Reviewed on PC

STARCRAFT

Reviewed By: Rick Casteel
STAFF REVIEWER
GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Blizzard Entertainment
Age level: 13+
ESRB Rating: Teen

Genre: Sci-fi War Simulator
Christian Rating: 3 of 5
   (some objectionable elements)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
   (excellent)
Violence: 3 of 5
   (mild)
Adult Content: 5 of 5
   (none)

StarCraft.  Illustration copyrighted.
Blizzard Entertainment is the company that brought us “Warcraft” and helped define real time strategy for gamers. They're back now with a humdinger of a sci-fi offering that's sure to have players coming back for more. The situational set-up for “Starcraft” is integral to the plot and the most problematic element of the game for Christians. It seems a group of super intelligent and powerful beings, the Xel' Naga, hop around the galaxy creating life forms. They “create” two life forms on different sides of the galaxy. Their initial creation are the Protoss, which are super intelligent beings with psychic powers. The other life form is the Zerg. These are a group of really nasty, predatory bugs that ultimately destroy their creators. Added into the mix are the Terrans (displaced space colonists from earth) who have unfortunately settled in the middle of a war between the other two species.

Fortunately, most of this story is contained in a small novella that comes with the game. The Xel' Naga don't play into the game at all, therefore the “creation” and “life bringing” element of the story doesn't affect the player directly. Another element that may catch Christians attention is the ability of the Zerg to “evolve”. This process is similar to a caterpillar entering a cocoon and emerging a butterfly. However the results here are not so pretty to look at! Add to this a bit of foul language utilized by the Terrans and you have excluded the game from most of your younger, impressionable game players.

Screen captures from StarCraft.  Illustration copyrighted.
Having a war-based story line, you can assume that violence and death is a part of the players experience. The violence is usually shown as oozing red smears as units are destroyed by a wide variety of weaponry. The Zerg tend to be the most graphic, while the Terran's sometimes leave body parts in the wake of the destruction. The Protoss are the exception in that they “evaporate” when destroyed. Sexual innuendo is rare, and regulated to voiceovers between male and female characters during certain Terran missions. There is no way to limit or “turn down” the violence level in the game, a feature that could have made the game more appropriate for younger audiences. Gameplay is where “Starcraft” really exceeds. Your focus is to strategically maneuver and manipulate your chosen species through 10 staged maps, achieving certain objectives along the way. Now there is nothing ground breaking or particularly innovative here. But the execution with which Blizzard brings all the elements together is flawless. The player can choose to play as any of the three antagonists. Each species is different, requiring differing strategies in order to achieve your goal. Similar to other offerings, the player must manage resources, develop troops and maneuver their species toward the completion of level objectives. With exceptional graphics, an objective based set of goals, and smooth controls, it stands out in the arena of strategy games.

“Starcraft” also shines in the area of multi-player action. Having three distinct species with differing characteristics brings a depth to the game that “Warcraft” lacked. Like most strategy games for the PC, “Starcraft” supports multi-player action over modem, the Internet and IPX direct connect. Blizzard has even set up an Internet server for players to link up for multi-player games. For those with an Internet connection, "Battle.Net" as Blizzard has named it, is a free service that is accessed via the multi-player mode in the game. In the few times my sons and I attempted to connect, the server was to busy for us to join. The one time I did connect, most of the chat in the area where players join games was juvenile at best. We never did join a game so I can't comment on the experience. It would be wise to remember that this area is not a “Christian” site and exposure to rough language and jaded players could be expected. I would suggest it as an agreed upon place for 3 or more players known to one another to meet and join in a game exclusive to that group.

In the final analysis, I would suggest this game for mature Christians who are aware and accepting of the games theme and level of violence. Young teens may hone thinking skills in the company of a responsible adult who can discuss the reality of war and give a biblical perspective on events as they unfold in the game. Younger children and more impressionable teens should be kept away.



User Comments   [ Send Yours ]


While there is no outright religious message for/against christianity in SC, I thought there were several positive themes in it. The Protoss hero tassadar sacrifices himself for a greater good, while the terran character rayner defies the law to do what he knows is right i.e protect innocent colonists. As a little side note, I read somewhere that the Protoss unit Archon means “archangel” in ancient hebrew or something?? kinda cool since I could imagine the archon as somewhat of a representation of a warrior angel… My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Victor Yuen, age 22

I'm a teenager and from my view I have to say is that this is the best game I have played. Its much better compared to the gruesome “bloodflood” games out there like diablo or doom or duke nukem. Just watching those games had me come out feeling like a zombie. Starcraft at least had me thinking hard like you would playing chess or something. I admit there are a bunch of unnecessary depictions of gore (especially on the package) only meant to satisfy the customer but I appreciate it's more of a seasoning than a main dish. The foul language I argue seem like compliments to what I hear every day in public school (though foul language nonetheless)…
   —Jason Lewis

…I found this game extremely enjoyable, though still a bit simplistic. I would love to see a RTS game with elements of supply, unit range etc. As for other's comments regarding adult content I am perplexed. I heard one “mild” swear word that is regularly heard on TV, yes the deaths are graphic but are still quite tame.
   —Darryl

…I must agree with some of the other comments that Blizzard probably went a little overboard with the humor. I tried to play StarCraft on "Battle.Net", and the gameplay was a little aggressive and slightly disorganized. Obviously, the other players knew a thing or two more than me, but it was the noticeable lack of respect for the other players… In my opinion, StarCraft isn't all that bad. The game itself equals "Command And Conquer", yet is slightly better than the WarCraft series. StarCraft has more build options, including the option of building up to 5 units at a time, instead of 1 on WarCraft. Maybe I've been raised without religion for too long, but StarCraft is not bad game!… it's an addictive game… But I paced myself. Our family shares one computer, so I realized that sometimes my little sister needs it for homework. The only time I'd get good gameplay was on the weekend or any other time off.  For a time, I didn't play StarCraft, but I'm back at it again. Almost like a present a child gets tired with after the first 5 minutes. With me it was more like 5 days, but the idea is still there. My secular friend suckered me into getting SC, but in the long run, it doesn't matter, because at least he doesn't have to waste money on a game he won't play all the time…
   —Ben Minor

…Starcraft is a very addictive  game. I am married with 2 children and have to be careful  not to ignore my wife and spend too much time on the computer, not to mention spending time in prayer or reading  scripture. That can be very dangerous in the life of a  Christian. Keep that in mind that when you play this game it can also take hours to play…
   —Troy Edwards

I own and enjoy the game Starcraft. I believe that although the game doesn't present any Christian views, it doesn't present anti-Christian views either. It is fun to play for those mature enough to enjoy it.
   —Steven Arnold

Star Craft is, in fact, a good game to those into strategy. Though it does not display the Christian views all to well (or at all). I still believe it is a game to be tried. I enjoy chess and the art of strategy, so it appeals to me. I can't find ANY games out there that are safe for Christians to play that are fun and highly stimulating. I find the characters in the game most interesting…
   —Derek J. Partridge

There is a less violent version of the game which the reviewer didn't mention. The one reviewed was the so called mature version. Also, the online games are great and are only limited by the quality (not just speed) of modem and service. Yes, the chat areas are terrible, but are not necessary to play online. You can create your own chat room to meet others in, as well as create private games to play against friends (I play against my brother usually). Very addictive game. Will soak up much time which wives and others point out could be spent elsewhere!
   —Tim Anderson

Comments from Young People…

Positive—Star Craft is an EXCELLENT game. As a Christian I found nothing more offensive than goes on in real life. The review mentioned innuendos. There may be a few but they are not even noticeable if you are not lookingto find something wrong with the game. Most of the games my friends playare much more violent and they are all Christians also. The violence/goreis minimal because the graphics are anything but realistic. Protoss leavea blue puddle, looks more like a marker leaked than that something died. As a girl I found Zerg slightly repulsive but after meeting them a fewtimes and gaining a better understanding of what they are I had no problemwith them. I agree that the multi-player option is very good. If youfind several friends who also enjoy the game there is nothing better thanspending a Friday night staging a game on one of the maps. You have theoption to avoid BattleNet all together and directly connect to yourfriends via modem. Keep in mind that you cannot surf the web or use an IMprogram simultaneously. I would definitely recommend Star Craft to anyChristian gamers who want a less offensive game without losing plot andskill value. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Stephanie Tervooren, age 16

This game is brilliant. It uses the 'S word' once or twice, but how many movies have we seen taht use that word a dozen times? Apart from the movie sequences, the violence in-game isn't bad at all. At least not in my opinion the graphics are not very realistic and I really don't think it is much of a problem at all. GREAT GAME! My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Rick White, age 15

I'd say “Starcraft” isn't a VERY offensive game in itself. I say it's more violent than this [reviewer] made it sound, but it's in the form of small sprites on the screen. Anyways, I think the thing most evil about it is the people it attracts. Battle.net is a fun place to go to play the game with other humans, but the people there tend to cuss way too often. THAT is what bothers me as a Christian… My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Joey, age 16

It's a fun game, but there is a little violence. Even though that is not a problem for me, I see how some people could object. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Jeremy Honl, age 15


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

Review supplied by Christian Spotlight Guide2Games, a ministry of Films for Christ. Copyright © Films for Christ. Spotlight's URL: http://ChristianSpotlight.com E-mail usMailing address: PO Box 1167, Marysville WA 98270-1167, USA • “Christian Spotlight’s Guide to Games” and “Guide2Games” are service marks of Films for Christ.

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