StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Game Poster Image
"Stellar" sci-fi strategy expansion wows fans of the series.
  • Mac, Windows
  • $39.99 ($79.99 for Collector's Edition)
  • 2013

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about strategy and tactics, as well as creative thinking and cooperation while battling aliens in this real-time strategy game. Players micro-managing units, each with their own specialties, when fighting against other races. They learn about mining resources to fuel growth, exploring on the maps, and strategizing to be victorious. When played online against others, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm lets kids learn about cooperating and strategizing while saving the universe.

Positive Messages

Despite some story sequences that involve the various human characters, this game is a straightforward sci-fi strategy game that has the humans blasting creatures on alien worlds. It could be argued the humans are defending humankind. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While you're in control over multiple military units, in the single-player campaign you play as Sarah Kerrigan, former Queen of Blades, who must plot her escape from imprisonment and reclaim her empire. She's a warrior, no doubt, and filled with vengeance.

Ease of Play

This game can take a few minutes to get the hang of, but the mouse-centric controls and some optional keyboard commands will be mastered within an hour or two. The game starts players off gradually.


StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is a real-time strategy game rooted in combat. Three races are pitted against one another in the story mode, and in order to succeed, gamers need to use the right units in the right way at the right time. While played from an angled top-down view, there is animated violence, red blood splatters, and some gore while the aliens or humans take damage during combat. Some of the cut-scene sequences show violence, too.


The game has some suggestive scenes, including a kiss between the main characters, plus there's a drawing a half-naked woman on the side of a military uniform.


The game has some profanity in the dialogue sequences, including the words "s--t," "bitch," "damn," "hell" and "ass." 


This is an expansion pack to extend the gameplay of StarCraft II.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In some sequences, you can see a character drinking from bottles at a bar (one clearly says Cognac on it), as well as a pack of cigarettes on the table. Another character has a cigar in his mouth (even while wearing his spacesuit helmet!).

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTina.G September 21, 2020
Starcraft 2 is a great game for the practice of strategy and optimal choices, though there are minor blood and a chat feature the violence is kept in a futurist... Continue reading
Adult Written bymetal August 10, 2015


a little blood plus possible bad chat but other then that it's great the reason I say 13 up is it's hard to play typing mouse multitasking
Teen, 16 years old Written byMalik Saad Nawaz December 6, 2015
Teen, 13 years old Written byBob The Zealot July 18, 2014

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?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy and puzzle games

Themes & Topics

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