Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm is an expansion pack for Starcraft II Wings of Liberty which mostly dealt with the Terrans who are a fragmented group of human exiles who have a tendency to fight amongst themselves, and in which Jim Raynor leads a rebellion against the ruling Terran Dominion.
In Heart of the Swarm the focus is more on the Zerg, a race of large insect like creatures whose swarms share a collective consciousness and so have no sense of self or self preservation, and controlled by the Zerg Overmind. They are used in overwhelming numbers forming ant like swarms during attacks.
The game has twenty missions and is played from the perspective of Sarah Kerrigan.
The story begins with Sarah Kennington, aka Queen of Blades, who featured in previous titles and is an infected Terran, assimilated into the Zerg race and who gained control of the Overmind. A research center is running tests on her to see how much of her power over the Zerg swarm remains. The scientist performing the tests is Prince Valerian and he escapes, together with Kerrigan, after an attack on the research lab by Terran Dominion Forces. Jim Raynor, a mercenary and co-conspirator, is left behind while the other two reach Raynor's spacecraft, the Hyperion. From this point the main thrust of the story is of Kerrigan,s attempts to search out and rescue Raynor. To add another level of confusion Kerrigan herself is marked as a target for assassination by the forces of Emperor Arctuus Mengsk, Valerian's father.
The actions take place in many locations scattered around the Galaxy and many characters from Starcraft lore make appearances, and many new and wonderful devices with remarkable powers are introduced. Kerrigan visits may places in various morphed forms and makes alliances to help her in her ambitions. Alliances are formed, deals are brokered and Kerrigan uses her psychic and blade wielding powers against all and sundry as the situation dictates, eventually reverting to type and becoming once again the chief of the swarm.
The story is intricate and perhaps overly complex, and the game seems to have less content than Wings of Liberty. The graphics and soundtrack are superb as you would expect from a major series like this one. The accompanying art book has some stunning pictures but as for the mousepad, does anyone use one nowadays?
As well as the game software the collectors edition comes with an artwork book of 144 pages, a Zerg Rush mousepad, a behind the scenes DVD and an audio soundtrack CD.