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StarCraft: Brood War

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Released: 1998

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: PC - Windows

Publisher: Sierra

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Submitted by: Robert Frazer

Nominally, Brood War was an expansion set rather than a fully-fledged new game. However, Starcraft had already received a couple of expansions – Insurrection and Retribution, farmed out to third parties Aztech New Media and Stardock respectively – which met with middling critical responses, and are barely remembered today. For her own effort on her own flagship property, Blizzard naturally had to go one step further – only it wasn't so much a step as a running leap, with greater scope, greater ambition, and greater vision. Starcraft was already an excellent game – Brood War framed it as a masterpiece and, like all great art, it formed a fount of inspiration from which others drew succour.

Issue No. 65 of Retro Gamer included an insightful examination of fangame creation. However, it suffered from one glaring omission: there was no mention of the fruit of one of the most important features of one of the PC’s most abidingly popular games – the StarEdit map editor.

StarEdit was already a powerful tool in the original Starcraft – the increased functionality of Brood War, particularly in enhanced AI, elevated it into the most versatile and intuitively accessible editor that I’ve seen before or since; it should be the standard against which all others are judged. On its own a user was well capable of crafting both multiplayer maps and single-player campaigns of the same standard as the game itself – with modders releasing further editing programs such as StarDraft and Emerald Aspect to manoeuvre around the (very few) blocks that Blizzard had put down, it was no cliché to say that the possibilities were limitless.

StarEdit is why today I use a PC for anything other than checking E-mails. Participation in custom communities such as Campaign Creations and Omega Intertainment was a mesmerising well of rich creativity and astonishing ability; yes, I’d spend days procrastinating over maps I really ought to have finished weeks ago and yes, hard drive crashes tipped hundreds of hours’ work down the drain… but it doesn’t matter. Through it, I’ve forged genuine friendships that have lasted to this very day.