Available On: PC (Windows, Mac)
Blizzard’s online service Battle.net wasn’t quite my first foray into online gaming, but it did solidify my love of computer gaming throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Many a Friday evening in the early days of high school were spent constructing marines and mowing down Zerg with friends. To say I have deeply ingrained nostalgia for StarCraft is an understatement.
StarCraft: Remastered is a very faithful HD update to one of the best strategy games ever created. It suffers a bit from forgoing any gameplay or UI updates that strategy games from the last two decades have evolved (such as StarCraft 2). But make no mistake, StarCraft Remastered makes a great game better.
StarCraft: Remastered’s nostalgia grabs you by the shoulders from the second you enter the main screen. Every element has been completely preserved from the original 1998 game and its expansion, Brood War. Everything from the menu sounds to the soundtrack and animated main screen is completely the same, but with wide screen support and new art and textures.
This looks fantastic once you jump into a game. The classic art design of each unit and building looks so similar that it’s easy to forget what the original looked like. In StarCraft: Remastered’s coolest feature, you can hit the F5 button to seamlessly switch between the original 4:3 game and the remaster. It results in maximum shock value that made me appreciate the work that went into updating the graphics for modern resolutions and monitors.
Unfortunately this same work can’t be said for the gameplay. StarCraft: Remastered frustratingly doesn’t update or change any of the archaic designs that RTS games have long since fixed or abandoned. Path-finding units is still a major pain. You can only select up to 12 units at a time. Micro-managing anyone is a nightmare. You can’t rally workers to gather resources.
I’ve since taken these nagging issues for granted in modern games like StarCraft 2. You could argue that StarCraft: Remastered’s job was to update the graphics and not touch the gameplay at all for the sake of preservation. I would argue all these issues bring down an otherwise stellar trip down memory lane. Plus, the original game is now completely free to download.
The other issue is Battle.net itself. While StarCraft: Remastered is integrated into Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher, the actual multiplayer component still uses the in-game match-making browser to play multiplayer. It was wonderful in the 90s, but it’s laughable now. Gathering friends and selecting a map to play is needlessly arduous, and horrendously unattractive. StarCraft: Remastered could have greatly benefited from using Blizzard’s modern match-making tools and services.
This Is Jimmy
The gameplay issues persist in every game mode, but the archaic match-making melts away in the campaign. StarCraft featured one of the best space opera stories in an era that was a decade before Mass Effect.
The campaign still plays fantastically. The talking heads that introduce each mission have been completely redone. No more blurry, ugly faces but full portraits with fun little animations.
It’s delightful seeing Kerrigan, Raynor, Tassadar, etc in the multi-faction struggle featuring betrayal, war, rebellion, discovery, and one of the most ruthless villains in gaming.
With both the original 30 mission campaign and Brood War’s additional 24 maps, there’s a ton of content to revisit throughout all three factions. It’s not quite Game of Thrones in space but it’s a memorable story that absolutely still holds up, and well worth revisiting.
The original game was rated T for Teen for Animated Blood and Strong Language. Creatures explode in a gush of blood when slain. The story is a bit darker and more serious than Star Wars.
StarCraft: Remastered is hindered somewhat by its faithfulness to the original. The graphical updates are great and the classic RTS structure remains solid. But it would have been better served with more time spent refining some of its aging gameplay quirks.
Blizzard played it safe by only touching on the graphics and preserving everything else, making it a pure remaster primarily built for older fans filled with nostalgia for one of the best games of all time.