight through the Zerg besieging her. This could jeopardise his true ambition. Mengsk would not risk weakening his forces for anyone, not even for Kerrigan. Not while he was so close to his goal.
    2) Kerrigan was a witness of the crimes committed by Mengsk. Namely for luring the Zerg to destroy the capital of the Confederacy. It is heavily implied through the game that this action is seen as an atrocity. A crime against humanity. Mengsk goes after Raynor (and presumably everyone else who knew) for the very same reason. When Kerrigan was surrounded by Zerg, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to dispose of a witness. If the people knew about this atrocity, Mengsk’s authority as the new leader of the Terrans would be seriously diminished.

    TL;DR – Just my two cents on the motivations of the characters on the original SC1.

    1. Kdansky says:

      As I remember! SC1 was about interstellar warfare and intrigue. SC2 is about interpersonal relationships. Obviously the first one works much better for an RTS than the second.

  33. Phrozenflame500 says:

    The issue with Starcraft’s narrative is that Blizzard is trying to tell a Mass Effect-esque story in a genre where that type of story doesn’t work. A story about personal relationships in an RTS setting where people are no longer people but “units” that can be sacrificed for advantages. For example, what Mengsk did to Kerrigan is dumb and impractical, but human players probably do similar things to individual units in the game. Why don’t we care about them? They aren’t related to the main characters. While alot of games have similar problems with faceless mooks, it’s much more jarring in an RTS setting where you send literally thousands of people to their deaths and then whine about that one person who is apparently the only important one.

    It’s somewhat of a disappointment too, I like Starcraft’s setting. Space Rednecks vs Telekinetic Religious Amphibian-Looking Aliens vs Hivemind Space Insects who have to team up to fight a stronger foe could be interesting, if you dropped Starcraft’s setting into a game with the mechanics of Mass Effect it could end up being an interesting game.

  34. Sleepyfoo says:

    I recently watched Husky play through Wings of Liberty, and I noticed that the Betrayal Video is followed immediately by Raynor jerking awake and knocking over his whiskey bottle. Matt then asks if he had that same dream again.

    Now, given previous things in Starcraft, it is entirely possible that Kerrigan is projecting her dream/memories onto Raynor. I think it is more likely, however, that it’s Jim’s constructed nightmare of what happened to her combined with his memory of the event, resulting in the same dialogue in Kerrigan’s implausible situation.

    For reference, the follow-up cutscence can be found Here

    Peace : )

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You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

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