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12.07.2005

A Critical Analysis of StarCraft™

There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. The explanation of this saying, of course, being that the combination of skills and personality traits expressed by a large group of people will somehow make a child more knowledgeable and well-rounded. When it comes to media, however, we expect a significantly smaller collaborative body. When it comes to books we expect to look at the title and see the author’s name below it, perhaps shimmering and embossed. Why cannot the old saying apply to works of literature? The game of StarCraft was created not by any one person, but by a team of writers, artists, and programmers working with a single goal in mind. The result of this endeavor was not just a game, but also what I believe is a literary masterpiece. StarCraft combined Shakespeare-like drama with computer-generated animation and sound to produce one of the most impressive games of the 1990s. Not only has it provided entertainment to millions of people worldwide (especially in Korea. It’s very big there), but it set a standard of storytelling that game creators aspire to, to this day.

StarCraft began millions of years ago- at least the back-story does. The actual program begins 300 years from now, 60,000 light-years from here, in a part of space known as the Koprulu sector. There are three species involved in the game: The Protoss, a mysterious race of beings who have very advanced technology and who communicate telepathically; the Zerg, a giant pack of monstrous beasts held together by a collective mind; and the Terrans, human colonists who will inhabit that part of space in the future. As the game begins the Terrans are minding their own business, when all of a sudden one of their planets is completely destroyed. For the first time, humanity must confront not just one hostile alien specie, but two. The humans are even more dismayed to learn that they weren’t even the target of the vicious attack- the Protoss and Zerg are fighting a war, and the Terrans are caught in the middle. Apparently, both the Zerg and Protoss were created by the Xel’naga, an ancient and extremely advanced people. The Xel’naga were constantly preoccupied with using genetic engineering to create the perfect life form. After declaring the Protoss a failed creation, they set to work on the Zerg. They instilled within the Zerg to burning desire to consume, to evolve and become the perfection they envisioned. They also combined the collective will and consciousness of the Zerg in the form of an Overmind. The Zerg did evolve, and eventually killed all the Xel’naga. Now, the Zerg want to assimilate the Protoss (because the Overmind wants their psychic abilities) and complete the experiments the Xel’naga began. Dun dun dun! I of course will be analyzing the bitter struggle between the Protoss conclave and the Dark Templar, who have not even been mentioned yet. You see, millions of years ago, the Protoss were in the middle of a huge Civil War. Before they could completely destroy themselves, a Protoss named Khas learned how to tap into the Protoss psychic link, and created a new religion. The Dark Templar didn’t want any part of this new religion, and so they were branded heretics and banished from the Protoss homeworld forevermore!

As the Protoss campaign begins, we are greeted by Aldaris, a Judicator from the Conclave. He inform the player that they are the new Executor of the Protoss fleets, and that the former Executor, Tassadar, has failed and thus was replaced. Aldaris represents more than just the Conclave. He represents the sense of religious morality that is so prevalent in our own species. When Tassadar resurfaces with important information about the Zerg obtained from the Dark Templar, Aldaris interjects, “Consorting with the Fallen Ones is heresy!” Mired in his ancient traditions, he sees the Dark Templar and their ways as a greater threat than the ravenous Zerg who’s only goal seems to be the destruction of all life.

Aldaris’ polar opposite is Zeratul, the Prelate of the Dark Templar. While Aldaris is totally old school and narrow minded, Zeratul is non-compliant and free spirited. He completely opposes the main Protoss religion, but he and the Dark Templar don’t hate the other Protoss; just the Conclave. Zeratul is truly a manifestation of the radical social revolution that has pervaded our world over the last century, and how it is at odds with old traditions. The religious feud between the Dark Templar and the Conclave are obvious reflections of the various and numerous religious wars here on planet Earth. And in the end, the Conclave’s resistance to learn from or even tolerate the Dark Templar’s ways resulted in the devastation of the Protoss homeworld at the hands of the repugnant Zerg. At the final, epic battle over the Protoss homeworld, the Conclave finally retracts its opinion. As Aldaris states, “They know now that they cannot deny the necessity or the valiancy of your actions. We sought to punish you, while it was we who were in error. You represent what is greatest in us all, and all our hopes go with you.” But this bridge to acceptance wouldn’t be possible without a transitional stage.

After disregarding the Conclave’s wishes and abandoning his post, Tassadar went out in search of the Dark Templar. With their help, he managed to learn much about the ghastly Zerg, and their accursed Overmind. With the help of Zeratul, Tassadar managed to combine the “pure” templar energies of the Protoss with the Dark Templar’s special powers. After mastering both facets of Protoss nature, Tassadar was the only one capable of destroying the Overmind, and therefore the Zerg. In a kamikaze-style attack, Tassadar slams his flagship into the Overmind, releasing the enormous powers and fury of the Protoss. As the Overmind burns into oblivion, the Zerg swarms are broken, for without their Overmind to direct them, they have no purpose. Tassadar is symbolic of the human condition. By combining all possible beliefs and modes of thought Tassadar reached his full potential, surpassing both Zeratul and Aldaris. In the end, it was only with this power that the Zerg could be defeated; therefore it can be inferred that when humanity reaches its potential, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Using just one of the three races in StarCraft, it was possible to write an essay. The basic story of the Protoss is extremely complicated, and there are still many other storylines in StarCraft that weren’t explained here. The sheer complexity of the plot in StarCraft is on par with or surpasses many literary works, including Harry Potter. The tale of the Protoss Conclave versus the Protoss Dark Templar can be interpreted as the constant struggle between traditional values and modernization. But as Tassadar demonstrated, there may be a balance between the two. And finding that balance may unleash the full potential of the human race. Or will it?!?

Processing 14×100 Robo-Comments:

Blogger Roboshrub Incorporated gesticulated...

Excellent analysis-- Tassadar, in my mind, will always be the ultimate Jesus figure.

You seem to have forgotten the plot of the expansion.

The Terran discover that it was actually their own government who took the Zerg's genetic manipulation after the species was created.

The Overmind returns thanks to the Terran meddling, and the Protoss, facing a homeworld overrun by Zerg, are forced to flee to the Dark Templar they once exiled.

Kerrigan, now the mutant queen of the Zerg and united biology of all three races, takes control of her own brood of Zerg and rebels against the overmind, rallying the Terran and Protoss to her, only to ultimately betray them.

The game ends with a rather major cliffhanger, as the Protoss and Tassadar have been decimated by Kerrigan's surprise attack, and she stands poised to take over the universe...

12/07/2005 9:39 AM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Hopefully StarCraft: Ghost will detail some more plot lines. And then Blizzard'll announce development of "StarCraft II".

It's about time; they've spent over five solid years on WarCraft. I suspect the WarCraft cycle is about to end, and a StarCraft cycle is about to begin.

--==/ So sayeth the robot. \==--

12/07/2005 11:19 AM  
Blogger Cabe gesticulated...

You guys play StarCraft? Me too! We should play sometime. I'll wipe you out! No maphacks!

12/07/2005 12:18 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

I completely refuse to play StarCraft until Blizzard recognizes the need for a StarCraft II.

12/07/2005 12:34 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Yes! Timestamp 1234!

12/07/2005 12:35 PM  
Blogger Lee Ann gesticulated...

hahaha...huh?

12/07/2005 1:35 PM  
Blogger Cabe gesticulated...

You're just afraid Gyrobo. Afraid that my Protoss Forces led by the reincarnated General George Patton will destroy you and the RoboShrub!

Muhaha

I'm mad with power.

12/07/2005 2:06 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Oh, yeah? Well MY Protoss are... uh... pink. Yeah. They're pink, and they all know kung fu. Check it out.

12/07/2005 2:40 PM  
Blogger Roboshrub Incorporated gesticulated...

As terrible as I am at starcraft, I once killed a player using nothing but probes.

12/07/2005 2:43 PM  
Blogger L>T gesticulated...

well you left me in the dust w/this one. never was one for the sci-fi.

12/07/2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Yes, we all know the story of how you killed that guy with probes. But it was just one base, and he had, what, twenty?

12/07/2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger Bhakti gesticulated...

I HAVE SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ROBOSHRUB, INC. YOU ARE not INSANE!!!!

(Click here for details.)


P.S. Starkrraft? Isn't that a kind of diet cheese??

12/07/2005 6:46 PM  
Blogger Calzone gesticulated...

I thought this blog was about how your job sucked.

12/07/2005 8:49 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

What gave you that idea?

12/07/2005 9:55 PM