Starcraft 2 Story Critique
Another import from my previous blog. Enjoy:
Starcraft II left me disappointed. Everything went so much into what I’d call fantasy style. It used to be about three species’ interaction and their inner conflicts. We witnessed the betrayal of Mengsk and the rise of Raynor. We explored the civil struggles in Protoss race. And of course all the while we watched as Kerrigan masterfully played all three races like puppets.
Now we were hinted at things bigger than all of them in SC1's secret episode, but in my eyes the whole Amon thing is basically became a Diabolus ex Machina. It got way too big. Suddenly the interaction between races was out of the equation. Sure, we had sub plots and we were introduced a good amount of new factions and stuff (and for the record, I really enjoyed a lot of that), but I think what bugs me is that Amon became an antagonist for the game. This works in Warcraft but Starcraft shouldn’t have an “antagonist”. Not in this way. I mean, even when Kerrigan killed Fenix, you couldn’t help but admire her cunning as you hated her for taking Fenix from us again.
How are Amon and Kerrigan different? I think it’s very simple. We knew Kerrigan. We were introduced her in the Terran campaign where we learned her identity. We were also given insight into the Overmind and how the entity found its latest, unique “child” so important; defending her against the protests of the trusted cerebrates. When we played Kerrigan, we unlocked her suppressed powers. We got played by Tassadar. Step by step, we beheld her ascension into the self-styled “bitch queen of the universe”.
On the other hand, Amon stayed anonymous through the whole plot. Sure, his name was there but not his identity. There were only a few bits about him that enabled any kind of educated speculation and none of those leads were explored. His observed depth is like 2 inches. We never had a chance to know him. We never learned his true motives. He sounds nihilistic but he also sounded as if he cared about certain things. He sounds cliché evil but he also seems to have some personal reasoning behind all. But we never get to learn about that.
So one disappointing part of Starcraft 2 plot was this ominous evil that, in my opinion, would only be fit for a fantasy game. Even there you have limits. An example is the difference of reactions between the Lich King and Deathwing. We understood LK much better and as such, it’s been a much more popular villain than Deathwing. And we know much more about Deathwing compared to Amon.
But it doesn’t end there. There is also the matter of resolution, which is in my opinion a deus ex machina situation: Kerrigan ascending.
I mean, the whole Xel’naga cycle is a pretty cool idea. An advanced cosmic race that eventually produces two races with distinct differences and eventually they merge together to start the next generation of Xel’naga. There are many weirdly-producing races even on earth and applying a such idea on a space level is a great idea in my eyes. I really loved it when I first heard it.
Unfortunately, Starcraft II sort of spat on this. We were told about “broken” cycles, “flawed” cycles but we’ve never been truly informed about what’s going on. This of course connects with Amon’s mystery. But also, the whole idea was destroyed when Kerrigan merged with Ouros. Why did they use a Xel’naga? I think it’d be much cooler if, say, Artanis merged with Kerrigan and together they formed a new Xel’naga. Maybe this infant wouldn’t be powerful enough to defeat Amon but it could weaken him to allow the rest of protoss and zerg, and humans to fight against it. Or maybe Amon would know he wouldn’t be able to defeat the Xel’naga infant, so he’d go back into hiding. I don’t know. In the end, the whole idea of Protoss+Zerg=Xel’naga was thrown out of the window for Zerg+Xel’naga=Xel’naga
Last but not least, there is the matter of “void.” Once it was about the Dark Templar, as they “hid”, they harnessed this void energy. With Amon however, void was used almost in a Dungeons and Dragons kind of way. Void Energy, Void Shield, Void Crystal, Void Plane, Void this, Void that.
I’m not even going to go into retcons about the zerg and the overmind.
Each of these things by themselves are not big deals. But altogether… It’s such a wasted potential. I will write further on this topic, with my own suggestions and “retcons.”