A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is a "Teen"-rated military strategy game set in the future. It is a strategy game that you can play against other players in real time. You mostly kill alien species from a top-down "isometric" view, opposed to a first-person perspective in games like the Halo or Call of Duty series. Still, there is blood and body parts strewn on the battlefields. Also be aware that this game supports open online text and voice communication. The multiplayer aspect, with players earning ratings based on how well they play, makes this a compelling game that is hard to quit. Families will want to pay attention to the addictive nature of this type of game.
What's it about?
As the first official expansion to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, STARCRAFT II: HEART OF THE SWARM starts with an imprisoned Sarah Kerrigan, once Queen of the Blades, deep in a research facility run by Crown Prince Valerian Mengsk. While being tested to see if Kerrigan still has psychic control over the Zerg race, the facility is attacked by Dominion forces, which helps Kerrigan escape -- not before an embrace with her former lover, Jim Raynor, the hero from the first game. So, just how will Kerrigan reclaim her power and exact vengeance on her captors? Without giving away much more of the purposely campy single-player tale, StarCraft fans will once again take control over the Terrans (humans), as they battle the tech-savvy Protoss and the swarming Zerg. These three powerful and well-balanced races face off on alien worlds, each with their own tactics, technology, units, and weapons, as well as unique characters and motivations. Players will also mine resources to fuel their military might during both the solo game and multiplayer head-to-head and cooperative (co-op) modes playable online.
Is it any good?
Yes, indeed. Along with the all-new story-driven sci-fi single-player campaign with more than two dozen levels and cinematic sequences to help push the tale along, you'll gain access to devastating new units across dynamic battlefields, unlock Kerrigan's latent psionic powers, and planet hop aboard your moon-sized Zerg Leviathan.
Fans of the multiplayer modes from the first game will be able to experience all new enhancements to the online games, including new co-op games with friends, custom-made mod downloads from the StarCraft II Arcade, and engage in multiple competitive modes for bragging rights on the global leaderboard. There isn't much to complain about with this game -- unless you don't like Blizzard's "if it ain't broke" design philosophy -- plus be aware you need StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty to play this stellar strategy expansion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sequels. Blizzard Entertainment takes a long time between games -- too long, many gamers and industry folks argue. Is this expansion worth the wait or are they "over-polishing" the game? Do the long periods of time between titles build your excitement or do you forget about the sequel or expansion altogether?
This is a game where the multiplayer aspect is a big draw. Do you play games to interact with others or do you prefer games you play alone? Why? Do you like cooperative games or ones where you go it alone?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Science: engineering, geology, rocks and minerals
Language & Reading: following directions
Social Studies: exploration, geography
- Skills: Creativity: brainstorming, developing novel solutions, making new creations
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, investigation, strategy
Self-Direction: set objectives, time management
- Price: $39.99 ($79.99 for Collector's Edition)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release date: March 12, 2013
- Genre: Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Blood and Gore, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.