Starcraft: Brood War


Welcome to the RTSC StarCraft pages!


Protoss Carriers and escorts clean out the TerransStarCraft (1998) is developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, and Brood War is the one and only expansion pack for it. StarCraft netgames are only really worthwhile if you're using this excellent expansion. Despite being published in 1998, you probably won't have any trouble finding a fresh copy. It wouldn't be stretching things to declare it a classic given its popularity and the fact that its still selling so well, becoming almost the national pastime in South Korea. Newcomers should get the Battle Chest edition that bundles StarCraft and its expansion together, and it really wouldn't surprise me if many Australian retailers are still trying to flog it for AUS$60+.

StarCraft followed in the footsteps of Blizzard's earlier title WarCraft, and is arguably one of the most popular RTS titles around. Its popularity rivals some of the major first person shooters like Quake or Half-Life, and still dominates many "Top10" game polls. Certainly, many of the big fan pages are not only being maintained, but are still growing, although a lot of the small sites are now abandoned Geocities and Tripod pages with half finished layouts and news items a couple of years old... Blizzard rekindled interest recently by issuing new patches that fixed bugs, and adding new features like game recording and playback.

This is vintage 2D, top down RTS gaming, using a small screen (only 640x 480 pixels!) with a third of your screen gobbled up by a huge dashboard. Unit control is limited, lacking the sophistication and the excellent queuing of its contemporaries like Total Annihilation or Dark Reign - but this appears to be more by design. StarCraft is fast and games barrel along at high speed. You can only select twelve units at a time(!), and lots of micro management is needed just to keep them alive. Stuff up your mousing and disaster is only seconds away.

Rich graphics and densely layered effectsThis game pretty much epitomised what was known as "the typical RTS"; a general purpose mainstream game, using Blizzard's lowest common denominator - but nonetheless brilliantly refined - approach. Internally, its basic. Its as 2D as you could possibly get - and the artwork is exquisitely executed and densely layered with transparent effects, making for some very solid interaction. The units are thick as planks compared to whats out there now, but it doesn't require an advanced PC to play and its instantly appealing, both in story and gameplay. Its certainly one of the most refined and concise games for the genre: colourful, loaded with personality, finely honed and polished to make for a seamless product. It comes with "free" (with the purchase of the game) access to Blizzard's monster Battle.Net gaming service, and an excellent Map Editor, StarEdit.

Some hard-line strategy fans have derided it as the "AoL of RTS" (not without some justification, I might add; these observations are similar to "traditional" roleplayers' grumbles about Blizzard's Pavlovian hack'n'slasher, Diablo.) But there's no doubting its gameplay value, strategic depth and versatility. Every strategy you can think of can be countered, and outcomes are determined by the skills and tactics of the players, although you still have to think and plan ahead. Players must go on the offensive: its impossible to build an impenetrable defence and suicidal to wait for your opponents to come to you. Apart from the "lull" at the start of a game (when everyone is furiously building) StarCraft games are short, sharp, and to the point.

StarCraft units require lots of manhandling and there's hardly have any advanced unit control or AI. They can't hold formation to save their lives, can't shoot and walk at the same time, constantly bump into obstacles and each other, and worst of all, have this appalling habit of just stopping and forgetting what they were doing or wandering off in a completely different direction, bumping into their mates and stuffing them up too! Its no surprise to find many popular multiplayer maps are devoid of any features like trees or rocks or other set pieces where players won't get so upset watching their armies trip over their own feet. Only Westwood units rival StarCraftians in the Advanced Morons division. Turnips navigate better. Its part of the game's hands-on, no-massed-rush design formula - strange when you consider most player's strategies with StarCraft seem to rely heavily on rushing. Many SC players "l33t" skills are simply learning how to get around the obstructions in unit behaviour and a limited interface. If you're used to more advanced unit control with formations, intelligent path-handling or other multi-layered features such as massed guarding or elaborate waypoints, StarCraft is painful.

Resources are blue Mineral Crystals and green Vespene Gas. They are finite, which means once you run out, that's it! Winning Starcraft netgames rely heavily on securing expansions at fresh resource sites and hanging on to them. StarCraft presents you with three different races: 

Terrans The Terrans are all the purpose, straight forward sort of race. They sort of rank at the medium power level. You can play them and they immediately make sense: basic infantry with Marines, a Siege Tank, the Wraith plane, the Factory, etc.. Beginners may find the other races are little weird and unfamiliar to begin with. (But not for long!) The Terran's worker, the SCV, runs about collecting resources, building and repairs. Terrans can build anywhere, and are nomadic in the game's story lines. Terran buildings can take off and fly to another part of the map. They're the most versatile and adaptable to any given situation, and probably the best at defending.

Zerg The Zerg are the slimy monster race. All their technology is organic, and their grotesque buildings can only be grown from sacrificed worker Drones on a large bed of oozing slime called The Creep. All Zerg units are grown from an endless supply of larvae, and all Zerg units and structures will slowly heal over time. They rate as fairly weak: their units lack the sort of power housing of the Protoss or the Terran's Siege Tank, and rely on speed and numbers to prevail. They can also burrow, so many of the ground based Zerg units can effectively cloak themselves from the enemy by hiding underground. While you'll lose whole armies of Zerg in action, there's nothing quite like a swarm of Zerglings and Hydralisks ripping through an enemy base...

Protoss The Protoss are the most powerful characters on the field, restricted only by the high cost of their units and the time it takes for them to get up to full strength. They are psionic, which means they have force fields on top of their hefty hit points, and many formidable spells that can fool and confuse the enemy, or just subject them to destruction on a massive scale. They can only build near crystal pylons, and "warp in" their units and structures from their homeworld, Auir. This means that a single Protoss worker, the Probe can warp in several buildings at once. Generally you find a lot of beginners playing Protoss.

Each race plays differently, and every strategy and unit has a counter of some kind. Starcraft is beautifully balanced, and exemplifies the paper-scissor-rock paradigm often found in 2D RTS games. Even though each side has barely thirty unit and structures types each to work with, each unit is a unique and distinctive entity that fulfils a distinct role. Nothing is redundant: even cheap basic units are still essential right to the very end. It can play quick ten minute skirmishes or a full, hours long campaign.tarcraft is an excellent all round strategy game, combining resource management, tech upgrades, unit management and strategic decision making. It has a good storyline in its single player campaign which, unlike many RTS games, blends nicely with the RTS action and fleshes out the fantasy sci-fi universe in which it's set. Its a good starting point for any RTS beginner: easy to install, easy to play, and those unfamiliar with the genre can learn a fair bit by working through the single player campaigns.


StarCraft: Brood War OVERVIEW
Version & Install

1.14: Mainly minor updates and loophole fixing from 1.10, which in turn was a mass of bugfixes for 1.08, a wide range of anti-hacks, and a bit of extra Windows 2000 support. After many years of quiet under the 1.07 patch, the StarCraft community kicked back into action as the 1.08 patch implemented the recording of StarCraft games, organising top vs bottom games and adjusted (yet again) some unit stats.

Its a straight install.

The original StarCraft and Brood War patches are different, despite having the same version number. Battle.net will automatically patch either game to the latest version. Be warned though, Battle.Net is acutely sensitive to copied software.

NOTE: You'll probably need 1.07 version of the patch to run many of the old custom Campaigns and TC's out there.

Spawns

For original game-- Yes

Brood War-- No

Demo

Yes! For the original game only; 28Mb download from Blizzard. Geez, demos were small back then...

FAQ's

StarCraft Compendium FAQ's

StarCraft Wikipedia entry

Networks

Up to 8 LAN players on IPX only ( ! )

Up to 8 on internet Battle.Net service

2 players on modem or serial link

Maps

Maps rely entirely on existing, self contained 2D tilesets. Custom StarCraft tilesets are almost unheard of.

Multiplayer maps are very small files quickly disseminated by the game server at time of play.

.scm maps are for Starcraft and Brood War.

.scx maps are for Brood War only.

Units

Ground & Air only.

Small number of unit types; about 30 building and units for each race, each filling a distinct and definite role.

Game balance is achieved using the full complement of each unit type in your force.

Unit limit: 200, using a support point mentality where different units consume different unit points. Its rare you'll actually build a full population of 200 units, unless you're a big fan of infantry.

Buildings and turrets aren't counted in unit limit.

Heroes available for custom scenarios.

Resources

Mineral Crystals (basic) and Vespene Gas (advanced).

Resources are finite, usually grouped in patches.

Conquering fresh resource expansions and holding them are essential for success.

Resources extracted using massed worker units.

Research

Research options for basic upgrades, special abilities and technology. Nice all round approach provides much of the strategic variation in the game.

All research and upgrades costs time and resources.



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Gracefully retired on Thu, Aug 28 2003 by Lindsay Fleay
Exhumed and given a rub down on Mon, May 10, 2004.
Shot gently back into space again on Tue, May 31 2005...
Last modified Sat, May 26 2007 by Lindsay Fleay