This review of StarCraft II: Colossus is of the spoiler-free variety.
Valerie Watrous throws readers in to the thick of the on-going galactic war that is the StarCraft universe. Watrous spends no time introducing us to the small group of protoss secreting their way through zerg space at the opening. It’s assumed that readers know the background of the noble race and its chitinous enemy. In lieu of introductions, the setting is painted, inducing instant suspense and immersion. The zerg is already on top of the tiny, cloaked ship that is on its way to awaken the sleeping colossi, a unit capable of untold destruction.
After narrowly escaping the clutches of the zerg, the break in action allows for members of the crew to interact, giving readers insight to the timeline, purpose of the mission and character progression. The small, four-person crew is lead by Aldrion, the mission’s leader and battle-hardened veteran. Telbrus, his second in command that watched Aiur burn, blames the Dark Templar for not saving the race’s homeworld. Darsiris, a rookie, rounds out the three exiled Aiur protoss. Zoraya, the ship’s skilled pilot, is the only Dark Templar crew member.
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Watrous jumps around the local timeline – the future and the recent past – to flesh out the characters. The time shifts are a bit confusing, but focuses on the zealotry of the fractured Protoss. The allegory for racism and religion is thick, becoming the focal point of Aldrion’s concern. Through the tale, Aldrion mulls over the colossi’s presence. An indomitable force, but a force that could easily wage civil war as destroy the zerg.
It’s interesting how little action there is in Colossus. By and large, the mission was designed to be a snatch-and-grab strike. Get in, hopefully without detection, fire up the colossus and get out. Little action. Naturally, the sheer number of zerg in the way allowed the brood to stumble upon the cloaked ship. Yet Watrous didn’t focus on dieing mutalisks or exploding overlords. It was background noise to the crew’s snap decisions, execution, poise and machine-like killing. Surprisingly, the high, non-gory presentation was as engrossing as annihilation.
Colossus is a story that needed to be told, if only to retcon an odd loophole. In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the unit simply pops in to existence. Seemingly at Zeratul’s will alone. Colossus explains how they returned to action and hints at why they were decommissioned, thus absent from earlier works. The tale is reminiscent of the druids in Warcraft III, perhaps too much, but that’s just the excuse. In actuality, Watrous enabled readers to see in to the psyches of the conflicted protoss. Garnering unique perspectives from all sides.