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Lost in Cyberspace

'StarCraft' provides a surprisingly addictive campaign

This article was originally published on January 12, 1999 by SignOn San Diego and Copley News Service.

'StarCraft" is rapidly becoming one of the classic computer games of all time.

It is what used to be called a campaign game, or a strategy game. In both single- and multiplayer modes, you must build up your military forces by first building up your resources. You set up mines and construct factories, and then begin to assembly your army.

Blizzard Entertainment: 1998

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The single-player game is one of the most sophisticated yet – heads and shoulders above "Age of Empires" or "Total Annihilation." With fully animated intros to each level, Dolby Surround Sound and some of the most impressive game graphics of any campaigner, "StarCraft" is the goods.

It's set in the future, when humans (er, "Terrans") have colonized other planets. There are two other species in our corner of the galaxy, and neither is particularly hospitable.

With modem-to-modem two-player mode, Internet multiplayer (via or LAN (up to 8 players), "StarCraft" offers a lot of different multiplayer options.

Once in, you have more options. You can ally yourselves against computer foes. Or, you can create teams and go two-on-two. Or make it every player for herself. Your choice. Oh, and each player can decide which species they wish to be.

On, you can also compete in the Ladder campaigns, where you try to work your way up to the top of the heap by defeating others – but you better be prepared to give up any life you have. Each game can take up to several hours or more, and the folks who win in Ladder (and qualify for $20,000 in cash and prizes) are going to be the folks have played literally hundreds of games.

But one need not be a fanatic to enjoy "StarCraft." It requires real mental dexterity to be successful – you have to plan ahead in the early parts of the game, and then switch gears and think quickly on your feet once combat begins.

It's both challenging and fun – and pretty darn addictive, too.

Must be, as "StarCraft's" publisher, Blizzard, announced in mid-January that 38,000 people have qualified for the first season of ladder competition.

A new expansion set, "Broodwar," features new weapons and scenarios – and a much tougher computer ingelligence; in either single- or multiplayer, the computer-controlled teams are faster, more aggressive and a lot tougher to kill.