StarCraft is one of the fore-runners of modern video strategy games. From its origins in the mid to late 1990’s, it has led the field in the genre of military science-fiction games played in real time. Options include both single and multi-player versions, with difficulty levels ranging from easy, for the newcomer, to insane, which only the most experienced players should attempt! StarCraft’s popularity can be recognised through the number of versions of the game available on different platforms, including Nintendo and Mac computers. The original storyline has also evolved, with a later version released in 2010. Only the best and most challenging games can continue to compete for many years in this highly competitive market, but StarCraft has easily done so. There are even professional tournaments for StarCraft in some countries, for example South Korea.
One of the many ways in which StarCraft has influenced the genre is in the use of three different species, each of which has its own distinct technologies, skills, strengths and weaknesses. The three races are:
- Terrans, who are human-like and whose strengths lie in their flexibility and use of ballistic weapons;
- Protoss, who are extremely technologically advanced, which gives them access to complex machinery. They are, however, less flexible, as they need connections to power sources to operate effectively;
- Zerg, who are insectoid creatures. Typically they are inherently weaker, as their units and buildings are wholly organic, but they also have the advantage of quick and inexpensive production, so can use huge numbers to attack their opponents.
One of the attractive features of the game is that the strengths and weaknesses of the three races can be balanced out through the best use of their individual strengths and resources. Perhaps your preference is to go for the strong technology of the Protoss, in which case, there are considerations such as the length of time to develop and manufacture units, transport or buildings. The same applies to the other two species. The Terrans fall somewhere between the extremes of the Zerg and the Protoss, being able to access some technologies and having far greater flexibility in terms of where they can build or travel. The Zerg, as stated above, do not have the technologies, but in the same way that ant colonies can overcome huge obstacles through sheer numbers, the scale of the Zerg attacks can result in a victory over a theoretically stronger opponent.
If any testament is required to the excellence of this gaming legend, consider the fact that the original StarCraft is used by the US Air Force as part of its basic teaching of team-work and strategic problem solving. That’s surely some recommendation.