Hey y'all. Spoilers do here abound.
It just occurred to me the single biggest reason why the plot of Starcraft 2 ultimately failed. The thing all the fans loved about the earlier games was all the political tension. Lots and lots of it. As the game stood at the end, few could be trusted. Protoss authority was almost entirely annihilated, in both the loss of the Conclave, Raszagal, and Aldaris, as well as the disappearance of Zeratul. The UED's hand in the K Sector has been destroyed, and there's no real telling what Earth will do next. Mengsk, the main human leader, is clearly mad with power and unable to be trusted. Every single person in Brood War ultimately failed because they never, until the very last mission, realized that the ZERG are the real bad guys. And by that point, you've already done the secret mission and found out that the Zerg/Protoss hybrids exist, and that they're even worse.
So what that boils down to is that the hybrids and Zerg have to be dealt with, with the possible interference of Mengsk and the UED. Four distinct threats, two of which absolutely cannot be ignored. The hybrids and Zerg are the worst, as the UED isn't a race of murderers and their influence may or may not happen again for some time, or in the same way. Mengsk is stupid, and if Raynor's treatment of him in BW is any indication, he's easily manipulated. However, all four are still threats, and the addition of Valerian means a total of five.
What does this have to do with Starcraft 2's plot? Simple. For all of SC2, every action taken has been to eliminate threats, and thus eliminate tension. In Wings of Liberty, this wasn't a big thing. Sure, Raynor's conflict with Mengsk was handled very clumsily, but in the end he chose to realize that the Zerg are a bigger threat than Mengsk. However, this is where it began. The elimination of two threats commenced by turning Kerri into a human, and by making it look like Valerian was genuinely trying to be a good guy. This could still be a facade on Val's part, but the point remains that he's not actively antagonizing the player. Down with the tension.
Where the annihilation of tension really begins is in Heart of the Swarm, where things just utterly fall apart. Not only does Valerian continue to be boring, spineless, and generally ineffective, but Kerrigan is made far more sympathetic, Duran is killed, and my special demento Mengsk is killed in a really underwhelming way.
But that is to get ahead of myself. Shall we start at the beginning? It begins with Kerrigan trapped in a science facility, with Valerian testing her to see how much Zerg is left in her. She has no memory of her time as a Zerg ruler, and is angry at her circumstances.
- Why does Valerian care? I know in the previous game he said he wanted to be a good emperor, but being kind to Kerrigan in no way proves that. Sparing her life is controversial, with or without her memories. After all, is your empire going to love you for sparing a mass murderer? So if that's not the reason, why is he? Is he doing it to please Raynor or to use her to come up with a cure to the Zerg mutagen? It never says.
That's the real trouble. When writers forget that they are writing people who do not have the all-encompassing perspective of the audience, they start to use the audience's motivations to move their characters. Most of Starcraft's audience, by my estimate, would be willing to allow Kerrigan to be de-infested, but that's only because we know her history and that she's a poor girl who's been manipulated by too many people. Valerian doesn't know her like that. So what's his motivation?
- Kerrigan's outfit is slutty. It's not even hot-slutty, but awkward-slutty. It makes her proportions really skewed and unnatural. Do people find this attractive? Is she at all comfortable wearing that in front of dozens of scientists, the crown prince, and Raynor? If she's going to destroy lots of things in Valerian's science facility, surely she'd demand some decent clothes.
- Ungh....is not one person in all of Blizzard capable of remembering that Raynor swore he'd kill Kerrigan someday? Seriously? A sappy love story? "I never gave up on you"? Does Raynor seriously believe he can be with a woman who was once a Zerg, murdered Fenix, manipulated him into serving her whims, and murdered more people than he can comprehend? Is his "love" really strong enough to overcome all that? If it is, then quite frankly Raynor has got a mental disorder, as his "love" is making him do really stupid things, and there's no guy at the Hyperion cantina telling him to wise up this go round. Were Kerrigan to somehow become fully human, he might logically be able to forgive her, but to want to be with her or marry her is just out of the question for any sane man.
I better not get any creepy comments about how "hot" infested Kerrigan is...
- Honestly, it's a really cheap plot device to make Kerrigan forget her past as the Queen of Blades. It's a cheap technique in general, and also too convenient a way for Blizzard to explain certain changes in the Zerg -- like why the cerebrates have been replaced by brood mothers (calling anything Zerg "mother" undermines the disgust intended for the player to feel for the Zerg), or who this Izsha creature is supposed to be.
You know what I would have loved? A now human Kerrigan having to deal with the pain of her past, knowing full well what she's done. Or, alternatively, a Kerrigan who is human in appearance, but her mind remains as evil as before. Thus, her memory loss is a trick to ease Valerian's suspicions before her attempt to escape his facility. Or some combination of both, with a dash of regret toward Raynor. Basically anything that doesn't cheapen the character and remove one of the most compelling things about her nature.
- Why does Raynor need to "suit up" to get Kerrigan out of the science facility? Can't they just sneak out? It's not as if they were expecting Nova to attack, and Valerian is kind of an idiot. Shouldn't be that hard to get past him. Besides, would Raynor really want to get her out of there? Can't she somehow be helped? Or does he have a better idea of where to go to get her fully deinfested?
- Valerian is kind of an idiot. I probably should have brought this up in the previous game rant, but whatever. In any case, I don't find him appealing as a character. He's fairly boring, and his voice actor is meh. Thing is, he's not properly developed. While it's extremely clear that Blizzard is holding back on us as far as his backstory and motive go, we should still have some idea of his character, like in the sense that we knew Duran was crafty and secretive even before we knew he was the bringer of the hybrids.
Perhaps Valerian's lines would have worked if his voice actor wasn't so mediocre. He's not the worst in the game (that "honor" is reserved for every single Protoss actor, plus General Warfield's), but unlike the professionals who voiced the characters in the original games, as well as Tychus' actor, he did not put any sort of emotion, drama, or believability into his lines. Maybe Blizzard doesn't know where they want to go with Valerian, and thus the actor has less direction than needed. Maybe.
In any case, Valerian just says and does things that make no sense to me. He tests Kerrigan by making her control Zerg? Anybody can see the inevitable result: Kerri attacks his facility. His words, when speaking to Kerrigan, are often wimpy and without any attempt to assert his control over the experimental situation. He lets Kerrigan walk all over him, and human or no, doing so is a risky business. And makes him look stupid. There's even a line where Valerian goes "Kerrigan...I'm glad you're alive." And this is after she's torn up his facility during the inevitable experiment results. Why is he glad? Is he afraid of her?
Sheesh. And this kid thinks he can be emperor. Also, it's pretty odd he's hanging out with Raynor for most of this game, and that Raynor's crew appears to trust him. Blizz, that don't make no sense, especially since we've established that many of Jim's crew freaked out in Wings of Liberty when faced with an alliance with Val.
- When Nova is attacking the base, why would the writers make her mention Tosh? They should make it easy on the player and refer to only to his past, not to how the player chose in the previous game. I suppose that Blizz has the right to make either choice the player made canon, and I'm fine with that. It just has so little impact on the story that it's sort of pointless to make the choice significant. Also, I'm sure Nova would be willing to attack Raynor anyway, even if he did help her in the past.
Okay, all of the things I've mentioned happen in the first fifteen minutes of the game. Seriously. It's clear from the beginning that those currently in charge of Starcraft's plot are going to do whatever they want to do, whether or not it matches up with the rest of Starcraft, including Wings of Liberty. Seriously, did a lot of the guys who worked on WoL just up and leave? To me the beginning feels very awkward, not only for the reasons listed above, but simply due to the fact that Kerrigan isn't breaking out of the prison by choice. Instead her return downfall into the swarm is entirely the result of her situation with Mengsk.
But more on that later. For now, let's talk about our favorite evil emperor.
- Arcturus Mengsk is still making dumb decisions. Guess I see where junior gets it from. First of all, he attacks his son's science facility? While we all know that Mengsk will kill anybody for his own purposes, a lot of Mengsk's activities were initiated by the death of his own father. Is he really going to risk hurting the one member of his family still alive? Besides, there's lots of other ways to kill Kerri. Mengsk could send in some undercover operatives pretending to be scientists, or just send Nova in to assassinate Kerri. Nova's a ghost, ain't she? Point is, there are far simpler ways to kill Kerrigan than to just throw a bunch of soldiers at a science facility.
Mengsk's main stupidity revolves around Raynor. When he attacked the science facility, Raynor was separated from everyone, and eventually arrested by Mengsk. Mengsk does this stupidest thing ever by reporting that Raynor is dead on the news. This promptly causes Kerrigan to believe she has nothing to live for, so she might as well go back to the swarm and have her revenge on Mengsk. Great job, Arc! Good thing you didn't use Raynor as bait to a trap and lure in a still human Kerrigan to die in the attempt to rescue him! Stupid.
In another move of complete stupidity, Mengsk tells a now fully Zerg Kerrigan that Jim is in fact alive, as if she wouldn't come and rescue him the second she discovers this. Great way to make the Zerg attack the Dominion, stupid! Or were you expecting her to cry like a little girl and surrender herself to you? I mean, wow. Way to make the worst things happen.
- It doesn't make any sense for Kerri to want more revenge against Mengsk, especially in the light of of the hybrids. Mengsk is penny-enny compared to the end of all things. Granted, Mengsk made really stupid choices. However, those choices never would have been made if the writer had been consistent with Mengsk's character, so we'll just go on.
Kerrigan has already gotten her revenge on Mengsk. She spared his life to make him witness her power over him, and how he may be emperor of Korhal, but he's absolutely nothing compared to her. She doesn't need any more revenge against him. At one point she mentions that the fight on Korhal will be the fight of her life, but wasn't that her fight against the three fleets in Brood War?
One of the problems with the whole stupid revenge plot is that we aren't learning anything about Mengsk in this game, and why he deserves to die. Newcomers to Starcraft who play Starcraft II wouldn't have learned much by playing Wings of Liberty, and in this game all he acts like is a wimpy bully, only a vague shadow of the monster he was in Starcraft. He has no cool lines that make the player love to hate him. He doesn't do much of anything that has an emotional impact. Thus, the player automatically can't fully sympathize with Kerrigan.
Problem is, the main antagonist in this game isn't Mengsk. The game spends so much time going on about "Narud" (gag) and some twerp Amon that the player has little chance to understand why Mengsk is such a problem. Sure, Mengsk should be brought down, but he's a comedic farce. Amon, on the other hand, can apparently destroy the universe. Is Kerrigan really willing to risk letting everyone die to this Amon mofo so that she can get revenge on Mengsk for pretending to kill Raynor? No point in rescuing Raynor if the hybrids kill everybody.
In an utterly bizarre cinematic, Kerrigan kills a bunch of marines in a psionic blast (we can't really see because it was behind a quarantine door) and then, appalled at what she has done, goes "the killing will never stop until Mengsk is dead." What exactly does this mean? I could have sworn that she would have said something more to the nature of "the killing will never stop until I am dead". Kerrigan is the one who killed those marines, regardless of who sent them. And even if Mengsk does die, does that mean all violence in the K Sector will stop? Are all the humans in the sector willing to forgive her? What about the Protoss? Aren't they going to at least put her on trial?
Hey wait, why didn't Valerian install some sort of psionic dampers on her mind just in case she went overboard? Oh wait, he's stupid, right.
As the game goes on and Kerrigan recovers more of her memories, as well as learns about Amon, the really stupid thing that is supposed to be the new bad guy, she really should at some point decide that attacking Mengsk is low priority. He's stupid, weak in comparison, and can't destroy everybody. Besides, even if Mengsk is dumb enough to capture Raynor, Jim is safe enough as long as he's a bargaining chip. And that's assuming the Raiders don't try something, or Mengsk doesn't decide to free Raynor in the attempt to get him to do something.
In any case, I have to watch Kerrigan act like a moron for Raynor's sake, much like in Wings of Liberty except the roles are reversed and it's much more cheesy.
- One person on Amazon.com made the comment that Heart of the Swarm was feminist, full of evil men and protagonist women. This is a weird statement, and upon watching a let's play, I had to conclude that he was wrong. HotS is not feminist. However, it did forget that its target market was men. Men like to have really cool, masculine protagonists like John Marston, Master Chief, and Solid Snake, and they like to have war adventures about the meaning of war and manhood. Starcraft used to be all about this, with rough redneck characters duking it out to save the day. While having Kerrigan as the major protagonist doesn't alone make this game less masculine, a totality of several things contributed to skewing the aim of this game. It's sort of a minor point, but I'm going to bring it up anyway because that's what I do.
Now, I like masculinity. I like to sit back and watch men do dorky, manly things. I don't expect them to be overly sensitive or "get in touch with their feminine sides". Which is why the change of target market annoys me. There are lots of brood mothers, who have taken the place of cerebrates in controlling the swarm. While it makes sense that something needs to control the swarm, I like the idea of cerebrates better than brood mothers, as cerebrates have better names, are more disgusting, and are better opponents to Kerrigan. Having a rival for the broods would have been fun.
So yeah, the brood mothers are there. Kerrigan's there. Nova's there. There's also Izscha, Kerri's personal aide. And Lessara, a female Protoss prisoner. Also, Zagara, the brood mother who Kerrigan is grooming for leadership. Plus the whole plot is based around Kerrigan's personal drama, where she chooses to deal with her own problems with her "true love" and personal enemy in lieu of dealing with what actually needs to be done, a common theme in stories directed toward females in modern media. Uh huh.
As for the male characters, Raynor is reduced to a romance novel male: everything a woman wants, nothing she doesn't. Mengsk and Jr. are stupid as crap. General Warfield is dull. Zeratul reaches his highest level of herp derp yet. Duran is killed off in a boring way, without Kerrigan finding out who he really is (though I suppose since he can shapeshift, his gender is questionable). One dude I don't care about, the primal zerg, is insanely boring. Abathur the Zerg genetics weaver is reasonably interesting, so I won't complain about him.
Honestly, a personal drama in space isn't exactly unsalable. Despite all the female characters, nothing about this game has an anti-male message, especially since many of the female characters were also boring. However, when you turn a gritty, dystopian science fiction into a badly acted sci-fi romance novel in game form, the target market may find itself put off.
- General Warfield is the most boring dude ever. Apparently this dude was an altered character from the failed project Starcraft: Ghost, which may explain his lack of personality. He first appeared in Wings of Liberty, and it's amazing that Blizzard could create such an interesting persona in Tychus Findlay, and yet have such a boring character in Warfield. First of all, his name. A general named Warfield? What a bad pun. You might as well call him General Gun-Rifle NeoPatton Mark III, which would have at least been funnier.
Besides that, there's nothing really to draw us in with Warfield. In WoL, he turns out to be not all that great a leader, in which he initiates, against the advice of more experienced men, a frontal assault on Char. This extremely simplistic tactic of course fails.
My main problem with the guy is his dialogue and voice acting. His voice is just too nice. He doesn't sound at all like a soldier concentrating on battle. He sounds like a nice uncle telling some rowdy kids to not play in the street. His dialogue had very little personality, and it sounded like he was given lines to say, just things that any generic good guy soldier would say if they were saved by Raynor, or, in this game, on the verge of death and trying to get Kerrigan not to kill his injured. He's just so generic. His personality isn't clear or dynamic in any way.
I don't know. Maybe if he had been in Starcraft: Ghost, he'd have been interesting. Maybe that's why Blizz killed him off -- they didn't have any more use for him. Kinda sad, really.
- The dialogue and voice acting were terrible. Absolutely atrocious. This applied to the past game as well, only most of the Terran characters were interesting in and of themselves, and their voices didn't require computer modulation. Unlike the Zerg and Protoss characters. Granted, both Warfield's and Valerian's actors were underwhelming, but the others....ew. Most of the Zerg sound like generic monsters, not the disgusting filth they're supposed to.
The Protoss on the other hand? It's like Blizzard isn't even trying anymore. Zeratul, in the original games, sounded like he was gargling rocks. Aldaris' voice was pompous and magnificent. Tassadar's actor put soul into every word he said. Artanis sounded like a little adorable follower. Raszagal was pretty good too. The only voice I didn't particularly care for was Fenix's, and that wasn't so much bad as unpolished and had a weird echo effect on it.
Instead, we are now greeted with Protoss who sound like Nickelodeon voice actors prepping up for their next villain role on Spongebob Squarepants. Zeratul's is absolutely the worst. His actor takes too much time to say things, and when he does talk, I just want him to stop. But that's not just due to the actor.
- Everything about Zeratul has gone wrong. From his looks to his lines, to his hand-holding and actions, it's like the guy's character has been completely erased and replaced with some dude who just conveniently does whatever Blizzard wants because he's the most popular Protoss. Now, I have to cut them some slack for changing Zer's voice actor. Apparently his original actor died, and well, there's nothing as can be done about that. Though I will say they could have done better on the replacement.
The real trouble with Zeratul, however, are his words and actions. Most of his lines are so trite and cliched that it's painful to listen to him for any amount of time. I've covered that before, and bring it up again only to mention that it goes on in Heart of the Swarm too.
We're first greeted by Zeratul as he gets the crap beat out of him by a half human Kerrigan. Okay, it's questionable that a fully infested Kerri can beat him. If a human can, then Zeratul should just go home and tell stories to young people; he's finished.
What's even more insulting to the player is that Zeratul gives Kerrigan power by sending her to the birthplace of the swarm, Zerus. This power he knows she'll use to kill people and conquer worlds, both human and Protoss. Way to involve yourself in mass murder, Zer. That Blizzard would force Zeratul to do something like that is insulting. I miss the Zeratul that was rough, aggressive, and made snarky comments. I don't want a Zer who is passive, foolish, and living under a spell of a plot that I'm not even sure I get after multiple viewings.
You know what would have been great? This --
Zeratul: I brought you here to Zerus because you would become more powerful and able to destroy the oncoming doom that awaits us all.
Kerrigan: What, really?
Zeratul: Yes, of course.
Kerrigan: This isn't a trick or anything?
Zeratul: No. Not at all.
Zeratul: No. Just speak with the ancient one, and you shall learn what you need to know.
Kerrigan: Um, okay. Well, I suppose it would be nice to absorb the power....what? I'm surrounded! Where did all these primal Zerg suddenly come from?!!
Zeratul: By the way, Kerrigan, it was all a trick. Goodbye. *teleports out*
Dehaka: ESSENCE! *eats Kerrigan*
*back on his ship, Zeratul sits down at the weapons console*
Zeratul: Is the cannon ready?
Aldaris: Yes. Commencing planet cleansing. *pushes button, unleashing hell on Zerus*
Zeratul: Hey wait, why are you alive?
Aldaris: Some human nerd writing a blog demanded it.
Zeratul: Oh. *pauses* Want to go burn all the words seeded with hybrids?
Aldaris: Why not?
And everyone lived happily ever after.
- What's the deal with Zerus? Wouldn't it be impractical to return to a place that the Zerg haven't been in millenia? Surely they've come so far through space that returning there would take forever, unless stupid Zeratul set up some kind of warp, in which case he'd be the one taking forever.
Also, why are there Zerg still on Zerus? Surely the Overmind wouldn't have left any behind. The idea that some remained "in a constant state of evolution" is every bit as cheap a writing device as the "prophecy" -- it's clearly just there to enable the game writers to give Kerrigan power and turn her full Zerg again, as well as give her glowy purple eyes. You know, most people don't associate glowy purple with Zerg. More like gooey, dull purple, blood red, or pulsing brown.
To be honest, I've lost the will to nitpick the plot on Zerus. It's just so boring, concerning some mofo named Amon who tried to take control of the swarm, only to be destroyed. Or some crap. Watching this part of the game is like watching the Star Wars prequels: your mind won't let you full absorb it, because you just don't care enough. I sure as heck don't. It's so boring. Maybe I should go look up a plot summary on the internet.
- I dislike the Zerg designs. The brood mother looks too much like a Protoss, when Protoss cannot be infested. Also, many other Zerg designs are likewise boring. It's as though someone at Blizzard just up and decided that lots of horns, eyeballs, and claws automatically make something gross and fearful.
It's not really about that. It's more about being, about the spirit of fear -- about a single idea that gives shape to the particular Zerg in mind. For example, the cerebrates are gooey worm creatures without a single horn or spine. Yuck. The overlords are bag of flying flesh with tentacles. The hydralisks are a combination of snakes and skeletons. See, adding random details to a thing doesn't do anything to make it better. Using specific details to create an overall image is much more disgusting.
Also, some of the newer Zerg don't have great textures. They don't feel slimy enough.
- As far as the Zerg go, I understand why speaking characters were necessary. Kerrigan, at the beginning of the game, is the only Zerg we know about who can communicate by words, and thus in a way the player can understand. I just object to the character created. Izsha, besides having a dumb name, isn't that bad. She's sort of boring looking, but in the end her existence makes sense. She's there to be Kerri's servant, and she serves her role. I just wish she were more interesting.
Abathur the genetics weaver also makes sense. His design is sufficiently disgusting, and he actually has a distinct way of speaking. I think it was a cheap convenience of Blizz to make him the very guy that turned Kerri into a Zerg in the first place. It feels very emo kid for this coincidence to exist. But other than that, Abathur is fine.
The Zerg I really object to is Dehaka, the primal Zerg from Zerus who is following Kerrigan to go out and collect "essence". For one, essence is never explained, and has no really purpose to the story or gameplay. Essence would seem to have some sort of genetic meaning, only it would make more sense to just say "genetic material". And it would sound less dumb.
But back to Dehaka, he can't speak of anything besides essence. He does little in the plot. He helps Kerri in one mission, but spends much of the single campaign just standing there, saying really boring, repetitive things. Also, I can't imagine how someone with a shrunken claw and several glowing holes in his side could ever be all that great a fighter. Honestly, Dehaka is just so dull. He adds to neither the story or the gameplay. Should've been cut entirely.
Overall, the Zerg in this game are just sort of there. There's some potential in a few of them, but none of them are as intriguing as the Overmind, the cerebrates, or Duran.
- Kerrigan tells her minions to do stuff on planets, but it's not really necessary for them to respond audibly. It makes the game more goofy. Remember the days when Zerg answered with just growls?
- Why is Stukov in this game? Actually, it feels like he's not even there. He has no personality. He doesn't seem to feel much -- not distrust with Kerrigan, sadness to his past, or even hatred of those that did experiments on him. Sure, he mentions some of these things, but his dialogue and acting are so weak that it feels like a rubber mask of Stukov, not Stukov himself, is talking to us. This is ironic, considering that part of his face is torn off, exposing glowing light underneath, rather than nasty Zerg guts. It's like Blizzard really is trying to say that it's a mask.
Other than that, this game actually mentions that Stukov was once de-infested before becoming an experiment. This is a reference to a secret mission in Starcraft 64, where in fact Stukov is made human again. Why then did the Dominion do experiments on him? Couldn't they just pick some other humans as guinea pigs? After all, they'd need to infest Stukov again to experiment on him. Heck, it was Raynor that saved Stukov, so why isn't he hanging out on the Hyperion? Sheesh, Heart of the Swarm, if you're going to retcon, at least make it make sense.
Also, why the heck is Stukov still wearing his UED uniform? Surely it would have rotted or been replaced by either Zerg armor or Dominion clothes.
- Duran. Oh my Duran. They took your name and turned it backwards. They forgot your characterization. They changed your voice actor. They made you go from independent and at a new stage of your plans back down to being a servant again, this time of the Dominion. You didn't do anything interesting. You were made to influence Kerrigan's personal feelings, reducing the plot to generic schlock. You died the death of a scrub, without doing anything powerful or interesting.
Duran, I'm so, so sorry, you evil scumbag.
Hey wait a minute. If Dr. "Narud" of the Mobius Foundation was secretly allied with the Taldarim, and the Taldarim were the ones holding the Xel'Naga artifacts, why didn't Duran just get them to give him the artifacts so that he could bring back Amon? There would have been no need for the whole Wings of Liberty thing where Raynor was off getting the artifacts. Or was Amon already back by that point and the Taldarim just holding on to the artifacts again? If that were the case, why didn't the Taldarim just kill Kerrigan? They had the artifacts, and apparently some "prophecy" says Kerri is the only person that can save everyone. So if they kill her, the hybrids win.
I know, I know, stop asking perfectly legitimate questions...
- Okay, why is Matt Horner cooperating with Kerrigan? Doesn't he know that she'll overreact and kill people? Also, why the heck does Mira Han not help out Horner until he attacks her? Does she really need Jim's permission to free someone who she imprisoned for both Raynor's and Horner's sake? Doesn't she care that Raynor is in trouble? Cheap excuse for a Terran mission.
Although I will say that I love the part where Mira calls Valerian "princess". That made me smile. Also when homeboy called Valerian "scooter". I still think it's a bad idea to make Valerian such a wimp, but at least it's entertaining. Entertaining mistakes are forgivable.
- I really wish Raynor had shot Kerri in the face. I wish it so bad. I don't hate Kerrigan, but it's just getting ridiculous that she could kill so many and he would just let her off like that. Lame.
This is getting long, and I'm getting tired. There's just so much nitpickery to be done here. I haven't even gotten to Lessara's stupid plotline, or the fact that half the missions are timed in one way or another, or how Kerrigan being so important to gameplay reduces the player's practice time in making new Zerg strategies. But for simplicity's sake, on to the ending.
Okay, so Kerrigan goes to attack Korhal, delaying in killing the civilians on Valerian's request. She takes down a bunch of soldiers, then finally makes it to Mengsk's office. His office, in a tall building. Not in a bunker, not miles underground, not outside of the most obvious place for Mengsk to be. Mengsk has the Xel'Naga artifact (how did Duran use it for Amon if Mengsk had it this whole time?), which he uses to zap Kerri a few times before Raynor comes in to her aid. Kerrigan then kills Mengsk, and then she smiles at Raynor and flies away to the swarm. The end.
Ain't you all warm and fuzzy on the inside? No. Thing is, we care about Mengsk, the past fans, and we don't want him to have a really boring, pointless death. We want it to mean something to him as a character, and be ironic in comparison to his origins. Like maybe Mengsk, who was propelled into action by his father's death, could have been killed by his son. Or maybe, in an ironic twist of fate, Mengsk ends up dying to save Kerrigan, perhaps having found out that she's necessary to defeat the hybrids. Just anything besides being a schlub that Kerrigan and loverboy take down as a couple. *shudders*
The real sin of Mengsk's death is that we the fans love him. We don't feel the same for Amon. We don't know who Amon is, or why he matters. Sure, we "know" that Amon will destroy everything or whatever, but we don't feel it. Amon is some stranger from somewhere that's going to come do something. Arcturus Mengsk, to us players, is our very own, the Dr. Robotnik to our Sonic the Hedgehog. We love to watch him do stupid things. Instead, he is replaced by a villain with no known personality, no face, and no relationship with the player. Come oooooooonn.....
This brings me back to tension. It's now all but gone. Duran is dead. The Protoss are hidden and only interact with humans very slightly, except for the tedious and ineffective Taldarim. Kerrigan is somehow able to control her evil side and show mercy, also able to listen to Raynor and choose to be moral if he wants her to be. The Zerg themselves don't look so evil. Valerian is apparently willing to try and be a good leader. The UED is as distant as ever. The only real threats left in the universe is Amon, some dude we know nothing about, and Zeratul, whose antics may yet get more humans and Protoss killed. Everything that made Starcraft a big glut of sci-fi, political tension, has now vanished.
Nothing will ever stop me from loving the original Starcraft games, and I will always be grateful to Blizzard for inspiring me to become a writer -- and, ironically, one of their most serious critics. While I'll remain fond of the franchise, there is little chance I'll be spending money on Starcraft 2. I'll watch a lets play on Legacy of the Void when it comes out, but I won't be purchasing the games. Maybe someday I'll go back to Korea and play it in a PC bang, but for now, in the words of loverboy Raynor, we're done.