StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Expansion Review

By Jason Schreier on March 15, 2013, 2:59 AM

When you're not building and recruiting, you're following arrows and doing what the game tells you to do. Bring this drone here. Leap on this enemy there. There are optional side-quests, yes, but they're almost always marked on your mini-map, and they're way too easy to find and finish.

But it's still StarCraft. It's still a joy to go through the now-familiar ritual of training and killing, and even the easiest missions are designed with the attention to detail that we've grown to expect from this series. Every single mission is interesting in some way. And even the easier moments exercise your mind in the way that only a real-time strategy game can. As Raynor points out, it's just like riding a bike.

Heart of the Swarm's campaign—which took me about 11 hours to finish—is quite good, and I imagine I'll play through it again at some point in the near future. There are some surprises, and most of the dialogue is so silly and endearing that it's kind of brilliant.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 26

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Staff
Steve Steve said:

Thanks for the review. The expansion is great, has made an already awesome game even more awesome. Just wish I had more time to play

1 person liked this | Arris Arris said:

Thanks for the review. The expansion is great, has made an already awesome game even more awesome. Just wish I had more time to play

Totally, need to lock my wife up for the weekend and blast through the campaign

To be fair it is just more of the same formula, and the missions are very simply directed. There isn't even that much need to split your army in most missions, just mass up a big army, crush enemy, move on.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Thanks for the review. The expansion is great, has made an already awesome game even more awesome. Just wish I had more time to play

Totally, need to lock my wife up for the weekend and blast through the campaign

To be fair it is just more of the same formula, and the missions are very simply directed. There isn't even that much need to split your army in most missions, just mass up a big army, crush enemy, move on.

Is there single player?

Arris Arris said:

Is there single player?

If I wanted to play some more multiplayer I'd have to lock the wife up for more than just a single weekend

Played some 3vs3 and got put into Platinum. Never been above Gold before, and not above Silver in my 1vs1. Having some unpleasant beatings in the 3vs3, but it's all a learning(frustrating) experience.

Guest said:

Hate to disagree but the benchmarks for WOL do not apply to HOTS,much lower framerates on same hardware and settings ie ultra,assume it is all the new physics effects on unit deaths.Test it,you'll see!

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Hate to disagree but the benchmarks for WOL do not apply to HOTS,much lower framerates on same hardware and settings ie ultra,assume it is all the new physics effects on unit deaths.Test it,you'll see!

HOTS has upgraded visuals, also supports anti-aliasing now (though AA was patched into WOL a little while back).

Chazz said:

Hate to disagree but the benchmarks for WOL do not apply to HOTS,much lower framerates on same hardware and settings ie ultra,assume it is all the new physics effects on unit deaths.Test it,you'll see!

HOTS has upgraded visuals, also supports anti-aliasing now (though AA was patched into WOL a little while back).

So will there be a GPU test then? I take it you guys are waiting for driver updates first, naturally.

Edit: Don't know if this is mentioned in the article. I typically don't read game reviews as I'm one of those douche bags who like to go in fresh with little to no knowledge. I do love the gpu/cpu tests tho.

Renrew Renrew said:

Many thanks for the timely review.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Yep, really great review.

JC713 JC713 said:

I wish I could get into Starcraft II, I have played it but only own SC1.

jerm1974 jerm1974 said:

Heart of the swarm is more like a mini-expansion. This game lacks innovation.

JC713 JC713 said:

Heart of the swarm is more like a mini-expansion. This game lacks innovation.

Well, if it makes money why add innovation lol. That is the mentality of business my friend, it is evil.

treetops treetops said:

In the original starcraft and all the warcrafts you got a campaign for each race and for each expansion, this expansion offers 2 units for each race and 1 campaign. with a new level\clan system that was in warcraft 3 and should have been implemented on launch in sc2. everything has been moved around, finding chat or playing a computer to test your skills might require a trip to the forums to ask how. the new navigation system is clunky. it is shiny but not really much different from sc2. compared to blizzard pre wow expansions it is pretty pathetic for 40$+. hell even wow expansion blow this turd out of the water.

whats new?

clans

level system

2 units per race

1 campaign for zerg

in the war 3 expansion you got

a new heroe and about 2+ new units for each race

tavern heroes

4 campaigns one for each race

a completely reworked more balanced combat system\macro system

and you still had clans\level system from the original war3

war3 menu system was incredibly easy to use and remained that way, its chat system is still vied for in d3 and sc2. it allowed you to easily see other players and their rewarded avatars in chat, it let you very conveniently click on them and view their stats. I suspect the current chat systems exist because there was almost no moderation in d2 and war3. they are trying to cut harassment report costs.

Guest said:

Just finished the campaign in less than a day. Kind of disappointed it was so short. I like the upgraded units, but the biggest thing to me was it was way too easy for normal level. I guess I could try the other levels, but most of the scenes are not that fun. Hopefully they can make bigger, better and more challenging battles in the next release and not make it for noobs. Just got to wait 3 more years...

1 person liked this | Guest said:

10 hours for a campaign is actually pretty good these days, you get like 3-4 hours if that out of most shooting games. What I think though is that this game is over balanced and this has left the multiplayer stale. Its more about the .01% top end pro players now than it is about the 99%+ who just wanna have fun and smash face at the same time. The overbalancing of all the units has left it basically the same as the original sc2 but with some play around units and has sucked alot of the fun out of the game, you can see this when you play the campaign and you get to use all the awsome new units that would never be in the multiplayer in a million years because some korean guy would win every game with them.

Guest said:

It's really difficult to take anything in this review seriously since the author has close ot zero knowledge on the plot. While it is true that Jim and Kerrigan were sworn enemies in Brood War, it is very untrue they were never in love. Prior to Brood War, while they both worked for Arcturus Mengsk, they had a relationship already. This is very important and I am not sure HOW could anyone miss this fact even in Wings of Liberty. All of Jim's actions are driven by his love for Sarah Kerrigan and at the same time hate for Queen of Blades that she had become.

Nonetheless, even for me - someone that knows the story and read some of the novels, I still consider Heart of the Swarm a disappointment as far as the story goes.

Arris Arris said:

10 hours for a campaign is actually pretty good these days, you get like 3-4 hours if that out of most shooting games.

Totally, when I think the cost of cinema tickets or whatever else I can do for entertainment for the cost of the game it's pretty good value for money in my eyes and that's before considering the number of hours of fun that can be had playing the multiplayer.

Renrew Renrew said:

As much as I like the game, shelling out $40.00 for an expansion of this caliber is way too much. At $20.00 I would have jumped at the chance.

Guest said:

Very good review. Being a player since SC1 & broodwar (byppassed W3 cause of the "heroes" concept) I was mad at Blizzard the first time they've announced the split of SC2 within 3 opus. Since then, I've played WoL and enjoyed it a lot (thousands of multi-player games).

As far as HotS is concerned, the campaign is way to easy (normal & hard) but still entertaining (I only play multi-player usually).

The real thing about SC-whatever is the multi-player platform and I'm now definetely grateful to Blizz to pay one-time 40$ in lieu of monthly fees. Surely HotS will keep me happy until the Protoss episode like the WoL did for the past 3 years!

Well conceived, well designed and continuously improving; I'm fine to pay for that.

treetops treetops said:

10 hours for a campaign is actually pretty good these days, you get like 3-4 hours if that out of most shooting games.

Totally, when I think the cost of cinema tickets or whatever else I can do for entertainment for the cost of the game it's pretty good value for money in my eyes and that's before considering the number of hours of fun that can be had playing the multiplayer.

sky diving cost 180$ for about 5-10 minutes oh the humanity lol jk

im glad for all those who enjoyed it game on

gingerbill said:

Heart of the swarm is more like a mini-expansion. This game lacks innovation.

Well, if it makes money why add innovation lol. That is the mentality of business my friend, it is evil.

yet whenever a company does innovate and change a winning formula people cry its not the exact same as the last game .

I don't think innovation at this time would be right for this game anyway , it's a finely blanced game mainly for multiplayer and still the best around , personally I'm realy enjoying it.

Renrew Renrew said:

You can't compare WOW to an add on to StarCraft II. Completely different products and while there would be some dumb asses paying $14.95 a month for an expansion, I and I'll venture to say millions more, would not be so inclined.

Guest said:

First thing anyone needs to know about Heart of the Swarm is that installing it may lead to an 8GB download and patch process.

I uninstalled WoL months ago due to lack of interest (single player gamer) and shortage of disk space with using a SSD.

So I bought HotS today and installed WoL expecting the usual latest patch to be on the expansion DVD so the usual (1) install game DVD (2) pop in the expansion and it runs a patch and then (3) installs the expansion content .... NO. The Starcraft installer insists on downloading (I think) all the content over the internet .. a whopping 8GB.

Had any of the reviews mentioned this fact I damn sure wouldn't have wasted my money.

Guest said:

If you were that sensitive to your HDD/SSD capacity, you would have certainly found the HotS minimum configuration on your own instead of expecting a game-review to debate the game hardware requirements.

Remember that if Blizzard is not your friend, google certainly is!

Guest said:

I too was placed into platinum and felt it was too easy (it was 4v4). I'm a silver player (sometimes struggling to get out of bronze - with a WoL one time Gold placement). I'm wondering if there just aren't enough players yet for their algorithm to work properly. =)

Staff
Steve Steve said:

I too was placed into platinum and felt it was too easy (it was 4v4). I'm a silver player (sometimes struggling to get out of bronze - with a WoL one time Gold placement). I'm wondering if there just aren't enough players yet for their algorithm to work properly. =)

Give it a season and everything will be sorted out.

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