This review is going to focus on not one, but three somewhat smaller scope games. If you’ve heard of a little game called StarCraft 2 then you may or may not know that there is a full fledged galaxy (map/mod creator) included with the game. Being an aspiring game designer I’ve been really having fun checking out various maps people have been creating and making some of my own. Since these are all done in the map editor I’ll focus mainly on how fun these games are to actually play rather than specifics like graphics and whatnot. I’m also including some quick footage of the games so you all can see them in action a bit. (IE: Possible spoilers!) So with that said, I’ll get right into this article’s three games I’ve come to review which were all published by Blizzard themselves:
What it is: First up on the list is StarJeweled. This is quite frankly exactly what the title says; Bejeweled mixed into the StarCraft universe. However, your overall goal is to destroy the opponent’s base, not just to match crystals. While matching crystals may be a fun puzzle game in itself, another challenge is sprung onto you by selecting units to send toward your opponent’s base. As you match sets of three or more jewels in typical Bejeweled fashion you gain energy. This energy increases at quicker paces as you link more jewel combos together in succession. As your energy bar goes up, classic StarCraft units can be trained. Each unit has it’s own strengths and weaknesses when put up against other units, so it is important to send out units that can either overpower or counter your enemy. Along with those units you can also spend energy on special abilities such as a heal for your team’s units, or a psy storm to blow up the other team. Being a good puzzle/Bejeweled player is only the first step to success in StarJeweled. Spending your energy efficiently is just as important as matching crystals.
So is it worth Playing? Overall the game is quite fast paced and tons of fun. I have learned that I’m not a very good Bejeweled player but it was still quite enjoyable as a game within a game. It doesn’t fully show off what the SC 2 editor has to offer, but Blizzard has done a pretty decent job of showing some of their creativity within this mod. If you want a fast paced, fun game to challenge your friends at with a somewhat minor learning curve than this game is for you. (4/5 stars for everyone)
Left 2 Die:
What it is: You’ve guessed it. It’s a knockoff mini game of Left 4 Dead in StarCraft terms. If you’ve played the StarCraft 2 campaign you’ll probably remember the mission called “Outbreak”. This is very similar to it in that you have to keep your base defended during the nights and go out to kill Zerg during the day to knock out their numbers. However in Left 2 Die you get to play with a teammate. One of the big differences are special mutated Zerg such as the “Hunterling” and the giant boss type mob properly named “Stank”. Both players gain Zerg Biomass as you kill structures and the special Zerg to spend on upgrades like Medics and Siege Tanks. Once you kill all of the Zerg structures your team wins. If you’re not a real StarCraft player you probably won’t enjoy this game a ton. It does require some basic macro and micro knowledge of the StarCraft game itself or you most likely will fail on anything past possibly Normal difficulty. It does however have a cool little story to go along with the game that kind of feels like a campaign mission.
Worth playing? I’ve been enjoying this one a good bit. It improves your macro and micro as Terran while providing a fun mini game that is for lack of a better term; a zombie slaying mini game. Harder difficulties do get fairly difficult if you’re not careful, while easier difficulties will probably give non StarCraft vets a decent challenge. Outbreak was one of my favorite campaign missions and this pulls the essence from it into a game you can play anytime with a friend or someone random. Creativity is obviously somewhat diminished within this one as it’s pretty much a campaign mission turned into a side game and having a couple “special” infected thrown in that are all almost direct ports of the Left 4 Dead “special” zombies, but it’s still a ton of fun.
(5/5 stars for zombie slaying and StarCraft fans, while probably more of a 2/5 for anyone else due to the learning curve in macro/micro which could be frustrating)
What it is: Last of the three games released from Blizzard is Aiur Chef. In Aiur Chef you control a Zealot Chef that has to cook recipes to earn abilities and points to become the best Chef in town. Every round has a theme ingredient such as Ultralisk, Bananas, or even Rainbows with a somewhat comical introduction to each. During each round you run your Zealot around and kill creatures for ingredients or pickup the ingredients you need to make one of three recipes to score points. Beyond that, you can also interfere in various ways with the other Chefs by placing decoy ingredients or locking them down for a period of time if you get the proper abilities among other ways to annoy and hinder your opponents.
Worth playing? It’s quite fun when you have a full game of 8 people all messing with each other. It’s pretty easy to control and understand the game overall, making it definitely a ton of fun and possibly a good party game. It’s probably one of the more creative games of the three and Blizzard has added some fairly comical things into it such as using rainbows as a cooking ingredient. Seriously, who uses RAINBOWS?! The worst part of this game is trying to get rooms filled up, but that’s probably more to do with playing at the wrong time of day when I did. Beyond that it was a ton of fun, and hope to see more people making creative maps like this in the future. (5/5 stars for everyone)
Closing Thoughts: All the mods listed in this review have been pretty enjoyable and quite awesome for Blizzard to publish them for free. Not only that but it gives us a decent look at some of the things that can be accomplished within the StarCraft 2 Galaxy Editor. I’ll certainly be checking out more maps in the future from not only Blizzard but the community as a whole. Blizzard has also stated before that they are working on a Blizzard DoTA but that is a much larger scale project and won’t be finished for awhile. But if these maps are of any indication how their DoTA will look, it will be quite awesome and worth the wait.
For more info on these three mods check out Blizzard’s site: http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/game/maps-and-mods/ If there are any other good maps that you have enjoyed that I should take a look at, leave a comment!