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|StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty|
Art and Cinematics
July 27, 2010
Real Time Strategy
StarCraft II Engine
Internet connection (to install)
Wings of Liberty has 29 missions (though a maximum of 26 are playable in a single playthrough).
It has 13 minutes of pre-rendered cinematics and 32 minutes of in-engine on-the-fly cinematics.
It has been collected into a battlechest alongside Heart of the Swarm.
The campaign is expected to take 20-60 hours to complete, depending on how "completist" the player is.
In the terran campaign, players could choose their own missions in the middle of the campaign rather than progress through a set series. The missions are designed to emphasize player choice, such as which technology to buy and which missions to play. The choices will be made obvious, and affect the fate of some characters.
Mission and cinematic replays can be viewed and data displayed. Missions can even be played again in order to get achievements.
All missions except the final Char missions, the prophecy missions and the secret mission add a new unit to the arsenal. The mission is generally tailored to be challenging when using the new unit. Delaying a mission to expand the arsenal by playing other missions first can alleviate much of that difficulty.
Jim Raynor is the main character, and the player will direct him, determining to some extent who Raynor will become based on their choices. This is different from the "vague" player character from StarCraft.
The player will have the choice of bending Raynor's path in life (by taking missions from certain characters such as Ariel Hanson compared to taking missions from characters such as Tychus Findlay and Gabriel Tosh).
Interactions in briefings also changed, as Jim Raynor can interact with those around him (e.g. he can walk around the Hyperion or talk to characters like Tychus Findlay and his second-in-command Matt Horner. The player can choose which characters to interact with.
Often missions are associated with different characters. For instance, Jim Raynor can choose between allying with Gabriel Tosh or Nova. If the former mission is concluded, Raynor's Raiders can create spectres and Tosh remains on his team. If the latter mission is chosen, Raynor's Raiders can create ghosts and Nova kills Tosh.
Numerous between-mission set pieces exist, such as the bar on Mar Sara where Tychus Findlay was reunited with Jim Raynor, and includes features such as a jukebox (which enables music to be turned on or off), a bulletin board containing useful information (such as wanted posters) and nostalgic pieces (such as a picture of Raynor and Findlay in the Heaven's Devils), and a TV set which showed newscasts informing Raynor about events affecting the Terran Dominion.
In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, players can buy new upgrades here. Players can "customize" their selections which suit their playstyles, for instance buying defensive upgrades for bunkers would suit a defensive playstyle. When a new upgrade is bought, a short video of the unit or ability is shown.
The bridge of the Hyperion is where mission briefings take place. Matt Horner is usually stationed here.
The Battle Report screen allows missions to be replayed. Alternate missions can be played and although doing so will not affect the plot of a particular run through of Wings of Liberty, the missions' achievements can be earned, and credit for doing them (for achievements that have you complete all 29 missions) are also earned. Battle Reports of each mission are generated with stats ranging from SCV count to the actual build order.
The ship houses an on-board cantina, where Jim Raynor has been known to drink.
The cantina features TV sets (to watch the news) and a jukebox stolen from a bar on Mar Sara. Newly-introduced characters often congregate here, news reports can be watched and decorations for completing a particular arc of the campaign (such as the UNN plaque Findlay took after Media Blitz, or the banner given to Raynor by the Haven colonists after Safe Haven) can be viewed above the door.
The laboratory provides upgrades and additional units in campaign mode. There are two research trees: zerg and protoss. Progression up the zerg tree is through accumulating zerg research points in missions, with protoss research points being applied to the protoss tree. Collecting points and advancing up the trees are a type of quest.
Points are applied to the tree cumulatively; points are not expended like credits. A tree level is unlocked for every five points accumulated. Each level has two upgrades/unit options, but only one may be chosen. An option must be chosen at each level for the tree to progress.
Once a tree has reached 25 points there are no further upgrades or units. Points beyond the 25 may be sold to the Moebius Foundation for 10,000 credits each.
Unit and Upgrade Availability
Units will become available in the campaign through missions. The player can also gain access to upgrades for them which are purchased outside actual missions in the Hyperion armory. Players will be able to "customize" their selections which suit their playstyles, for instance buying defensive upgrades for bunkers would suit a defensive playstyle. In addition, other upgrades that will never be seen in multiplayer, such as area-of-effect increases or the ability to add both a tech lab and a reactor to a barracks will be included in the system.
Most missions completed gives access to a unit or upgrade to a unit. Each unit has two upgrades.
There are only enough credits to purchase approximately 80% of upgrades in the campaign.
Wings of Liberty includes a protoss mini-campaign which must be unlocked. It consists of a series of missions, and includes other protoss forces. The mini-campaign is not separate from the main terran campaign; rather, there are missions where the player plays as protoss.
The mini-campaign is presented as a flashback of Zeratul's actions.
The mission types are varied; early missions are focused on acquiring credits and equipment, such as Liberation Day and The Outlaws. One mission consists of a series of train robberies (The Great Train Robbery). The third mission is a hold-out mission.
Other missions include one where lava rises every five minutes, killing anything that isn't on high ground (The Devil's Playground); a mission where infested terrans emerge at night and force the player into a hold-out situation, but they become dormant during the day, during which the player tries to kill as many as possible (Outbreak); a mission where there is a invincible mothership and the player has to destroy the nexii powering its shield before it destroys all colonist outposts (Safe Haven); a mission where opposing terran and zerg forces seek to steal an alien artifact from within a hostile protoss fanatics base (Smash and Grab); a mission in which a lone "ghost" must influence a battle (Breakout & Ghost of a Chance); a mission on a xel'naga worldship where rip-field generators damages units (Maw of the Void), a mission on a scrap planet where the player has to compete with a mercenary to achieve a quota of 6000 minerals, scrap having to be collected (Cutthroat), the "Thor" missions (Engine of Destruction and Media Blitz) and one mission will have walls of fire burn across the map and the player must complete the mission before being consumed by a nearby supernova (Supernova).
The mission design of the game was based on how Wings of Liberty was a story of "one man and a group of rebels," and were designed to show how Raynor was in over his head, yet could pull off miracles even in the midst of zerg invasions.
Note: The storyline of Wings of Liberty contains branches, some of which are mutually exclusive. Information has been grouped by missions lines, but some overlap can still occur at the player's discretion. In terms of timeframe, it takes place over a period of weeks with several early missions taking place in early October, 2504.
After nine years of being a convict, Tychus Findlay was released from cryo-prison, but not without a price. Meanwhile, rebel leader Jim Raynor was present on Mar Sara, fighting against a Terran Dominion takeover of a local colony.
Traveling back to Joeyray's Bar, he met up with Tychus Findlay, who was an old friend of his. Findlay offered Raynor a business proposal; "liberating" alien artifacts from the Terran Dominion. The Dominion had recently prohibited transportation of such artifacts, and had begun excavating them on planets such as Mar Sara. The artifacts would be sold to his contact, the formerly legitimate Moebius Foundation. Raynor and Findlay's forces teamed up to steal one such artifact from the Dominion.
The zerg invaded Mar Sara en masse, starting at the location of the dig. The Raiders defended a town until the Hyperion could rescue them. The zerg had, in fact, struck many Dominion worlds. Afterward, Raynor had the choices of rescuing the colonists of Agria and retrieving an artifact from protoss fanatics at Monlyth.
On Monlyth, the Raiders had to contend with both the Tal'darim, a fanatical protoss splinter faction, and Kerrigan's zerg. They performed a quick smash and grab mission, wrestling the artifact and escaping before Kerrigan could arrive...but not before she could taunt Raynor. Afterwards, Findlay familiarized himself with the Queen of Blades via the Hyperion's archive, much to Matt Horner's irritation at the lack of permission granted for such access. Findlay saw Kerrigan as a threat to be dealt with. Horner however, was more sensitive and aware of Raynor's past with the former ghost.
The next artifact uncovered was on the dead world of Xil, where a Moebius Foundation team had been wiped out. The Raiders descended to the surface and discovered why—the Tal'darim. However, using the Drakken laser drill as both excavator and weapon, the Raiders succeeded where Moebius had failed and retrieved the artifact.
Whispers in the Dark
After Xil, Raynor was confronted by another protoss, one who didn't want to kill him—Zeratul. He gave Raynor a cryptic warning about Kerrigan, that for all her sins, she was the only one who could save them from a looming catastrophe. The rebel received an ihan crystal from the Nerazim, one that contained Zeratul's memories. Memories that would allow the terran to understand what his protoss friend had seen and experienced.
Raynor stared into the crystal, seeing Zeratul arrive on the world of Ulaan, seeking a prophecy that heralded the return of the xel'naga. However, Kerrigan was present as well, along with her zerg. The two fought and Kerrigan held her own, but her heart wasn't in it. Like Zeratul, she had seen portents of what the future would bring. And unlike the Dark Templar, she was willing to let fate take her. Zeratul however, clung onto hope and retrieved the prophecy's fragments. He traveled to Zhakul, where the fragments might be translated.
Raynor was losing himself in the crystal, prompting the concern of those around him. Nonetheless, he watched as Zeratul arrived on Zhakul, finding the three preservers he sought imprisoned by a hybrid and the local protoss corrupted by its influence. The prelate defeated the creature and freed the preservers, who in turn interpreted the prophecy. It spoke of a "Fallen One" and that what had begun with the Great Hungerer would end in utter darkness. Zeratul realized that the "Great Hungerer" might be the Overmind and departed for Aiur.
Aiur was a ruined world, and the area around the corpse of the Overmind was no exception. Zeratul accessed its thoughts from its tendrils, sensing, strangely enough, fear of the future, yet also joy. Arriving at its cortex, the Nerazim was confronted by the spirit of Tassadar, thought dead four years ago. Tassadar had never truly died, and in the high templar's own words, never would. He explained that the Overmind was not always the monstrous creature the protoss had fought in the Great War. Instead, its personality had been altered by an outside force, the Dark Voice, compelling it to assault the protoss rather than merge naturally to perform the xel'naga's cycle of rebirth. The Overmind knew it had been corrupted, but had been created without free will and could therefore not fight its overriding directive. It could, however, create a being who might save its species from manipulation...the Queen of Blades. For it had seen what the future held. And through Tassadar, Zeratul saw it as well.
In the present, Raynor took the final step and saw what others before him had—Armageddon. Humanity had been consumed, the galaxy was in flames, the protoss were making a final stand on a distant, shadowed world and the Swarm had come under the control of the hybrids, as well as their mysterious leader. The Dark Voice mocked the protoss, revealing that in this future, Kerrigan, the one person who might have saved them, was dead, killed in the perception that she had been the true threat. The protoss were eventually overcome and darkness descended over the galaxy. And Kerrigan, the same being responsible for bringing death and destruction to the Koprulu Sector, was the only one who could avert this.
The Final Artifacts
Infested Kerrigan made another play for the artifacts. She personally led an invasion of Tyrador VIII, where the Moebius Foundation was based. Their own forces had managed to evacuate for the most part, but were unable to destroy their data cores which would reveal the locations of the rest of the artifacts. Raynor's Raiders were hired by the Foundation's leader, Dr. Emil Narud, to destroy the data cores before Kerrigan could get to them. The Raiders were successful in this action. However, this close call with Kerrigan caused Raynor to fall into a depression.
The next artifact was located on Typhon XI. As the Hyperion neared the planet, the star it orbited began to fall into a supernova. Raynor's Raiders had to quickly descend, fight their way past Tal'darim and make off with the artifact before the planet was consumed. The Raiders once again stole an artifact from the Tal'darim.
The Raiders, expecting to meet with the Moebius Foundation, instead came across a Dominion fleet, led by its flagship, the Bucephalus. Raynor and Findlay invaded the Bucephalus, intending to kill Arcturus Mengsk. Instead, Raynor found his son, Valerian, who offered to work with him in order to rescue Sarah Kerrigan from her infestation. Raynor agreed.
Raynor's Raiders located the last piece of the artifact on a xel'naga worldship occupied by the Tal'darim. The Tal'darim Executor made a personal appearance in his own mothership but it was useless; the Raiders made off with the last piece.
The Return to Char
Raynor allied with Valerian Mengsk to go down to Char to try to de-infest Kerrigan. Many members of his crew became distrustful of Raynor, especially Milo Kachinsky and Tychus Findlay, who drunkenly branded Raynor as a coward. Raynor overheard this, and after besting an armored Findlay during a fight, Raynor explained that the zerg invasion was the greater of two evils and doing so would save humanity, turning the crew back to his side.
After an unpleasant meeting with General Horace Warfield, Raynor was briefed on the battlecruiser Bucephalus, the flagship of the Dominion fleet. Valerian received a transmission from his father, who was proud of his son's ambition, which was to prove himself a worthy heir by de-infesting Kerrigan and allying with the biggest terrorist ever, but believed he was in "way over your head." Arcturus was then shocked that Raynor allied with his son, which Raynor assured Arcturus that they had a "score to settle." After the transmission, Valerian was pleased. The zerg then launched a pre-emptive strike.
The initial landing was a disaster. Many attack groups were destroyed while in-flight and those that landed were either wiped out by zerg forces on the planet or were scattered. Raynor and his forces were able to take a foothold on Char, soon afterward proceeding to rescue General Warfield and his men, who had crash landed in the initial assault. Warfield commended Raynor on his bravery.
The zerg's ground or air support then had to be taken out. The terran forces could assault the main hive because of the massive number of zerg around it. More zerg were also incoming from previously invaded Terran Dominion worlds. Therefore, the zerg's nydus network had to be taken out or their air support.
After the zerg's support was taken out, the terran forces rallied to launch the final attack on the primary hive, after an inspiring speech by Raynor. General Warfield, with a new cybernetic arm, delivered the fully assembled xel'naga artifact to Raynor, where the terran forces had to hold out against the zerg until the artifact was fully charged to de-infest Kerrigan. The artifact became fully charged and launched a powerful energy nova that destroyed the zerg forces and partially de-infested Kerrigan.
Raynor and Findlay then led a small team of marines into the main hive to retreive Kerrigan. Tychus then tried to fulfill his deal with Mengsk by killing Kerrigan and earning his freedom. Raynor defended Kerrigan from Tychus and then shot him. Raynor then walked outside to a sunrise, carrying Sarah Kerrigan over a war-torn Char. Valerian Mengsk's gambit paid off; Kerrigan has been de-infested. While the zerg invasion was halted, Tychus Findlay is dead, and Arcturus Mengsk remains secure on his throne.
Gabriel Tosh, a former Dominion ghost turned anti-Dominion spectre, hoped to use the fighting to mask the acquisition of jorium, terrazine, and suitable candidates needed to augment Project Shadow Blade. He sought the help of Jim Raynor, hoping to use their alliance against Arcturus Mengsk.
List of Missions
- Main article: Wings of Liberty missions
- Main article: Characters in StarCraft II
|Dark Voice: prophesied foe||Jim Raynor: leader of Raynor's Raiders, Hyperion commander||Tychus Findlay: marine ex-convict|
|Ariel Hanson: scientist||Graven Hill: mercenary recruiter||Matt Horner: second-in-command of Raynor's Raiders, captain of the Hyperion|
|Infested Kerrigan: leader of the Zerg Swarm||Arcturus Mengsk: emperor of the Terran Dominion||Valerian Mengsk: heir to the Dominion|
|Egon Stetmann: scientist||Rory Swann: chief engineer||Gabriel Tosh: spectre|
|Horace Warfield: commander of the Dominion military||Zeratul: Dark Templar prelate|
Wings of Liberty has a Collector's Edition, selling for $100 US dollars and is only available through retail stores.
Bonus items include:
- The Art of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
- A USB flash drive replica of Jim Raynor's dog tag, which includes StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War
- A behind the scenes DVD.
- The official Wings of Liberty soundtrack CD, with 14 game tracks and exclusive bonus tracks.
- StarCraft: Issue 0, a prequel to the StarCraft comic
- A World of Warcraft mini-thor pet.
- A different thor model for in-game use.
- Exclusive Battle.net downloadable content, including special portraits for your Battle.net profile, decals to customize your units in-game.
On December 21st, 2010, a demo version of Wings of Liberty became available. The player could play through the first three missions, or play multiplayer (but only as terrans against a terran AI opponent). Unlike the original StarCraft demo, it doesn't have access to play through Battle.net.
In the demo version there are only two Mar Sara maps available (Blistering Sands and Quicksand). All unit portraits are still (cannot be animated); the only exceptions are Jim Raynor (both marine and commander), Raynor's adjutant and Tychus Findlay.
As of August 2011 the "Starter Edition" became available. This gives access to the first three missions of Wings of Liberty plus either The Evacuation or Smash and Grab (player's choice), the first two challenges: Tactical Command and Covert Ops, access to terrans in Single-Player vs AI and Custom Games in the following maps: Discord IV, High Orbit, The Shattered Temple, Xel'Naga Caverns and the custom map StarJeweled, subject to change over time. Achievements and campaign progress will be saved in case the player upgrades to the full version of Wings of Liberty.
Within one day of its release, Wings of Liberty had sold 1 million copies worldwide. After two days (during which period Blizzard began selling the game as a digital download on its website) it sold approximately 500,000 additional units, bringing the total up to 1.5 million worldwide and making it the fastest-selling strategy game of all time. After one month, it had sold 3 million copies worldwide.
- GameRankings: 92.67% (aggregate)
- Metacritic: 93% (aggregate)
- Computer and Video Games: 9.3/10
- Eurogamer: 9/10
- Game Informer 10/10
- GameSpot: 9.5/10
- GameSpy: 4/5
- GamesRadar: 10/10
- GameTrailers: 9.5/10
- IGN: 9/10
- Videogamer.com: 10/10
- X-Play: 5/5
- Spike 2010 Best PC Game
- G4 Best Game of 2010
- IGN Best PC Competitive Multiplayer (2010)
- IGN Best PC Strategy Game (2010)
- IGN Best PC Blockbuster Game (2010)
- IGN Best PC Game of the Year (2010)
- Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play and Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year, as well as being nominated for several other awards, by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
- Time Magazine Game of the Year (2010)
- Paul Menichini, David Farmer of Blizzard Entertainment won the GANG 2011 award for Best Cinematic/Cut-Scene Audio in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be nominated for the Strategy Category and the Multiplayer Category. The event is held March 2011.
MI6, a game marketing organization, nominated Wings of Liberty for the following 2011 awards:
- Best Product Packaging: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Standard Edition
- Best Limited Edition, Special Edition or Collectors Edition Packaging: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector’s Edition
- Best Online Advertising Campaign: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Online Campaign
- Best Community-Based Web Experience: StarCraft II ‘Join the Dominion’ Campaign
- Sharpest Edge Award - Best Editing: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty TV Commercial
As per each installment of StarCraft II, Wings of Liberty was to focus on the fantasy of its playable race. In this case, the terrans—building a stronger army through completing missions and earning credits. Most of the missions were designed to reflect that Raynor could not take on Mengsk directly, and as such, had to choose his battles tactically. Andy Chambers finished completion of the game's story, after most of the groundwork had been laid in.
A storyline that was cut from the game was a drinking problem for Raynor. Raynor would be shown to make mistakes even as the player successfully completed missions. Raynor would overcome his personal demons and find redemption. Such was Chris Metzen's idea, but the development team reacted negatively, finding it unnecessary, citing issues of player empowerment. According to Metzen, the original concept was to portray Raynor as a full-blown alcaholic. However, this was dialed back, as he didn't want to portray Raynor as being a man completely without hope.
The final release had been pushed back to at least the first half of 2010 to give adequate time to develop Battle.net. Development of the game itself is currently focused on polishing the singleplayer, specifically briefings, newscasts, outros and videos for unlocked technologies.
As of March 2010, all missions were in, dialog was in, and all game mechanics were working. Its storyline had been fully solidified, and the team who developed it moved on to Heart of the Swarm.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was released on July 27, 2010. It had a day one patch.
- Such is the scale of Wings of Liberty's storyline that Chris Metzen believes that it would take at least three novels to tell it were it in written form, though nine would be the preferred number. He considers the ending of the game to be one of his favorite moments out of all the work he's done at Blizzard Entertainment.
- In China, StarCraft II's open beta started on March 29, 2011 for free. Chinese StarCraft II players pay 20 yuan (approximately $3) per month.
- In conjunction with Blizzard Entertainment, SteelSeries has developed a custom Wings of Liberty keyboard, specifically designed for macromanagement and with labeled commands on the keys.
- The game contains a method for learning how to play the other races.
|The next article in this series is StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.|