Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: "Starcraft 2: Flashpoint" (Spoiler-Free)

Found out the other day that a new novel StarCraft II: Flashpoint by Christie Golden had come out. It serves as a bridge between the end of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the latter of which is slated for release in March 2013.

Given how I had prepared to pitch a similar novel concept to Blizzard, it got my attention and so I bought a copy while getting some birthday presents for friends. Here's my review...

I read the whole thing in perhaps two or three hours. It's certainly a quick and entertaining read. Even though I'd accidentally spoiled myself massively (I found out most of what happened from the Starcraft Wiki's article on Sarah Kerrigan, which I was posting into my message-board for a dicussion), it was still a pretty good book. And the Wiki article didn't include some surprising plot twists.

We get to know Valerian Mengsk rather well throughout the story. It's good they didn't simply make him Arcturus Mengsk 2.0. It's also good that they don't make him a prissy wimp either. Although he's a prince of the Terran Dominion, his upbringing was anything but coddling.

The book has some very good descriptive language. I had gotten six pages in and found the following description of a hydralisk:

"A maglev train-wreck combination of insects with scythelike arms, snake bodies, teeth that never ended, and neosteel-penetrating spines they fired from their backs."

There's also some amusing bits, including one flashback depicting Jim Raynor constantly thinking his lieutenant Matt Horner's name is actually Jack and another to Raynor and Kerrigan going to a honky-tonk on an actual date. Sarah Kerrigan, one of the most dangerous women in existence even before being turned into a scary bug queen with dreads, in a dress. On a date. Take that in for a moment. There's also a scene where Raynor and friends are on a crippled dropship heading for his flagship and all they can do is see if the Hyperion maneuvers in such a way to "catch" them in its hangar. Or else they die. Raynor's reaction to the whole situation is amusing.

Also, although some people have complained about the ending of Wings of Liberty reducing one of the most iconic female video game characters into a damsel in distress needing rescuing by Raynor (which it really doesn't), that complaint is answered massively by what happens when Kerrigan gets her groove back. Do not threaten Raynor. Ever.

That being said, the novel wasn't perfect. For starters, the cover is rather misleading. It depicts Raynor and Kerrigan fighting together on the battlefield, with Kerrigan having her normal human red hair. Since this is supposed to be set after the events of Wings of Liberty, they should have depicted her with that funky Zerg hair that somehow survived the deployment of the Xel'Naga artifact that obliterated the primary hive cluster. It would have certainly gotten attention. To be fair, the book does contain some flashbacks to the two of them fighting together against the Confederacy, but that's not the bulk of the story and the cover should have reflected this.

Also, a character is revealed to be a traitor, but there's no foreshadowing. It would have been better if we'd gotten an early POV from him that shows him resenting Raynor for not paying the crew, resenting him for risking all their lives to rescue his old girlfriend (who in the state she was in didn't want to be rescued), etc.

Overall, it's a fun way to spend an evening and get up to speed for Heart of the Swarm. I'd recommend waiting for the paperback, but the paperback won't be out until after the game. 8.5 out of 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment