In this second of the three mission packs released thus far, Nova sets out to recover her memories as old and new foes begin to descend upon her. Is it better than the bore that was StarCraft II's first mission pack? Yes, it is, but the same problems from before are not rectified, as while the narrative is incrementally more interesting, it is still dull and cliché. StarCraft II’s story relied upon its characters to make players care for its story, and I still cannot find myself to care about this protagonist. Sure, Nova is pretty and kicks ass, but that’s pretty much her entire character. There is nothing to be invested in.
However, what has improved are the missions. The last mission pack had Nova breaking out of her confinement, which sounds cool and all until you realize that you were only controlling few heroes or vehicles at maximum, but this time around you have more traditional RTS missions that are a lot more fun. They are nothing you haven’t seen before, but they are more than enough to propel the second mission pack over the first one.
This is because Blizzard took the best types of the single-player missions and put them all into a blender. The first mission has a soft-timer of sorts, giving the player only a few minutes to build up their army to destroy a beacon that can only delay a Protoss killing machine that would slaughter thousands of civilian lives. The underlying tension in this mission strongly reminded me of some of the other classic timer-based StarCraft II missions, with the visible reminder on the map giving urgency to the players' actions.
The second mission has the player racing against time in order to capture five crystals so that Nova can retrieve her memories. This wasn’t as memorable as the first mission, although the gradual increase of difficulty after capturing an objective was fun, and after losing the map a few times due to overwhelming numbers, I actually had to build place tanks and bunkers around the objective before I actually went and captured it.
The third mission has the player choosing which group of foes Nova has to fight through in order to achieve her goal, while also allowing the player to shuttle around the map using the subway system. This mission had something I don’t think I’ve seen in a StarCraft II mission before, as it allowed the player to specifically choose which enemies to fight in a set number of locations. While in the end it didn’t really mean anything and it was the easiest of the three missions, it was still enough to spice things up and hold my attention to the second mission pack's conclusion.
It’s actually kind of odd, really. Everything that was good about the first mission pack is still there, from the voice acting to the graphics and to the gameplay, but the single thing that has changed (the missions) makes this a much easier recommendation then the first mission pack because the missions themselves are much more interesting. I still don’t really care about the story, (although the ending is somewhat intriguing) but the underlying gameplay was rock solid.
It’s the typical StarCraft II experience this time around – each mission has the player building a base and capturing/destroying objectives. It’s nothing particularly innovative, but it works. I do like the fact that Blizzard actually made scouting the map out a much more viable option this time around, as I could complete the side objectives without necessarily going off track too much. I could scout out the map and gain rewards for my character that are useful to me and gives me more agency in deciding how I want to tackle a mission beforehand. Do I want to use a shotgun? Do I want permanent invisibility? Do I want more armor? It depends on how I want to play out the mission. The same goes for the units as well – being able to build two tanks at once was extremely useful, and it actually saved my base a few times when I was being overrun. I built them, placed them, and set a bunch of workers to repair the tanks as I prayed.
Overall, the second mission pack is much better than the first. If you go in expecting some cool missions, you’ll have fun. However, if you go in expecting a story equal to the campaign… don’t bother. Hopefully, the third mission pack is as good as the second mission pack so that it rounds out the whole, but for right now it’s a decent buy if you are a StarCraft II fan looking for something to do.
StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops Mission Pack 2 was reviewed on PC via Battle.net with a code provided by the publisher.
StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops Mission Pack 2 is a fun but short experience that any StarCraft II fan should enjoy, although the full package still hasn't entirely justified its cost of entry as of yet.