There is a certain narrative heft to Legacy of the Void’s storyline. Playing through it feels different from the past two entries in the StarCraft II trilogy, especially as the increasing certainty that this is the end only becomes more prominent throughout the entirety of the campaign.
The story follows the Protoss trying to reclaim their homeworld Aiur and their struggle against Amon, a being of enormous power that is trying to ‘cleanse’ the universe of all life. Yes, it isn’t exactly the most original of stories, but that’s Blizzard Entertainment in a nutshell: polishing well-worn concepts until they gleam.
As a whole, Legacy of the Void’s campaign is mostly a success. The oft-criticized cheesiness is there, but it is muted, largely due to the fact that the Zerg and Terran are barely present. As a result, the script is actually good, and if one actually pays attention to what is being said and ensures that they listen to what the characters are saying to each other in between missions, the story might surprise you. In short, it’s not the beginning or the end that matters, (since its quite obvious from the beginning what will happen) but the journey itself.
Gameplay wise, it’s hard to see what can really be done to improve Blizzard’s RTS formula. There are changes of course, but it’s still largely the same StarCraft that we have been playing for the past seventeen years. This may lead to a feeling of monotony for some, but Blizzard has done their best to shake up the campaign to combat this, albeit to arguably mixed results. Without going into spoilers, a few of the missions and their objectives blend together at a certain point close to the middle of the game, and everything starts to get a little dull. This hump is eventually overcome though, especially with the epilogue, with all three missions being the most creative to be found throughout the entire game.
Graphically, StarCraft II’s latest expansion ranges from good to great, usually closer to the latter. Focusing on the good, Legacy of the Void’s graphical imperfections stem from things like antialiasing and some varieties of terrain and units which could look better. It's nitpicking, but these flaws are definitely present. For everything else though, Legacy of the Void looks great. The cutscenes are fantastic, to the point where it honestly feels like you are watching a movie, a feeling that this reviewer hasn’t had this decade outside of a very select group of games. Besides the few gameplay quibbles mentioned above, Legacy of the Void is a more then acceptable looking title. If one has a PC that allows them to crank up their graphics settings, there is very little to complain about on that front.
The same problems arise in Legacy of the Void’s sound, whereby there is almost nothing to critique. Get a good pair of headphones or speakers and your auditory senses will be assailed with an excellent soundtrack and an overall incredible soundscape that leaves little to the imagination. Every death cry, gunshot, or ‘building – complete!’ sounds StarCraft, to the point where there isn’t much one can do to criticize the title, save for the occasional cutscene where it is difficult to understand what the Protoss are saying, something that can be fixed by fiddling with the audio settings or enabling subtitles. This is quite literally the only thing that this reviewer has found to be criticizable about Legacy of the Void’s audio, and that should definitely be applauded.
Another thing to be applauded is Legacy of the Void’s multiplayer suite, and this reviewer can now comfortably say that Battle.net 2.0 is superior to the original Battle.net which hosted the older StarCraft, WarCraft, and Diablo titles. Everything is easily found with a minimal amount of effort in a slick and easy to understand interface, and the online scene itself hasn't been as active as it has been recently for a long time. If there has ever been a time to jump in to figure out what all the fuss is about, it’s now.
While the regular multiplayer matches and custom Arcade games are there to be played and enjoyed as always (with little being changed besides UI and making the game more accessible and easier to handle), two new modes have been added that deserve a mention. The first is the Allied Commanders mode, where two people select six commanders (two from each race) as they complete the objectives in the six provided maps - with more on the way. The missions themselves have regular objectives, but the way the maps are laid out and played lends a different perspective to the whole affair. For example, one map has players trying to destroy trains that randomly appear across three separate tracks as they travel throughout the map. The player’s job is to then destroy these trains before they escape, while also repelling infrequent Zerg incursions. For those on the right difficulty level, this quickly turns in a race to build up one’s forces as quickly as possible before too many trains escape or an allied base is destroyed. For those with a single friend or even a stranger, it is a good experience. There is even incentive to continue playing after one has sampled all of the maps, as each hero is capable of earning levels, with each successive level earning more perks and units and other goodies that make the maps themselves more fun to play.
The second new mode for Legacy of the Void is Archon mode, an intriguing two on two mode where teams manage a single base apiece. As this reviewer is a mediocre StarCraft player at best, (especially since Zerg was the host’s preferred choice) the base maintaining went to yours truly, with pretty much everything else being shouldered by the Archon partner. It is nothing really different, just a 2v2 with a single base, but it is a great mode for those trying to learn how to play Starcraft’s notoriously difficult multiplayer mode as a beginner.
Overall, there is something for everyone in Legacy of the Void, whether you are a newly interested player or a hardcore veteran. Blizzard Entertainment has produced an RTS that can (and will) be used as an example as to what the genre can and should be in the years to come, and there really is no reason to not buy this title.
Legacy of the Void is an unmatched RTS, and helps to ensure that StarCraft II is easily the best RTS to be released for nearly a decade. If you are even remotely interested in StarCraft, buy it.