Veteran


Modern Warfare 1

Still has issues, still a bit irritating, and still just generally awesome. Hell, I actually cried, and I’ve replayed this a dozen times. Big recommend.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +20
Total Gameplay Score: +13
Golden Number: 99.28
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 6.95 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-03-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Voice Acting: Surprisingly good voice acting in general for the main characters…
  2. Voice Acting: …but also for the NPCs. The US soldiers sound like kids, the SAS sound like seasoned vets, there’s variance in tone and direction depending on outfit, etc.
  3. Intro: Crew Expendable. Immediately establishes what kind of game this is
  4. Intro: The car ride. I can’t even begin to summarize the level of detail in this level, and the visual storytelling going on everywhere…
  5. Intro: …easily earning two positives for what is essentially a barely-interactive cutscene
  6. Storytelling Mechanics: Briefings. Lots of info is given very quickly and often powerfully in the briefings, and the satellite radar approach helps to sell both the detachment and the modern feel
  7. MSQ: Proper escalation and foreshadowing in Blackout, with Kamarov and Nikolai
  8. MSQ: Death From Above. This is probably the second best mission in the game narratively. The detachment, the deliberate lack of music, the total dehumanization of the targets, the dull tones of the crew, the cold professionalism, all seen through the eyes of the person on the radar telling someone else to push a button that kills people…
  9. MSQ: …easily earning…
  10. MSQ: …three positives
  11. Moment: You know the one. Don’t front. This moment… it’s perfectly built up and paid off, it’s literally the fulcrum of the series, and… it hit a lot harder than I thought it would…
  12. Moment: …earning…
  13. Moment: …three positives
  14. MSQ: Shock and Awe
  15. Cutscene: Shock and Awe
  16. Banter: Love the banter between the squad mates
  17. Outro: The Outro does a great job of raising the stakes without getting ridiculous, and feels incredibly tense…
  18. Outro: …but the finale where we’ve already won, and need to just survive, and finally being rescued by Kamarov, is a great moment
  19. Brickwork: Really great brickwork in this one…
  20. Brickwork: …just… everywhere really
  21. Theme: Modern war… sucks

Story Negatives:

  1. Writing: A weirdly large amount of ‘just go with it’ slides under the spectacle throughout

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Intro: Crew Expendable. Good pacing, good structure, good tutorial
  2. Tutorialization: The obstacle course. Gets across an idea of what to do and how to play, but also encourages the player via score and distinct scoreboard to repeat it just for fun
  3. HUD: Minimalist (and reactionary) without being obtuse, very helpful on the fly
  4. MSQ: Blackout, and the gradual encirclement and finally push through the village
  5. MSQ: Charlie Don’t Surf, and the charge into enemy held territory
  6. MSQ: Hunted. Night-time sequence that bounces between stealth and loud
  7. MSQ: Death From Above… a good turret mission, go figure
  8. MSQ: Shock and Awe… tense, short, and well paced between holdouts, turret sections, and pushing through heavily held territory
  9. MSQ: All Ghillied Up
  10. MSQ: One Shot One Kill
  11. Viscerality: Guns look, sound, and feel fantastic…
  12. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  13. Kit: Not the best, but still a decent spread between turrets and guns
  14. Pacing: Prologue
  15. Pacing: US invasion of Madeupistan
  16. Pacing: SAS evacuation of Nikolai
  17. Pacing: All Ghillied Up
  18. MSQ: Sins of the Father
  19. Level Design: American missions (loud, hardware, reinforcements)
  20. Level Design: SAS missions (quiet, behind lines, outnumbered)
  21. Level Design: Final missions (somehow combining the previous two)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Raspberry Jam: Yep.
  2. Sound Design: Very bad audio balancing on the cutscenes
  3. Difficulty: Boring difficulty
  4. Encounter Rate: Monster closets
  5. Visual Distinction: While deliberate, it’s very hard to tell enemies, friendlies, and civvies at a glance
  6. Bug: Consistent crash on The Bog
  7. Outro: The Outro… is honestly kind of the worst aspects of the game combined. Terrible visibility, inconsistent checkpoints, lots of enemies, etc.
  8. Graphics: Entirely too much visual noise and irritation and jarring camerawork

Modern Warfare 2

Still one of the best games I’ve ever played (#5 on the list as of reviewing), and one of the best shooters I’ve ever played. Massively recommended.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +39
Total Gameplay Score: +31
Golden Number: 199.18
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 6.57 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-06-2022

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Visual Storytelling: The initial, expansive base under Shepard
  2. Brickwork: S.S.D.D. has an astonishing level of detail going on, establishing tone and scene
  3. Plot: The core plot of the game is surprisingly tightly knit
  4. Foreshadowing: This allows the game to have plenty of foreshadowing
  5. Internal Continuity: And the internal continuity similarly remains tight throughout
  6. External Continuity: The game also is made much better by how it follows through, both literally and thematically, from Modern Warfare 1
  7. MSQ: No Russian speaks for itself. It’s everything it needs to be, and for that…
  8. MSQ: …it gets two positives
  9. NPC Set Dressing: Excellent usage of NPCs in the cityscape areas to flesh out the story
  10. Brickwork: Brazil is just… gorgeous
  11. Doodads: Brazil also has insanely good doodad design
  12. Doodads: No Russian (the airport) similarly nails the Doodad design
  13. Storytelling Mechanics: Pre mission satellite briefings are awesome as always
  14. Moment: The voice acting, presentation, and immediate professionalism of the ACS glitch… followed by the invasion
  15. Visual Storytelling: Wolverines mission tells a lot just by looking around as the russian troops airdrop into suburbia
  16. Voice Acting: The main characters are excellent of course…
  17. Voice Acting: …but the supporting cast nails it across the board
  18. Pacing: Each Act is very, very well paced. Proper lows, highs, tensions, breathers, and stressors…
  19. Pacing: …earning each act…
  20. Pacing: …a pacing positive
  21. Cutscene: Of Their Own Accord’s intro is one of the more chilling moments in gaming for me. It’s just the emergency broadcast… no fancy, flashy logo or graphics, no epic music, no voice over. It’s chilling
  22. MSQ: The intro to Of Their Own Accord, by itself, deserves its own positive. The walk through the bunker, the background chatter…
  23. Visual Storytelling: …and the walk out into Washington DC, and the trench warfare
  24. Babylon 5 Effect: The story really looks different the second time around
  25. Brickwork: Contingency continues the brickwork excellence
  26. Moment: The astronaut watching the nuke go off is very, very well executed
  27. Sound Design: General. Awesome sound design
  28. Sound Design: Second Sun gets its own sound positive for the proper use of no music, as well as the muted eeriness of it all
  29. MSQ: Second Sun of course is amazing, what can I say
  30. Moment: The finale of Whiskey Hotel. The chilling normalcy with which the rangers speak of revenge upon Moscow
  31. Moment: Do not trust Shepard. I repeat; Do not trust Shepard
  32. Characters: Good main cast
  33. Characters: Good supporting cast
  34. Moment: Just Like Old Times intro and speech by Price. It’s exactly as powerful and to the point as it needs to be. No grand gesture, no great victory, no ‘beat the bad guy and win’… we’re here for just one thing
  35. Banter: As usual, great banter throughout
  36. Brickwork: Suburbia has the usual excellent brickwork
  37. Brickwork: Whiskey Hotel, ditto
  38. Consequence Storytelling: A lot of actions are followed through very smoothly and naturally
  39. Outro: The entire outro is fantastic, up to and including…
  40. Outro: …the final knife fight, and the dead men in the desert
  41. Themes: Revenge, what is it good for, absolutely nothin’

Story Negatives:

  1. Writing: Hollywood nonsense…
  2. Writing: …more hollywood nonsense

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Kit: Good gun variety
  2. Controls: Plays very smoothly compared to its predecessor
  3. MSQ: No Russian… the optional nature of the earlier mission is nice, but what’s really good is the charge through the airport against entrenched defenders
  4. Options: The ability to bypass No Russian (twice)
  5. Enemy AI: Very good AI in general
  6. Friendly AI: For both friends and foes
  7. MSQ: Wolverines… you start off fighting through suburbia, have to hit the gas station, then the burger town, and the whole time there’s no feel of arduousness or backtracking. Enemy placement and design varies, as do the tools you have at your disposal…
  8. MSQ: …earning it two positives
  9. MSQ: Takedown. Despite the frustrations, it’s still a great showcasing of the new AI and dynamic nature of the firefights
  10. MSQ: Hornet’s Nest. Ditto from before, but without the irritation this time, plus some excellent variety and pacing…
  11. MSQ: …earning two positives
  12. Viscerality: All the same viscerality of the last game, but now with even more…
  13. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  14. Pacing: The gameplay in general is very well paced across the board
  15. Pacing: Act I continues pacing both within and across missions
  16. Pacing: Early invasion missions are just… awesome
  17. MSQ: The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday is a very fun joint infiltration and assault mission, varying up both
  18. MSQ: Of Their Own Accord is honestly one of the better mid game missions…
  19. Pacing: …getting its own pacing positive
  20. Pacing: End game…
  21. Pacing: …times two
  22. MSQ: Whiskey Hotel. Hammer down is in effect
  23. MSQ: Second Sun. Just… Second Sun. Somehow these missions continue to one up each other…
  24. MSQ: …making it the best mission to date
  25. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Very well placed, and reasonably spread
  26. MSQ: Loose Ends continues the trend of excellent missions. It’s brutal, in all the right ways, gives you a ton of kit, and tons of options for how to deal with the assault…
  27. MSQ: …earning two positives
  28. MSQ: Endgame. The final assault, chase, the whole thing is just great
  29. Music: Excellent music
  30. Yoshi Drums: And excellent Yoshi Drums
  31. Replayability: While this exact version (the remaster) lacks the Spec Ops missions, the main campaign continues to be very replayable
  32. HUD: Same good minimalist HUD design from the last game
  33. Sound Design: Fantastic sound design, between barks and directions giving you a lot to decide what to do very quickly
  34. Song: Betrayal
  35. Difficulty Curve: Smooth and fun

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Railroading: The ease with which the action setpieces can go badly, completely screwing the entire section, is just irritating
  2. MSQ: Takedown (geometry and dead ends)
  3. Raspberry Jam: Not as bad as the original believe it or not, but still there
  4. Visual Distinction: Same ‘hard to see’ deliberate issue from the first game

Diablo 2

The game that codified so many gaming concepts, if you haven’t played it I highly recommend it. It dips in quality after Act 2 (and almost never recovers thereafter) but the story’s still legit and the game is still a classic for a reason.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +38
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Golden Number: 79.18
Codifier: The Diablo ARPG Format
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 days / 24.42 Hours
Time Reviewed: 03-28-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Act 1 green fields
  2. Brickwork: Act 1 green fields original
  3. Brickwork: Act 2 desert
  4. Brickwork: Act 2 desert original
  5. Brickwork: Act 5 in general
  6. Brickwork: Harrogath
  7. Brickwork: Harrogath
  8. Brickwork: Hell
  9. Brickwork: Kurast Docks
  10. Brickwork: Kurast Docks
  11. Brickwork: Kurast Docks Original
  12. Brickwork: Lut Gholein
  13. Brickwork: Lut Gholein
  14. Brickwork: Lut Gholein
  15. Brickwork: Lut Gholein Original
  16. Brickwork: Palace
  17. Brickwork: Palace original
  18. Brickwork: Rogue Encampment
  19. Brickwork: Rogue Encampment
  20. Brickwork: Rogue Encampment Original
  21. Brickwork: Rogue Monastery
  22. Cinematics: General quality of the cinematics fidelity
  23. Doodads: Harrogath
  24. Doodads: Kurast Docks
  25. Doodads: Lut Gholein
  26. Doodads: Lut Gholein
  27. Doodads: Lut Gholein Original
  28. Doodads: Rogue Encampment
  29. Doodads: Rogue Encampment Original
  30. External Continuity: The story is a direct sequel to D1, and does a good job of continuing not just its threads, but using it for the betterment of the overall work
  31. Music Direction: Each song is not just great by itself, but wonderfully designed to accentuate the different locales across Sanctuary
  32. Pacing: Act 2 pacing and flow
  33. Visual Storytelling: Bloody Foothills
  34. Visual Storytelling: Harrogath
  35. Visual Storytelling: Kurast city proper
  36. Visual Storytelling: Kurast Docks
  37. Visual Storytelling: Lut Gholein
  38. Visual Storytelling: Rogue Encampment
  39. Visual Storytelling: Rogue Encampment Original
  40. Voice Acting: This is when Blizzard had really started getting good with voice acting…
  41. Voice Acting: …and it shows
  42. Background Lore: Random dialogues with the villagers at multiple steps throughout
  43. Atmosphere and Tone: Yep
  44. Humor: The Cow Level
  45. Characters: Generally memorable, amusing characters
  46. Spritework: Absolutely excellent, varied spritework for the classes…
  47. Spritework: …for a full…
  48. Spritework: …three positives
  49. Spritework: Enemies. My goodness, enemies. I could gush for days about the enemy sprites…
  50. Spritework: …for another bundle…
  51. Spritework: …of positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Plot: Act 2 finale. The ‘battle’ between the forces is honestly pretty badly choreographed, Diablo just has no issues whatsoever in getting there before you, there’s no sign of the fact that they got there first, and the whole thing fails at its intended purpose of having the player ‘lose’
  2. Writing: Also, Tyrael just sort of… deciding Marius needs to be the one to carry the stone east is ridiculous on every level
  3. Writing: Why is Marius dragged along for so much of the plot? There’s no point or benefit in it until he accidentaly’s Baal’s soulstone
  4. Story Sequencing: Act 3 main plot
  5. Writing: How the hell is Marius there in the Durance of Hatred?
  6. Plot: Act 4 and the absence of story
  7. Story Sequencing: There’s a whole lot of ‘how did we get here’ or disconnected tissue in the narrative
  8. MSQ: So Nilathak is evil, barely explained, and insists on betraying us despite everything, for some reason, and…
  9. MSQ: …it was all for nothing because what Baal was doing was ultimately barely affected by this
  10. Outro: There’s… so much wrong with the Outro. Baal goes for the stone, corrupts it? Somehow? Also Tyrael is like okay let’s blow this sucker up. And worst of all, what’s it all for?
  11. Outro: Who knows. Typical Blizzard ending
  12. Brickwork: Act 5 Original
  13. Internal Continuity: Whole lot of ‘because plot’ just flinging around everywhere

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Alternate Leveling: Talents as a core system (effectively invented by DII)
  2. Alternate Leveling: Talent synergies (and how they help you to not waste points in your build)
  3. Level: Arcane Sanctuary (probably the best level in the game, neat gimmick and rewarding without being too frustrating)
  4. Builds: While somewhat limited by connected systems, there’s plenty of good Build gameplay here
  5. Co-Op: Co-op exists
  6. Co-Op: Campaign co-op
  7. Core Mechanic: Shrine system and its various benefits (including Wells)
  8. Encounter Design: While exceptions exist, there are plenty of good examples of good encounter design
  9. Enemy Design: The good enemies are pretty legit
  10. Enemy Variety: Surprisingly good enemy variety
  11. Enemy Variety: Second positive for enemy variety
  12. Hub: Lut Gholein
  13. Hub: Pandemonium Fortress
  14. Hub: Rogue Encampment
  15. HUD: Informative, helpful, good at-a-glance
  16. Interface: Mouseover & Tooltips
  17. Intro: The first bits (starting next to an NPC who gets you started, beelining Akara, road leading to the first dungeon, and shown how to both ‘sweep’ an area and forced into a unique encounter) all work really well to get you into the type of game this is even if you’ve never played D1 or similar games
  18. Itemization: Charms and the trade off they offer (inventory space for stat bonuses)
  19. Kit: Amazon
  20. Kit: Amazon
  21. Kit: Assassin
  22. Kit: Assassin
  23. Kit: Barbarian
  24. Kit: Barbarian
  25. Kit: Druid
  26. Kit: Necromancer
  27. Kit: Necromancer
  28. Kit: Necromancer
  29. Kit: Paladin
  30. Kit: Paladin
  31. Kit: Sorceress
  32. Kit: Sorceress
  33. Kit: Sorceress
  34. QoL: Several small but neat QoL changes
  35. Music: Tristram’s music continues to be awesome… oh and other good songs too
  36. Options: From the remaster, lots of good new options
  37. Party AI: Surprisingly good
  38. Traversal: Waypoint system
  39. Viscerality: Amazon
  40. Viscerality: Druid
  41. Viscerality: Necromancer
  42. Viscerality: Paladin
  43. Viscerality: Sorceress
  44. Viscerality: Sorceress
  45. Minimap: Even better than in the first game…
  46. Minimap: …and now with options on placement and visibility
  47. Replayability: Generally good replayability up to Act 2
  48. Replayability: Lots of gameplay mechanics which encourage replay
  49. Song: Return To Tristram

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Alternate Leveling: Runewords can only be used on grays and whites
  2. Audio Spam: Yeah, it’s not as bad as in D1, but it’s definitely there
  3. Boss: Diablo. Hits like a truck, slows you, obliterates minions, and way, way too much health…
  4. Boss: …for two negatives
  5. Boss: Duriel is the worst boss in the game, and honestly one of the worst in gaming. He hits like a truck, has a charge / moves fast, slows you, and all of that’s already irritating but then you fight him in a VERY small area which you cannot simply walk back out of. This is on top of having no warning the boss is coming, and the fact that he turbo nukes minions, which combined with his other facets makes him very unforgiving to certain specs. But all of this is compounded by Duriel’s greatest sin; he’s boring. There’s nothing to him really. Earning him…
  6. Boss: …a full…
  7. Boss: …three negatives
  8. Builds: While the builds are many and varied and awesome, it IS possible to build yourself into a corner especially if you don’t know what you’re doing or how committed it is
  9. Co-Op: Quest syncing, hassles in grouping, etc.
  10. Difficulty Curve: Hoo boy. The game likes to just sort of lurch forwards in difficulty periodically, and then back, and then forwards…
  11. Dungeon: Maggot Hole. It’s tiny, cramped, easy to get stuck in, and almost totally invalidates several builds, but it’s even worse if you’re playing with friends cuz you’ll get stuck around and on each other
  12. Encounter: The Venom Lord boss pack in Act 4 can go directly to hell, as all the inferno-type mobs can
  13. Enemy Design: Act 3 irritations, especially the inferno-type mobs
  14. Enemy Design: Act 4 in its entirety
  15. Enemy Design: Irritating enemies across the whole game
  16. Graphics: Framerate and related issues with original graphics mode
  17. Grind: End game grind for experience
  18. Grind: End game grind… for items
  19. Grind: And of course, the terrible drop rate in general
  20. Hub: Kurast Docks. It’s honestly legitimately badly laid out from a gameplay perspective
  21. Info In Game: General (how specific abilities work, how specific items operate, etc.)
  22. Info In Game: Horadric Cube recipes, good luck figuring any of those out without a guide or the internet
  23. Info In Game: Rune word recipes, ditto
  24. Interface: Inventory limitations. The inventory space is honestly far too small, and that’s before you consider the inventory tax of tomes, keys, and occasionally quest items
  25. Itemization: Ammo. Honestly, enough said, but even ignoring the ‘ammo problem’ they don’t do anything interesting with ammo etiher to offset it
  26. Itemization: Junk. There’s way, way too much junk and unlike some other games, there’s nothing you can really do with the junk except accidentally pick it up
  27. Itemization: Runewords. They’re neat, but they’re very unforgiving, they’re RNG on top of RNG, and good luck figuring it out without a wiki
  28. Itemization: The drop rates and spread of drops is just way, way too low, especially for how much junk enemies drop
  29. Kit: Druid. While every class suffers this problem to some extent, Druid is the worst in how it doesn’t even really become its own class until level 24ish and that’s just way too long to be as plain as it is
  30. Launch: DRM check in system requiring you to log in periodically to keep playing the game you own
  31. Level: Act 3 sewers. Boring, samey, over-large, and the way forward is rather random
  32. Levels: Jails. Plain, dull, frustrating, and hard to see
  33. Levels: Monastery … everything wrong with Jails again
  34. Lighting: Man it’s hard to see in general
  35. Outro: The final dungeon is okay, the final gauntlet is whatever, but Baal is yet another of those awful DII style boss fights
  36. Overworld: Act 3. It’s one nice big, long corridor that actually still manages to fail because there’s branching paths, some of which are mandatory (and some of which just waste your time)
  37. Overworld: Act 4’s overworld is either plain vanilla empty or, worse, frustrating platforms to navigate
  38. Padding: Act 3 jungle. This is partially due to the pseudo maze nature of the minimap but there’s entirely too much roaming for how little content there is
  39. Padding: Act 4 is weirdly padded for how short it is
  40. Prime Opt: Act 3 quests have no real rhyme or reason to them, and are actively hostile towards the player figuring them out unlike, say, Act 1 and 2’s
  41. Prime Opt: Rescuing the barbarians in Act 5 quest by itself is just so damned frustrating
  42. QoL: Talent system lack of commit/undo/idiot proofing
  43. Respec: It’s there, but it’s VERY limited. One per difficulty and, worse, nothing actually indicates it’s there or that it’s limited
  44. Traversal: The waypoints are heavily inconsistent. Some are fairly static, some are designed to be ‘in the path’ or useful, some can be wherever, and huge swaths of time can pass between them
  45. Traversal Mechanics: Stamina. I honestly want to give it more negatives, but I can’t in good conscience, but I still hate it and how it doesn’t really do anything other than make you occasionally move slower
  46. Visual Continuity: Act 3. Good luck figuring out where you are, where you’ve been, and where you need to go
  47. Visual Distinction: Act 3 Original. The visuals are REALLY bad here, to the point where it’s a barely-varied palette and paths and terrain are legitimately difficult to see
  48. Replayability: Act 3 and onwards actively discourages replayability
  49. Penalty For Failure: Dying can REALLY suck in the wrong circumstances

Diablo 3

This is one of the best gameplay games ever made. I look forward to replaying it yet again later. Also the highest ranking game I’ve covered to-date.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +92
Total Gameplay Score: +180
Golden Number: 896.16
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 5 days / 29.12 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-4-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Background Lore: Act 4
  2. Background Lore: Caldeum and the recent issues
  3. Background Lore: Everything about the madness of Leoric and how awful that period of time was
  4. Background Lore: Tristram
  5. Banter: Some surprisingly good banter throughout the whole game, mostly between NPCs but still…
  6. Banter: …there’s also the occasional bits between the PC and the Followers
  7. Brickwork: Act 1 fields and plains
  8. Brickwork: Act 2 deserts
  9. Brickwork: Act 2 Oasis
  10. Brickwork: Act 4
  11. Brickwork: Act 4
  12. Brickwork: Bastion’s Keep
  13. Brickwork: Blood swamps
  14. Brickwork: Caldeum
  15. Brickwork: Cathedral
  16. Brickwork: Early Westmarch
  17. Brickwork: Greed’s realm
  18. Brickwork: Leoric’s Manor
  19. Brickwork: One last brickwork positive for the optional side areas in the bonus content
  20. Brickwork: The Path
  21. Brickwork: Tristram area
  22. Brickwork: Westmarch proper
  23. Brickwork: The early desert
  24. Brickwork: The High Heavens
  25. Brickwork: The High Heavens background
  26. Brickwork: Pandemonium
  27. Character: Covetous Shen
  28. Character: Eamon
  29. Character: Haedrig Eamon
  30. Character: Kormac
  31. Character: Lyndon
  32. Character: Maghda
  33. Characters: Act 1
  34. Characters: Act 2
  35. Characters: Act 2
  36. Characters: Act 3
  37. Characters: Act 3
  38. Characters: Act 4 continues the Act 3 character moments
  39. Characters: Act 5
  40. Characters: Act 5
  41. Characters: Act 5
  42. Cinematic: Act 5 intro is just … really, really good. Wonderful visuals, excellent voice acting, fantastic presentation
  43. Cinematic: Act 5’s intro does several surprisingly well designed bits of storytelling, including showcasing Malthael’s usage of souls to empower himself, the fact that he is still operating as wisdom, and the fact that Justice can’t do anything against this course because it is still ‘wise’
  44. Cinematic: Again, excellent storyboarding and technical excellence in the Act 2 cinematic
  45. Cinematic: Class opening cinematics
  46. Cinematic: Opening cinematic
  47. Cinematic: Technical excellence and storyboarding of the Act 1 end cutscene
  48. Cinematic: The Act 4 finale cinematic is a bit empty but still good…
  49. Cinematic: The little touches and surprising excellence in storytelling in the Act 1 end cutscene
  50. Cinematic: Yep, the Act 3 cinematic is still high quality
  51. Cinematic: …and still has several neat little nuances and details to it
  52. Doodads: Act 1 fields and plains
  53. Doodads: Act 2 Oasis
  54. Doodads: Bastion’s Keep
  55. Doodads: Caldeum
  56. Doodads: Cathedral
  57. Doodads: Leoric’s Manor
  58. Doodads: Tristram
  59. Doodads: Westmarch proper
  60. Humor: Whimsydale. What can I say
  61. Intro: While the plot stumbles a lot, the Intro is actually quite legit at establishing tone, theme, and stakes
  62. Moment: The various past characters moments for each class in Pandemonium
  63. Moments: The lost hope segment of Act 4
  64. MSQ: Defending Bastion’s Keep
  65. Prime Opt: Kormac’s Arc
  66. Prime Opt: Kormac’s quest
  67. Prime Opt: Lyndon’s Arc
  68. Prime Opt: Lyndon’s quest
  69. Prime Opt: Shen’s quest
  70. Secondary: Bastion’s Keep side stories
  71. Secondary: Caldeum side stories
  72. Secondary: Kormac and Eirena
  73. Secondary: Side stories in streets of Westmarch
  74. Secondary: Side stories in Westmarch town
  75. Secondary: There are many in Westmarch and they are awesome
  76. Secondary: Vidian and the Sanctum of Blood side arc
  77. Storytelling Mechanics: Quest log and relisten and sort options…
  78. Storytelling Mechanics: …very well done
  79. Visual Continuity: Act 1
  80. Visual Continuity: Act 4
  81. Visual Storytelling: Bastion’s Keep
  82. Visual Storytelling: Early Tristram
  83. Visual Storytelling: Intro to Reapers
  84. Visual Storytelling: Leoric’s Manor
  85. Visual Storytelling: The Path
  86. Voice Acting: Covetous Shen
  87. Voice Acting: Followers
  88. Voice Acting: Followers
  89. Voice Acting: Main PCs
  90. Voice Acting: Main PCs
  91. Voice Acting: Secondary NPCs
  92. Voice Acting: Secondary NPCs
  93. Voice Acting: Special mention to Westmarch NPCs
  94. Voice Acting: Zoltun Kulle
  95. World Building: Act 4
  96. World Building: Act 4
  97. External Continuity: Proper usage of the setting
  98. Lighting: Generally good usage of lighting throughout
  99. Sound Design: Generally good sound design
  100. Spritework: Wizard
  101. Spritework: Barbarian
  102. Spritework: Demon Hunter
  103. Spritework: Necromancer
  104. Spritework: Crusader
  105. Spritework: Monk
  106. Spritework: Witch Doctor
  107. Spritework: The main supporting cast
  108. Spritework: NPCs in Caldeum, lots of them and good variety
  109. Spritework: NPCs in Bastion’s Keep
  110. Spritework: NPCs in Westmarch
  111. Spritework: Enemies in Act 1, from undead to beasts…
  112. Spritework: …for two positives
  113. Spritework: Enemies in Caldeum, from cultists to insects to magical monsters…
  114. Spritework: …for two positives
  115. Spritework: Demons in Act 3 and 4
  116. Spritework: Enemies in Westmarch, almost entirely the reaper types
  117. NPC Set Dressing: Caldeum
  118. NPC Set Dressing: Westmarch

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Leah’s continued insistence on disbelief is bonkers on several levels but then it’s all just there to lead up to her suddenly hitting a switch and being cool with everything, which is worse
  2. Cinematic: The Act 2 cinematic is neat and all but completely unnecessary, and only really functions to give the heroes their next destination
  3. Cutscene Incompetence: Adria is, of course, super powerful and effortlessly accomplishes everything
  4. Cutscene Incompetence: Cain’s death
  5. Foreshadowing: Adria… it’s actually even worse because they both do and do not foreshadow this, and nobody picks up on it in universe
  6. Foreshadowing: Tyrael and the lack thereof
  7. Gameplay / Story Segregation: Everything
  8. Moment: Cain’s death
  9. Moment: It was secretly Tyrael all along! Dun dun dunnn
  10. Moment: So they kill off Leah, do it badly, and do it for no reason
  11. Outro: And it trips at the finishing line, as Malthael decides to free the seven Evils… so they can come back in the future. Yay
  12. Pacing: Act 2 Kulle section
  13. Pacing: Everyone’s instantly on board with every weird plot thread
  14. Plot: Act 3 problems
  15. Plot: And the only reason they do that is to have their stupid reveal
  16. Plot: So the Stranger has amnesia
  17. Plot: Underthought with Tyrael and the undead plague
  18. Story Sequencing: Act 3 problems
  19. World Building: Also Diablo is now the Prime Evil despite many reasons why that both shouldn’t work and the fact that it’s about to be made to be not a big thing
  20. World Building: Myriam can literally see the future. This pretty violently contradicts how Fate worked earlier and honestly is just done to wink at the player periodically
  21. Writing: Also all of that secrecy and twist and build up and amnesia was just for the fact that… surprise… the demon lords are here. We, it’s worth noting, already knew this in Maghda’s much better done build up
  22. Writing: Also Diablo has been behind everything for 3 games now despite no build up, logic, reason, or even satisfaction therein
  23. Writing: Cain’s death
  24. Writing: Leah’s plot-driven powers
  25. Writing: So, Tyrael does all this stuff to… hang around in town and periodically give quests. What a complete waste of Tyrael
  26. Writing: So Cain survives for a week in the cathedral, but never escapes, but also is fine… sssure

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Achievements: Cosmetics
  2. Alternate Leveling: Kanai’s Cube
  3. Alternate Leveling: Legendary gems leveling
  4. Alternate Leveling: Paragon Levels
  5. QoL: AOE Looting
  6. Boss: Belial
  7. Boss: Belial
  8. Boss: Diablo isn’t the best, but he’s still a fun fight
  9. Boss: General
  10. Boss: The Butcher
  11. Boss: Zoltun Kulle
  12. Boss: Greed
  13. Boss: The Dual Bosses
  14. Endgame: Bounties
  15. Endgame: Bounties and late game viability
  16. Builds: Abilities
  17. Builds: Abilities
  18. Builds: Abilities
  19. Builds: Followers
  20. Builds: Kanai’s Cube
  21. Builds: Legendaries
  22. Builds: Legendaries
  23. Builds: Legendaries
  24. Builds: Legendary gems
  25. Builds: Legendary gems
  26. Builds: Rerolling
  27. Builds: Rerolling
  28. Builds: Runes
  29. Builds: Runes
  30. Builds: Runes
  31. Builds: Sets
  32. Builds: Sets
  33. Builds: Sets
  34. Builds: Talents
  35. Builds: Talents
  36. Builds: Talents
  37. Combat: Charge mechanics
  38. Combat: Potions
  39. Combat: Potions
  40. Controls: B Move
  41. Co-Op: Campaign co op
  42. Co-Op: Co-Op exists
  43. Co-Op: Ease of co op sharing
  44. Co-Op: Ease of party interaction
  45. Co-Op: Ease of sharing 2
  46. Co-Op: Loot sharing
  47. Co-Op: Loot sharing again
  48. Co-Op: Party interaction 2
  49. Co-Op: Party interactions 3
  50. Co-Op: Personal loot
  51. Co-Op: Proper campaign co op
  52. Core Mechanic: Gems and related designs
  53. Cosmetics: Banner
  54. Cosmetics: Dyeing
  55. Cosmetics: Pets, Wings, Pennants
  56. Cosmetics: Swapping freely and on the fly
  57. Cosmetics: Swapping x2
  58. Cosmetics: Unlocks
  59. Cosmetics: Unlocks x2
  60. Difficulty Options:
  61. Difficulty Options:
  62. Core Mechanics: Followers: Not the best, but with some abilities, decent AI, and the full gearing, they’re a good aspect of the game
  63. Graphics: Foreground culling
  64. Endgame: GRifts
  65. Endgame: GRifts
  66. Hub: Act 1
  67. Hub: Act 2
  68. Hub: Act 3
  69. Hub: Act 3
  70. Hub: Act 5
  71. Hub: Act 5
  72. Hub: Act 5
  73. HUD: Enemy health bars
  74. HUD: Enemy health bars plus toggleable
  75. HUD: Honestly the same general quality HUD we’ve always seen, but still good
  76. Info In Game: Kanai’s Cube
  77. Info In Game: Lots and lots of info on all the actual stats you can have in your game…
  78. Info In Game: Significant information available on inventory screen
  79. Info In Game: …leading to two positives
  80. Interface: Chat colorization options
  81. Interface: Indicator when you have new dialogue to listen to
  82. Interface: information in skill mouseover
  83. Interface: Kanai’s Cube
  84. Interface: Mouse-over
  85. Interface: Mouseover comparisons
  86. Interface: Mouse-over X2
  87. Interface: Mouse-over X3
  88. Interface: Profiles and ability to look up everything
  89. Itemization: Cursed chests
  90. Itemization: Targeted loot
  91. Itemization: Treasure Goblin and their varieties
  92. Kit: Barbarian
  93. Kit: Barbarian
  94. Kit: Barbarian
  95. Kit: Barbarian Leveling
  96. Kit: Barbarian Leveling
  97. Kit: Barbarian Leveling
  98. Kit: Barbarian Synergies
  99. Kit: Barbarian Synergies
  100. Kit: Crusader
  101. Kit: Crusader
  102. Kit: Crusader
  103. Kit: Crusader Leveling
  104. Kit: Crusader Leveling
  105. Kit: Crusader Leveling
  106. Kit: Crusader Synergies
  107. Kit: Crusader Synergies
  108. Kit: Demonhunter
  109. Kit: Demonhunter
  110. Kit: Demonhunter
  111. Kit: Monk
  112. Kit: Monk
  113. Kit: Monk
  114. Kit: Monk Synergies
  115. Kit: Necromancer
  116. Kit: Necromancer
  117. Kit: Necromancer
  118. Kit: Necromancer Leveling
  119. Kit: Necromancer Leveling
  120. Kit: Necromancer Leveling
  121. Kit: Witch Doctor
  122. Kit: Witch Doctor
  123. Kit: Witch Doctor
  124. Kit: Witch Doctor Leveling
  125. Kit: Witch Doctor Leveling
  126. Kit: Witch Doctor Synergies
  127. Kit: Wizard
  128. Kit: Wizard
  129. Kit: Wizard
  130. Kit: Wizard Leveling
  131. Kit: Wizard Leveling
  132. Kit: Wizard Leveling
  133. Levels: General dungeon design
  134. Levels: Most of the Heaven levels are the best constructed ones in the game, keeping the randomized puzzle pieces thing going without being too patterned or too random
  135. Lighting: Cathedral
  136. Log: Chat and lore logs
  137. Map: Lots and lots of good info…
  138. Map: …worthy of two positives
  139. Minigame: Challenge Rifts
  140. Minigame: Challenge Rifts
  141. Minigame: Challenge Rifts
  142. Minigame: Leaderboard
  143. Minimap: Visual distinction and color usage and visible abilities…
  144. Minimap: …for two positives
  145. MSQ: The siege strike setpiece is surprisingly neat and unique for being something so simple
  146. MSQ: Westmarch cityscape
  147. Music: Generally good music
  148. NG+: Unlocks as you go
  149. NG+: Keeps everything as you go back
  150. NG+: Granuliarity in where you can go
  151. NG+: …allowing you to go to individual quests…
  152. NG+: …which is bonkers
  153. NG+: Keeping everything x2
  154. NG+: Keeping everything x3
  155. NG+: Generally good interface and options
  156. NG+: Generally high quality
  157. Option: Ability to lower difficulty on the fly…
  158. Option: …for two positives
  159. Options: Not the best, but some decent accessibility options
  160. Outro: Final boss
  161. Outro: Final boss
  162. Outro: Final dungeon
  163. Pacing: Act 1
  164. QoL: Ability presets
  165. QoL: Ease of morphing gems, gear, and other swapping related stuff
  166. QoL: Rebirth mode
  167. Respec: Great respec
  168. Respec: …which is worth…
  169. Respec: …three positives
  170. Respec: Can do it on the fly near instantly with good interface design…
  171. Respec: …which is worth…
  172. Respec: …three positives
  173. QoL: Return to entrance runes
  174. Secondary: Optional dungeon layout, design, and worthwhileness
  175. Secondary: Optional objectives on quests
  176. Viscerality: Barbarian
  177. Viscerality: Barbarian
  178. Viscerality: Barbarian
  179. Viscerality: Crusader
  180. Viscerality: Crusader
  181. Viscerality: Demonhunter
  182. Viscerality: Monk
  183. Viscerality: Necromancer
  184. Viscerality: Witch Doctor
  185. Viscerality: Wizard
  186. Viscerality: Wizard
  187. Viscerality: Wizard
  188. Visual Distinction: Cathedral
  189. Traversal: Waypoint system. Find as you go, travel from anywhere, travel instantly from town, travel instantly from one to another, the whole system is easily the best waypoint system in gaming…
  190. Traversal: …earning it…
  191. Traversal: …three positives
  192. Endgame: Seasonal stuff and variety and general fun
  193. Endgame: Seasonal stuff is just… a great idea really…
  194. Endgame: …earning three positives
  195. Encounter Design: Generally good combinations of enemy types
  196. Enemy Variety: Lots and lots and lots of enemy variety…
  197. Enemy Variety: …earning…
  198. Enemy Variety: …three positives to gameplay
  199. Penalty For Failure: Release (timer), release at checkpoint, release in town, rez’d by friend
  200. Sound Design: Good sound design for loot, enemies, attacks, leveling, etc…
  201. Sound Design: …leading to two positives
  202. Replayability: Just… the best replayability. New classes, builds, modes, story zooming, story removal, challenge rifts, seasonal stuff…
  203. Replayability: …earning it…
  204. Replayability: …the coveted triple Replayability

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Boss: General health sponginess in several bosses
  2. Co-Op: 4 player party size
  3. Gameplay / Story Segregation: Pretty much everything
  4. Info In Game: There is still some stuff that is just not in the game and requires a wiki
  5. Launch: Auction House
  6. Launch: Difficulty
  7. Launch: Difficulty
  8. Launch: Itemization drop rates
  9. Launch: Itemization drop rates
  10. Launch: RMAH
  11. Launch: RMAH
  12. Launch: RMAH
  13. Launch/DRM: Always online
  14. Launch/DRM: Always online
  15. Launch/DRM: Always online
  16. Music: Massive over-use of the one theme in Reaper of Souls
  17. Padding: Act 2 plot coupon juggling
  18. Padding: Act 3 dungeon stretching
  19. Padding: Act 3’s latter half honestly just… draaags, just like some of the worst D2 dungeon stretches
  20. QoL: Accidental dialogue skipping
  21. Randomization in lore drops
  22. Endgame: FOMO in Seasonal design
  23. Audio Spam: Yeah there’s a fair bit
  24. Difficulty Curve: The rather jarring jump at 61 isn’t fun

Dragon Age Origins

Still a very good game, still absolutely worth a playthrough if you haven’t. I would skip Awakening and Golems though.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +95
Total Gameplay Score: +18
Golden Number: 241.65
Cheats: Yes (To bypass Golems of Amgarrak)
Total Play Time: 9 days / 63.57 Hours
Time Reviewed: 9-5-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: Being a noble lord // Keep management
  2. Atmosphere: Genuine gratitude for doing the right thing. This is something only a few games really nail, but few nail it better than Dragon Age Origins where often-times your reward for helping someone is just a few lines of dialogue saying thank you, but we get this sort of thing persistently and it’s sufficiently well acted that the whole way through I find myself feeling like I’ve really helped these people…
  3. Atmosphere: …earning it…
  4. Atmosphere: …three positives
  5. Atmosphere: Golems of Amgarrak. For all its issues, it manages the tone quite well
  6. Atmosphere: The general tone of massacring your way through Denerim during the Darkspawn Chronicles is actually quite fun
  7. Babylon 5 Effect: Loghaine, the Darkspawn, the Grey Wardens…
  8. Banter: All the inter-party banter is good stuff, easily earning…
  9. Banter: …a full…
  10. Banter: …three positives
  11. Banter: Morrigan and Allistair’s banter gets special praise
  12. Brickwork: Castles and Keeps
  13. Brickwork: Orzammar
  14. Brickwork: Ostagar
  15. Characters: Alistair. Alistair is just awesome, interesting, engaging, well acted, well presented, and one of my favorite characters in this game…
  16. Characters: …earning him two positives
  17. Characters: Anders, Nathaniel, and Sigrun don’t have much time to move and breathe but they’re still good and I’m still with it
  18. Characters: The Architect and the Mother are both fascinating and bring up concepts that question the whole setting (that will never be followed through on but moving on)
  19. Characters: Branka is, by herself, shockingly evil and in a well thought out, well written, horrifying way
  20. Characters: Duncan gets some good stuff, seemingly generic good but honestly no he’s quite pragmatic and concerned with the Blight over all other things, a properly done ‘Renegade’ character
  21. Characters: The Dwarf Origins and Orzammar in particular are peppered with memorable and fun side characters
  22. Characters: Flemeth has relatively little screen time but they do a lot with it, and she is well positioned both for the plot and for Morrigan’s arc
  23. Characters: Jowy & Daveth. They’re only the beginnings of characters, but there’s a lot implied here, and they’re interesting despite… y’know
  24. Characters: Leliana. The convert who still enjoys the thrill of her old job, who seeks significance in her life
  25. Characters: Loghaine… lost to paranoia and madness, utterly incapable of managing or uniting the country
  26. Characters: Morrigan is the best character in the game. Layers to her make her a fully fleshed out, three dimensional character, and her arc can go quite a few different ways depending…
  27. Characters: …earning two positives
  28. Characters: Oghren, the veteran warrior who lost his wife, house, and status, and delved into drink instead to escape, but still retains his keen insight into things and willingness to help his people
  29. Characters: Shale, also known as HK-47 Two, is mostly amusing, but she is quite amusing
  30. Characters: Denerim NPCs
  31. Characters: Wynne, the motherly sort who remains buried under guilt and fear
  32. Characters: Zevran, the man who seeks death because of how unhappy he is, who nonetheless does all he can when given the opportunity, is awesome (made even better by his romance)…
  33. Characters: …earning him two positives
  34. Consequence Storytelling: Dwarf Noble Origin follows through on itself quite well in how events proceed
  35. Cutscene: Good establishment of what we need to know very quickly and efficiently (Darkspawn, Grey Wardens, and it’s been a while since the last incursion)
  36. Cutscene: The Ostagar cutscenes, logical issues aside, are still good stuff
  37. Dialogue: Dwarven dialogue in general is probably some of the tightest dialogue in the game
  38. Doodads: Orzammar, one of the only places in the game with decent Doodad design
  39. Doodads: Awakening in general steps up the Doodad game noticeably
  40. Exposition: Lack of knowledge about Darkspawn and Grey Wardens, by total coincidence
  41. Humor: The Pearl’s special encounters
  42. Humor: The poet tree…
  43. Humor: Yyyep, Awakening got me several times
  44. Integration: The choices you’ve made determines who’s there for the final battle, both in story and in gameplay
  45. Moment: Character introductions in general
  46. Moment: Morrigan and Flemeth
  47. Moment: Shale’s introduction and that poor chicken
  48. Moment: The Bannorn and Loghaine’s first confrontation
  49. Moment: The charge into Denerim…
  50. Moment: …and Alistair’s speech
  51. Moment: The entry into Orzammar
  52. Moment: The final round up of your characters and their arcs before the final battle
  53. Moment: The Joining
  54. MSQ: City Elf Origin, for all its flaws, nails both railroading and motive very well, and gives insight into culture, people, and politics
  55. MSQ: Dwarf Commoner Origin is another very good origin, with tight characters, intrigue, compelling plot, and multiple gradients with the same general outcome…
  56. MSQ: …earning it two positives
  57. MSQ: Dwarf Noble Origin fires on every piston, between multiple paths and lots of ways to portray your character and plot and everything, all culminating in just being out-classed and struggling through anyways…
  58. MSQ: …earning it…
  59. MSQ: …three positives
  60. MSQ: The Fade, its lore, and its insight into characters
  61. MSQ: Human Noble Origin. It’s very cliche’d and very typical and very predictable… but none of that matters because it’s done quite well. It is dark, tragic, immediately gives us motive, helps establish a lot about Fereldan and several of our principle villains, and is a good insight into the politics of the country…
  62. MSQ: …earning two positives
  63. MSQ: Orzammar conclusion
  64. MSQ: Orzammar initial quests and indications of Harromont vs. Bhelen
  65. MSQ: Redcliffe in general (the dead, the keep, the demon)
  66. MSQ: Some of Morrigan’s ritual paths not only work but fit, are well acted and written, and work in character
  67. MSQ: The Rescue is, weirdly enough, really really well done. There’s a lot of possible permutations, they’re all good, and they’re all awesome…
  68. MSQ: …earning it…
  69. MSQ: …three positives
  70. MSQ: The very idea of what Branka did to reach the Anvil is so many levels of horrible all on its own
  71. Outro: The final charge up to the Archdemon
  72. Outro: The final ending slides
  73. Outro: The final playable epilogue is an awesome way to interact with everyone one last time, but also showcase your choices regarding the characters to date…
  74. Outro: …earning two positives
  75. Plot: Hook: Why we have to do it, why the army can’t do it, why we’re recruiting
  76. Plot: The Darkspawn are an existential threat: No matter what type of character you play (within reason), all can profit from dealing with the Darkspawn
  77. Plot: We’re not here to save the world, we’re here to save Fereldan… but better than that, we’re not here to save Fereldan from the Blight, not really, we’re here to save Fereldan from Fereldan…
  78. Plot: …and I love it
  79. Secondary: Orzammar has some of the better side quests in the game
  80. Secondary: The conspiracy plot in Awakening is one of the better individual arcs in the game (also Awakening in general)
  81. Storytelling Mechanic: Codex, as per usual
  82. Theme: Stagnation. Traditionalism is everywhere and the effects and impacts it has on everyone
  83. Voice Acting: Alistair is one of the better, more nuanced acting jobs in the game…
  84. Voice Acting: …earning two positives
  85. Voice Acting: Awakening Main characters all have good voice acting
  86. Voice Acting: Awakening side characters also have good voice acting (notably the Mother and Architect)
  87. Voice Acting: City Elf Origin characters
  88. Voice Acting: Dalish Origin characters
  89. Voice Acting: Duncan, in general but also for his narration
  90. Voice Acting: Dwarf Commoner characters
  91. Voice Acting: Dwarf Noble characters
  92. Voice Acting: Flemeth, and the return of Janeway
  93. Voice Acting: Human Noble characters
  94. Voice Acting: Leliana
  95. Voice Acting: Loghain because, I mean obviously
  96. Voice Acting: Mage characters
  97. Voice Acting: Morrigan is the best actor in the game. She manages so many tiny, nuanced details in every line, but also more overt pieces, and some fun and ‘bad acting’ sequences…
  98. Voice Acting: …earning…
  99. Voice Acting: …three positives
  100. Voice Acting: Oghren because, shockingly, Steve Blum is a good actor
  101. Voice Acting: Ostagar characters
  102. Voice Acting: Redcliffe characters
  103. Voice Acting: Shale manages a great dry wit tone
  104. Voice Acting: Sten is wonderfully blunt and has some great moments
  105. Voice Acting: Wynne speaks a bit specifically but she does a good job with it
  106. Voice Acting: General, for all the good voice acting I missed, for there is so much
  107. Voice Acting: Zevran and his own nuance
  108. Voice Direction: Extra nuances and details in every performance in the game…
  109. Voice Direction: …earning it…
  110. Voice Direction: …three positives
  111. World Building: Dwarf Commoner Origins
  112. World Building: Dwarf Noble Origin shares double duty with Dwarf Commoner in how it insights into Orzammar and Dwarven society
  113. World Building: Leliana’s Song, exposition and build up, and a lot of moving pieces in the background
  114. World Building: Mage Origin
  115. World Building: Soldier’s Peak and some insight into the history of the world
  116. World Building: Urns of Andraste and our first real look into the Chantry, no really style
  117. Writing: Some very good exposition in Dwarf Commoner and Noble Origins
  118. Banter: Witch Hunt
  119. Consequence Storytelling: If (if!) you are in a romance with Morrigan, Witch Hunt is honestly a great pay off for the whole affair
  120. Writing: Morrigan’s romance is well thought out, sweet, and does great things for her character…
  121. Writing: …in addition to being one of the best romances in gaming…
  122. Writing: …earning it three positives
  123. Writing: Alistair’s is, similarly, very cute. He’s adorkable, has no idea what he’s doing, and is totally heads over heels in love, and you can take it a lot of directions…
  124. Writing: …earning it two positives
  125. Writing: Leliana’s romance isn’t on the same level as the others, but it’s still good and it still deserves a positive
  126. Writing: Zevran’s romance is honestly weirdly great for the type of character he portrays, an it easily earns itself…
  127. …two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Brickwork: General. Whole game just doesn’t look… good
  2. Brickwork: The Deep Roads especially. Hope you like endless grey and brown caves
  3. Character: Oghren… in Awakening… is an abrasive, irritating, unpleasant character with nothing that redeems him
  4. Consequence Storytelling: Lack of payoff across the board, especially for the Origins…
  5. Consequence Storytelling: …earning two negatives
  6. External Continuity: The near total lack of continuity between Origins and Awakening is not great
  7. External Continuity: Special bonus points for how Oghren is a completely different character
  8. Moment: Anora’s speech is hilarious, but man it’s just so… so bad
  9. Moment: Mhairi’s death is… extraordinarily badly done. She just kind of drinks, falls over, dies, and the scene moves on less than a second later
  10. Moment: The horror movie sting at the end of Golem of Amgarrak
  11. Moment: The unnecessary squick and edge of male city elf origin
  12. MSQ: On the flip side, Morrigan’s ritual doesn’t work for several of its permutations and, worse, is a bit too… well frankly badly written as a base concept. It reads as a bad porno script rather than what they were probably going for
  13. MSQ: So… the Landsmeet. The game really wants us to pick Loghain or Alistair and that’s fine in and of itself (even if I’m not super into it) buuut the way it’s handled is too forced and too Fake Drama. The whole thing stinks of not having enough time to massage the sequence properly
  14. MSQ: The entire city elf origin’s middle section is… unnecessary at best and tonally dissonant at worse, but worst of all its all just for its own sake. It’s shock for shock and leaning too hard into The Edge and instead it detracts from the work
  15. Writing: Ostagar has several issues across the board, especially with the total nonsense of the battle
  16. Outro: Awakening in general just sort of falls flat in the Outro
  17. Plot: So… the Grail quest is one of the most ‘because plot’ things in the entire game. The noble lord is super poisoned, cool, so let’s spread to the winds chasing a rumor of a relic which might exist because it’ll totally cure him. Bonus points, the relic is real and does cure him. Sure
  18. Story Sequencing: Ssssooo Redcliff is just… sitting there, on pause, and the longer you wait the less sense it makes (there’s other issues with the ‘choose your own order’ thing too)
  19. Storytelling Mechanic: Limited party size problem… I’ve been thinking about this but this is just awful, for the Fade, for banter, for reactions to quests…
  20. Storytelling Mechanic: …earning it two negatives
  21. Storytelling Mechanic: This dovetails nicely into the other problem with the limited party size; gated content via Approval. You are (heavily) encouraged in both gameplay and story to seek Approval, at the cost of playing the way you want and choosing the way you want
  22. World Building: So… why do the Darkspawn have gear and torches and catapults?
  23. Writing: Also, and this is a weird negative but… Mhairi dying was not a really good decision I think. She’s too interesting to be tossed away for what is essentially just tradition
  24. Writing: Leliana’s Song has a … lot of issues
  25. Writing: So… the Joinings. Lots of people can just join and it’s not treated like a big deal and everybody survives and it just sort of… cheapens the entire affair
  26. Writing: The Underthought of the Super Poison
  27. Writing: Very awkward exposition in Dwarf Commoner and Noble Origin
  28. Consequence Storytelling: If you are not one of two very tiny slivers of character, you have… no reason to do Witch Hunt, and the game provides even less
  29. Outro: (Witch Hunt) We cannot stand against the vague, foreboding foreshadowing… dun dun duuun
  30. Outro: (Awakening) Also good lord what a nothingburger ending
  31. Internal Continuity: Several issues that clearly point to changed ideas and directions mid development
  32. Writing: We’ve seen this before, but several of the good bits of character developement for a few characters (notably Zevran) are locked behind romance.

Gameplay Positives:

  1. All Roads Lead To Rome: All the major quest hubs
  2. All Roads Lead To Rome: Arl Eamon
  3. All Roads Lead To Rome: Landsmeet
  4. All Roads Lead To Rome: Mage Tower
  5. All Roads Lead To Rome: Orzammar Initial
  6. All Roads Lead To Rome: Redcliffe
  7. All Roads Lead To Rome: The Rescue
  8. Builds: While mostly an aspect of the abilities, there’s still gear and party make-up, meaning there’s a decent variety of possible builds in the game…
  9. Builds: …earning two positives
  10. Choices: Brecilian Forest
  11. Choices: Denerim
  12. Choices: DLCs (Soldier’s Peak, Shale)
  13. Choices: Dwarven Noble
  14. Choices: Keep mechanics in Awakening
  15. Choices: Landsmeet
  16. Choices: Lothering
  17. Choices: Origins in general
  18. Choices: Orzammar
  19. Choices: Redcliffe
  20. Choices: The final epilogue slides showcasing many of your choices
  21. Controls: Variance between top down and action modes
  22. Core Combat: Pausing and being able to give orders in combat is a nice feature by itself
  23. Core Combat: Sustained system. This is great, gradient system that allows the player to reserve a portion of their casting for permanent buffs, which can be toggled and controlled at will, at however much you want, or you can reserve your resources for casting… it’s all up to you…
  24. Core Combat: …earning two positives
  25. Core Mechanic: The Approval system and its unlocks for abilities and quests
  26. Core Mechanic: The Darkspawn Chronicles recruit and upgrade mechanic is actually pretty fun
  27. Core Mechanic: The gambit system is awesome, and honestly probably the best implementation of Gambits in gaming that I’ve seen. You have tons and tons of options to customize how the party does what and when…
  28. Core Mechanic: …earning a full…
  29. Core Mechanic: …three positives
  30. Core Mechanic: And a bonus positive for the Presets, both baked in and custom
  31. Encounter: Broodmother fight
  32. Encounter: Defending Redcliffe
  33. Encounter: Ostagar (Emissary, tower, Ogre)
  34. Encounter: Ser Cauthrian
  35. Encounter: The Drake setup in the Ruined Temple
  36. Encounter: Generally good encounter design across the whole game…
  37. Encounter: …earning it…
  38. Encounter: …three positives
  39. Enemy Design: Decent design throughout
  40. Enemy Variety: Decent variety throughout
  41. HUD: Color distinction in text and buffs
  42. Integration: The choices you’ve made determines who’s there for the final battle, both in story and in gameplay
  43. Intro: Lothering is a really good Intro. It gets across character moments, sidequests, multiple paths to victory, and is nearly completely optional…
  44. Intro: …earning two positives
  45. Itemization: Gold, equipment, drops
  46. Kit: Archer builds for rogues
  47. Kit: Melee in general, for rogues and warriors both
  48. Kit: Two hander gets its own point for being surprisingly legit
  49. Kit: Sword and Board is, unironically, one of the best setups in the game, with good buffs, stances, and abilities, and more viable builds…
  50. Kit: …earning two positives
  51. Kit: Similarly, Mage is pretty legit for pretty much the same reasons…
  52. Kit: …earning two positives
  53. Level: General dungeon design in Awakening
  54. Level: Kal’Hirol is surprisingly decent, a good step up from Origins dungeon design
  55. Level: Trials of Andraste, probably one of the better dungeons in the whole game
  56. Mods: Depth of mods
  57. Mods: Ease of mod implementation
  58. Mods: The devs did eventually release a dev toolkit (though good luck finding and implementing it)
  59. MSQ: Fade (kit in forms, level design)
  60. MSQ: The multi party combat during the Outro
  61. MSQ: The Rescue is just a great mission. Depending on who you bring and how you do it the quest can go a lot of different ways, and there’s a gradient here too; it’s not ‘fight’ or ‘don’t fight’. Plus you can rescue yourself! Earning it…
  62. MSQ: …two positives
  63. Pacing: Out of combat regen seems like a minor thing but it keeps the pacing good, which is important in such a long game with so much combat
  64. Prime Opt: Keep upgrade quests and related arcs
  65. QoL: Bank, respec, unlock tomes, and a few other tidbits added in Awakening
  66. Save System: Quick saves, auto saves, and manual saves…
  67. Save System: …for two positives
  68. Viscerality: Between the meaty melee and the fun magic, plus the impact of such abilities, the game has decent viscerality…
  69. Viscerality: …earning two positives
  70. Replayability: First, the game has plenty of alternate options and playstyles but…
  71. Replayability: …then there’s the very nature of the game and how it encourages replay given the very nature of the Choice gameplay
  72. Choices: Romance gameplay choices
  73. Song: Leliana’s Song

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Balancing: Lots of minor issues throughout
  2. Audio Spam: There’s not a ton but there is some and it is irritating
  3. Boss: The Darkspawn Chronicles final boss fight is all the wrong things about escort quests magnified. The amount of ridiculousness on display here while defending a paper tiger is bonkers…
  4. Boss: …earning the encounter two negatives
  5. Boss: The Harvester fight is overtuned to hell and back but even if we ignore that, it’s just kind of boring
  6. Bug: Audio bugs with ambient lines
  7. Bug: Lots of bugs in Awakening
  8. Bug: Memory Leak. This is easily the worst memory leak I’ve seen in gaming, requiring a reset (on average) of about once an hour, earning it…
  9. Bug: …a full…
  10. Bug: …three negatives
  11. Choices: As per usual, the Persuasion stat is neight-unto mandatory and limits your build potential
  12. Choices: Or lack thereof re: Awakening
  13. Choices: So the Hardening for Alistair is already kind of vague and unnatural (unlike the Leliana one where it’s clear where it’s going) but also it has a substantial impact on how his future and the endings can go
  14. Core Combat: While I do, legitimately, enjoy the core combat there’s just SO much of it that it gets old
  15. Core Combat: …made worse by virtue of trying to force something the game doesn’t, at its core, support
  16. Core Mechanic: Approval only effects present party members, which can lead to irritations and issues with regards to trying to raise Approval appropriately
  17. Core Mechanic: Attribute and skill point tax on tactics slots (requires Cunning and Skill Points)
  18. Difficulty: So Golems of Amgarrak can go directly to hell with its difficulty cliffs
  19. Encounter: Forced positioning after dialogues before a fight
  20. Encounter: Severe over-tuning of several encounters in Leliana’s Song…
  21. Encounter Rate: Similar to the Deep Roads, the Brecilian Forest just… has way, way too much trash
  22. Encounter Rate: The Ruined Temple of the Sacred Ashes quest just has far, far too much endless boring trash fights
  23. Encounter Rate: Yeah there’s honestly just… way too many trash fights in this game
  24. Graphics: Gross, as per usual
  25. Graphics: Improper resolution scaling (especially subtitles)
  26. Graphics: One of the few spider negatives in gaming
  27. Graphics: The blurry headache-inducing nature of the Fade is a toggle, which is nice, but that toggle is very unclear in its labeling, which is not
  28. Interface: The inventory problems get worse in Awakening
  29. Inventory: So if Alistair leaves the party heeee takes everything with him. Cute
  30. Itemization: Limited bag size. This becomes even more irritating over time…
  31. Itemization: …for a second negative
  32. Itemization: The Injury system and subsequent item tax
  33. Itemization: The Rogue lockpick tax
  34. Level: Brecilian Forest, general. Very narrow, very nothing-burger, honestly feels worse designed than even the endless repetition of the Deep Roads
  35. Level: For all its positives, Kal’Hirol just drags on entirely too long
  36. Level: More problems from the Ruined Temple and DAO’s approach to dungeon design
  37. Level: This is mostly a feature of level design, but the Deep Roads are a slog. Samey corridors and boring visuals in an endless dungeon fest fighting wave after wave after wave of enemies…
  38. Level: …earning two negatives
  39. Minigame: The Shale puzzle. Getting stuck on the terrain, taking pointless damage, and dialogue spam the whole time
  40. MSQ: Fade (badly balanced, sucks for some classes, game isn’t built for solo combat)
  41. MSQ: The Fade, general (several smaller but extant issues throughout the experience)
  42. Music: Darkspawn’s battle theme and the repetition thereof in an expansion where we fight almost exclusively Darkspawn
  43. No Music: And also there’s huge, huge swaths of No Music
  44. No Music: Inconsistent music. Sometimes it plays, sometimes it doesn’t
  45. Outro: The final fight with the Archdemon is passable… which is honestly the problem, it’s just another fight really
  46. Padding: Random Encounters and trash fights
  47. Padding: The final few trash fights and general fights (with infinite respawns) of the Outro
  48. Party: Extremely badly designed party members which you can’t respec in the DLCs
  49. Respec: The lack of respec in a game with so many options and possible builds hurts viability and experimentation…
  50. Respec: …made worse by companions coming pre-leveled without option, limiting things even further
  51. Secondary: The quest designs of the Brecilian Forest are bland, boring, and worse, in some cases best left undone
  52. Seconds In Minutes: Unlocking and the Rogue of Requirement
  53. Starting Options: Limitations of race are already irritating but locking you into Origins per class is worse
  54. Walkthroughitis: It’s disturbingly easy to permanently miss content through no fault of your own in Awakening
  55. Choices: It’s entirely too easy to stumble into a romance, and with no take-backs or other options to avoid it

Starcraft 1

We played the Remastered version for this review. The story is still pretty legit (though falls apart a bit in Brood War), and the core gameplay is excellent but the vehicle of gameplay is very problematic. Still absolutely worth a playthrough if you never have.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +42
Total Gameplay Score: +4
Golden Number: 91.61
Cheats: Yes (time waster missions)
Total Play Time: 6 days / 45.44 Hours
Time Reviewed: 10-23-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Atmosphere: The final Brood War Protoss mission does a great job at really getting across just how overrun by the Swarm the planet really is
  2. Atmosphere & Tone: The Swarm slowly overwhelming Shakuras and Aiur simply by being uncontrolled
  3. Banter: Pisseds
  4. Brickwork: Brood War has generally acceptable Brickwork in the new tilesets
  5. Cutscene: Starcraft vanilla Intro does a lot to establish the tone and setting very quickly and efficiently without really spoiling much
  6. Cutscene: Brood War’s intro. The absolute chaos of the trenches, the smooth long shots of the Alexander, the familiarity with the characters, the final shot of the jaws closing
  7. Cutscene: Terran Vanilla outro. Mengsk’s coronation speech is great. His focus first on alien forces (identifying the ‘other’), focusing on security and threats, offering not prosperity and peace but security and unity, and trying to emphasize ‘all humans should be unified’… while under him
  8. Cutscene: The final detonation on Shakuras was actually pretty legit, both in appearance and in storytelling
  9. Cutscene: The UED final cutscene is just awesome. Just the right blend of ridiculous 50s propaganda piece, and deliberate misinformation which informs the viewer, and general amusement
  10. Cutscenes: Ground perspective on things, in general
  11. Intro: Mission 1 & 2, initial vibes and tones, establishing the ‘scene’. Duke is the obstinate jackass, Raynor is friendly and affable
  12. Moment: Mengsk’s speech… you know the one
  13. Moment: Raynor swooping in out of no where to rescue Mengsk and
  14. Moment: The very first briefing for the very first Zerg mission is near perfect. The Overmind states things as fact, establishing itself and its relationship to the Swarm. We now understand that the Swarm has intelligence behind it. And now we get to play as the ‘bad guys’
  15. MSQ: So the first few missions very rapidly but very properly set up the entire premise of the Terran campaign
  16. MSQ: Tassadar’s subtle storytelling with Raynor and the significance and understated exposition thereof in Protoss Vanilla 4
  17. MSQ: The briefing establishing the death of Zasz is well executed and presented, but also surprisingly well written; It informs the player of a weakness in the Swarm we can later exploit, establishes the nature of the hierarchical Swarm structure, and pushes the Overmind out of play temporarily to force us to deal with the situation
  18. MSQ: The briefing where the Queen of Blades introduces herself and the new Overmind plot has a few issues, but Aldaris being the voice of reason (and peacing out), the voice direction, playing on the player’s inclinations, and the reasonability of their current predicament all set the stage nicely
  19. MSQ: The reverse Alien mission through the Amerigo is some great tone setter, especially followed through by the cutscene showing the other side of things
  20. MSQ: The tonal usage and cutscene of UED Brood War 7. Stukov’s final speech and Dugalle’s reaction are very well acted and surprisingly well written, the events of the mission itself make sense for future events, and the humor helps contrast the tragedy of it
  21. Pacing: Generally good pacing across the Vanilla campaigns
  22. Plot: Barely surviving and constantly on the back foot during the entire Brood War Protoss campaign
  23. Plot: Build up for first four Zerg missions
  24. Plot: Protoss vanilla campaign and the perspective from the crumbling perch
  25. Plot: The slow escalation across the Terran campaign as the focus drifts from the Confederacy, to the Zerg*
  26. Story Sequencing: Surprisingly good Sequencing, again throughout the Vanilla campaigns
  27. Storytelling Mechanic: Mid mission stills
  28. Visual Storytelling: BW Protoss 1 gets special mention for doing some cool stuff to really indicate just how over-run Aiur really is
  29. Voice Direction: General, but noticeable
  30. World Building: Lots. The world is very naturally and fluidly built up throughout the narrative, and building honestly one of the more interesting and engaging settings I’ve seen. Between the three races…
  31. World Building: …I think it deserves…
  32. World Building: …three positives
  33. Writing: Exposition and setup in general
  34. Voice Acting: Adjutant
  35. Voice Acting: Raynor
  36. Voice Acting: Duke
  37. Voice Acting: Mengsk
  38. Voice Acting: Overmind
  39. Voice Acting: Kerrigan
  40. Voice Acting: Aldaris
  41. Voice Acting: Tassadar
  42. Voice Acting: Zeratul
  43. Voice Acting: Stukov
  44. Voice Acting: Duran
  45. Voice Acting: Dugalle
  46. Characters: Raynor
  47. Characters: Mengsk
  48. Characters: Duke
  49. Characters: Kerrigan
  50. Characters: Overmind
  51. Characters: Tassadar
  52. Characters: Zeratul
  53. Doodads: There’s some doodad usage… not alot, but it’s there (mostly in the No Build missions)
  54. Spritework: Terrans. Rough, ramshackle, lived in
  55. Spritework: Zerg. Brutal, bloody, organic
  56. Spritework: Protoss. Crystalline, ephemeral, pristine
  57. Foreshadowing: Duran is actually really well foreshadowed throughout the Brood War campaign, quiet little things in the background
  58. Plot: The second twist with Duran…
  59. Moment: …and Duran’s big reveal of the Hybrid
  60. Outro: Dugalle’s final cutscene, and final sendoff, is basically perfect. Music, audio, visuals, tone, dialogue

Story Negatives:

  1. Plot: There’s some ‘because plot’ with Tassadar. Either he didn’t know about the Cerebrates weakness to tell the team (which is… weird) or he didn’t tell them (which is stupid)
  2. Plot: So… okay. We return home and Tassadar and crew are like let’s save our people against the idiots of the Conclave… then surrenders to them, leading to literally the next mission being to… free him from the Conclave. This whole thing is just a weird mis-step
  3. Writing: So… why exactly are we fighting the UED in the Protoss Brood War Mission 5? And why do they act like nothing happened later?
  4. Fake Drama: Ohhh nooo we have to kill Aldaris, even though a 10 second phone call would fix this
  5. Cutscene: Aldaris’ refusal to spit it out, Kerrigan just zooping in and murdering him in mid sentence…
  6. Cutscene: …it’s… so bad. Aldaris even has a chance to say the relevant information, oh also the characters even offer a hand of friendship after having mass butchered their fellow REFUGEES who we helped save from Aiur and just… what?
  7. Writing: Idiot Ball, for just… the entire Protoss campaign. So, so many times the truth is slapping the characters in the face with bright neon signs and they just ignore it
  8. Atmosphere: Sadly the Brood War Protoss campaign, with one notable exception, doesn’t really sell what’s really happening on the planet during the missions
  9. Integration: As with most Blizzard games, there’s a lot of gameplay and story segregation going on
  10. MSQ: Okay so there’s a lot of problems colliding into each other in the second to last UED Brood War mission. First, the Captain being a silent protagonist actively detracts from the scene (we KNOW what’s going on, why don’t we say anything?) Second, Dugalle grabs the Idiot Ball so hard that people have for years head-canoned it (even though the game itself doesn’t earn this at all). Third and finally, a simple message or comm signal would (once again) fix all of this…
  11. MSQ: …earning double negatives
  12. Writing: Mengsk somehow, magically, doesn’t see the Queen of Blade’s betrayal coming, acts legitimately shocked, and has no backup plan for her inevitable betrayal
  13. Character: Raszagal, and the lack thereof thanks to mind control
  14. Consequence Storytelling: So the entire sequence of events that leads to the Queen of Blade having mind control over Raszagal has so many holes in it that the timeline makes zero sense
  15. Plot: Finally, the very fact that the Queen of Blades can mind control Raszagal doesn’t work either direction it’s sliced. Either she infested her (which makes no sense in lore) or she’s mind controlling her (which is ridiculous on several levels)
  16. Character: Artanis is such a nothingburger character who acts as a naive idiot who… shouldn’t be
  17. Consequence Storytelling: Everything to do with the Queen of Blades is… problematic. While they work at earning some of it, they really don’t most of the time
  18. Outro: Everything to do with the Queen of Blades’ generic victory is just kind of there

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Controls: Hotkeys, control groups, ‘smart’ interactions
  2. Core Mechanic: Food as an additional slot mechanic
  3. Core Mechanic: The ‘standard resource / rare resource’ isn’t good by itself, but it’s used to good effect as a natural bottleneck on certain techs and units
  4. Core Mechanic: Upgrades and ‘tech trees’ being generally well thought out and worthwhile
  5. Graphics: On-the-fly swapping of graphics with F5
  6. HUD: Decent
  7. Level: Antiga Prime Vanilla Terran 5. Introduces air units, dropships, and anti air, and does a small but brilliant bit of tutorialization just based on the mission and level layout; The enemy will periodically attack with Wraiths and Dropships (so you know the concept exists), the enemy main base is layered in Anti Air (discouraging the player from hitting there) but has a side area which is designed to be an easier beachhead (which also has vulture mines to prompt the player into being cautious)
  8. Level: Assault Tarsonis, Vanilla Terran 7. Two well entrenched enemy bases but you start off with a full kit and a base custom built for you… buuut it also has limited space and resources, essentially mandating the player don’t sit and entrench, but push out
  9. Level: Brood War Protoss 9, defending the temple. The ‘hold the line’ part of the mission is actually great, with a large amount of mixed-units assaults happening frequently from all directions
  10. Level: Early Zerg levels do a good job of encouraging you to use Lings, Hydras, and Mutas respectively with level layout and design
  11. Level: Save Duke Vanilla Terran 6. Zerg bases in the way to go ‘around’ to the target, or go directly through a giant wall of anti air defenses
  12. Level: The Hammer Falls, Vanilla Terran 10. Brutal, brilliantly designed, and mean in all the right ways
  13. Level: UED Brood War 2 is honestly one of the best missions in the game. Well laid out areas designed around the limitations of the game, rather than in contrast to it. Fun, proper micro No-Build. Well done tutorialization of the Medic. Rewarding for playing it well. Non binary difficulty. And finally, a Hyperbeam Moment right at the end to have fun with…
  14. Level: …this level rocks and deserves…
  15. Level: …three positives
  16. Level: UED Brood War 3. Four enemy bases, each one very hyper specialized and rewarding different tactics for taking them down
  17. Level: UED Brood War 7. Simple but fun No-Build mission with good layout, pick ups, and interactables
  18. Level: UED Brood War 8 does do one thing right; the three varied, gimmicky bases
  19. Level: Zerg Brood War 1. The whole map flows beautifully into itself, with each base rescued giving you new units to take the next base, and good thought put into which units you get vs. which units you end up having to fight…
  20. Level: …for two positives
  21. Level: Zerg Brood War 2, the recruitable minions, the spread and layout of hero units
  22. Minigames: Skirmish mode options
  23. Minimap: Surprisingly good and informative…
  24. Minimap: …for two positives
  25. Music: I mean come on…
  26. Music: …of course the music is multiple positive worthy
  27. QoL: A few
  28. Save: Save at any time mid mission
  29. Tutorialization: The first several missions in general do a great job of introducing strategy, controls, and interface
  30. Unit Design: Protoss, Brood War, the additional units. While none of them are positive worthy by themselves, all three add some good flavor and tactics to the Protoss
  31. Unit Design: Protoss, General. Fire and forget building, pylon ranged construction, and the very existence of shields
  32. Unit Design: Terran, General. The ability to build essentially anywhere and lift and move your producer buildings is great, their variety and general utility of units is generally good…
  33. Unit Design: …earning the Terrans two general positives
  34. Unit Design: Terran, Medics. Autocasting! Good utility (dispel and blind) and that heal has great synergy with infantry (and stimpacks)
  35. Unit Design: Terran Goliaths. Pathing issues aside, the Goliaths are (by themselves) well designed, with a decent and meaty ground attack, great anti air, and worthwhile cost and teching
  36. Unit Design: Terran Marines. Simple yet very well designed, with two useful upgrades (range and attack speed at a cost) and the ability to bunker up
  37. Unit Design: Terran Siege Tanks might be the best designed unit in vanilla Starcraft. A mid-tier tech unit which is expensive but not too much so with no anti air but the ability to be useful on the move or when fashioned as artillery, with just enough health and armor to not be worthless but still functioning as a glass cannon, and the final piece of awesome is that their attack range is greater than their spot range meaning they naturally benefit from support from other units…
  38. Unit Design: …earning Siege Tanks two positives
  39. Unit Design: Zerg, General. Limited base building (requiring the creep) but buildings are irrelevant except as unlocks and upgrades, meaning heavily centralized production lines which can churn out an entire squad of units at a time rather than drip-feed like the other two factions…
  40. Unit Design: …earning the Zerg two general positives
  41. Unit Design: Zerg Guardians. A natural offshoot of the Mutas, flying artillery which needs support to function but is devastating with it
  42. Unit Design: Zerg Hydralisks. Essentially the same design as Marines but a step further in the tech tree, and a bit pricier, but with increased movement speed and a bit meatier to back it up
  43. Unit Design: Zerg Mutalisks. Very much a workhorse unit, a bit pricey but not too much, a bit techy but not too much, useful in all situations but not great by themselves
  44. Unit Design: Zerg Overlords. Mobile food that can spy and carry
  45. Unit Design: Zerg Lurkers. Mobile turrets that aren’t too expensive and properly difficult to use but still great when used properly
  46. Viscerality: While a bit of an assault on the ears, the visuals certainly get it across
  47. Visual Distinction: Color usage and crispness
  48. Enemy AI: The different types and styles of enemy AI are pretty decent

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Audio Balance: Music and voice acting issues. Having to periodically mute the music to hear the acting despite the music being much quieter is not great
  2. Audio Spam: Unit barks are, as usual, not great
  3. Audio Spam: There are multiple, frequent situations where the sound is best just straight up off in order to avoid the ear cancer…
  4. Audio Spam: …for double negatives
  5. Controls: Control group limitations
  6. Controls: General irritations
  7. Controls: “Stunned” units are forcibly removed from control groups
  8. Core Mechanic: Pathfinding. There was worse pathfinding before this, but it is absolutely awful here. You have to herd your troops excessively due to the tendency to stretch out into a line, units can get permanently ‘stuck’ trying to move around each other (or in worse case scenarios, the AIR), and the larger and more steps in movement the unit has the worse it gets, effectively taking units out of usefulness simply by virtue of how much they require babying…
  9. Core Mechanic: …easily earning…
  10. Core Mechanic: …three negatives
  11. Difficulty Curve: So the difficulty curve in the vanilla campaign bounces around a lot. And not in the good way. You can tell some missions just weren’t designed with the same level of care as others and it actively drags the whole experience down a bit
  12. Difficulty Curve: The final three Protoss missions just kick the player in the teeth in a way that’s more irritating than fun
  13. Info In Game: Plenty is missing, from armor types and damage variances to how exactly abilities work
  14. Integration: As with most Blizzard games, there’s a lot of gameplay and story segregation going on
  15. Level: Kill-All Missions in general can go to hell. They turn into long, boring slogs…
  16. Level: …but the worst part is they often end a good 10 minutes after you’ve already effectively won the mission…
  17. Level: …for a full triple negative
  18. Level: Protoss Brood War 9’s first half is honestly really, really boring
  19. Level: Protoss Brood War mission 5 is a level that should work and doesn’t, instead just kind of being… boring
  20. Level: Protoss Vanilla 2 deserves special mention for the difficulty problems. It’s far, far harder than a second mission has any right to be, without the proper functionality that would make it work
  21. Level: Protoss Vanilla 4’s first half is an interesting idea badly implemented, made even worse by the second half being more frustrating than it should be (its functionally an escort mission, and not a good one)…
  22. Level: …for two negatives
  23. Level: Protoss Vanilla 6. So the game gives you two zealots and a slow, short range caster against Infested Terrans (which can, through triggers, be spawned on your face). The entire mission really encourages save scumming, and that’s never a good design…
  24. Level: …for two negatives
  25. Level: UED Brood War 8 does a lot wrong however. You have an awful starting position, are almost guaranteed to lose your expansion, and there’s a whole lot of Gotcha! In the design of the stage. It’s essentially designed to be played twice
  26. Level: Zerg Brood War 5 is so, so close to being a good mission… and instead turns into an incredibly boring Kill-All
  27. Level: Zerg Brood War 6 is an extremely dull Kill-All
  28. Padding: Due to a combination of circumstances (Kill-All missions, map size, unit control limits, food caps, visibility issues, and the AI) several missions are just… super duper padded, to the point where it’s best to just leave the TV on in the background while doing the longer missions…
  29. Padding: …for two negatives
  30. Penalty For Failure: If a hero unit dies, you fail the mission, sooo sucks to be you. It also de-invests the player from using them…
  31. Penalty: …a problem that never really goes away and is always frustrating
  32. Sound Design: Not splitting the sound input into separate channels
  33. Terrain: A weirdly large number of missions really, really like to give you a crummy space to build into, not in a ‘cool and interesting’ way but in a ‘frustrating and bad pathfinding’ way…
  34. Terrain: …for two negatives
  35. Unit Design: All mages, in general, are not well designed in this game. They’re all too good and too bad at the same time
  36. Unit Design: Dragoons. I probably don’t need to explain this, but even ignoring the obvious pathfinding and movement issues, their hitbox is just way too big (causing issues), they’re a pain to control thanks to their stuttering, and they even pause for a second before firing, all diminishing what should be a good workhorse unit into just irritating
  37. Unit Design: Protoss Scouts. These could be made to work in a bunch of different ways but instead come across as just a waste in all directions. Too slow to be proper scouts, too weak to be useful in combat, too expensive for how useless they are, and require middle teching
  38. Unit Design: Reavers. Very expensive, very slow, big hitbox, movement issues, pathfinding issues, but what really pushes this into negative territory is that their ‘shots’ also have pathfinding issues and can get screwy
  39. Unit Design: Terran Firebats. They’re marines except worse in every way, and with the additional step of requirement and extra cost they just don’t make up for it in utility
  40. Unit Design: Zerg Ultralisks. At the very end of the Zerg tech tree and hideously expensive for a lackluster unit with iffy armor and health and minimal utility thanks to no anti air and collision and attack issues
  41. Unskippable Cutscenes: I cannot believe this but Brood War actually has unskippable cutscenes
  42. Level: Dark Origin. Similar concept to previous No Build missions, but between the Hero unit problem (again) combined with binary difficulty (no way to recover if you screw up), finicky (control issues), and you have to spend huge swaths of time waiting (to recover energy)
  43. Outro: Omega is… not a good mission. It’s not the worst, but it’s a colossal Kill-All slogfest against three vastly superior positions when your own base kinda sucks, and if you don’t get ahead of the curve quickly enough you never will
  44. Enemy AI: The enemy AI is not well designed enough to be anything other than perfectly efficient at some things

Starcraft 2

It’s one of the best games of all time, and it’s the best RTS ever made. Brickwork, atmosphere, doodads, cutscenes, main story moments, unit design, faction design, kit and customization, and king of all… level design.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +132
Total Gameplay Score: +297
Golden Number: 1346.47
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 10 days / 63.74 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-2-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animation: Facial / lip syncing tech
  2. Spritework: Co-Op flavor of units is just top notch, so for the whole group it earns…
  3. Spritework: …three…
  4. Spritework: …positives
  5. Spritework: Protoss. Crystalline, shimmering, glowing…
  6. Spritework: …for a full…
  7. Spritework: …three positives
  8. Spritework: I have to give special mention for the Purifiers…
  9. Spritework: …and the Tal’darim and Nerazim
  10. Spritework: Terrans. Run down, beat up, slapped together, mechanized, and bulky…
  11. Spritework: …for a full…
  12. Spritework: …three positives
  13. Spritework: Bonus for the ‘alternate’ Terran units throughout the campaigns
  14. Spritework: Zerg. Organic, chitinous, muscular…
  15. Spritework: …for a full…
  16. Spritework: …three positives
  17. Spritework: Bonus for the alternate forms of the zerg units, and the primals
  18. Background Lore: News broadcasts
  19. Background Lore: Stetmann’s notes about the Protoss and Zerg in WoL
  20. Background Lore: Tickers on the news broadcast
  21. Banter: WoL pisseds are a mixed bag, but they’re better than SC1’s for sure
  22. Banter: HotS actually has quite a few good ones (kudos to Stukov)
  23. Banter: Of course Legacy has good pissed sounds
  24. Brickwork: Aiur
  25. Brickwork: Badlands
  26. Brickwork: City tileset
  27. Brickwork: Enemy Within
  28. Brickwork: Frozen tundra
  29. Brickwork: Grassland
  30. Brickwork: Hyperion interior
  31. Brickwork: Korhal
  32. Brickwork: Lava
  33. Brickwork: Platforms
  34. Brickwork: Purifiers
  35. Brickwork: Scrapworld
  36. Brickwork: Shakuras
  37. Brickwork: Slayn
  38. Brickwork: Spear of Adun
  39. Brickwork: The orbital platform over Augustgrad
  40. Brickwork: The Void
  41. Brickwork: The Xel’Naga ship in Maw of the Void
  42. Brickwork: Umojans
  43. Brickwork: Zerus
  44. Character: Abathur is one of the best characters in the whole game. A near perfect example of orange/blue morality, who fits in every scene he’s in…
  45. Character: …for two positives
  46. Character: Alarak is another great character; a smart Sith who is reasonable, intelligent, has layers, and never stops being who he is…
  47. Character: …for two positives
  48. Character: Dehaka is a brilliant insight into the Primal Zerg, a near total inverse of Abathur
  49. Character: Horner is a great XO, functionally keeping the ship running and serving as that professional bedrock for the Raiders (and Raynor personally)
  50. Character: Karax is a bit simple, but still delightful as the almost innocently competent mechanist
  51. Character: Mengsk continues to be the most engaging villain in the whole franchise, a great mix of competent and petty, brutal and sophisticated
  52. Character: Mengsk’s Arc throughout is near perfect, and the way he portrays it fits from the very beginning to the very end
  53. Character: Raynor dips into some negative territory towards the end, but he’s still Raynor, and he’s still awesome
  54. Character: Rohana is a weird one because she starts off a bit
  55. Character: Stukov should irritate me but he doesn’t, he’s wonderfully pragmatic and very on point for all of his scenes, and helps sell the gravity of Narud
  56. Character: Tychus might actually be the best character in the whole game. Nuanced, well presented, well acted, a real strong arc, and he’s literally good in his very first scene all the way to his very end…
  57. Character: …for two positives
  58. Character: Valerian really comes into his own in Heart, growing up a bit and proving to be a much better person than his father
  59. Consequence Storytelling: LoTV is a good example of really pulling all the disparate elements together for the finale
  60. Cutscene: Absolutely lovely intro cutscenes for Zeratul, all in engine too
  61. Cutscene: Alarak’s real introduction is fantastic, a great introduction to the flat honesty and arrogance of the character, his tier, and his motives and operations
  62. Cutscene: Another card to play
  63. Cutscene: Artanis activating the Xel’Naga temple
  64. Cutscene: Artanis and Raynor’s scenes at the end of the Korhal missions is just great…
  65. Cutscene: …for two positives
  66. Cutscene: Fire and fury
  67. Cutscene: For all its issues the first Valerian cutscene still has some great stuff (cinematography, the one bullet, and Tychus)
  68. Cutscene: For all the related issues I do love Tychus’ final scene. He clearly gives his life for Raynor and Kerrigan’s, finishing his arc
  69. Cutscene: Hanson falling to infestation, Raynor taking no chances, and taking her down
  70. Cutscene: HoTS’s Intro is just fantastic. The best showcasing we’ve ever had of the Swarm in their full glory, great shots and animations, amazing music, sound design, and it ends on a quiet moment with Kerrigan, great stuff…
  71. Cutscene: …for a full…
  72. Cutscene: …three positives
  73. Cutscene: It probably should be higher than it is, but the CGI cutscene showcasing Kerrigan’s abandonment on Tarsonis is still brilliant
  74. Cutscene: Kerrigan’s rebirth, and Mengsk… and the artifact
  75. Cutscene: Mengsk’s final maneuver against Kerrigan, having to gloat, nearly winning despite it all, Raynor saving her, and Mengsk finally dying…
  76. Cutscene: …for two positives
  77. Cutscene: Post-Nova’s scene is, by contrast, absolutely hilarious (poor Tychus)
  78. Cutscene: Post-Tosh’s mission cutscene does some good points to emphasize Horner’s mentality (the builder wanting to make a new future), Tosh’s (so broken that he ‘knows’ with certainty that it will never get better) and Raynor, who is slipping between the two
  79. Cutscene: Some great action and character bits in the escape from Mar Sara
  80. Cutscene: The entire situation with drunk Tychus, the small spiel to the crew, and the fight with Tychus
  81. Cutscene: WoL Mission 1, very quickly and efficiently establishes how long it’s been since Brood War, shows Raynor’s state of mind and how close he is to suicide, rock bottom and pushed into action by his anger at Mengsk
  82. Cutscene: WoL opening cinematic. Amazing animation, cinematography, presentation, music, just… great stuff…
  83. Cutscene: …for two positives
  84. Cutscene: Zeratul’s battle with Amon…
  85. Cutscene: …is double positive worthy
  86. Cutscene: Zeratul’s confrontation with the Queen of Blades, the clear distinction of the Queen vs. Kerrigan, general cool factor
  87. Dialogue: Abathur’s dialogue is just perfection, clearly getting the time and attention it needed to really pop
  88. Doodads: Augustgrad
  89. Doodads: Brothers In Arms
  90. Doodads: Cutthroat…
  91. Doodads: …and Cutthroat again
  92. Doodads: Dark Whispers
  93. Doodads: Enemy Within
  94. Doodads: Engine of Destruction
  95. Doodads: Evacuation…
  96. Doodads: …and another for Evacuation
  97. Doodads: Fire In The Sky
  98. Doodads: For Aiur
  99. Doodads: Forbidden Weaponry
  100. Doodads: General
  101. Doodads: Great Train Robbery
  102. Doodads: Haven’s Fall
  103. Doodads: Liberation Day
  104. Doodads: Media Blitz, and the sheer detail that goes into the cityscape, is bonkers…
  105. Doodads: …for a full…
  106. Doodads: …three positives
  107. Doodads: Moebius Factor…
  108. Doodads: …and Moebius Factor again
  109. Doodads: Outbreak
  110. Doodads: Piercing The Shroud…
  111. Doodads: …and a second positive
  112. Doodads: Protoss missions in general
  113. Doodads: Sky Shield
  114. Doodads: Slayn
  115. Doodads: Templar’s Charge
  116. Doodads: The Dig
  117. Doodads: Ulnar
  118. Doodads: Waking The Ancient
  119. Doodads: Welcome To The Jungle
  120. Humor: Donny Vermillion and the Vermillion Problem
  121. Humor: News broadcasts
  122. Moment: Eldion’s Purification
  123. Moment: “I had a brother on Tarsonis… I had a brother there…”
  124. MSQ: Absolutely love the flavor and tone of the reclamation of Aiur during For Aiur
  125. MSQ: Conviction is a fantastic hyperbeam moment kind of mission, really emphasizing the sheer weight Kerrigan is bringing down on rescuing Raynor
  126. MSQ: Enemy Within manages some wonderful inverted horror as you play the invading force
  127. MSQ: Engine of Destruction is amusing
  128. MSQ: In Utter Darkness really does a great job fulfilling the tone and vibe of being at the very end of a costly, losing war, right before the apocalypse
  129. MSQ: Lab Rat manages to be amusing, but also a good insight into Kerrigan as opposed to the Queen of Blades
  130. MSQ: Outbreak does such a good job with where it’s going in the narrative, the whole mission is properly tense and terrifying
  131. MSQ: Outbreak has just absolutely wonderful atmosphere, horror, and general tone
  132. MSQ: Piercing the Shroud
  133. MSQ: Rendezvous absolutely nails the vibe and feel of having a real swarm as you roll over the enemy
  134. MSQ: Sky Shield, Artanis and Raynor linking up almost immediately, the intensity of the setpiece
  135. MSQ: Templar’s Charge. The initial attack, the ‘heavies’ staying behind to defend, and Karax getting his time in the spotlight
  136. MSQ: Templar’s Return is a great ‘battle of Denerim’ situation; all the forces you’ve gathered united and uniquely pushing against the enemy
  137. MSQ: The big reveal about the cycle, the Xel’naga, and their passing
  138. MSQ: The final battles on Aiur in LoTV
  139. MSQ: The Gates of Hell begins the great trend of the terrible assault into Char, the immediate dissolving of the assault converted very quickly into a decapitating strike, while being completely overwhelmed on all sides
  140. MSQ: The main reveal about the Overmind’s yoke and the purpose of the Queen of Blades
  141. MSQ: The Terrans making a strong, bold stand against insurmountable odds and barely managing a victory in All In works for me so well
  142. MSQ: With Friends Like These is a nice, amusing breather romp
  143. Outro: I’ll admit it, I really, really like that final bar scene. Interpret it how you will, but one way or another it’s a nice bow on top of the ending
  144. Plot: The near-victory Amon claimed at Aiur, the logical way it was avoided, and the eventual turnaround by the heroes
  145. Plot: The WoL plot as a whole
  146. Secondary: Co-Op missions (mostly flavor and the like, as they all sit in their own elseworlds continuity)
  147. Sound Design: Just, so much of it… footsteps, clunks of vehicles and buildings, all over the place…
  148. Sound Design: …for a full…
  149. Sound Design: …three positives
  150. Story Sequencing: LoTV does a good job of tying the sequencing in together, for once
  151. Theme: LoTV and reforging something new from the ruins of the old
  152. Visual Storytelling: For Aiur
  153. Visual Storytelling: Korhal in general. The gleaming central city, the husks, ruins, and craters just outside the gates
  154. Visual Storytelling: WoL general
  155. Voice Acting: Abathur’s voice acting is near perfect for what he is
  156. Voice Acting: Alarak is, of course, fantastic, but also really manages the nuances of the role…
  157. Voice Acting: …for two positives
  158. Voice Acting: Amon, for all his many flaws, is a good actor
  159. Voice Acting: Artanis is similarly pretty dry but sounds awesome
  160. Voice Acting: Donny Vermillion really sells it. He’s already decent, but when he has actual character moments he’s great
  161. Voice Acting: Gabriel Tosh’s actor (Dave Fennoy) is as awesome as he usually is
  162. Voice Acting: General supporting cast (Dehaka, Zagara, Izsha)
  163. Voice Acting: Horner’s actor perfectly accents his character
  164. Voice Acting: Karax somehow manages to sound humble, simple, and competent
  165. Voice Acting: Kerrigan’s voice actress honestly carries a lot of her lines
  166. Voice Acting: Mengsk’s actor continues to completely sell the details of the character
  167. Voice Acting: Raynor’s actor, of course, nails it
  168. Voice Acting: Rohana does a good job of conveying the old, previous generation
  169. Voice Acting: The Adjutant sounds exactly like she needs to, and serves as a good contrast to all the humans
  170. Voice Acting: Tychus is already well acted but what pushes him into double territory is how he has wonderful nuance into what he’s saying. If you’re paying attention you can always tell when he’s legit, when he’s outright lying, and when he’s obfuscating …
  171. Voice Acting: …for two positives
  172. Voice Acting: Valerian’s actor does some great stuff, especially how his tone changes throughout his arc
  173. Brickwork: Facility and cityscape in The Escape
  174. Doodads: The Escape
  175. Storytelling Mechanic: Loading screen artwork does a great job of setting the scene across the whole game…
  176. Storytelling Mechanic: …for a full three…
  177. Storytelling Mechanic: …three positives
  178. Doodads: Enemy Intelligence’s interiors get special mention
  179. Brickwork: Custom map tileset on Enemy Intelligence
  180. Doodads: Trouble In Paradise
  181. Cutscene: General Nova Mission cutscene quality (camera angles, sound design, etc.)
  182. MSQ: The quiet horror of Flashpoint as you select the Zerg spawns and see the lively past
  183. Doodads: Flashpoint
  184. Doodads: In The Enemy’s Shadow
  185. Doodads: End Game
  186. World Building: Between WoL and LoTV there’s some good, solid fleshing out of the setting in this one…
  187. World Building: …for two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Character: Horner being weirdly out of character in act 3 of WoL
  2. Character: Kerrigan’s early arc stuff is just weird and half-hazard
  3. Character: Raynor being massively out of character in act 3 of WoL
  4. Character: The WoL Teldarim are just… completely devoid of any character, purpose, or reason other than to be boring acceptable targets
  5. Character: Zeratrul has a near total lack of presence in WoL and it actively drags him down
  6. Cutscene: Hanson’s final ‘good’ cutscene is its own level of silly, and completely ignores everything going on right now, all while implying she could totes cure the zerg virus
  7. Cutscene: Raynor’s initial cutscene with Kerrigan is overly dramatic trailer fodder trash
  8. Cutscene: So Zeratul shows up and he and Kerrigan fight for absolutely no reason for a while because trailer fodder
  9. Cutscene: The dialogue in the drunk Tychus really needs another polishing pass
  10. Cutscene: The first Valerian scene has so many issues it’ll take a minute to list them all. So first we have Valerian, who is here to work with Raynor and the artifact, showing up in Mengsk’s flagship and without hailing, which is already stupid… then Raynor and Tychus board a battlecruiser by themselves (uh huh) and kill a bunch of marines (for absolutely no reason) only for Valerian to risk being shot in the back all to preserve some kind of weird twist. The entire sequence makes absolutely no sense in character…
  11. Cutscene: …for a full two negatives
  12. Cutscene: Way too much slow mo in general in HoTS
  13. Cutscene: We’re DONE… because our relationship… IS… OOVEEERR….
  14. Cutscene: …for a full…
  15. Cutscene: …three negatives
  16. Dialogue: Everything Amon says is boring Empty Text nonsense
  17. Dialogue: HoTS’s dialogue just feels rushed, like it needed a few more polishing passes…
  18. Dialogue: …for two full positives
  19. Dialogue: More trailer fodder issues
  20. Fake Drama: Build up and lack of payoff to the Tosh v. Nova
  21. Fake Drama: LoTV Dark Whispers (so WHY exactly are Kerrigan and Zeratul fighting here, even though they acknowledge they’re on the same side?)
  22. Fake Drama: LoTV So Selendis, Artanis, and Zeratul all grab the conflict AND idiot balls right off the bat
  23. Fake Drama: The constant need to spew trailer fodder lines and over-dramatize cutscenes needs to go to hell
  24. Fake Drama: Yet another fake drama moment with the terrible choice between Tosh and Nova
  25. Fake Drama: Zerg virus cure… sure Hanson (this is the first fake drama choice)
  26. Humor: Stetmann… is just not funny in co-op mode
  27. Integration: Usual Blizzard issues
  28. Moment: Mengsk announcing that Raynor is executed is such a weird mis-step in the plot
  29. MSQ: The dialogue and moments and impact of In Utter Darkness are a bit lessered by just not presenting it well, further hampered by Amon just kind of being Generic Villain #37
  30. MSQ: Zerus (Zeratul, vagueness, and wasted potential)
  31. Music Direction: They really can’t help but end so many cutscenes with musical stings and it gets irritating
  32. Outro: Okay so I have to mention this, the… high tier deity level nonsense in the finale is kind of… what? Top to bottom, what?
  33. Plot: So there’s this… Blizzard Vagueness throughout WoL, a common problem in Blizzard games. Where things can (and even do) make sense if you’re familiar with everything but the presentation doesn’t really sell it, and in many cases it feels more like the writers forgot their own plot points
  34. Plot: So why can’t Tychus get help again? Of any kind? Even after they know he’s in trouble?
  35. Plot: …for a full…
  36. Plot: …three negatives
  37. Plot: The Spear of Adun is honestly just one big ball of plot convenience
  38. Story Sequencing: HoTS order mission problem returns just like in WoL
  39. Story Sequencing: Sadly letting the player choose the order of the missions can really screw with the narrative
  40. Visual Storytelling: So rebirthed Kerrigan just looks … the same, again, with a few minor details. This is not just wasted potential, it’s aggravating because it makes no sense in lore
  41. Writing: Amon in general. So he has the beginnings of motivations, but comes across as undercooked. He talks constantly, but says nothing. And he magically killed his entire ultra race off camera despite being in the minority
  42. Writing: Kerrigan sort of decides to beef up the Swarm… why?? In game it’s hinted, much later, that she wants to do this so the Swarm can fight the Hybrids and Amon but she starts doing this almost at the very beginning of the entire campaign
  43. Writing: So Kerrigan MUST become a Xel’naga! For… some reason? Never really thought out or explained
  44. Writing: So why is Artanis suddenly one of the biggest badasses in the setting? Oh right, because he was supposed to be Zeratul
  45. Writing: The inconsistent usage of prophecy, mostly as a macguffin
  46. Writing: The ‘because plot’ of Raynor being left behind by a tiny bridge, of all things, which kicks off everything while being so easily avoidable is just ridiculous…
  47. Writing: …for two negatives
  48. Writing: Third act drama and all the nonsense that usually means, especially since it’s paid off for nothing
  49. Writing: Trailer fodder issues
  50. Pacing: Nova missions pacing is… bonkers, and worse, designed to be done in three episodes which hurts it
  51. Story Sequencing: The Nova missions kind of just… do whatever they need to in order to shove the plot forwards
  52. Writing: The character assassination of having Alarak be suddenly stupid evil in Dark Skies is already irritating, but it’s even worse because it would be so easy to fix (just swap him with twitface… or hell, any other Taldarim)
  53. Outro: The finale of the Nova missions absolutely sucks on the story axis. Way too rushed, nonsensical dialogue and plot beats, and clear first draft writing…
  54. Outro: …for two negatives
  55. Storyboarding: A little too much one-shot-ends-the-match approach and a little too much leaning on slow mo to get across what’s happening

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Builds: The Spear of Adun allocation system is wonderfully malleable and offers a lot of options and gradient…
  2. Builds: …for two positives
  3. Builds: WoL, between research and cash there’s a lot of Build possibility in your playthrough
  4. Controls: Words do not express how brilliantly this game controls. I could not possibly list all the tiny little optimizations and features that make it control so, so smoothly…
  5. Controls: …for a full…
  6. Controls: …three positives
  7. Co-Op: General level design…
  8. Co-Op: …for two positives
  9. Co-Op: Good, custom, fun co-op…
  10. Co-Op: …for a full…
  11. Co-Op: …three positives
  12. Co-Op: Leveling and unlocks
  13. Co-Op: Masteries and builds
  14. Co-Op: Prestiging and unique builds
  15. Difficulty Options: Achievements as optional hard-mode mutators across Wings of Liberty are a great additional way to challenge yourself and properly mix up and mutate the missions…
  16. Difficulty Options: …for a full…
  17. Difficulty Options: …three positives
  18. Difficulty Options: Completely changes how the AI operates per difficulty option…
  19. Difficulty Options: …for a full…
  20. Difficulty Options: …three positives
  21. Difficulty Options: Custom Mutators! The fact that you can mix and match is just so awesome…
  22. Difficulty Options: …for two positives
  23. Difficulty Options: Mutators, wonderful wonderful mutators, with such variety and fun…
  24. Difficulty Options: …for two positives
  25. Difficulty Options: Per mission map alterations per difficulty option…
  26. Difficulty Options: …for a full…
  27. Difficulty Options: …three positives
  28. HUD: Generally good and clean HUD
  29. Info In Game: General
  30. Info In Game: Worker indicators
  31. Level: Amon’s End is not quite as well constructed as previous missions, but is absolutely brutal (in a good way), and with the wonderfully unique built in soft enrage of the slowly destroyed terrain…
  32. Level: …for two positives
  33. Level: Cradle of Death (Co-Op) is one of the best co-op missions, and unique. The trucks, their use (and mandate) in taking out the statues, the slow escalation across the map, the terrain design, good stuff…
  34. Level: …for two positives
  35. Level: HoTS Back In The Saddle. Great hero focused No Build and some nice level design as you go
  36. Level: HoTS Convictions continues the hyperbeam moment with giving us tons of units and options as we just barrel roll through the no build segment
  37. Level: HoTS Death From Above is fantastic. Very, very well defended and entrenched enemy force, but tons of resources on your side, and all of this with a built in No Build mission on the side which you control simultaneously which is soft timed against an encroaching doom field…
  38. Level: …for a full…
  39. Level: …three positives
  40. Level: HoTS Domination is another fun multiple objective romp, kind of Stratholme 2.0 where you run around gathering eggs and defending… or just wiping out the enemy base
  41. Level: HoTS Enemy Within is one of the best missions in HoTS. It’s a No Build but it escalates perfectly, the camera literally zooming out as you progress, and go from infesting a unit to having multiple on your side, it’s just fantastic…
  42. Level: …for a full…
  43. Level: …three positives
  44. Level: HoTS Fire In The Sky is a nice gradient mission with a built in kill switch and encouragement to expand quickly, but really nails it by virtue of the extra terrain design and enemy layout…
  45. Level: …for two positives
  46. Level: HoTS Hand of Darkness is a simple but fun timed mission pushing against the clock
  47. Level: HoTS Harvest of Screams is a fun red light green light mission where it’s in your favor (for once)
  48. Level: HoTS Infested is probably one of the best missions in the campaign. You have your standard lineup, but also a ‘lane’ which is pushed by spawning lowbie mobs from your side, which you have control over which spots you take when, and also benefit from creep expansion (also in your control) and also the enemy will be regularly counter attacking to try and deprive you of the spawn points pushing the lane, and all on top of just getting new caster units (the Infestors) which are brilliant and horrible…
  49. Level: …for a full…
  50. Level: …three positives
  51. Level: HoTS Old Soldiers is a short but simple one; a fairly basic enemy base situation except that you start off with a massive early launch campaign, and the enemy regularly nukes you, on top of a great layout…
  52. Level: …for two positives
  53. Level: HoTS Phantoms Of The Void works for the same reasons as the last mission, but with the added benefit of Stukov on board
  54. Level: HoTS Planetfall is great for the same reasons Gates Of Hell was awesome; you’re given objectives to defend which periodically spawn and are assaulted, but each one gives you new units to play with…
  55. Level: …for two positives
  56. Level: HoTS Rendezvous is a mediocre first half hold the line but an awesome hyperbeam moment second half
  57. Level: HoTS Shoot The Messenger. While arguably better in co-op, this is still a fun mission with essentially being an inverted escort
  58. Level: HoTS Supreme is a series of fun boss fights that honestly work really well in RTS format and I’m all in for it…
  59. Level: …for two positives
  60. Level: HoTS The Reckoning is a fantastic final mission. Tons of elite enemy forces, three avenues of reinforcements you can pull in optionally, multiple attack vectors, tons of resources, just top to bottom great…
  61. Level: …for a full…
  62. Level: …three positives
  63. Level: HoTS Waking The Ancient is another grab resources to spot mission, with the enemy putting constant pressure on you both in your existing spots and in new ones
  64. Level: HoTS With Friends Like These is a simple, fun hyperbeam mission where you just get to play around with the Hyperion for a while and it’s awesome
  65. Level: Into The Void is honestly one of the best designed missions in the entire game. Three lanes to push, helpful AI allies who have an optional side objective which not only helps them out but upgrades their pushes, great constant pressure with spikes from the enemy, great unit composition… just absolutely amazing…
  66. Level: …for a full…
  67. Level: …three positives
  68. Level: LoTV Amon’s Reach is our first Void Thrasher pressure mission, and does a generally good job with it
  69. Level: LoTV Brothers In Arms is another fun take on the day/night cycle, except while it causes you issues it also screws with most of the enemy forces…
  70. Level: …for two positives
  71. Level: LoTV Dark Whispers is a simple but fun soft timed mission where you avoid the ‘main’ battle to
  72. Level: LoTV Evil Awoken is a good No Build, with custom units and optional reinforcements as well as a fun, intense escape sequence
  73. Level: LoTV For Aiur is a great No Build. Constant reinforcements, epic music, and deathballing
  74. Level: LoTV Forbidden Weapon is another variant on the ‘avoid the incoming doom’ mission type, with some great layout and placement and rewards for exploring…
  75. Level: …for two positives
  76. Level: LoTV Ghosts in the Fog is a simple mission but with good layout and a nice anti vespene gimmick forcing the player to adapt
  77. Level: LoTV Harbinger of Oblivion is another incoming doom mission, but the whole time your ally (who is doomed) is supporting and laning alongside you, while the enemy forces focus on you, giving a great dynamic and a lot of choice in the player’s hands for how to progress…
  78. Level: …for two positives
  79. Level: LoTV Last Stand is, ironically, not their best Hold The Line mission… but it’s a damned good one. Great escalation, objectives that get harder to achieve the longer you sit on them, and a great optional and bonus objective (by which point the enemy is absolutely pounding your base)…
  80. Level: …for two positives
  81. Level: LoTV Purification is another one of those missions that works precisely because of how much of it sits in the player’s hands. When and how they free the Purifiers, while defending themselves and a vulnerable spot, all while having a great terrain layout to defend from…
  82. Level: …for two positives
  83. Level: LoTV Rak’Shir is great. The core mission by itself is already a fun gimmick (simply being near Alarak gives him progress, but also vice versa for the enemy) but then you add in the bonus objectives and the map layout encouraging you to expand forward as you go and it rises up even more…
  84. Level: …for two positives
  85. Level: LoTV Salvation is yet another great Hold The Line, with allies and multiple incoming lanes and pretty much everything All In did back in Wings…
  86. Level: …for a full…
  87. Level: …three positives
  88. Level: LoTV Spear of Adun. Each subsequent unlock escalates the enemy’s response but also grants you more launch points for your gateways (which it also serves as a tutorial for)
  89. Level: LoTV Steps of the Rite is a basic but fun expansion and day/night cycle map
  90. Level: LoTV Templar’s Charge is honestly just plain fun. You finally get carriers, but you’re on a map with very few mineable resources, but there are resource pockets all over the place, and the enemy mostly just harrasses you meaning it’s primarily about pushing the enemy defenses (which are strongly anti-air)… but then you add in the movable platform (which is just bonkers by itself) that adds a whole layer of utility and defense to the mission and I just love it…
  91. Level: …for a full…
  92. Level: …three positives
  93. Level: LoTV Templar’s Return is a fantastic No Build. First phase is a bit dungeon crawlery, the second phase is very hybrid (builder and puncher), the third is a great rewarding escape sequence, and it’s all with well designed hero units…
  94. Level: …for a full…
  95. Level: …three positives
  96. Level: LoTV Temple of Unification (and co op) isn’t the best, but it and its co-op variant combined are certainly worth a positive
  97. Level: LoTV The Host is yet another great finale mission, in the same vein as The Reckoning. Start off on the back foot, but as you push in the enemy gets meaner, buuut you also gain more and more support on your side, and there are lots of resources around to support building whatever you want to…
  98. Level: …for a full…
  99. Level: …three positives
  100. Level: LoTV The Infinite Cycle A competent, varied No Build mission with two greatly designed heroes and some good enemy compositions
  101. Level: LoTV Unsealing the Past and a surprisingly competent escort mission
  102. Level: Part and Parcel (Co-Op) is a bit irritating and mean, but still great fun and dynamically difficult
  103. Level: The Essence of Eternity is everything good about The Dig but even better, with great loadout, the optional sides that assist but also need assistance, good defensive positions, and mean escalation…
  104. Level: …for a full…
  105. Level: …three positives
  106. Level: WoL All In is a fantastic mission, probably the best Hold The Line mission in a long career of fantastic Hold The Lines. The malleability of which version you play, the extra resource of the artifact, the periodic double waves of attacks from all directions, the pressure from Kerrigan herself, the enormous quantity of resources you’re given, it’s just amazing…
  107. Level: …for a full…
  108. Level: …three positives
  109. Level: WoL A Sinister Turn is a very mean, fun pressure mission where you are essentially mandated to constantly expand thanks to low resources while being chain attacked by the Hybrid as well as the enemy forces
  110. Level: WoL Belly of the Beast isn’t quite as good as Shatter the Sky but it’s still a competent No Build dungeon crawler with unique heroes and abilities
  111. Level: WoL Breakout, actually pretty good for what it is, but a bit overtuned and too much wait time in between waves… still good
  112. Level: WoL Cutthroat is a good encourager to roam and explore and gather, with three obvious enemy weakpoints to exploit, and a good switch up for the second half
  113. Level: WoL Devil’s Playground, much better minerals mission than the previous one in Brood War. Only source of minerals are down below in the danger area, clear indicators of danger areas and timing, recruitables which are well suited to exploring, lots of resources you can pick up around the map, and if you take too long Tosh will prompt you by showing you where you can mine more…
  114. Level: WoL Echoes Of The Future is another fun low-resource go-expand mission designed around the new unit
  115. Level: WoL Engine of Destruction is a pretty decent escort mission. You can repair the unit being escorted, they can contribute to combat pretty well, and there’s plenty of resource nodes to grab to help fund your effort
  116. Level: WoL Gates of Hell is great stuff. You start off quite well entrenched and with good terrain to be even more entrenched, and the drop pods give you all the forces you really need, and they require you to push through one swarm base and then a much heavier base to reach the objective…
  117. Level: …for two positives
  118. Level: WoL Ghost of a Chance is a fun No Build where you guide a specialized Raynor group and the hero unit Nova simultaneously
  119. Level: WoL Haven’s Fall. Great, gradient mission with lots of enemies that slowly infest nearby settlements, increasing the pressure on you, but also can be saved / destroyed, reducing said pressure…
  120. Level: …for two positives
  121. Level: WoL In Utter Darkness is another good Blizzard Hold The Line mission, solid layout, good waves, and good reinforcements
  122. Level: WoL Maw of the Void introduces us to Battlecruisers but also the annihilation field which slowly damages anything that doesn’t have shields, along with minimal resource spots encouraging us to move forwards
  123. Level: WoL Media Blitz is a decent startup, with the surprise attack, followed by a good hold the hill objective
  124. Level: WoL Moebius Factor is yet another pressure mission, but with a gradual escalation and a good fortified location, nice ‘routes’ through enemy bases, and lots of pick ups to help your fighting force throughout
  125. Level: WoL Outbreak is one of the better missions in the game. The initial build space, the triple vectors of attack (only two of which are open at the start), the radar booster over just the aforementioned openings, the day / night dichotomy, the extra punishing aspect of roaming at night, the extra rewards for doing so at night, and more I’m missing all equal up to three positives…
  126. Level: …for a full…
  127. Level: …three positives
  128. Level: WoL Piercing the Shroud is one of the better No Builds in the game. You start off with a decent force, that can heal, good encounter design throughout, unique ammo pickups and heals you can grab throughout…
  129. Level: WoL Safe Haven. While not quite as good as the other version of the colonists mission, is still a good pressure push mission with escalating waves and a ticking block
  130. Level: WoL Shatter The Sky is better than I thought at first; it’s a playground mission. You have access to all the units and upgrades that you will get across the campaign, are given multiple enemy bases to knock over, it would suck as a mission if it was a Kill All but instead there’s a load-bearing unit you can carve to and knock out instead, and each enemy base is geared towards different types of defenses…
  131. Level: …for two positives
  132. Level: WoL Smash And Grab, bit of a MOBA going on up top forming a soft timer while you head east
  133. Level: WoL Supernova and the escalating wall of doom is great, with suicidal protoss who will harrass you constantly, lots of pickups and new base spots periodically, no supply line so you don’t even have to worry about it (this alone would have ruined the mission), and sight on the flame line
  134. Level: WoL The Dig is a mean mission with escalating incoming attacks, good spread and variety to the enemy outposts, very well entrenched but still assaultable, as well as the controllable super cannon of doom…
  135. Level: …for two positives
  136. Level: WoL The Evacuation, lots of custom triggers, gradient difficulty and failstate, great escalation
  137. Level: WoL The Great Train Robbery, rewarding you for kills (resources), variance in train ‘difficulty’ (escorts and speed), several free Diamondbacks on the map
  138. Level: WoL Welcome To The Jungle has some good gradient design and some nice layout and setup
  139. Level: WoL Whispers of Doom is a fun No-Build. Zeratul is very strong but still not invincible, enemy and encounter design is very well laid out to require each encounter having its own thought and effort put into the tactics, you gain support units to help, those get additional forces periodically throughout the map, each major checkpoint heals Zeratul, and the final push is a nice reward of you being the spec ops supporting the army…
  140. Level: …for two positives
  141. Level: WoL Zero Hour. One of the best Hold The Line missions in Blizzard’s catalog, with good timed escalation, resource packs on the field, units to rescue (encouraging you to branch out), and increasing pressure throughout…
  142. Level: …for a full…
  143. Level: …three positives
  144. Level: WoL …and the second half of Piercing the Shroud, which is just as well designed but much more frenetic, as it’s all about just staying ahead of the oncoming monster
  145. Level: …for two positives to Devil’s Playground
  146. Leveling: Kerrigan’s abilities, talents, all swappable
  147. Mid-Mission Checkpoints: Periodically at major points in the maps
  148. Minigame: Arcade system, selection, and modes…
  149. Minigame: …for a full…
  150. Minigame: …three positives
  151. Minigame: Custom Campaign system, selection, and modes…
  152. Minigame: …for two positives
  153. Minigame: Lost Vikings is a fun and neat, if lengthy, little side game
  154. Minigame: PvP options, modes, tutorials, and tournaments…
  155. Minigame: …for a full…
  156. Minigame: …three positives
  157. Minigame: Skirmish and PvP are balanced completely separately
  158. Minigame: Skirmish selections have a whole lot of options and a ton of customization for how to set up a match…
  159. Minigame: …for a full…
  160. Minigame: …three positives
  161. Minimap: Great minimap
  162. Mod: Depth of mods. The amount of stuff you can do with these custom maps is absolutely bonkers…
  163. Mod: …for a full…
  164. Mod: …three positives
  165. Mod: Kit! The game gives you the map editor and fully supports it…
  166. Mod: …for a full…
  167. Mod: …three positives
  168. Mod: Support, while not as supported as some, they definitely support mods/custom maps…
  169. Mod: …for two positives
  170. MSQ: Into The Void gets a bonus positive for just being an amazing mission with amazing scripting and friendly AIs
  171. Music: I absolutely love the music in HoTS, what can I say…
  172. Music: …for two positives
  173. Music: Wings of Liberty…
  174. Music: …for two positives
  175. Music: Legacy of the Void
  176. Options: Not the best, but still very good
  177. QoL: As with the Controls thing, I could never sit down and really list the tons of tiny little QoL features all over the place…
  178. QoL: …for a full…
  179. QoL: …three positives
  180. Respec: Protoss unit respecs
  181. Respec: Zerg swappable mutations
  182. Save: Decent save and load system
  183. Sound Design: General
  184. Terrain: WoL Moebius Factor’s terrain really helps with the overall mission design
  185. Terrain: WoL Outbreak deserves special mention for really nailing it in the terrain design
  186. Terrain: WoL Piercing the Shroud deserves special recognition for its good terrain design and good backtracking
  187. Tutorialization: Challenges and related options…
  188. Tutorialization: …for two positives
  189. Tutorialization: Evolution Missions are simple, short, sweet, and very fun. And, best of all, they tell you exactly how your new units will operate by literally letting you play them yourself…
  190. Tutorialization: …for a full…
  191. Tutorialization: …three positives
  192. Tutorialization: In campaign movies
  193. Tutorialization: Lab Rat does a lot to get the player in where they need to be pretty quickly and efficiently
  194. Tutorialization: The first three HoTS missions are a bit slow but still decent tutorialization for what it’s like playing the Swarm
  195. Tutorialization: Video shorts demonstrating upgrades
  196. Unit Design: Abathur isn’t as unique as he could be, but he’s still good
  197. Unit Design: Alarak has a lot of options, going tall or wide (or both), and some good new Taldarim units…
  198. Unit Design: …for two positives
  199. Unit Design: Banelings get their own point for how great they are, both in splitters and in hoppers
  200. Unit Design: Carrier line is so close to being fantastic. Carriers are support, as they arguably always should have been, Tempests are flying artillery, and Arbiters… are there
  201. Unit Design: Colossus is another excellently designed unit. Great shredding, Reavers are finally what they always should have been, and the artillery Colossi are just death…
  202. Unit Design: …for two positives
  203. Unit Design: Co-Op Artanis, pretty much the same idea for Protoss that the other basic Commanders get
  204. Unit Design: Co-Op Kerrigan, more variances and a strong, rapid-fire hero unit
  205. Unit Design: Co-Op Mode Raynor, with the variances on abilities, and of course the Top Bar
  206. Unit Design: Corsair/Phoenixes are a better Scout, speed and agility and abilities to either avoid damage, nullify enemies, or just blanket ground forces
  207. Unit Design: Dark Templar are much better than last time, either serving as a nice AOE shredder, survivability, or more micro options with the Hunters
  208. Unit Design: Dehaka, builds! There’s so many different ways to build up Dehaka’s side
  209. Unit Design: Dehaka, himself is a great hero unit, one of the better ones (if not the best)
  210. Unit Design: Dehaka, Top bar and their incredible usage
  211. Unit Design: Dehaka, Unit spreading, charges, and uprooted buildings
  212. Unit Design: Dehaka in general is amazing, as a faction I mean
  213. Unit Design: Fenix, Fenix swapping and how beautifully it works with itself
  214. Unit Design: Fenix, Generally one of the best designed Commanders, extremely unique and well put together…
  215. Unit Design: …for two positives
  216. Unit Design: Fenix, Hero swapping and encouraging the player to diversify their units
  217. Unit Design: Fenix: Omni-directional tech tree, thanks to being able to build without prerequisites
  218. Unit Design: Han & Horner aren’t my thing, but they are a very well designed mix and match of subversive and direct units, which complement each other nicely…
  219. Unit Design: …for a full…
  220. Unit Design: …three positives
  221. Unit Design: Hydralisks. They continue the trend of good medium range fun
  222. Unit Design: Hydralisks also get a second positive for their upgrades being massive alterations to the base formula, essentially new units
  223. Unit Design: Immortals. Inverse Siege Tanks, which can either have more damage (and an ability to hit air) or a nice long range artillery of death
  224. Unit Design: Infestors are just a super fun, versatile caster unit
  225. Unit Design: Karax (turrets for days, strong and expensive units… super protoss)…
  226. Unit Design: …for two positives
  227. Unit Design: Mengsk, elite units, and the core force pushing forward
  228. Unit Design: Mengsk, Generally great design, one of the best Commanders
  229. Unit Design: Mengsk, trash units and their use as a screen or swarm
  230. Unit Design: Mengsk (top bar and general)
  231. Unit Design: Mutalisks and both upgrades are still good stuff
  232. Unit Design: Nova is one of the better designed Commanders, with a lot of her kit relying on a ton of money to compensate for both their ability and relatively small size, and some fantastic utility in her top bar…
  233. Unit Design: …for a full…
  234. Unit Design: …three positives
  235. Unit Design: Protoss multi-track swappable upgrades
  236. Unit Design: Roaches are weirdly useful despite their simple design; anti ground with either a slow or a multiplier, and all being at a good price
  237. Unit Design: Stetmann isn’t as different as some of the others (mostly a basic Zerg faction) but his style is unique and his top bar is awesome
  238. Unit Design: Stukov. What can I say. The way his units spawn, the way you can support them, his custom bunkers, his elite infested units, his top bar, the incredible QoL of controlling his units, the auto creep spreading, it’s all so fantastic…
  239. Unit Design: …for an absolutely bonkers…
  240. Unit Design: …three positives
  241. Unit Design: Stukov gets a bonus positive for sheer fun and viscerality
  242. Unit Design: Swann, with heavy vehicular focus, new tech trees, and differing playstyle…
  243. Unit Design: …for two positives
  244. Unit Design: The multi-track upgrades and general kit of the units
  245. Unit Design: The Stalkers/Dragoons are another well designed unit. Stalkers with their useful micro, Dragoons which are exactly what they always should have been, and Adepts which serve as good support…
  246. Unit Design: …for two positives
  247. Unit Design: Tychus, Generally fantastic design
  248. Unit Design: Tychus, Incredibly good Hero design…
  249. Unit Design: …for a full…
  250. Unit Design: …three positives
  251. Unit Design: Tychus, QoL features
  252. Unit Design: Tychus, Upgrades and cost
  253. Unit Design: Ultralisks are honestly fantastic this time around, finally fixing their issues (range, pathfinding, cost), the only thing keeping them from multiple positives is how little time you get with them
  254. Unit Design: Vorazun and the total shift towards Dark Templar and related units and abilities…
  255. Unit Design: …for two positives
  256. Unit Design: WoL Battlecruisers are even better than before
  257. Unit Design: WoL Goliaths are finally the useful awesomes they were always meant to be; great anti air support and no asterisks making them worse
  258. Unit Design: WoL Marines continue to be as well designed as they ever were; Good upgrades, good synergies, useful throughout the entire campaign
  259. Unit Design: WoL Medics similarly never stop being useful as long as you keep infantry-balling
  260. Unit Design: WoL Medivac is a great transport healer combo
  261. Unit Design: WoL Movable Buildings continues to be useful and change how Terrans build
  262. Unit Design: WoL Raven is a great caster, with lots of options and support
  263. Unit Design: WoL Reactor/Tech Lab by itself really changes how you build what
  264. Unit Design: WoL Reapers aren’t my cup of tea, but are very fast and mobile scouts with good skirmish and harrassment possibility
  265. Unit Design: WoL Siege Tanks are still fantastic. Semi fast, artillery mode, good support, indicators on range, great upgrades reducing negatives, not super strong but also not super expensive…
  266. Unit Design: …for two positives
  267. Unit Design: WoL Spectre/Ghost continues its role as the support infiltrator
  268. Unit Design: WoL Vikings are good hole-fillers given their adaptability and great anti air support
  269. Unit Design: Zagara and her heavy emphasis on mulching units and low pop with a hero…
  270. Unit Design: …for two positives
  271. Unit Design: Zealots are nicely rounded out this time, with either the AOE shredding, charging and stunning, or the revive protocol (which benefits from the mechanical heal beam)
  272. Unit Design: Zeratul. No supply or pylons needed, but also a great spread of units, but also no teching to speak of except in gaining artifacts, and also the entire artifact mechanic, and finally his fantastic selectable top bar…
  273. Unit Design: …for a full…
  274. Unit Design: …three positives
  275. Unit Design: Bonus point for Zeratul
  276. Unit Design: Zerglings are, for once, useful all the way through the campaign, with two great mutations
  277. Viscerality: The game oozes viscerality, in all three categories…
  278. Viscerality: …for a full…
  279. Viscerality: …three positives
  280. Level: Nova, The Escape is a very, very good No Build followed immediately followed by a fun sidescroller shoot’em up…
  281. Level: …for a full…
  282. Level: …three positives
  283. Level: Nova, Sudden Strike is a basic, brutal, competent but fun hold the line mission
  284. Level: Nova, Enemy Intelligence starts off as a basic but good hold the line with the bonus of the garrisons helping to both deal with escalation and ease the pressure… then the second half of the mission becomes a very fun stealth focused No Build…
  285. Level: …for a full…
  286. Level: …three positives
  287. Builds: Nova equipment load out
  288. Level: Nova, Trouble In Paradise is another basic but well designed ‘player controls the intensity of the mission’ gradient pressure
  289. Level: Nova, Night Terrors is a good ‘player choice’ mission
  290. Level: Nova, Flashpoint is bonkers good. Starts as a simple hold mission, but quickly develops as you decide which enemies you fight where, deciding your own difficulty and giving you options for how to deal with what, while also slowly escalating the attacks on you and expanding the map, all with the subway tunnel mechanic on top of it…
  291. Level: …for a full…
  292. Level: …three positives
  293. Level: Nova, In The Enemy’s Shadow is absolutely brilliantly constructed mission. It’s a stealth / freeform game, straight out of Thief or Dishonored, that has the ability to change your loadout in the mission, and tons upon tons of options for how to progress…
  294. Level: …for a full…
  295. Level: …three positives
  296. Terrain: Nova, In The Enemy’s Shadow has just brilliant terrain design to encourage routes
  297. Encounter: Nova, In The Enemy’s Shadow also has great encounter and boss design
  298. Level: Nova, Dark Skies is yet another fantastic Hold The Line, with allies, lane clearers, and access to a teleporting force, alongside the subway transportation network…
  299. Level: …for a full…
  300. Level: …three positives
  301. Level: Nova, End Game is, once again, a fantastic mission. Enemy comes out with a few turrets on the mech which are vulnerable and able to be destroyed, in whatever order you want to, but each time she comes out she comes out with another turret active, also with the Hyperion supporting pushes periodically, while getting hit every now and again, with a lot of gradient defense spots…
  302. Level: …for a full…
  303. Level: …three positives
  304. Core Mechanic: Food / supply dynamic, same as in Starcraft 1
  305. Core Mechanic: Standard / rare resource distribution of costs
  306. Core Mechanic: Pathfinding is, frankly, the best in the business. Seriously, the actual best ever, not just in general but in how units maneuver around each other…
  307. Core Mechanic: …for a full…
  308. Core Mechanic: …three positives
  309. Enemy AI: Best in the business. It’s hard to even put into words exactly how fantastic this AI is, so instead I’ll…
  310. Enemy AI: …for a full…
  311. Enemy AI: …three positives
  312. Replayability: Very, very replayable…
  313. Replayability: …with lots of options and variances in gameplay to replay
  314. Visual Distinction: With very few exceptions you can tell exactly what you’re looking at, especially in usage of colors…
  315. Visual Distinction: …for a full…
  316. Visual Distinction: …three positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. DRM: Always Online…
  2. DRM: …for two negatives
  3. MTX: In game store
  4. Co-Op: Several over-tuned, binary difficulty maps in Co-Op mode
  5. Audio Spam: Co-Op mode specifically
  6. Co-Op: Level irritations in general
  7. NG+: Per-Campaign Chapter Select
  8. Bug: Resolution and letterbox bugs
  9. Options: Lack of proper resolution options and scaling
  10. Respec: Total lack of respec on Wings of Liberty campaign with regards to purchasing options
  11. Difficulty Options: As very well as they are designed, the jump between Normal and Hard in WoL is just way too big
  12. Unit Design: Diamondback
  13. Integration: Usual Blizzard issues
  14. Audio Spam: Mostly on mono-unit missions
  15. Walkthroughitis: Good luck finding that optional mission objective on your own
  16. Audio Spam: Shut UP Izsha, Christ stop over-tutorializing in literally the final mission
  17. Launch: Some usual Blizzard ‘too many users’ launch issues
  18. Kit: Removing the ability to choose your units, upgrades, and layout in the Epilogue…
  19. Kit: …is a weird, awful irritation in the final minute

Yoshi's Island

SNES version, specifically. This is still one of the best 2D platformers and Mario games in general ever made. Absolutely, hugely recommend.
Type Of Review: Veteran Run
Total Story Score: +26
Total Gameplay Score: +78
Golden Number: 311.07
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 6.3 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-16-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Let’s get this out of the way; the Brickwork in this game is bonkers good. So we’re going to be giving points for the style and artwork and detail and general quality of the field zones…
  2. Brickwork: …the caves…
  3. Brickwork: …the caves again…
  4. Brickwork: …the many castles…
  5. Brickwork: …the castle ruins…
  6. Brickwork: …the jungle areas…
  7. Brickwork: …the deep jungle areas…
  8. Brickwork: …the cold areas…
  9. Brickwork: …the early sky…
  10. Brickwork: …the later sky…
  11. Brickwork: …and the final realm
  12. Visual Continuity: Overworld map and progression in later worlds
  13. Visual Storytelling: Across the island, really, but most noticeable in Worlds 4 and 5
  14. Animations: Some amazing animations throughout, selling the tone and vibe…
  15. Animations: …for two positives
  16. Atmosphere: This is a weird one, but between the visuals and the relay mechanic (the ‘team effort’), the game has a solid atmosphere
  17. Atmosphere: Also a general fun vibe positive
  18. Brickwork: General visuals of weather, lighting, etc.
  19. Intro: Love the storybook approach to setting up the premise
  20. Spritework: Yoshi themselves are just bonkers good…
  21. Spritework: …for two positives
  22. Spritework: Enemies. So, so many extremely well designed enemies…
  23. Spritework: …for a full…
  24. Spritework: …three positives
  25. Spritework: Aaand bosses. Creative, fun, interesting, great…
  26. Spritework: …for two positives

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Difficulty: Gradient health, regenerating health, and malleability in said health
  2. Difficulty: Gradient difficulty via the design of making the optional collectibles naturally increase the difficulty of levels
  3. Controls: Game controls extraordinarily well…
  4. Controls: …for two positives
  5. Intro: Tutorial and 1-1 do the usual good setup stuff
  6. Music: Lots of good music…
  7. Music: …but some occasional fire songs
  8. 1-2 and the usage of background/foreground along with changable terrain
  9. 1-4 and really introducing the Castle concept as well as more fun usage of the terrain
  10. 1-7 and the amazing terrain and control manipulation
  11. 1-8 and even more cool gimmicks and platforming
  12. 2-4 and some very inventive platforming and looping stage design
  13. 2-5 and the very optional breakable terrain
  14. 2-6 and the pseudo maze and explorable fun
  15. 2-8 and a lot of fun maze ghost platforming fun
  16. 3-3 and just a huge variety of challenges
  17. 3-4 and a ton of fun, mean, spike-related problems
  18. 4-1 isn’t just nostalgia, but has some solid enemy placement and stage layout designed to be played with
  19. 4-2 is a fun, looping, dense cave
  20. 4-3 is probably the official moment when the gloves come off
  21. 4-4 is one of the better levels this early on, with multiple themes and rooms and routes
  22. …for two positives
  23. 4-5 and how to properly do an escort quest
  24. 4-6 and lots of side areas and exploration
  25. 4-7 is an intense, reflexes romp
  26. 4-8 is a great vertical climb…
  27. …for two positives
  28. 5-1 is when the stage design really starts to come into its own, combining themes, visuals, enemies, and difficulty…
  29. …for two positives
  30. 5-2 is a seeming breather level but no, this level is mean as hell, but between the snow, the lifts, and the bouncers…
  31. …two positives
  32. 5-4 is another of the many maze variety levels with lots of good enemy and encounter usage
  33. 5-5 continues rewarding gradient design in platforming
  34. 5-6 is absolutely brutal but in a very fun way, and I love the escalation and jumping arcs
  35. 5-8 is one of my favorite stages in the game; unique, visceral, vicious, and fun…
  36. …for two positives
  37. 6-1 feels like a final stage, an exam for all the concepts to date
  38. 6-2 is absolutely what this kind of difficulty should be, brutal but with recovery, and all leaning on the player…
  39. …for two positives
  40. 6-4 is a very fun pseudo maze with multiple branches and fun minibosses…
  41. …for two positives
  42. 6-6 is a vast, interwoven, well done maze
  43. 6-7 is a fantastic level top to bottom, easily the best stage in the game, with tons of variety and functionally replacing the final dungeon…
  44. …for a full…
  45. …three positives
  46. 6-E is a nice thematic finale type stage at the end of everything
  47. Kit: General, but also the cards you can use mid mission
  48. Kit: Yoshi’s signature ground pound and egg throwing plus the flutter hover
  49. Sound Design: Absolutely amazing sound design which helps indicate basically every layer and aspect of the game…
  50. Sound Design: …for a full…
  51. Sound Design: …three positives
  52. Enemy Variety: Absolutely great enemy variety throughout, with great designs on top of it…
  53. Enemy Variety: …for a full…
  54. Enemy Variety: …three positives
  55. Mid-Mission Checkpointing: Some really good, well thought out checkpointing throughout…
  56. Mid-Mission Checkpointing: …for two positives
  57. Boss: World 1 in general
  58. Boss: World 2 in general
  59. Boss: 3-4 (Froggy) by itself is a very inventive, fun, unique fight with a lot going on for how simple it is
  60. Boss: 3-8 (Piranha) is skippable, fun, and plays with the mechanics introduced in the previous stage
  61. Boss: 4-8 (Koopa) is a relatively simple but very enjoyable, visceral fight up in the clouds
  62. Boss: 5-4 (Slime) is very unique; no damage, and a refill, but a sort of slow enrage
  63. Boss: 5-8, Raphael the Raven, is easily the best boss in the game, very unique, creative, and most importantly of all… fun…
  64. Boss: …for two positives
  65. Boss: 6-4, the spikey guy, is honestly a very fun iteration on the Mario 3 Bowser fight
  66. Outro: Fun and multi-route final dungeon
  67. Outro: Fantastic and fun final boss fight
  68. Replayability: Yeah this is a fun one to replay
  69. Core Mechanic: Safety net mechanisms in lives, recover Mario mechanics, and stage layout
  70. Difficulty Curve: The game has a nice, smooth, consistent curve upwards in difficulty all the way through World 6…
  71. Difficulty Curve: …for two positives
  72. Guidance And Flow: The usual approach, but given the design around collecting and the re-play approach they do some really good stuff with it this time around…
  73. Guidance And Flow: …for two positives
  74. Pacing: Lots of variety and different flow to the pacing, making the whole game just move perfectly…
  75. Pacing: …for two positives
  76. Terrain: Absolutely excellent terrain design across the entire game…
  77. Terrain: …for a full…
  78. Terrain: …three positives
  79. Tutorialization: As per Mario usual, the game tutorializes pretty much all the way through the game…
  80. Tutorialization: …for two positives
  81. Visual Distinction: Good general distinction

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Raspberry Jam: Mario crying
  2. Padding: The fact that collectibles have to be gathered in one run and then the level beaten
  3. Level: 6-5 is long, boring, and padded… and worst of all, no mid mission checkpoints across the bad part