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4.6 out of 5 stars
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC/Mac DVD)
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on 10 July 2014
Arrived promptly, and in excellent condition.

This is essentially just authorisation information, and takes up approximately 50MB of size on the actual disc, which feels considerably cheaper than the Wings of Liberty set.

As the expansion is downloaded through battle.net, I see no benefits to purchasing the disc above purchasing a licensing key; except where the disc is often cheaper.

The campaign for the game is considerably better than WoL, and enjoys some excellent gameplay modes, which make it considerably more fun.

Multiplayer has become - at least iny opinion - a horribly stale mess, which will hopefully be resolved in short time, but likely won't see improvement before Legacy of the Void.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The dreaded Queen of Blades, the leader of the Zerg, is no more. Sarah Kerrigan has been freed from the Swarm and is now human once again...but consumed by the need to avenge herself on Arcturus Mengsk, Emperor of the Terran Dominion, the man who betrayed her and left her for dead. When Mengsk's troops raid the facility Kerrigan is recuperating in, she finds herself alone and without any allies. Kerrigan needs an army to bring down her enemy and the leaderless Zerg Swarms may be the key to victory, if she can resist becoming part of the Swarm once more.

Heart of the Swarm is the rather tardy second instalment of the StarCraft II series of games, arriving an eyebrow-raising three years after its predecessor, Wings of Liberty. Considering the game uses the exact same engine as its predecessor (some minor upgrades aside) and apparently follows a story arc laid down by the guys at Blizzard almost a decade ago, the reason for the delay initially appears puzzling. The answer, of course, lies in the franchise's multiplayer angle. Blizzard have introduced new units with this expansion and have spent months and months painstakingly testing every iteration of the changes, dumping some new units and bringing in others, to make sure they don't upset the multiplayer balance. Given that StarCraft II's multiplayer scene is worth millions of dollars, this is unsurprising, but it does leave those of us primarily interested in the game's single-player storyline hanging in the wind for quite a long time.

Still, the game is here, and to a certain degree it's StarCraft as normal. You have a base, you collect resources, you build units and you fight the enemy for territory (control of additional resources areas where you can establish secondary bases) and ultimately try to destroy them. The gameplay is held together by a storyline, in this case one about vengeance and evolution. Kerrigan is out to kill Mengsk and end a feud between the two that began fifteen years ago in the original StarCraft. Blizzard cleverly raise this story - a subplot in the overall scheme of things - to prominence in Heart of the Swarm and push the big-picture storyline about the return of the alien Xel'Naga firmly into the background for the next game to worry about. Giving Heart of the Swarm its own direction and a storyline that does come to a definitive conclusion helps it avoid the 'middle title' syndrome that trilogies often suffer from. Heart of the Swarm also feels like it might be treading over the same ground as the original title's Brood War expansion, which also focused on Kerrigan uniting the Swarm under her control. Heart of the Swarm contextualises this in a different way, however, to avoid repeating concepts already visited in the series.

The campaign structure is quite interesting. There are five sub-campaigns, four of them taking place on planets and a fifth in deep space, each consisting of several missions. Between missions Kerrigan is based on board her spacecraft, a Zerg Leviathan (replacing the Terran battlecruiser Hyperion from Wings of Liberty), and can seek advice from her underlings, upgrade units and enhance her own powers and abilities through a levelling system. The unit-upgrade section is the most amusing, as Zerg mutation specialist Abathur (the Zerg equivalent of a slightly befuddled scientist) portentously reveals how he's going to improve the Zerg species, usually provoking a sarcastic response from Kerrigan. Given that the Zerg are the most alien and weirdest of StarCraft's three races, Blizzard draw a nice line here between making sure they stay that way whilst also humanising them enough to give them identifiable personalities. The surprise reappearance of a previous major character thought dead also helps give the game some more identifiable personalities.

The writing is as dreadfully cheesy as it was in Wings of Liberty, although the theme of a need for vengeance so powerful it overcomes one's humanity is a bit more interesting than the muddled and overlong campaign of the previous game. Heart of the Swarm is significantly shorter in terms of proper missions than its predecessor (clocking in at 20 compared to 29, almost a third shorter) but makes up for the shortfall with optional training missions showing how potential Zerg mutations will be used on the battlefield. Though entertaining, these mini-missions do feel like an attempt to pad out the length to make players feel they are getting their money's worth, and none will take longer than five minutes to complete.

On the battlefield, things are similar to Wings of Liberty. As with Liberty, the game tries to avoid too many build base-build army-kill everything missions, instead peppering some more creative objectives into the game. This is helped by the deployment of Kerrigan herself, a powerful unit with numerous powers (which are upgraded throughout the game). Kerrigan can turn the tide of a battle single-handed, but can't win everything by herself, so deploying additional troops is always necessary. Heart of the Swarm avoids the dull slog some of Wings of Liberty's missions descended into, but sometimes goes too far the other way by making things too much of a walkover. Certainly Swarm benefits from occasionally being whacked up to 'hard' mode on occasion.

On the minus side, there is obviously going to be another long wait for the conclusion of the story in Legacy of the Void, and certainly in the UK the pricing of this expansion set is off-putting: £30 - the cost of a full-price, complete game - for an expansion with a third less content than the previous game? Heart of the Swarm does just about justify it through monumental production values, a decent length (about 10-11 hours in total) and a more entertaining campaign than Wings of Liberty, not to mention the multiplayer enhancements. Also on the minus side, though for an expansion much less of an issue, the game has still resolutely failed to take on board any of the major RTS innovations of the last fifteen years. Proper 3D line of sight, cover and destructible scenery and battlefields are still nowhere to be seen, and the camera is still suspended uncomfortably close to your units and the battlefield even on the higher resolutions. Given that Wings of Liberty was looking outdated in 2010, Heart of the Swarm is looking positively geriatric in the impending face of Company of Heroes 2 and Total War: Rome 2. For fans of the franchise, however, this will no matter one whit.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (****½) is ultimately a more satisfying and enjoyable game than Wings of Liberty. The writing is still poor on an individual level, but the story is more focused and has a definitive and satisfying ending, compared to Wings of Liberty's cliffhanger. The result is a game that improves on its forebear and makes for a satisfying addition to the franchise, though one that not likely to win over anyone not already a fan.
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on 1 May 2013
I really enjoyed Heart of the Swarm; it's a very nice addition to it's predecessor.

I've played Wings of Liberty and it was the first game to drag me away from Command & Conquer. I loved it, and it is now my favourite strategy game. Heart of the Swarm continues along the lines of Wings of Liberty, instead this time you are playing as the Zerg, a race I'm not very familiar with.

Plenty of fun battles, nice progression, and the story, whilst very simple, is satisfying. The Zerg are interesting to play as, and the campaign really helps you to try out the different units and let you find the strategy that suits you best.

Great product, very content with this until Legacy of the Void is released.
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on 10 June 2013
Although expensive for an expansion pack, the Heart of the Swarm campaign has as much new single player content as the original game. The missions are interesting and varied, and the strong story is conveyed with a good number of cinematic sequences, which change slightly to reflect choices you make in the game. The difficulty bar is set a little lower, so you will probably want to play on at least "Hard" mode if you are looking for any kind of challenge.

I don't play much multi-player (because I suck) but I suspect that if you where only interested in that aspect of the game, you would consider the few additional units to not be worth the price of admission.
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on 1 October 2013
After having played through Wings of Liberty I couldn't wait to play this next installment! It didn't disappoint either. Originally I was a bit sceptical about playing as the Zerg as I thought they were a bit more difficult to handle compared to the 'building queues' of the Protoss and Terran forces. But the way the controls were explain during each level of this game soon altered my opinion. With a fantastic story line, good character development and exciting gameplay, I just had to spend hour after hour following each mission up with playing the next one until saddly reaching the end. Waiting eagerly for the third installment! Unto the breach dear Kerrigan!
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on 26 May 2013
I was a little scared that I wouldn't get enough missions for the price I paid, but I'm very satisfied. The cinematic scenes live up to the Blizzard name. Can't say I agree with some of the new units they introduced. Maybe they'll be more useful to some players in online play. Looking at single player, the evolving missions are cool as hell. Whoever thought of that spin on it probably got promoted. The achievement system will keep you playing single player long after you beat the campaign. Luckily the game doesn't make you stay online the entire time for single player...hopefully it will stay that way.
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on 18 May 2013
I want to write this as a review of the company "SegaSykes" rather that the games of which there are so many reviews out there.

I bought this game from SegaSykes and got an email on the 15th may saying that the estimated delivery date is 01 june. I was a abit dissapointed but since they say on there delivery dates that it will take 3-12 days I could not really complain about it. Imagine my surprise when the game arrived next day a whole 2 weeks before its estimated delivery...happy times.

Well I just want to recommend SegaSykes to anyone and everyone out there.

Cheerio!
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on 28 July 2013
Well it is Star Craft and better then ever. I waited for this arrival and loved every Minuit playing it. Great Story line from its previous Game Wings of Liberty. Recommended to Any one Age 14+.

If you have never played Strategy games before. Buy Wing's of liberty first. Sign up on line with Blizzard account etc and away you go. you would be engrossed in the game and wont be able to stop playing. Highly addictive as it is this expansion Follow up Version.

Watch the you tube Video's on line to see the game.

Cant wait! for the next expansion.
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on 20 August 2013
The game is good but not as good as expected. Compared to the changes and its influence on the ingame strategies the ancestor Starcraft Broodwar has had to the original Starcraft, Starcraft 2 HotS is just NOT as good.

Besides the single player campaign is way to easy - even if played on "Brutal". And from a very personal point of view: The enactment of the story could be better.

I would recommend this game to everyone who likes games such as Starcraft 1 (+ Broodwar), Warcraft 3 (+ TFT), C+C Generals, etc. It is real good fun on multi player.
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on 4 April 2013
I like the product; The zerg campaign was fun-it felt less tedious compared to WoL. New units are refreshing and I expect to sink many more hours into the multiplayer.

In terms of what you get from Amazon, you will still need to download a couple gigs of data off the net before you can play-the dvd retail copy of the game is a bit pointless. If the game key is available from other online retailers at a decent price just get that.
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