StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty launched last night at midnight, so start applying that balm to your index finger right now, because you're going to need it. This is one of the most anticipated games in the history of mouse-clicking, and it will send waves through online gaming. Especially in South Korea, where it has become a competitive sport with its own peripheral industries.
But the original game came out in 1998, which means that an entire generation has missed out on the entire struggle between the Protoss, the Terrans, the Zerg, and their continuing struggle for dominance in a remote part of the Milky Way galaxy. Since we don't want you to miss out on this game, which is definitely worth getting, we've created a guide to bring you up to speed.
Of course, you could just download both StarCraft and the Brood War expansion pack for only $14.99 and play your way through it as fast as possible over many hours. But if you feel like a compact, capsulized version, here you go. Needless to say, but if you don't want to be spoiled, steer clear.
The Terrans: These are humans who were exiled from Earth in the far future, and they have been sent to colonize distant worlds. They end up settling in the distant Koprulu Sector of the galaxy, but don't play very nice with each other. The exiles form their own governments and square off against each other. One government group, the Confederacy of Man is very heavy-handed when it comes to governing, and they inspire a terrorist group called the Sons of Korhal to start acting out.
- Jim Raynor: Raynor first appears in the game as a marshall on Mar Sara, a Terran colony that has become threatened by both the Zerg and the Protoss. During a Zerg attack and while trying to protect the colony, he is arrested by the Confederacy. Later he is freed and fights in the rebellion against them with the Sons of Korhal. Eventually, he leaves the group when its leader abandons Sarah Kerrigan to death. Raynor and Kerrigan had become very close, and this deeply affects Raynor. He forms his own group, Raynor's Raiders, and enlists the help of several friends.
- Arcturus Mengsk: Although originally a member of the Conderatacy, Mengsk formed the rebllious Sons of Korhal after his parents and sister were assassinated. This led to a brutal nuclear attack on Korhal, and caused Mengsk to start using extreme measures in his fight against them. Raynor discovers that he has been using the Zerg to attack Confederate targets, and when the Confederate base on Tarsonis is destroyed, he crowns himself Emperor.
- Sarah Kerrigan: Kerrigan is a Ghost agent in the ranks of Mengsk's who develops a close relationship with Jim Raynor until she is betrayed by Mengsk himself and left to die amongst the Zerg. However, the Zerg turn her into a Terran/Zerg hybrid with powerful mental abilities. Look for more on her in the Brood War section, since that was mainly her dark and terrible title..
- Tychus Findlay: Findlay is a new character to the StarCraft games, having first been seen in the StarCraft II teaser trailer being locked into his Marine power armor. However, he was first introduced in the novel Heaven's Devils. He fought alongside Jim Raynor in the Confederacy, before becoming an outlaw in the rebellion. He was captured and put in jail, but escapes by the start of Starcraft II, and has joined up with Raynor again.
- Gabriel Tosh: Tosh is a rastafarian-looking spectre, an elite Ghost agent who has had his powers amped with terrazine, a mysterious psionic reagant that is highly sought after in the StarCraft universe. Tosh made his debut in the Spectres novel, and it a cutthroat arms dealer who doesn't always choose the mortal high ground.
The Protoss: The Protoss are humanoid race of beings who have developed psionic abilities, and use very advanced technology like warp gates and phase cannons. The Protoss who believe in the main religion of the Protoss, called the Khala, are referred to as Khalai. This religion focuses on a psionic link between each member of the Protoss, and those who reject Khala are called the Nerazim, or Dark Templars. They cut their nerve appendages so as to sever that link.
- Tassadar: Tassadar is a high templar in amongst the Protoss and holds a high rank in the Khalai. He is the commander of the fleet that wipes out a Terran colony, although he rejects his orders to continue destroying worlds and confronts the Zerg head on. He later teams up with the Dark Templar Zeratul, and Jim Raynor. He dies fighting a Zerg invasion of Aiur, the Protoss homeworld.
- Zeratul: Zeratul is a mysterious Dark Templar who befriends Tassadar and teaches him how to use Dark Templar energies. After the attack on Aiur, Zeratul tries to unite the remaining Khalai with the remaining Dark Templars. He is very secretive and often speaks in Yoda-like riddles. He has been journeying on his own looking for information about the Xel'Naga, an ancient and mysterious race.
The Zerg: These are an insect-like race that mutate into different forms rather than using technology. They are controlled by a hive mind, and strive to create a perfect race by assimilating other races, much like the Borg. They are generally the bad guys in the story, and are fighting a two-way war with both the Protoss and the Terrans.
- The Overmind: This is a manifestation of the hive mind, which was actually created by the Xel'Naga when they were experimenting with the Zerg. When the Overmind became aware of the Xel'Naga, it assimilated them. The Overmind has targeted the Terrans because of their potential to develop psionic powers, and it wants to assimilate them to give them an advantage in the struggle against the Protoss.
- Cerebrates: These are sapient Zerg who command broods, and when they are slain their broods run amok. Cerebrates are genetically unable to disobey the Overmind, and several of them can merge together to form a new Overmind if need be. There are high-ranking Cerebrates in the Zerg, such as Daggoth who tutors you when you play the Zerg in StarCraft, and Zasz who is suspicious and untrusting of Kerrigan once she is turned.
- Sarah Kerrigan: Once Kerrigan is taken over by the Zerg, she proclaims herself to the Queen of Blades, and she goes from good girl to bad. She eventually takes over control of the entire Zerg swarm, and is pretty much a badass. Her design was inspired by Medusa from the Greek myths, and she is the focus of the Brood War expansion.
The Xel'Naga: An ancient race that features prominently in the world of StarCraft, as they genetically experimented on both the Protoss and the Zerg long ago. They have never been seen in the game, other than in the form of relics.
StarCraft unfolds in a very distant part of the Milky Way galaxy called the Koprulu Sector (or Terran Sector), more than 60,000 light years from our own Solar System. It exists near Protoss space, and the Zerg Quarantine Zone. It is a pretty dangerous place to be, especially since the events of the Brood War.
The eradication of a Terran colony world kicks off the events of StarCraft in December of 2499. The new game takes place four years after the conclusion of Brood War.
There is a lot going on in the world of StarCraft, which has had its story expanded through several expansions and novels.
- StarCraft: In the original game, the Terrans are attacked by the Protoss and Zerg, eventually leading to the fall of the Confederacy of Man. Arcturus Mengsk, the leader of the rebels, crowds himself emperor of the Terran Dominion, and allows his second in command, Sarah Kerrigan, to be taken by the Zerg. This leads Jim Raynor to desert, taking a small faction with him. The Zerg launch an attack on the Protoss homeworld, only to be stopped by Tassafar, who sacrifices himself.
- Insurrection: This add-on pack designed by Aztech New Media was released in July of 1998, and was authorized by Blizzard. It focuses on a single Terran colony during the events of the first campaign in the original game. Since release, it has been somewhat disowned by Blizzard, who doesn't comment on it.
- Retribution: This expansion was developed by Stardock and released in late 1998. It focuses on obtaining a powerful crystal left behind by the Xel'Naga, and players took control of each of the three races in trying to retrieve the crystal from a Dominion colony. Like Insurrection, it seems not to exist in the official Blizzard StarCraft world.
- Brood War: This 1998 expansion was developed by Blizzard and Saffire, and is about the Protoss and the previous unheard from Earth government and their concern over the Zerg and Sarah Kerrigan's increasing power as the Queen of Blades. It introduced many new units, fixed balanced issues, and was widely praised. If you purchase the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty special edition, you'll get both StarCraft and Brood War on a USB drive styled to look like Jim Raynor's dogtags.
- StarCraft: Ghost: This game was meant to tell the story of Nova, a Ghost espionage agent in the Terran Dominion, and was to be set four years after Brood War. It has been on eternal hold, and was being developed at the time for the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2.
- StarCraft: Uprising: This novel was released as an e-book in 2000, and deals with Sarah Kerrigan's backstory.
- StarCraft: Liberty's Crusade: Set during the first campaign in StarCraft, this book follows a journalist through the story.
- StarCraft: Shadow of the Xel'Naga: This book links the story of both StarCraft and Brood War together.
- StarCraft: Speed of Darkness: This follows a single marine through the early events of StarCraft. These first four books were released together in 2007 as The StarCraft Archive.
- StarCraft: Queen of Blades: This book tells the story of the second StarCraft campaign from Jim Raynor's point of view.
- StarCraft Ghost: Nova: This was meant to be published along with the forever-delayed StarCraft: Ghost game, but when the game never appeared Blizzard decided to publish the book anyhow. It follows the character Nova, a Ghost agent.
- StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga: This is a trilogy of books meant to span the gap StarCraft and StarCraft II. It consists of the books Firstborn, Shadow Hunters, and Twilight.
- StarCraft: I, Mengsk: This novel follows the Mengsk family, and focuses on young Arcturus Mengsk.
- StarCraft Ghost: Spectres: This book follows the continuing adventures of Nova.
- StarCraft II: Heaven's Devils: This first StarCraft II novel focuses on 18 year old Jim Raynor, and the friendship he forges with Tychus Findlay.
The original StarCraft and its Brood War expansion, along with a new "Resurrection IV" mission were ported to the Nintendo 64 in 2000 as StarCraft 64, which marks the only appearance of the StarCraft series on a console.
The original StarCraft was used in the U.S. Air Force to teach officers about crisis planning and working under stress. If you've ever played an online match, you know how important this can be.
In the merchandise arena, you can now purchase StarCraft statues, action figures, comic books, model kits, messenger bags, clothing, and a tabletop role-playing game. This is after 12 years of the original game, so who knows what the sequels will spawn.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start clicking!