Not a whole lot has changed with StarCraft: Remastered, but Blizzard has made it look and run a whole lot better on modern PCs. Unfortunately it also highlights some of the basic, quality of life improvements that Blizzard has refined in StarCraft II
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
MonsterVine was provided with a code for review
StarCraft is one of the fundamental pillars of the gaming industry. Everyone who enjoys modern real-time strategy games has StarCraft to thank for the popularization of a lot of core mechanics and features. My first serious experiences watching esports start with Korean streaming service GOMTV, watching the highest level of Brood War competitive play. You can even trace the origins of the MOBA genre all the way back to StarCraft because while Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) first appeared in Warcraft III the map that inspired it, “Aeon of Strife,” was made for StarCraft.
The story StarCraft is centered around three warring groups: The Terran (the human space marines), The Protoss (tech focused, magic aliens) and the Zerg (organic focused, bug aliens). Players get to control the different races through three intertwining campaigns. Things are over the top and bombastic in some campy ways, but still make for an enjoyable experience. The campaigns act like one giant, slow-to-start tutorial for the competitive multiplayer.
Multiplayer is where most players of StarCraft: Remastered are going to spend their time, and appears to be part of Blizzard’s strategy to bring life back into the Brood War scene. Everything is just as it should be. Online and LAN support (LAN play was a feature absent from StarCraft II) with a few tweaks to make things easier. Remastered plays with the other versions of StarCraft as well, which means that there is a huge existing player base that can all connect together for online battles.
My personal favorite parts of the online multiplayer are the custom games found in the “use map settings” filter. This is where player made maps and gametypes live and creative user generated content thrives. Games like Cat and Mouse, Bunker Wars, Sunken Defense, and Aeon of Strife broke conventions and mechanics of the core game in creative and entertaining ways. I spent my time trying new maps I had never played and reliving old.
Blizzard has really delivered on the nostalgia of StarCraft without really changing anything, for better and for worse. The first and major difference is, all of the assets are freshly sampled. No longer are textures blurry, all of the original art has been redone to look the same, but with more pixels. This means the modern ‘zoom’ feature of an RTS can be used without just looking at muddy textures. This is like playing StarCraft the way it exists in my mind’s eye, instead of the way that it actually aged. You can even see it for yourself at anytime, by pressing the F5 key. This is such a great feature which all remasters should include. There is something magical about being able to see a game transform from old to new at the press of a button.
With StarCraft: Remastered coming out nearly 20 years after the original, some of the mechanics and iterative improvements that have come to the RTS genre are painful missing. Firstly, selecting units is limited to a maximum of 12. In a game all about managing attacking units, in large scale battles this becomes a bit of a challenge. Luckily there are still hotkey options (making groups that can be reselected with the press of a button) but even these hotkeys are still not the most convenient after being spoiled with the improvements brought on in StarCraft II. Other antiquated mechanics include not being able to rally worker units to a task, not being able to queue up unit commands, and having to select buildings individually when training up multiple of the same unit. These flaws are only made apparent by the improvement of mechanics over time in modern games, true to the original StarCraft but do make it difficult to jump back in.
Just before StarCraft: Remastered, Blizzard updated the original StarCraft and released it for free for anyone, so if you don’t care about the fancy new paint job, widescreen aspect ratio, and remastered audio, you can still get your nostalgia fix, and even play the online multiplayer with every other release of the game.
The Final Word
StarCraft: Remastered is a complete package that brings an RTS classic into a format that is easier to digest on modern computers and screens. The visual updates highlight the beautiful art direction of earlier Blizzard games, and while simple compared to a modern title, still look great. The core gameplay hasn’t been touched, and this makes jumping in a little difficult when used to some of the quality of life changes that have been made to RTS games over the years, but it’s still an interesting reminder of what things used to be like. Even with nostalgia removed, StarCraft: Remastered is a complete package, and a pillar of the genre, worthy of the $15 price tag.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4 out of 5 – Good