When I reviewed Legacy of the Void last year, I thought that was the end to the glorious story that StarCraft II had given to us. It’s good to see that Blizzard understood just how much people care about the franchise and decided to add more to this great game with the new DLC pack StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops. While I’m not a fan of the episodic release system, what you get in the first mission pack is exciting and will keep you on pins and needles until the next release of missions.
I have to be honest and say up front that while I completely understand why they’re doing it, I’m not feeling the whole episodic release of Covert Ops, as it would’ve been nice to just have all the missions and be done with it. Instead we have the DLC broken into three parts starting with mission pack one that includes three levels of play, but each one takes quite awhile to beat. You can buy each pack for $7.49 or buy all three for $15, and thanks to our friends at Blizzard I was able to get all three packs, but I have to wait for mission packs two and three to be released like everyone else and these currently don’t have a release date. One of the coolest things about this DLC is that it doesn’t require players to have StarCraft II to play, though you at least have to have the starter edition of it.
Getting back to the game, the story starts with the ghost soldier named Nova waking up at a facility with no memory of how she got there and what happened not long before. She quickly learns that the Zerg are starting to attack random places after being peaceful for two years, and that her and her team are being blamed for terrorist attacks against Emperor Valerian Mengsk and his empire. After meeting with Valerian face to face, he realizes she’s been set up and offers her a chance to fight back, find out who is really behind these attacks, why the Zerg are going berserk and to hopefully regain her lost memories. This is where you come in, as you’ll have to guide Nova and her troops to victory while also doing your best to be sneaky with stealth when need be.
Anyone who has played StarCraft II should already be comfortable with the controls and using Nova’s ghost abilities such as cloaking, sniping, using pulse grenades and even acquiring a suit that lets her travel on raised terrain like the Reaper units can. As with the previous hero units in StarCraft II, Nova can also upgrade her abilities and swap them around for new ones, adding a new layer of strategy before starting each mission. You’ll need to select them wisely, as each mission takes nearly twenty minutes or more to complete, and that’s if you know exactly what you’re doing. With Nova being a ghost, you’ll often times find her roles in each level require her to be as stealthy as possible while making your way through them. Luckily the enemies have a line-of-sight cone in front of them to show where they’re looking, so you can figure out a path around them and take them out quietly from a distance or up close and personal with her lethal melee attack (she snaps their necks, ouch!).
The graphics and sounds are the same from StarCraft II and will vary depending your gaming PC. With the modest one I have, everything looked, moved and sounded great for something using a nearly six-year old game engine. Of course things wouldn’t be the same without Blizzard’s tongue-in-cheek humor, as you’ll see and hear things that are sure to bring a smile to your face such as a cardboard box being offered to hide under and laid back attitude of some of the characters.
I really wish all the missions were available to play right off the bat, but the three I played in StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops so far are great and of course leave you wanting more. If you’re a fan of the classic RTS title or just want to play something different, you’ll want to make an op to covertly pick a copy. Just be prepared to be waiting intensely for the next mission pack.