Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

For four years, freedom fighter Jim Raynor has pursued his vendetta against the tyrannical Emperor Arcturus Mengsk and his repressive Terran Dominion.  But when the dreaded Zerg reappear and invade the Dominion, Raynor must make a fateful choice between defeating his hated enemy, or safeguarding the future of humanity.

As soon as this introduction screen disappears, a new page fades in allowing you to choose one of four gameplay options: Easy, Normal, Hard or Insane.

I bet the Insane option drives you with curiosity.  This is the Insane option’s description to sate your inquiring mind:

“This is a cruel, fast-paced no-holds-barred version of the game.  This setting is good for veterans of Real-Time Strategy games.”

Once you choose a gameplay difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, Insane—the game starts by placing you at the Cantina room where Jim Raynor sits by the bar drinking a glass of alcohol.  You are welcomed with the following introduction:

“Tired and embittered by years of struggle against the all-powerful Terran Dominion, freedom fighter Jim Raynor has returned to his homeworld of Mar Sara.  But even on his ravaged backwater world the forces of the tyrannical Emperor Mengsk are moving to take control.”


When the campaign starts, you are at a cantina in the planet Mar Sara. You can see objects around the room which allow you to interact with.  On the left, above the bar is a big metallic baggage-like device. It is Raynor’s laptop.  It is from here that you start your next single player mission. There is a big Hydralisk skull hanging on the wall surrounded by a neon-lightning fixture sign which reads: Joey Ray’s Bar.

On the right, by the wall, you can see a bulletin board which contains a Most Wanted reward-flyer offering $500,000 credits for Jim Raynor: Dead or Alive; a piece of a newspaper (by reporter Richard Astley) is pinned to the bulletin board.  It reads how the Dominion ignored a help-call by a fringe-world colony.  Jim Raynor came to the rescue and saved 800 civilians, including an orphan girl, by evacuating them aboard the Hyperion. The colony was overrun by the Zerg. The Dominion forces were recalled back to the core-worlds, leaving the fringe-worlds unprotected and to fend on their own.

As you may have read in the various books such as the Tokyopop manga Starcraft: Frontline, and the Pocket Book by Christie Golden titled Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy, Emperor Mengsk has secured the core-worlds of his Terran Dominion.  Now he is expanding toward the fringe-worlds to recover abandoned Confederacy assets lost when their government was overthrown by Mengsk. That includes Mar Sara, any legally owned mining facilities across the Kropulu Sector, and much more.  You can find some interesting stories in the Starcraft: Frontline volumes that reflect these despotical disowning of properties where Terran Dominion forces arrive and take assets from their legal owners by force. They do this behind the eye of the UNN news network and civilians, covering appearances and lying.

What really caught my attention, is that this newspaper scrap mentions the place Jim Raynor evacuated is named Meteor Station.  The lore-nerd in me was thrilled to read this.  Meteor Station is a Kel-Morian Mining Post where the events of the story titled Last Call by Grace Randolph take place.  This story may be found in Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 (Tokyopop).

This Last Call story was about the finding of a Xel’Naga artifact during a drilling performed by the Kel-Morian miners.  The Terran Dominion wanted the Kel-Morian to sell it to them.  Two ambassadors from each faction met at the Meteor Station to reach a deal, but fell in love of a Tarsonis girl named Starry.

Unexplicably, she becomes lover of both men, and sets them up unwillingly to meet at a distant location.  The Zerg came upon them and stole the Xel’Naga artifact.  It turns out her disfigured face had latent Zerg Queen stuff—a new biological evolution of the Swarm that may not be detected by Terran scanners. In short, Kerrigan can now spy upon Terrans.  The hosts are not aware they carry Zerg infestation, and the scientists can’t detect it.  Obviously, with the mention of Meteor Station as a factual and canon location we see here a deep integration of the lore from the books into the Starcraft II single player.

With the Zerg engaging once more after four years, the fringe-worlds are falling to the Zerg with no military support from Mengsk; so it is up to Jim Raynor and his men to rescue all these unprotected and stranded people left behind. You can learn more about this lore integration in my video interview with Chris Metzen which deals mostly about the canon lore integration between the licensed products (novels, manga and comic book) and the Starcraft II Single player.

Back to some of the stuff in the Cantina, you can actually click all these objects pinned to the bulletin board, and it zooms in allowing you to read and view what’s in there.  Sometimes Jim Raynor or Tychus Findlay will start talking when you click one of these paper clips or photographs.

The neat thing?  Each time you complete a mission, you return to the Cantina and anything that used to be there before the mission, is updated with new stuff. So it is worth to spend an extra time exploring each time you complete a mission, because it has a lot of new content awaiting you.

You can click on Jim Raynor twice, and each time you do so he will say a random voice-over quote, accompanied by sub-titles onscreen.  By the way, this is the original Jim Raynor voice actor … our beloved Robert Clotworthy:

  • “Damn, the glass is always half-full.”
  • “Or is that half empty?”
  • “Thirsty work”
  • “Bottom’s up”
  • “Hate just sittin’ around waitin’ for something, but this place is surely cozy.”
  • “Like drinking engine coolant.”
  • “What’s this swill?”
  • “Feels like I’m always been watched.”
  • “Well, I’m not gonna toast myself.”
  • “Wonder if this thing is flammable.”
  • “Ol’ Mengsk is gonna get what’s coming to him all in good time.”
  • “I should probably lay off this stuff, or up the intake.”

The next time you come to the Cantina after completing your next mission, Jim Raynor will have a different set of quotes for you when you click him multiple times. Ain’t that cool?

Besides the interactive bulletin board and Jim Raynor’s laptop, there is also a TV screen hanging off the wall near the ceiling.  You can click it, and it will run a UNN Report by Kate Lockwell.  Sometimes the TV will show a Larry King-like TV show by another reporter.

The good thing about this interactive TV is that each time you finish a mission map, you can return to the Cantina and you can see a different News report, which updates you on what the current situation on Mengsk’s end is after you completed the mission. Sometimes you will get updates on what’s going on in the fringe-worlds, sometimes there will be reports on controversial heroics by Jim Raynor who saved a colony, etc.  To the UNN, Jim Raynor is portrayed as an enemy of the Terran Dominion, a rebel and a terrorist. The UNN reporters keep a neutral position, however one would wonder if they are truly neutral.  If you have read the story titled Newsworthy you will know what I mean.


The lore-nerd in me was excited when I clicked the TV console in the Joe Ray’s Bar. Reporter Kate Lockwell appears in the story titled Newsworthy by known-manga-writer Grace Randolf in Tokyopop’s Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 2.  In the manga, the Terran Dominion has been controlling the public opinion with lies to keep the public blind on what’s truly happening. The public thinks the Dominion is offworld fighting aliens to protect their homeworlds.  The truth is that Mengsk’s forces are stealing legally owned properties in the fringe worlds by force.  Mengsk has ordered the Terran Dominion forces to hunt and kill any colonies that hint to be against Mengsk or who are thought to support rebels. The Dominion has focused the past four years to kill other terrans and to salvage any fringe-world properties, equipments, vehicles and mines formerly owned by the Confederacy.

In the Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 2 story titled Last Call, Lockwell is authorized to aboard a Dominion battlecruiser to report how the marines are trained and how honorable it is to serve the Dominion.  How normal citizens join willingly the Marine corps to protect their core-worlds from the Zerg and the Protoss—but is this really the truth?  The Zerg hasn’t attacked in the past four years, and the protoss are recovering back in Shakuras.  Yet the Dominion Forces are supposedly fighting them, or is it?

Suddenly, their report is interrupted with a special mission assigned to the Terran Dominion unit. She is not allowed to come, and is kept in a room aboard the battlecruiser. When all is done, she sneaks out of her room and finds terran prisoners locked up behind bars. They tell her the Dominion is lying. If she wants the truth and a real newsworthy material, go open that door.  What she sees is shocking.  A storage room full of terran corpses piled up all around.  She manages to give the video to ex-reporter-now-rebel-leader Michael Liberty (the same guy from Jeff Grubb’s Starcraft: Liberty’s Crusade novel).  She stayed behind to cover appearances, and continues reporting what the Dominion wishes her to report, but is her loyalty to the Dominion or to the rebels?  We will probably find out more in the single player.

I also have to point out, that UNN reporter Kate Lockwell, who transmits from the Gohbus moon, appears in the Tokyopop’s Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 3 story titled War-Torn (see preview scans) by manga-writers Paul Benjamin and Dave Shramek.  Kate Lockwell interviewed Greggor Altman, a representative of the Dominion in this manga.  They were discussing the aftermath of the zerg invasion in Maltair IV, where the only survivor was Terran Dominion Senator Corbin Phash and his child son Colin Phash.  The senator had hidden from the Dominon that his son was a telepath. Senator Phash escaped and requested asylum to Umojan Protectorate Minister Jorgensen to protect his son.

We will learn the telepath boy’s fate in the upcoming Tokyopop’s Starcraft: Ghost Academy by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Near the window at the Joey Ray’s Bar, you can see Jim Raynor’s Marshall badge pinned there for display.  It won’t be interactive in the first mission, but later when Tychus Findlay sneaks in into the Cantina, and opens his visor; Jim recognizes him.  They start talking to each other about how Tychus escaped prison, to which he gives a very vague answer, and shortly after, Tychus asks about the Marshall badge.  From that point forward, you can click the Marshall badge and this trigger a quote from Jim Raynor about his old days as a Marshal.


Chris Metzen wrote a story that serves as prequel to the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Single Player.  It appears in the Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 (Oct 1, 2009).  The story is titled: Homecoming.  In our recent Homecoming preview scans, you can see Jim Raynor arriving to Mar Sara to open a secret vault on the ground. From it he extracts objects that are meaningful to him.  His past.  He holds the Heaven’s Devils insignia, his Marshal badge … and his wedding ring.

The huge Hydralisk skull adorning the lightning fixture forming the words Joey Ray’s Bar will become interactive later on after you complete one of the missions.  And how can I forget to mention Jim Raynor’s personal Juke Box.  You can click it to start his favorite western country music.

Later when Jim Raynor leaves Mar Sara, he debates with Tychus Findlay—wherever Jim Raynor goes—his Juke Box comes with him.  And lo and behold, you can later see the Juke Box strapped to the ceiling in the Cantina room, and you can interact with it.


The Hyperion is Arcturus Mengsk’s former flaghip battlecruiser.  Jim Raynor and his Raynor’s Raiders team stole it shortly after Mengsk viciously decimated Tarsonis driving the Zerg upon them by sending in Sarah Kerrigan to plant a Psi-emitter.  Arcturus abandoned Sarah Kerrigan to the Zerg to die. This enraged Raynor who escaped on the Hyperion and ever since has made it his mission to be a searing-thorn on Emperor Mengsk’s neck.

The Hyperion has been a home to Jim Raynor these past years.  In Starcraft II, the Hyperion is flown by his close friend Captain Matt Horner, who you will find at the Bridge room. Something very peculiar—lore-wise—about the revamped graphics of the Bridge is the decoration across the ceiling and on the corners of the Star Map table.  There are many black wolf heads decorating them. This is a lore reference to Starcraft: I, Mengsk by writer Graham McNeill (of Warhammer fame).  In this novel, it is revealed that the Mengsk family’s crest is a wolf.  The Hyperion was owned formerly by Mengsk, so the bridge’s decorations subtly remark this.

Blizzcon 2007 Bridge

Bridge (July 20, 2009)

In the original Starcraft and Brood War single player, you would enter the Campaign Mission Briefing Room and see the Mission Objectives displayed.  Some scrolling sub-titles on the center as the NPC portrait explained your entire mission and current status.

In Starcraft II, as soon as a single player mission ends, your view shifts to the Joey Ray’s Bar in Mar Sara and you choose your next mission from within Raynor’s laptop. However, this only happens during the first three missions of the Wings of Liberty single player.  After the mission Zero Hour, you come aboard the Hyperion. And from that moment forward you visit the Bridge within the Hyperion to choose your next missions straight from the Star Map console.

The good part of this is that you have more options in this new dynamic between missions in comparison with the static Mission Briefing Room in the original Starcraft.  It is about choices and interaction … You can go straight to the next map mission and skip the Hyperion content, or you can explore your surroundings, and you learn more lore about the current situation in the storyline.  You can explore other rooms of the Hyperion by clicking on the Exit sign by the door.  It will open a popup menu where you choose which room to move to.  You can decide to buy mercenaries or to upgrade your weapons, buildings or vehicles.  You can learn how to upgrade some of these through different means: The Armory room and The Research Lab.  More detailed info ahead, so keep reading.

You can find the Star Map at the Bridge where Jim Raynor can interact with it, as well as with Captain Matt Horner and Tychus Findlay. The Star Map basically shows you an horizontal list of planets that you browse through.  When you click on a planet, you get an intro a brief background lore (a bit limited to simplify the interface).  When you select a planet, on the top-left is a video transmission of a character who is giving you a mission in exchange of a credits reward.  As Jim Raynor, you accept mercenary dirty jobs to earn credits (currency) so that you can purchase new upgrades, new units and vehicles. The transmission gives you the rounds up on what the mission is about. The Star Map will let you know how much credits you will earn in each mission.  You get an update on which unit you will get access to if you engage that mission. For example, in Evacuation of Aria, you unlock the Firebat.