StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Game Poster Image
Exceptional strategy sequel with some mature themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 23 reviews

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 while battling aliens in this real-time strategy game. The bulk of the gameplay focuses on military micromanagement, including building and upgrading the units, mining resources to fuel the growth, and craftily placing the units on the map for maneuvers. Kids can also learn about teamwork and cooperation as some of the multiplayer modes pair up players. They can create and share their own maps on which to play the game. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty empowers kids to test strategies, craft unique solutions, and cooperate with others to conquer the universe.

Positive messages

StarCraft II is a sci-fi game. Humans battle aliens on other planets with futuristic technology. Humans use violence to win battles for the most part, which means it might not send the best message to young kids.

Positive role models & representations

The lead character, Jim Raynor, is a tough fellow who is rough around the edges. He's fighting to protect the human race, but he's also a drinker and a smoker. We learn at the beginning of the game that he was incarcerated (for "desertion under fire"). He's probably not the best role model in video game lore.

 

Ease of play

Thanks to many optional tutorials and videos, StarCraft II is easy to click through -- especially for those who've played the original game (or other real-time strategy games). That said, the game's missions can get quite tough at times.

Violence

While seen from an "eagle-eye," top-down perspective, and therefore less graphic, this game does contain violence, blood, and some gore. The sci-fi story pits three races against each other (one of which is human) and you can see red blood splatter from guns and limbs and other body parts on the ground. Some of the non-interactive cut-scene sequences also show battles or the aftermath of bloody battles.

Sex

A suggestive drawing of a half-naked woman can be seen on the military suit of a lead character. It is reminiscent of drawings on the side of airplanes, as a tattoo or on the backs of some leather jackets.

 

Language

While not over the top, there is plenty of cursing in the dialogue spoken between the human soldiers, or in cut-scene sequences. Words such as "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell", "damn," and "damned" can be heard.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

In many cutscene sequences, especially early on in the game, you can see a character drinking from multiple 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: Wings of Liberty is a real-time strategy game set in the future and involves combat between three different alien races. The game includes plenty of violence (with blood and gore), foul language, and scenes with drinking and smoking. Violence will likely be the big concern, as players are battling rival factions to the death -- with blood and limbs flying. However, this violence is clearly within a sci-fi story that takes place in the future and on another planet (as opposed to shooting police in a New York City-like environment a la Grand Theft Auto). Plus, the angled top-down view is less "visceral" than an up-close-and-personal first-person view. 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

Parent of a 16 year old Written byc0rsana January 22, 2011

Awesome game.

Requires thought, strategy, and practice to master online. Players work their way through the ranks whilst besting online peers in the community. A great Starcr... Continue reading
Adult Written byRevolverSly May 18, 2012

The best Electronic Sport for anyone.

Definitely the SC2 game is aimed to active minds; the more you can achieve in "mind cycles" (mining, construction, production, scout, combat) the more... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byFusionElement August 14, 2010

Incredible game that's rated T for a reason.

I absolutely love Starcraft 2, I play it all of the time. I like it because you can tell the game is well thought out and the amazing feeling of finding the bes... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 8, 2010

tweens up

This game is AWESOME!!! playing as three different races (terrans, protoss, zerg) u can play online or offline on a TON of different maps. i havent played the... Continue reading

What's it about?

A dozen years is a long time to wait for a sequel -- especially when it's the follow-up to one of the most popular and influential computer games in history. But when you're game behemoth Blizzard Entertainment you can take your time to do it right. With STARCRAFT II: WINGS OF LIBERTY they have done just that. The sci-fi saga continues between the Terrans (humans), the tech-savvy Protoss, and the swarming Zerg – three powerful and well-balanced races that face off on alien worlds, each with their own tactics, technology, units, and weapons, as well as unique characters and motivations. The 29-mission single-player campaign continues the adventures of Jim Raynor, a marshal-turned-rebel leader for the Terrans (unlike the first game, you can't play as other races in the solo campaign, which might disappoint some). While the goals are set per level -- such as freeing allies, defending your base, recovering an artifact, or exploring the map to attack enemies -- you can often choose which technology and military upgrades to invest in and even select the desired path to take.

Is it any good?

This real-time strategy game doesn’t mess with the original StarCraft formula, but the gameplay is so tight and polished it’s impossible to resist its charm. As with its predecessor, StarCraft II has you collecting resources, such as blue crystal minerals and vespene gases, creating new recruits, constructing varied units, developing new technologies, and battling against uncompromising enemy species.

Along with introducing new (and familiar) units and characters, this sequel is rendered in full 3-D and can handle huge skirmishes on the battlefields. The story-driven cut-scene sequences are stunning to say the least, complemented by well-written dialogue and a moody soundtrack. StarCraft II also shines in its multiplayer modes, but fans of LAN (local area network) parties might be upset to hear Blizzard isn't allowing for this kind of head-to-head play in StarCraft II. Without question, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will satiate both seasoned strategy fans and newcomers alike. Get ready to fall in love with your computer all over again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between fantasy violence and that of the more realistic variety. Why is it generally easier to stomach fantasy fights? Is it because what we see is so far removed from the real world? Do standard morals not apply in battles against monsters and aliens?

  • Families can also talk about how the people behind StarCraft II took their time in delivering this sequel -- 12 years after the first game (and seven years in actual development). Is this a model other game development studios should follow (budget permitting) or is this too long? Should game companies crank out a sequel every year or so or take their time with an aim to perfect it?

Game details

For kids who love strategy games

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