StarCraft II is a Real Time Strategy game by Blizzard Entertainment, and is the long-awaited sequel to StarCraft. The game was released in three installments, with each one focusing on a different race of the game.The Terran campaign, Wings of Liberty, was released on July 27th, 2010. Set four years after the events of the Brood War, the campaign focuses on rebel hero Jim Raynor and the Raynor's Raiders, and their efforts to take down the corrupt empire called the Terran Dominion. The Zerg campaign, Heart of the Swarm, was released on March 12, 2013, and focuses on Sarah Kerrigan, an assimiliated human psionic who has risen to dominance within the Zerg broods, and her efforts to find a place for herself (and the Zerg) in a new and changed Koprulu Sector. Legacy of the Void, the Protoss campaign, is but rumor and whisper at this point, but can be tentatively predicted for the second half of the decade. The overall story arc of the game concerns a new Big Bad, who has risen out of the most cherished dreams of the Zerg: to assimilate the Protoss and hybridize the two races into something new. Well, someone has managed to do just that...Like StarCraft I and Brood War previously had, StarCraft II has a prominent competitive scene, complete with professional teams, paid players, tournaments and sponsors. Blizzard caught on to the importance of the pro-gaming scene and built SC2 from the ground up around Competitive Balance while providing extensive first-party global tournament infrastructure. They also regularly solicit feedback from top players regarding the Metagame and act on certain suggestions, keeping the balance fresh.During the ramp-up to Heart of the Swarm, Brian Kindregan, lead writer of said expansion and co-lead writer of Wings of Liberty, has taken to answering some of the fans' questions about post-Brood War additions to StarCraft lore. There are thirteen installments total, the last of which is located here. (Links to the prior twelve are included at the bottom of the article.)This series also has its own Shout Out page here.The three acts of StarCraft II are on their own pages:
Goliath: Go ahead, TACCOM. Milspec ED 209 on. USDA selected. FDIC approved. Checklist complete... SOB.
All There in the Manual: The Dark Templar Saga and the Frontline series are practically required reading for the sequel. Frontline gives the backstory and lore of several new units, while The Dark Templar Saga explains in detail what Preservers are and why they're significant, as well as giving early insight on the Hybrids, the xel'naga and their intentions in creating the Protoss and Zerg. In addition the "Ghost Academy" series of books details the back-stories of Nova and Tosh; Though Wings of Liberty spoils how well their friendship went after the academy.
The Tal'darim have appointed themselves guardians of the xel'naga artifact fragments Raynor is collecting during the main storyline, and violently try to keep them out of his hands. They turn out to be a subversion as they are actually working for the Big Bad Amon.
Normal Protoss also have shades of this, they travel the cosmos studying and gathering relics of the xel'naga, and will keep them out of humans hands, but it's usually for a good reason (These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, etc) and on other occasions they don't interfere with human archaeology.
Arm Cannon: Marauders and Firebats have their grenade launchers and flamethrowers mounted on their wrists.
According to the first game's manual, marines' CMC combat armor was designed to stop standard firearms and shrapnel—and their C-14 Impaler rifles were designed to penetrate CMC armor. In the cutscenes, however, the marine armor appears to be easily pierced by hydralisk spikes and gauss rifles alike. As it isPower Armor it provides boosts to strength and speed and protection from the environment and the like (or so the novelizations tell us), but as a defense against enemy projectiles you might as well be wearing a cotton robe.
The point is in-universe, average marines are very much considered cannon/tentacle/psipower fodder, what with most being concsripted convicted criminals. Most other Terran weaponry is generally much more effective and terrifying, such as the siege tanks, spider mines, wraiths and so on.
Artificial Brilliance: The computer has become Dangerously Genre Savvy due to a new hidden value assigned to units that determines their kill priority when attacked by AI opponents. Some caster support units take priority over standard attackers so the computer will target them first if they can. That's right, Blizzard has programmed the AI to Shoot the Medic First. However, it can also fall into Artificial Stupidity when you realize that you can position your units in such a way to either make them keep running around a unit or even move wildly trying to GET to the target.
Terrible, Terrible Damage, the reference to the project lead Dustin Browder, is now the God mode cheat, as well as what General Horace Warfield near the end of the game says when his ship goes down. It also appears when getting lots of simultaneous kills in challenge levels.
"Mah ship is takin' tayrible, tayrible daymage!"
In Battle.net, you can get an error message: "The page you were looking for either doesn't exist or some terrible, terrible error has occurred."
Asskicking Equals Authority: In-game units advance in rank by racking up kills as recognition of their strength, though there's no actual RPG element that upgrades them because of it. The Galaxy Editor, however, supposedly has provisions for a level system. Of course, as with the original the heroes are higher-ranked by default and kick a lot more ass. Subverted by the main character units that retain their set rank no matter how many they kill. (Tosh will always be Rank: Spectre Leader, Tychus will always be Rank: Scoundrel, and so on)
The Protoss Mothership is expensive, slow to build, slow to move, it lies at the top of the tech tree, and its attack isn't all that powerful. For all that time and money, it's basically an Arbiter with higher HP. Blizzard has even stated that they know the mothership isn't as useful as they'd like in the multiplayer and is really more just a symbol of the player's economy that they can afford the thing, especially after patch 1.3. Though for a while there the Mothership was a strong part of competitive Protoss vs Zerg throughout much of 2012 in Wings of Liberty as its Vortex ability was absolutely invaluable against Brood Lords (it was basically considered nearly impossible for Protoss to beat Brood Lord/Infestor without a Mothership).
Battlecruisers are also considered this. Like the Mothership, they are big, slow, expensive, and at the end of the Terran tech tree. What really puts the nail in the coffin, though, is that all 3 armies have hard counters against battlecruisers that are significantly cheaper and more versatile.
Reapers are extremely fast, extremely mobile and do serious damage against light units and structures. However, their Glass Cannon status means that they die very fast in head on fights and require huge amounts of micromanaging to stay effective. They also have shorter range than Marines, so they can't hide in infantry balls like Ghosts can.
In-universe, there's also the Odin, which, according to Swann, implies too much trouble to logistically supply and maintain, which is why you only get to use it for a couple of missions, and end using a reduced version of this, the Thor. Even its intended use in the Dominion was as a mobile asset for guarding large facilities of extreme strategic importance, such as the Imperial Palace on Korhal.
The infamous Terran siege tank is as beefy as ever, capable of doing massive damage to units from a very long range, and they deal splash damage to boot. Made even better in this because groups of them will only fire on an enemy enough to kill it, as opposed to before when a group of them would waste time by all targeting something that would only take a single shot from one of them to kill.
Viking transform from air-superiority fighters that shoot missiles to walking mechs brandishing autocannons. They produce quickly and cheaply, and amassed can take out capital ships with ease.
The Sentry, a tier 1.5 unit. Guardian Shield allows it to reduce the damage nearby friendly units take from ranged attackers, making them especially useful against Marines and Mutalisks who have low base damage. It can also use Force Field to block off key choke points and break up enemy armies in the field.
Ghosts' basic abilities are effective against Zerg and Protoss armies. EMP shells can wipe out the energy reserves of Infestors and High Templar as well as quickly strip away Protoss shields. Their Snipe ability allows them to deal large amounts of damage to biological units while ignoring their armor.
The archon toilet was notorious for its ability to destroy an entire enemy army with minimal losses incurred, if any. Combine high splash damage killing machines (archons) with an ability that clumps every unit caught in it on-top of each other (Vortex - which happens to swirl units entering it around before they disappear through a hole) and you get an extremely potent, awesome combination. It was eventually nerfed by allowing units to spread, (see Obvious Rule Patch below), but is still effective against large, slow units that aren't able to spread out in time.
Due to Technology Marches On, many of the old units are either upgraded with new abilities or replaced outright with new units. Doesn't explain why some perfectly good old abilities like Lockdown, Stasis Field, Dark Swarm and Plague are no longer in use. Plague and Stasis Field have equivalent new abilities, but otherwise...
The Science Vessel. In the lore it's been replaced by the Raven, who deploys automated drones to fight or defend, but in the campaign you get the choice between the Raven or the Science Vessel. The Science Vessel is far more useful due to the new Nano-Repair ability, which basically makes it a Medivac for mechanical units, ground and air.
Colossi are somewhat notorious for having very long range and huge splash damage, making them relatively easy to use in combat, so long as they're protected from anti-air attacks (such as Vikings).
Marines are a very easy, and effective, low tech unit to mass and retain their use in the end game, so long as they're upgraded. A combination of Marines with Marauders and Medivacs, makes a potent composition that does well in all three match-ups.
Roaches are a simple low cost unit with short range and high HP. They have the ability to regenerate health very quickly while burrowed and an upgrade that lets them move while burrowed, but other than that they're very basic. Maxing on nothing but Roaches and overwhelming Protoss players in the mid-game became a big part of competitive Zerg vs Protoss throughout most of 2012. All Protoss builds had to be redesigned to be able to survive a "Roach Max."
Alongside the Marine, you get the campaign-only Goliath once it gets the upgrades for range and attacking multiple targets. Studier, more powerful and one of the most versatile units in the game.
Averted in the cutscene flashback of Sarah Kerrigan at New Gettysburg when she's shown to run out of ammunition and energy.
Break Out the Museum Piece: According to lore, several of the new Protoss units are old war machines that had been mothballed or reconfigured for non-military use.
The Zerg have their own equivalent of this in the campaign with the Impaler. As an alternative to a strain capable of morphing into Lurkers, it's possible to incorporate the essence of the ancient -and twice-over obsolete- Impaler Colonies.
Broad Strokes: Continuity regarding the Non-Entity General player characters of the Colonial Magistrate, the Cerebrates, The UED Captain, and the Executors from the first game and Brood War. Current Canon/Word Of God holds that the first game's Executor was Artanis, and the Cerebrate was among those killed by Zeratul during the defense of Aiur, while Kerrigan's Brood War Cerebrate eventually died without the Overmind to sustain it. The Brood War Executor may have been Selendis. The UED captain was killed in either the final mission of Brood War or in the epilogue when Kerrigan destroyed the remainder of the UED Expiditionary Force. The Colonial Magistrate was mentioned by Raynor directly: apparently they parted ways after the events of Brood War and Raynor has not heard of him since.
Bus Crash: Daggoth. He died sometime after the Brood War concluded without any outside interaction (the red Cerebrate that appears in the final Terran mission of Brood War was apparently not him). The explanation given was that he and the other Cerebrates could not survive without the Overmind. Their role was later taken over by Brood Mothers.
Cipher Scything: This happens to the player characters from the original and Brood War campaigns; the unnamed Commander/Executer/Cerebrate being retconned away.
The Protoss, although not as much as in the first game, still seem to have this. A notable example is when you acquire enough research in Protoss technology to gain the ability to create automated Refineries—they use low-range warp technology to warp vespene gas right to the Command Center on a regular basis without the need for workers to transport it. The base building is only slightly more expensive than a normal refinery, but is overall less expensive because you don't need to train SCVs for them, it mines faster than SCVs would going back and forth, and you can build them and mine a geyser anywhere even if you don't have a base nearby. Stetmann wonders why the protoss never thought of this, and chalks it up to their "primitive" religious superstitions and lack of Terran creativity.
Within the Protoss army itself, the Colossus is an old unit that they've have dug up after having abandoned them, and the Mothership is another old unit in the lore that just wasn't used for combat in the first game. Void Rays and Stalkers were designed by the Dark Templar. So in a way, the Khalai/Aiur Protoss are still experiencing this. The only new units they themselves have created are the Phoenix and the Immortal (which was just created by retrofitting old Dragoons). The jury's out on the Sentry since it has no unit lore.
Firearm-equipped units that can't shoot airborne targets (immortal, reaper, marauder, Viking in walker mode), and the various flyers with air-to-air weaponry that can't be used to attack the ground. Justified: Hitting a flying target with a weapon not designed for anti-air use is probably a little harder than the necessary for gameplay depiction of the action.
Protoss Colossi are cost-effective and powerful for their accessibility, with splash damage, a fair amount of HP, and midgame tech. This is balanced by the unit being tall enough that anti-air weapons can target it without incident, allowing Vikings to hard counter them in air mode or missile turrets to gleefully shoot any that wander into range.
Converging Stream Weapon: The Void Ray. The number of beams that converge actually increases over time letting it be a much better weapon against targets that take a while to kill.
Cycle of Revenge: It starts with Mengsk wanting to kill Kerrigan, the very ghost who killed his father. Arcturus executes his revenge by leaving Kerrigan to perish while the Zerg overran Tarsonis. Kerrigan then becomes infested by the Zerg bent on destroying the Koprulu Sector, which leads Mensgk to want Kerrigan dead even more. Raynor now wanted to see Mengsk dead for slaughtering millions on Tarsonis, and for abandoning Kerrigan. After Kerrigan killed many others as well as Fenix, Raynor wanted to see her dead as well, but was reserved about it when he wanted to restore her to human form in order to ensure her survival. Finally, Kerrigan is deinfested, which ends Raynor's part in the cycle of revenge. However, Raynor lessened his desire for revenge and wanted to start his new life with Kerrigan, but Kerrigan focused on killing Mengsk for abandoning her many years earlier. Mengsk is aware that Kerrigan will want to seek revenge, thus fueling his obsession with killing her. Kerrigan finally ends the cycle, as well as Mengsk's tyranny by killing Mengsk on Korhal, with Raynor's help.
Dark Is Not Evil: The protoss now sport a number of Dark Templar-related units beyond just the Dark Templar themselves. They have their own creepier version of the Dragoon, the Stalker, and a flying laser beam called a Void Ray.
Dark Secret: In the form of Mengsk and the Dominion funding Narud and his research on the Hybrids, knowingly so.
Flash Step: Stalkers are able to short-range teleport with Blink, just enough to hop over a cliff or zoom out of range of an enemy. Zeratul's got his own version of Blink; it's functionally the same, but he turns into a puff of black smoke when he does it.
The Protoss take this trope and turn it Up to Eleven. The Stalkers and the Phoenix fire short laser bursts; the Sentries, the Void Rays, and the Mothership fire continuous energy beams directly at the target; and the colossi and campaign-exclusive enemy stone guardians fire sweeping lasers along the ground. Even the probe uses an energy ray to gather minerals. In any diverse protoss army, expect to see quite the Beam Spam. On the Terran side, there's the Battlecruiser, and the campaign-exclusive Wraith (though only for air-to-ground attacks), back from the original game. Technically, the Diamondback tank uses a rail gun, but it looks like a continuous laser. Oh, and there's that Drakken laser drill in "The Dig".
Lampshaded and referred to by name with the song Terran Up The Night, with the line "The sound of friggin' laser beams and gatling guns..."
Gambit Roulette: The Overmind had an apocalyptic vison of the future. Knowing that he can't do anything about it due to his lack of free will imposed by the Xel'Naga, and the forced directive from the Dark Voice, he needed someone who could prevent the end of days. His answer? Kerrigan. Infest a powerful human psychic so that she can rule the zerg, then act as a decoy by taking physical form on the home planet of the most technologically advanced species in the galaxy and daring them to kill you. Once they have conveniently done so, she'll be in charge... and hopefully will have free will. It's noted that this is specifically a gamble on his part, but given the apocalyptic alternative, it's better than nothing.
Another group has ported the entire campaign from StarCraft (and Brood War) to StarCraft II's engine. Complete with the original sounds, units (including custom models), music and some in-game cutscenes.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Word Of God hasn't explained a story reason yet, but "Dark Templar + Dark Templar = Archon" instead of Dark Archon now, due to the Dark Archon's role as a caster support unit being taken up by the High Templar and Sentry.
The Medic talks like one, acting rather too cheerful for war. (By contrast, the Medivac pilot sounds like a cross between a callous female Chuck Yeager and a Dr. Jerk.)
The medics seem like normal people compared to Egon Stetmann - basically a Hollywood Nerd who hardly ever says anything that would give him an IQ above 70, except in his research notes.
Geo Effects: creep provides a movespeed bonus to Zerg units. The fact that players can now control and direct the spread of creep, via Queen-spawned Creep Tumors, Nydus Worm eruptions and Overlord Diarrhea, makes this a significant strategic consideration rather than just a home-court-advantage afterthought.
Giant Mook: The Zerg have the Aberration, the Brutalisk, Omegalisk, and the aptly named Leviathan.
Siege tanks look beefy but are actually quite fragile. Woe to any ground unit that wanders into their artillery range, though.
Dark Templar are continuously invisible, unlike most cloaked units, and have really strong melee attacks, but pitiful shield and life points—if they're detected, they're going down fast.
Ghosts and spectres are similarly fragile but situationally able to devastate units (especially if you include their ability to call down nuclear strikes).
This also all applies to any offense-oriented Squishy Wizard units, such as the High Templar.
The Colossus, a towering four-legged walker of death can fry several units in a row from a distance, making it the Protoss equivalent to the siege tank. Unfortunately, it's so tall that it can be attacked by anti-air attacks which means there's no place safe for this unit when it's on its own, and it's totally helpless against air-superiority fighters like Vikings. Also, it's nowhere nearly as durable as the Thor and Ultralisk, which cost just as much as it does, though they're more specialized in dealing with singe tough targets, like, the Colossus.
... Long range? Check. High damage against all air units? Check. No armour and a limited amount of hitpoints? Check. However, it's worth noting that the Terran in general have averted this trope compared to the first game, in which they were pretty much an entire army of Glass Cannons.
The Terrans are still mostly Glass Cannons, though, and thankfully so, otherwise they would be overpowered. They already have a lot of units that deal high damage and no melee units at all. Most importantly they have the ability to heal and repair their units more quickly.
This seems to be a trait of very powerful and/or native psionics. Sarah Kerrigan gets them in her infested form. Most of the Zerg have them (they're all psi-sensitive), as well as all of the Protoss. Units like the Firebat or Marauder get cool Power Armor suits that have glowing eyes as well.
This is all you get to see of the Dark Voice.
Herd Hitting Attack: Psionic Storm and Hunter-Seeker Missiles are good at clearing out clusters of weaker enemies.
Hive Queen: The Queen, which is supposed to stay in base to help maintain, strengthen, and defend, though they also make excellent support units.
Hollywood Silencer: Ghosts, whenever they use their "Snipe" ability. Then again, it is a very loud "thwip!" sound that will alert any player paying attention that a ghost is nearby, sniping units, so it's not as whisper-quiet as most Hollywood Silencers.
Projectiles in general have a fairly amusing terrain-following style, similar to Stalkers. Watch for Marauders shooting up on the high ground, with their grenades having a non-parabolic arc to somehow zoom up to the height level.
Horde of Alien Locusts: As if the zerg don't fit this trope to a T already, the movement upgrade for zerglings causes them to grow little wings that make them look even more like little locusts.
Humongous Mecha: Protoss' colossi are gargantuan daddy-long-legs-style walkers so tall they can be targeted by anti-air weapons and walk over cliffs. The viking can switch from fighter jet to semi-Humongous Mecha, and in the single-player, the goliath, straddling the line between Powered Armor and Humongous Mecha, returns. The terran Thor is as big as some buildings, and the original plan was to have it be built by an SCV in the field rather than inside a building because it was so big—this was axed because it didn't work for gameplay. However, they're both put to shame by the Odin in the single-player campaign, a Super Prototype Thor. The Thor is as big as some buildings— the Odin is bigger than buildings (and, indeed, it's implied it would not fit in the Hyperion, a massive battlecruiser)! In the mission where you rampage around a city with it you can destroy background doodads like vehicles and streetlights just by brushing past them.
The Firebat doesn't seem capable of saying anything that isn't fire-related. Even his offscreen cry for help is "Mah goose is gettin' cooked!"
Several units get into this when it comes to the fun responses used when you keep clicking on them.
Click on the Spectre unit enough and it will start quoting the titles of Steven Seagal movies.
Impossibly Cool Clothes: Arcturus and Valerian Mengsk combine this with the Bling of War, but then Raynor's everyday clothes look very cool too. However, prize number one goes to the Protoss fleet commanders, with Artanis having what seems to be the coolest uniform in the universe, golden armour and psyonic neon lights included.
Karma Houdini: The Queen Bitch of the Universe herself, Sarah Kerrigan. A lot of people believe she needs to die for her crimes, but she has to live Because Destiny Says So unless they want the universe to be destroyed, so she's saved, and begins to try and atone the hard way.
LEGO Genetics: The various attempts at splicing zerg and protoss DNA to create hybrids. This is foreshadowed in lore, as the Zerg and Protoss were both created by the Xel'Naga in the attempt to create another race like themselves.
Lighter and Softer: Whereas things always went from bad to worse in the original game, both of the campaigns released so far have ended with things in the Koprulu Sector looking up. Yes, even in the Zerg campaign.
Lightning Bruiser: The Ultralisk. With a whopping 500 hit points (most of any non-campaign ground unit), ridiculous attack damage and heavy armor, you'd have thought that it would be as heavy as you can get. Then you find out that the thing moves faster than a marine. These guys can destroy armies on open fields and can be produced in bulk so long as you have the resources. Their ability to ram buildings for extra damage was removed, but due to their default attack being area of effect this was actually a buff.
Loophole Abuse: People often stream their games. Ain't No Rule saying you can't go in their stream, queue up at the same time as them, and then spy on them through their stream. Stream-sniping is looked down upon by most in the StarCraft community. Some will delay their streams by a few seconds to nullify the advantage, while others will roll with the challenge and win anyway.
The infestor zerg unit has no attack of its own, but is able to spawn tons of infested terrans who are each approximately as powerful as one human marine (but they walk very slowly). The infested terrans fall apart after a few seconds, but there's a very low energy cost on the infestor's ability, so if used gradually it can launch a continuous stream of infested terrans. It can even do so while burrowed underground. The Brood Lord's default attack is launching weak units at its target; the impact does most of the damage, and the broodlings persist to gnaw on the enemy for a few seconds before exploding. Similarly, the terran Raven produces automated cannon turrets and missile-intercepting laser drones.
The campaigns also have the Leviathan, which theoretically can produce mutalisks and brood lords quickly enough to reach the 200 supply limit in less than a minute. Fortunately, when controlled by the AI, it produces them at a much slower rate.
A quite egregious example of this trope; Blizzard has, in order to promote a "safe" online community, announced their intentions to ban all maps they deem "offensive" or "inappropriate," claiming they have "no place" on Battlenet. Cue uproar from diehard UMS fans.
As an example, a map that was banned for (accidental) use of prominently-displayed swastikas gained a following who believed Blizzard took it down for use of the word "badass". In reality, Blizzard has never banned a map for using curse words, although there is a filter preventing such words from appearing in the map description. The reason they gave is: "because we can". This is exactly as dickish as it sounds: they had almost no way of doing it with StarCraft and even Warcraft III, because they didn't have the staff, but now they do.
Char, a mineral-rich volcanic planet, isn't the zerg homeworld but it is their main base of operations, and it's a nasty place indeed.
Warfield: Char. If hell ever existed, this is it.
Redstone too. In fact, the periodic lava flooding might make it more of a Mordor than Char. Raynor notices it too:
"Great. Lava and zerg. Two of my favorite things."
Mighty Glacier: The Terran Thor, it's big, it's slow, but packs a huge punch against ground and air targets. Amongst campaign units, best example is the Hybrid Reaver, but mostly because it's too slow to be a Lightning Bruiser, being only slightly faster than a marine. The thing hits harder than a fully upgraded Ultralisk (though it has a much slower attack rate), and has twice as much health.
Mind-Control Device: The Zerg Infestor can fire a tentacle with a "Neural Parasite" into your brain, taking it over; That's in addition to the Infested Marines that it can spawn.
In Wings of Liberty, the player can also build the "Hive Mind Emulator" that mind controls zerg units.
Obvious Rule Patch: The Nerf to Motherships in Patch 1.3, which made units that escape a Vortex spell invincible for several seconds and almost completely destroyed the Archon Toilet tactic that took advantage of Splash Damage against the clustered units. Only the slowest units unable to take advantage of the invincibility time to flee are obliterated, now.
The nukes are still awesome, but good luck hitting anything other than buildings. You can get ghosts pretty early while their prerequisite building also manufactures nukes, but it still takes a good 10 units of time for the nuke to finish dropping.
The Raven's Seeker Missiles before they were redesigned. There's even an achievement for dodging one long enough for its fuel to be spent, which is much easier to get since the change.
Sand Worm: One of the new zerg units/buildings is effectively this. Load a bunch of zerg into a Nydus Network, then grow a giant underground worm that pops up and starts disgorging tons of swarming zerglings. Seeing them is always an "Oh Crap" moment.
Sdrawkcab Alias: Dr. Narud. He and his backwards counterpart have the same facial hair, both have unique accents, and both are/were in second-in-command positions; Duran famously used his close position to DuGalle and later Kerrigan to manipulate both of them for his own unknown benefactor. Kerrigan also claims to have seen through Narud's "charade." He is also demonstrated to be a Shape Shifter, justifying any changes in his appearance.
Secondary Fire: Several units, such as the Reaper, Baneling, etc. The Roach and the Hydralisk notably have a "hidden" melee attack animation at close range that has the same DPS as their regular attack, but have the added effect of not tripping Point Defence Drones.
Sensor Suspense: The sensor tower, when first introduced in a gameplay demonstration, was used for this effect.
Sinister Scythe: One of the possible dark templar model have scythes with two blades. The arching shoulder blades of the Ultralisk, though not actual scythes per se, have the same feel to them.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: After the first game and expansion slid all the way down the cynical side (to the outright depressing), the sequel begins a shift back to idealism, especially Mengsk's defacing and Kerrigan's de-infestation in the first game, and Mengsk's defeat and Kerrigan's reformation to Anti-Hero in the second. After four/twelve years, things are looking up... Right?Though the threat of the new Big Bad destroying the universe is much greater than even the Overmind.
The trope is somewhat averted with the ghosts. Despite their role being essentially the same in the game as the previous game, the rounds on a ghost deal 20 damage to light units, making them very effective as anti-infantry/air even without using the snipe ability. With Snipe, they can essentially one-shot Zerglings and Marines provided the Marine is not upgraded. They are still squishy, but now they're more of a Glass Cannon that also has a cloaking device.
Completely averted with the sentry. If you have seen sentries in action, they can last an absurdly long time. This is in combination with the fact that all of its skill are based on defense with the ability to create hallucinations to divert enemy attention, generate force fields to stop enemy movement and create a massive umbrella barrier that reduces incoming damage. It even has the attack capabilities that are slightly inferior to a Terran Marine. In combat, their use is limited to support but in base defense, one of them can hold off an infantry army by blocking up ramps.
Played straight with most other casters. Specially the infestor and the high templar.
"Why is the Stalker talking about taking pictures of me and calling my phone? ...Oh."
A possible Stealth Shout Out and Genius Bonus: Jim Raynor's full name is given as James Eugene Raynor (after Horner jokes with him on his middle name at one point)... meanwhile, Jim Carrey's full name is given as James Eugene Carrey.
Taxonomic Term Confusion: In the original game, its expansion, promotional materials, and the early Expanded Universe, protoss and zerg were capitalized. However, as of the sequel, the species names are now officially uncapitalized, as is the scientific standard for species (although who knows how we'd deal with alien taxonomy).
Technology Marches On: In-universe, all three races have upgraded to superior units after noticing their old ones were not meeting their needs on the battlefield.
The Marauders use modified Firebat armor, the Siege Tank is now the Crucio model instead of Arclite model, and the Behemoth-class Battlecruiser is being phased out of service for the Hercules and Minotaur classes.
The Protoss have upgraded their Dragoons into Immortals, and can convert their Gateways into Warp Gates, allowing them to teleport troops anywhere they have a power field (from a pylon or Warp Prism).
The Zerg have exchanged the Guardian for the Brood Lord.
They Look Like Us Now: One new zerg unit, the Changeling, can shapeshift to look like a Marine, Zealot, or Zergling.
Ghosts and Nukes are far more useful than in the original game. Ghosts cost less to upgrade (though the unit itself costs more to train), they aren't as squishy with a stronger attack and a lot more HP, and they build faster. Plus, ghosts are actually able to act as assassins, popping infantry units in one shot (though this takes energy). They also now have the ability to fire EMP rounds, which is highly useful against Protoss units in general, units that need energy for their abilities, and can even temporarily decloak invisible units! Meanwhile, Nukes cost less, build faster, and the Ghost and Nuke are much lower on the tech tree, on approximately the same tier as the Factory, allowing them to come out much earlier, though to counter balance this somewhat, the nukes do less damage than in the original. The Ghost's prerequisite building is also where the Nuke arms so once it's up you can have your Ghost ready to Nuke in a minute flat.
Tron Lines: Ghosts and spectres (judging from Tosh, Nova, and later Kerrigan) have these as part of their suits. Heart of the Swarm demonstrates that the Powered Armor of the Umojan Protectorate has similar lines, giving them a higher-tech look than other marines.
Unwitting Pawn: It seems the Dominion has been this all along to Amon through Narud; Mengsk wanted Narud to work with him to use The Hybrid as alien super soldiers, and Mengsk wanted Kerrigan dead. All of this would work in Amon's favor.
Vengeance Feels Empty: Kerrigan is repeatedly warned by various people that her desire for vengeance is empty and won't make her feel any better. It turns out to be a subversion; after killing Mengsk, she is instantly and noticeably happier.
Weak Turret Gun: The Raven can deploy them, at least they only cost energy and serves as a good distraction. A few can actually be quite good for quickly supplementing a defense, or attacking a worker line.
We Are as Mayflies: Word Of God specifically uses a mayfly as an example when explaining how prophecy works. If a human told a mayfly that the sun was going to go down in a few hours, then come back up half a lifetime later, it would seem like mystic prophecy to the mayfly. To the human, it's just common sense.
We Can Rebuild Him: Immortals are refitted dragoons. The facilities required to create dragoons were all inconveniently located on Aiur, and were destroyed during the zerg invasion. They basically took every dragoon remaining and toughened them way the hell up, to preserve them a little longer since their supply of them is limited. So it's basically We Can Rebuild Him Twice. There's also the "Immortality Protocol" upgrade for the Thor unit which lets you reactivate destroyed Thors at a fraction of the price of a new one.
World of Ham: The units come in three flavors — hammy, snarky, and hammy and snarky.
World Of Muscle Men: An examination of the models in the game will show that all the humans are heavily muscled, which makes sense since it's made by the same company that made World of Warcraft.
Vehicular Turnabout: Raynor's Raiders pull a Grand Theft Prototype on the Odin, preventing its use by the Dominion. However, this is actually all part of a plan to get the Odin into the heart of the Dominion with a Raider pilot inside. Also, the chief engineer reverse-engineers the Odin in order to produce the Thor, a slightly smaller, less powerful, but mass-produceable version.
Yin-Yang Bomb: The twilight archon was designed to be a fusion of a dark templar and a high templar, and symbolically would have combined the power of the original archon with the spellcasting powers of the dark archon. They then scrapped it and brought back the original archon exactly as it was, the only difference is now any two templar fuse into an archon regardless of their alignment. Maybe it'll reappear in Legacy of the Void's single player.