moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-70
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REALTIME CHEATING STRATEGY

30 May 2007

In anticipation of the sequel, I've started replaying the original Starcraft after a good three or four years of having left it alone. The graphics were a bit more pixeled than in my recollection, but this soon faded away (the mind is awfully quick with adjusting to these things) and what was left was the realisation that as with most classics, the game is still utterly enjoyable and very playable.

I'm blasting through the singleplayer campaign before delving into rounds of (preferably cooperative) multiplayer. Starcraft is still a challenging game, though I notice I now easily overcome obstacles that were once difficult for me. The storyline is a powerful factor in pushing me forward, as always. The (Terran) characters in Starcraft -Raynor, Kerrigan, Mengsk, Duke- are sparkling creations with interesting motives and personalities. From memory I know that later on in especially the expansion pack Brood War they are somewhat diminished as they fall into caricatural behaviour, but that doesn't take away the excellence with which they are introduced into the story.

What I am reminded of as well, however, is that I'm not at all such a good realtime strategy player. I love building up a base and defending it, but as soon as the time for attack comes, I just can't do it properly. I get tired and stressed even thinking of having to micro-manage an army filled with different units that I need to optimally use in the chaos of battle. I'm much more comfortable using just one type of unit and exploiting its strengths. My favourite thing is having an armada of cloaking Wraiths and using them in hit-and-run tactics to slowly chip away at the enemy's strength. This is hardly an effective way to crush them, but it's the most enjoyable one, and the only one I can employ with any cunning. Other ways are simply too elaborate and require too much attention and skill. It's a huge defect to have in a realtime strategy game, but then I never claimed I was good at them; only that I enjoyed them.

I also remember that I was never able to play through the entire game without cheating. There is a point about halfway through that things become too difficult. Though they also become too tedious to bother with. Let me explain. Though I love playing strategy games, after about 15 levels of building up a base and crushing the enemy (flavour missions notwithstanding) I get a bit frustrated and bored going through the motions again. Being then faced with another huge map filled with enemies that are increasingly stronger and smarter takes away my motivation for putting in all the effort. And not wanting to let the game lie down for a bit (with the chance of not picking it up again soon) and not wanting to lose track of the storyline, I resort to cheats. Not very charming, I know, but unfortunately necessary in a genre I'm not terribly good at. Warcraft III was easier in this respect (excluding its expansion The Frozen Throne, which got more difficult near the end) and I never needed to cheat through it (also with many thanks to the hero system which gave you an overpowered unit from the start of the level that especially at the end became sheer invincible). Starcraft is a bigger pain in the butt though.

I'll probably cheat again. But I'll be enjoying it until that forced manoeuvre. And hell, I'll enjoy it afterwards also.

Roderick.