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Monday, September 27, 2021

The Aggie Arcade

Game of the week

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm came out this week, meaning it’s time to jump back into Blizzard’s addictive real-time strategy franchise. The expansion pack acts as the second installment in a planned trilogy and picks up two years after the events of Wings of Liberty.

This time around, players will take control of Kerrigan and the Zerg race in a series of unique missions similar to the first entry in the trilogy. According to Blizzard, approximately 20 missions are included in the expansion in addition to unit additions/modifications for all three races — Terran, Protoss and Zerg.

Obviously the new units will have the biggest impact in the game’s online multiplayer component, and anyone familiar with the StarCraft name knows the series’ penchant for cutthroat competitive play. I’m admittedly terrible at StarCraft, so I stuck to the single-player campaign in Wings of Liberty. But I had a fun time with it, and I’m usually not one to devote any reasonable amount of time to RTS games.

Based on the videos I’ve seen this week, Heart of the Swarm continues the tradition of solid single-player campaigns for those of us not interested in the multi-player offering. The varying mission types, upgrade paths and unique skills are all there to be enjoyed.

I’m sure the multi-player is still great though. Even from a distance I respect the amount of skill involved in becoming a dominant StarCraft II player. Simply watching matches fascinates me — I have no clue what goes on, and yet I remain glued to the screen. I look forward to checking out some more competitive play now that Heart of the Swarm has been released.

This week in news

SimCity came out last week, the first series entry in over a decade. The servers immediately collapsed, the video game community expressed its outrage, and here we are a week later with the same persisting issues.

The game’s stringent internet connection requirements are the source of the controversy. In order to play SimCity, the player must be connected to the game’s servers. I’m not simply referring to online multiplayer — even single-player content cannot be accessed without an internet connection. So when the servers essentially imploded, that $50 copy of SimCity became unplayable.

Some of the problems have been fixed by developer Maxis and the game studio — along with publisher Electronic Arts — has now set up a server status page to better inform players. Nevertheless, I still hear of people unable to access their wondrous cities due to these issues.

The fact that I have to be connected to the internet to access single-player content is silly to begin with. SimCity’s disastrous launch last week helps highlight the ridiculousness of such a requirement, so hopefully game developers and publishers will be a bit more careful about this in the future.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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