Designed to be the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game, StarCraft II will feature the return of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg races, overhauled and re-imagined with Blizzard's signature approach to game balance. Each race will be further distinguished from the others, with several new units and new gameplay mechanics, as well as new abilities for some of the classic StarCraft units that will be making a reappearance in the game. StarCraft II will also feature a custom 3D-graphics engine with realistic physics and the ability to render several large, highly detailed units and massive armies on-screen simultaneously.
The zerg are a race entirely unlike the terrans or the protoss. They are composed of many different species integrated into the Swarm via zerg infestation. These creatures are rapidly and selectively evolved into deadly and efficient killers to further the driving zerg imperative of achieving absolute domination. The zerg make no use of technology to create their weapons, armor, or starships. Instead, these functions are efficiently fulfilled through biological adaptation and planned mutation of the zerg strains. Even zerg buildings are in fact specialized organs within the living, growing organism of a zerg nest.
When the zerg first arrived in the Koprulu sector, they were unified by their absolute obedience to the zerg collective sentience known as the Overmind. The Overmind ultimately directed the actions of every zerg creature in the Swarm, functioning through a hierarchy of lesser sentiences. The first and most important tier of these consisted of the cerebrates, each entrusted with direct control of a sizable section of the Swarm. The cerebrates' commands were disseminated in turn by the overlords, which directly ordered and controlled the mass of zerg creatures both in their nests and on the battlefield.
Although the Overmind was primarily driven by its desire to consume and assimilate the advanced protoss race, it found useful but undeveloped material in humanity. Taking a powerful terran psionic, Sarah Kerrigan, the Overmind evolved a new and unique creature: the Queen of Blades. When the protoss destroyed the Overmind during the invasion of Aiur, the Queen of Blades manipulated the dark templar into eliminating the surviving cerebrates. As a result, she came to dominate the Swarm.
Type: Medium Assault Warrior
Core Genus: Slothien
Primary Attack: Needle Spines
The peaceful herbivore herds of slothien were assimilated into the zerg Swarm to produce one of the fiercest and most diabolical of the zerg strains. The evolutionary matrix of the caterpillar-like slothien was supercharged by the Overmind, twisting the hapless creatures into the nightmarish killers known as hydralisks. These once mild creatures now hunger for blood and violence, and they are infamous for acting in a particularly savage fashion.
The spindly, snake-like hydralisks house hundreds of armor-piercing spines within their upper carapace plates. These spines have been specifically evolved from the defensive urticating hairs of the slothien and adapted to a new purpose. Hydralisks use powerful muscle contractions to launch the spines in volleys at enemies approaching from either the air or the ground.
Hydralisks are especially fond of lying in wait for their prey. Groups of them have been observed burrowing into the ground in the pathway of civilian workers, uncovering themselves when they sense an opponent is near. Ambushing from burrowed positions is a favored hydralisk battle tactic, with hydralisks showing a preference for waiting until an enemy has passed before emerging to attack, or boxing in a group of enemies to destroy them with a deadly crossfire.
Thanks to the remarkable musculature of a hydralisk (4,000 muscles compared to a terran's 629), the penetrative force delivered by a hydralisk spine is quite astounding. A single spine can easily penetrate 2 cm of solid neosteel even at maximum range. Under any circumstances, massed groups of hydralisks should be approached with extreme caution and preferably siege tank support.
Type: Medium Attack Flyer
Core Genus: Mantis Screamer
Primary Attack: Glave Wurm
The mutalisk has been little changed from its original form, the roving mantis screamer of the desolate Dinares sector. In their original forms these creatures were capable of atmospheric and deep-space flight, although how they accomplished such a feat is poorly understood. Apparently they were even capable of migrating between stars, presumably while in some kind of larval form.
Proof of this amazing interstellar capability can be observed from the towering aeries of the mantis screamers that are a common sight on lifeless worlds across several star systems. Most such nests are empty and abandoned now that this highly successful and adaptable species has been infested by the zerg and evolved into mutalisks.
Mutalisks form the primary flying forces of the zerg, making hit-and-run attacks against vulnerable installations and wheeling across the skies in prodigious numbers above zerg nests or land-based forces. Many attempted engagements with the zerg have collapsed due to the rapid arrival of large numbers of mutalisks before any meaningful air defense could be mustered. Under these circumstances the total loss of the forces involved is virtually guaranteed.
Conversely powerful air defenses have succeeded in keeping mutalisks at a distance, for the creatures are limited in vitality. However, they remain agile and dangerous opponents. A mutalisk can attack foes both in the air and on the ground by expelling a glave wurm: a voracious symbiote that can rapidly strike at several opponents as it explosively disintegrates. In large numbers or against weak defenses, mutalisks will always be a deadly threat.
StarCraft II will include a unique single-player campaign, as well as fast-paced online play through an upgraded version of Blizzard's renowned online gaming service, Battle.net. In addition, the game will come with a powerful, full-featured map editor that will put the same tools used by Blizzard's designers into the hands of players.
Blizzard is developing StarCraft II for simultaneous release on the Windows and Macintosh PC platforms. Further information about the game, including details on the single-player, multiplayer, and map-editor features, as well as system requirements, pricing, and availability, will be announced in the months ahead.
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