StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm PC Games
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Released on 12-Mar-2013
In the newest chapter of Blizzard Entertainment's sci-fi saga, the former Queen of Blades embarks on a quest to reunite the Swarm and take her revenge.
Key Features of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm for PC
- The epic story continues with 20 new campaign missions
- New campaign gameplay mechanics, with new abilities and zerg army units
- Epic cinematics and new locations bring the game to life like never before
- Multiplayer expands with new units, maps and gameplay choices
- Expanded Battle.net features and functionality for the best custom games
Each campaign features new and unique units and abilities which offers interesting new gameplay mechanics each for each mission. By incorporating different zerg species into your brood, you can evolve your swarm in new and organic ways. Zerglings can evolve into Broodlings, Swarmlings and even Raptors, with each evolution yielding new ways to grow the Swarm or take out the enemy.
It's not just the Swarm that evolves in Heart of the Swarm. Unlike in Wings of Liberty, this time Kerrigan herself is a major player in each of your battles. With a choice of new skills and powers for each mission, she too will gain strength and new capabilities as the campaign progresses.
The galaxy will also evolve as a result of your Heart of the Swarm campaign. With a wide variety of locations to visit, these will change dynamically as you complete your missions, with Kerrigan clearly leaving her mark on every world she does battle. Fully voiced in-game cut scenes will continue to bring the world of the game to life, rounding out the cinematic and immersive experience that StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm has to offer.
Multiplayer gets a boost in Heart of the Swarm, too, with an array new and enhanced units, each offering something truly unique so you can make the best choices for battle. The zerg offer a new Swarm Host which serves as a burrowing seige unit, while adding new abilities to the Ultralisk. The protoss will introduce the shape-shifting Replicant which can turn itself into any non-massive unit within that player's line of sight and a new energy-based Arc Shield abililty. Terrans see their Battlecruisers get a short speed-boost ability and the ability for the Hellion to to transform into a walking battle mech. On top of this, there are new maps and a host of new features including new group, clan and customisation systems and even multiplayer replays.
The Battle.net online platform also gets an upgrade, with new features and enhancements that will improve your custom-game experience. New map creation tools include a cinematics editor for you to make your own cut scenes, and a 3D model importing tool which will let you import your own models into the game for use in custom maps. The new Arcade feature makes it even easier to find, rate and play the wide variety of custom maps and mods that have been created for all versions of StarCraft II, plus you'll have the chance to play with different regions around the world with Global Play.
- Operating System - Windows® XP/Windows Vista®/Windows® 7/Windows® 8 (Updated with the latest Service Packs) with DirectX® 9.0c
- Processor - 2.6 GHz Pentium® IV or equivalent AMD Athlon® processor
- Video - 128 MB PCIe NVIDIA® GeForce® 6600 GT or ATI Radeon® 9800 PRO video card or better
- Memory - 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista®/Windows® 7/Windows® 8 users)
- Storage - 12 GB available HD space
- Internet - Broadband Internet connection
- Media - DVD-ROM drive
- Resolution - 1024X720 minimum display resolution
Command Terran, Protoss and Zerg armies with brand-new units and fight for dominance on the battlefield.
To redeem your beta key and get started:
- Go to: www.battle.net/code
- Log in or create a FREE Battle.net account.
- Enter the beta key.
- Download & install the client. You're ready to play!
For more information about the beta test, please go to: http://www.battle.net/support/article/beta-support
In case you weren't convinced that the world of professional gaming and e-sports is serious business, wrap your eyeballs around this figure: $1.6 million. That's the sum that will be dished out to the winners of Blizzard's StarCraft II World Championships.
The tournament will last for most of 2013, and will be split across three territories: Europe, America and South Korea, where e-sports is so popular that it is televised with the same pomp and circumstance we reserve for the Premier League.
There will be three seasons for each region, each lasting up to ten weeks. Players will compete in multiple events across the season, earning points and rising up the leaderboards. Once all seasons are completed, the contestants will have been whittled down to the final sixteen from across the world. These skilled few will then take part in the BlizzCon Global Final to crown the world champion and divide up that staggering prize. All matches will be streamed online in HD, free of charge, by TwitchTV.
"We're hoping that by giving the North American and European players their own league, it will make it so they don't have to travel as much and can focus more on practice," Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime told Gamespot.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm may be classed as an expansion, but it's also a couple of games in one. Like Wings of Liberty, the foundation it builds upon, it's a real-time strategy game with a multiplayer mode that's a genuine gaming phenomenon - as well as a full singleplayer campaign, an in-built 'Arcade' of community mods and minigames, and an incredible community hub.
Part galactic soap opera and part chess match, part game and part sport, StarCraft II is built around the conflict between three galactic races: the humanoid Terran, high-tech Protoss, and rapacious insect-like Zerg. Heart of the Swarm's campaign is themed around Zerg, and they're a great fit for developer Blizzard: erupting from eggs and racing across the landscape in a thick-pile rush of dripping mandibles, they're an irresistibly gory biological tool.
This finds its most obvious expression in the way you evolve the Zerg between battles; picking from a trio of neat soft-choice perks one minute and more elaborate hard-lock paths the next. Do you want roaches that slow enemies with acid, or roaches that split downed foes into two mini-roaches? Do you want Ultralisks that release poison gas, or Ultralisks that return from the dead?
Call That A Claw?
With no need for the strict balance of multiplayer, the campaign explodes into a babbling froth of gimmickry, and counters the Zerg's wild strengths with equally elaborate opposition. Maps feel snug and rather narrowly channelled at times, but they always channel you past things you'd want to see - whether it's that ice world where flash-freezes descend with alarming regularity, or a jungle where a sleeping monster can be roused with a snack.
It's the most tidal RTS campaign you'll ever play. By the final missions it feels like directing an ocean across a series of knotty plains, a chance to revel in mindless power for a few minutes, and to wield the swarm you've taken pains to amass. Other RTS campaigns may give you thrillingly deadly toys, but few provide meaningful opportunities for using the best of them like Heart of the Swarm does.
Solo players may be extensively catered for, but the true beating Heart of the Swarm is multiplayer - the product of several years of Wings of Liberty being stress-tested by the finest players on the planet. There are now several ways for new players to ease themselves into this section of the game, including practice matches against increasingly competent AI and, beyond this, the opportunity to play others in unranked games. But StarCraft II's reason for being is its ranked multiplayer, and specifically the laddering system that divides players into leagues based on ability.
Heart of the Swarm's multiplayer is exceptional - involved and always exciting, with endless depth and an exquisite balance of power between its three asymmetric armies. There's a reason this is the only videogame that supports a full-time professional league. The expansion's new units enrich the interplay in little and big ways. The Terran widow mine, for example, an explosive burrowing robot, can be used to support small infantry pushes, defend an exposed part of your base, or even just sit outside the enemy's gates to say hello.
The Zerg's new units unlock horribly effective tactics; the flying Viper can 'blind' enemy units to let you rush in close, while Swarm Hosts siege enemy positions with endlessly spawning, high-damage locusts. The Protoss? They merely get the Oracle, an innocuous-looking floating deathball capable of destroying enemy workers in seconds. And the Tempest, a new capital ship shaped like twin sickles with a larger range than anything else in the game (farther than it can even see).
Real Strategy Time
Heart of the Swarm's multiplayer gives every race more offensive options than ever, and this focus on aggression leads to much more exciting games. Heart of the Swarm doesn't reinvent Wings of Liberty, but builds on and hugely improves it - to the extent that one of the best multiplayer games ever made now feels like a dry run for this. If there's a single competitive bone in your body, you really need to play Heart of the Swarm. If you're only interested in singleplayer strategy games - you still need to play it.
- Incredibly balanced multiplayer
- Best matchmaking system in games
- Infinite replay value
- Cheesy single-player story
- Requires a copy of Wings of Liberty
- Needs a big time investment
Board game company USAopoly has reached out across the digital divide and will be bringing some of our fave video game properties to the world of dice and plastic pieces.
Among the upcoming titles are Trivial Pursuit: World of Warcraft, Monopoly: Skylanders and Risk: Plants vs Zombies. The most promising of the bunch would seem to be a "Galaxy at War Edition." of Risk: Mass Effect. For old school retroheads, there'll also be Yahtzee: Pac-Man and Jenga Space Invaders.
This isn't the first time USAopoly has dipped into the digital realm for variations on beloved games. You can already get Risk: Halo and Risk: Starcraft, not to mention Monopoly: Sonic the Hedgehog. The new games will be launched in America later this year before hopefully making their way around the world.
What do you think? Would you switch off your console to play Mass Effect around the kitchen table?
In the Far East, competitive gaming is big business. In Korea, millions tune in to watch primetime broadcasts of professional gaming contests. Over in Europe and America, it's still seen as a nerdy niche. Can the situation be changed?
"Ultimately what needs to happen from my perspective for eSports to take that next step or hit the tipping point is the realisation by advertisers that it does have the viability of other sports, that it's worth putting the same sorts of investments they do into other sports into this," Sigaty told Eurogamer.
"I feel we've been extremely close. It's done much better than I had hoped with StarCraft II but there's still an additional tip that can happen."
That extra push, he thinks, could come from reality television and by way of example he cites the 2005 show Ultimate Fighter, largely credited with pushing mixed martial arts tournaments like the UFC into the mainstream.
"Getting these fighters together in a house and watching them learning their martial arts and trials they have to go through to get to their fight, to make it to number one, that sort of programming," says Sigaty. "People would eat it up about a pro-gamer and StarCraft II or whatever. That I think ultimately would be where we would see the really significant tip."
What do you think? Will we ever see games taken as seriously as sports on TV? Maybe you should get some practice in on StarCraft II - out now for PC, with expansion pack Heart of the Swarm due in March - just in case.
StarCraft II prize pot rises to $1.6 … (03/04/2013)
In case you weren't convinced that the world of professional gaming and e-sports is serious business, wrap your eyeballs around the sum that will be dished out to the winners of Blizzard's StarCraft I…
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Re… (21/03/2013)
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm may be classed as an expansion, but it's also a couple of games in one…
Video game board games on the way (12/02/2013)
USAopoly will be bringing some of our fave video game properties to the world of dice and plastic pieces…
Blizzard chief suggests eSports reali… (30/01/2013)
In the Far East, competitive gaming is big business, in Europe and America, it's still seen as a nerdy niche. Can the situation be changed?…
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