Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (Video Game)

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Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (Video Game)Developed & Published by Blizzard Entertainment

Available for PC (reviewed) and Mac

In Heart of the Swarm players continue the struggle of StarCraft II with all of the conflicting races which include the Terrans, Zerg and the Protoss. You set out on a mission to lead the Zerg by utilizing your psionic abilities and specialized training–however, the queen Sarah Kerrigan, remains a impending threat and continues to grow stronger by the day. Players can complete missions and objectives in order to strengthen the Queen through unlocking new powers such as regeneration or simply reinforcing the swarm.

The Queen will join you on the battlefield and help in taking out whole armies and massive threats. To say things get bloody would be an understatement here. The boss battles in Heart of Swarm are more action-packed and detailed than ever before. We have yet to see battles to this extreme in the StarCraft series. You possess the ability to change the swarm and evolve it to your play-style. The Zerg swarm is continuously growing and you can unlock new abilities as you go. For example, if you decide to digest the planet’s biomass that you conquer then you can send your strains of Zerg down several paths. This means you can alter your swarm to either focus on adding to the army by accumulating numbers or through shear force by increasing your power. These strains have the ability to be adjusted on the go and suited to the missions ahead.

The multiplayer has been vastly improved with new units and maps. Players can now take on new developments and recruits like the tempest and viper that add even more dynamics to the battles ahead alongside a new leveling system. Players will also see an improvement in AI with increased difficulty levels and improved command features. Veteran units have been revamped for the fight and even new dances have been added for soldiers.

The beautifully-crafted new maps add a whole new dimension to the already exquisite environments with graphics that are off the charts. Maps now have new tilesets like the frozen wastelands or the lush jungles with new terrain features. The art and physics of the game has been completely tweaked for utmost performance with spectacular new death animations. If you thought the deaths were great before then you will be blown out of the water now.

The best part of Heart of the Swarm is the enhanced community features that let you utilize groups and clans to practice your game plan while being able to communicate privately as well. The new multiplayer ladders now allow players to play in any region in the language of choice. Other features added include take command (play from a saved game), recover game feature (ability to save an in-progress multiplayer game) and unranked matchmaking. Lastly, the Starcraft II editor is better than ever, and can add to the overall experience by producing very unique and fun variations on everything from maps to puzzles. The editor doesn’t take hours upon hours to master and has now been made more functional and easier to use.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm not only looks good but plays good. Between its amazing gameplay, exquisite graphics and tight controls–there isn’t really much not to like about the new expansion. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is now available for the MSRP of $39.99 on the PC and Mac and is rated (T) Teen. To learn more, visit the official Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm website.

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Amanda Dyar