Heart of the Swarm: Kerrigan Is An Unsympathic Hero

WARNING: Story spoilers abound!

In my review of StarCraft 2′s first expansion, I lamented that the story was the game’s weakest aspect. My main issue with Heart of the Swarm’s narrative is the simple fact that I found Kerrigan lacked the single quality necessary in a protagonist: being a sympathetic character.

A sympathetic character is one the audience can identify with and care about. Unfortunately, I was unable to follow the logic of her actions or care whether she succeeded in her goals.

This has nothing to do with the morality of the character. I’m a fan of shades of gray and antiheroes. However, antiheroes still need redeemable qualities that render them endearing to the audience.

What are Kerrigan’s qualities in Heart of the Swarm? Let’s list them:

  • She is incredibly powerful
  • She is a physically attractive female in a skin-tight outfit and high heels

That’s a very short list. In fact, it’s about to be made shorter; her power level is so much higher than anyone else’s once she becomes the Queen of Blades again that it is no longer a positive quality. Her interactions with humans smack of bullying. This means Blizzard is relying on visual appeal to males to make Kerrigan endearing. I’m sorry — I didn’t fall for that back in 1996 with Lara Croft, and I’m not falling for it today.

Now, what are Kerrigan’s flaws in Heart of the Swarm?

  • She makes irrational decisions
  • She is consumed by vengeance
  • She is either naïve, stupid, or blinded by emotion
  • She waffles in her stance on the worth of life
  • She gives terrible leadership advice

Raynor moved heaven and earth to restore Kerrigan’s humanity, and she throws that gift away in her quest to avenge… Raynor. Way to go; I’m sure that’s what he would have wanted.

It baffled me that Kerrigan even believed Raynor was dead to begin with — because I certainly didn’t. Kerrigan knew Mengsk better than anyone. She knew he was a propaganda-spewing spider that would never take a chess piece off the board so long as he could manipulate it. The fact that she accepted Mengsk’s report of Raynor’s death without even a hint of doubt is ludicrous and makes her come across as an imbecile.

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4 Comments on Heart of the Swarm: Kerrigan Is An Unsympathic Hero

folklore

On April 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I won’t deny that blizzard could have made the story much better, and that kerrigan as a character could have been much better. I would argue that she didn’t give up her humanity, at least not entirely. Compare her to the queen of blades personality and the heart of the swarm kerrigan. The two are pretty different, with at least on some level. Unfortunately blizzard really dropped the ball, as this difference doesn’t come out very much until that point in the game.

I like the queen of blades version better myself.
Good article either way.

Robyn

On April 6, 2013 at 2:33 am

Did anyone else find themselves wondering if ALL Kerrigan’s hair had gone ‘zerg’? Cause that would need some serious nair…

Quinsec

On April 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

I think we can certainly question her inconsistencies – but does she need to be sympathetic or even a hero? Some of my favorite games placed me in the role of villain. Granted, Blizzard is trying to draw you into the story, and her character makes that problematic.

I think the greatest issue is that perhaps she plays too much into the irrational woman stereotype.

gildesh

On April 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

But was she more sympathetic in the original Starcraft zerg campaign, when she destroyed Aiur? Or in Brood War, where she played everyone like a puppet and then she backstabbed them? Of course, that wasn’t Kerrigan, that was The Queen of Blades, but ‘it’ was a ‘protagonist’ too. What made her sympathetic then, and unsympathetic now?