StarCraft II is no one-trick pony, having had massive support from Blizzard (probably the kings of post-game support actually) beginning way back with Wings of Liberty all the way through until the latest Protoss-centric romp Legacy of The Void. It is a game that holds a dear place in the heart of almost every RTS fan out there (but seriously thought Blizz, we need a new Warcraft). The latest piece of content for the game is quite a different beast that involves our favourite Agent X41822N.. er, Nova Terra.
Covert Ops is a little bite-sized piece of DLC that is part of a larger expansion slated to be released in three parts throughout 2016. The first episode (which is brilliantly titled Mission Pack One) opens up with Nova waking up in a facility in which she is being interrogated. As she tries out her visor for software calibration she is told on her screen that something is going to kill her, so she does her thang and kicks the shit out of people and is left to her own devices to make an escape from this place. But it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as she then becomes captured by Admiral Matt Horner. Turns out she is wanted for treason for joining the Terran separatist group Defenders of Man as well as offing several undercover dominion agents in the base. Has Nova gone rogue alongside her buddies Theodore Pierce, Stone and Delta Emblock? The public needs answers and Nova would need to prove her loyalty.
Zerg, Zerg, Zerg the Zerg is the word
The story of Covert Ops isn’t as grandiose as the last three SCII expansions, but it does enough to keep you invested in the characters and what the hell is going on with the Defenders of Man. The meat of this title is in its left-field take on the usual RTS fare, and the game has you doing quite different things like using Nova’s skills to stealth around and break necks (in an awesome nod to the original Metal Gear Solid we even get a cardboard box easter egg!). It is a familiar style that SC fans will pick up straight away but puts an emphasis on planning strategic routes to avoid enemies before blowing their heads off from a distance.
The later missions are much more standard, and have Nova protecting bases as waves of feral Zerg pour in from each and every direction. It’s up to you to fight these vermin off while training up enough soldiers to take point in sections around the map. Another cool feature that comes into play when taking on these later missions is the ability to spec yourself with the right gear and swap out armour. It is a nice feature that also comes with some loose RPG elements, and it adds a bit of flavour to the Zerg destruction.
Mission Pack One will take you less than an hour to complete, which might seem paltry, but for the full game’s price point (of less than $25) it isn’t bad at all. As always with SCII, the replayability is very high and you can challenge yourself by ramping up the difficulty to see how long you can hold out when tough enemies are coming thick and fast and the Zerg are spewing poison all over your comrades.
One cool mission (that sits between the opening and aforementioned defending) is completely different from anything StarCraft has done before that involves speeding along using quick reflexes and dodge mechanics. It was a welcome and fun little mini-game of sorts that is still integral to the main plot of Covert Ops.
Are you the kind of person that has a passing interest in RTS games? Then with its smaller scale and shorter campaign Covert Ops may just be for you. Old skool fans need not worry as the title is worthy of the StarCraft name and gives us a great little distraction and nifty elements that break the usual RTS mold with one of the coolest characters in the SC universe – Agent X41822N.. er, November Terra. Nova works too.