Zeratul:I bring tidings of doom. The xel'naga return, the cycle nears its end, the artifacts are the key. Jim Raynor: The key... the key to what? Zeratul: To the end of all things.
The first episode of StarCraft II, focusing on the terrans, specifically Jim Raynor and his Raiders.Since Kerrigan defeated the protoss, the Dominion, and the UED four years ago, the zerg have been silent. Raynor has been spiraling deeper into depression and drunkenness, wracked with guilt over being unable to save Kerrigan or meaningfully hinder Mengsk.The game starts with Raynor's old friend Tychus Findley walking into the bar, clad in full marine Power Armor and offering Raynor a chance to get back into the fight with a little mercenary work. After a few missions, the Raiders finally feel like they're doing a little bit of damage to the Dominion, and helping out the people of Mar Sara in the process.Then the zerg show up again.The game plays very differently than its predecessor, using a pseudo-mission hub in the form of Raynor's ship, the Hyperion. Here the player can interact with the crew, buy upgrades for existing units, and unlock research. Missions are non-linear, and there are are almost always multiple choices for which mission to do next. Every single mission unlocks a new unit that can be used in subsequent missions.Also unlike most other games in the genre, each and every mission is tailored to show off the abilities of a particular unit. This can cause problems when the players don't realize a given unit is less useful than it seemed in its own mission.Followed by the March 2013 sequel, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which focuses on Kerrigan and the Zerg.
Tropes appearing in Wings of Liberty include:
0% Approval Rating: Mengsk in the border worlds. After Raynor exposes his crimes, this spreads to the core worlds as well. Though technically, it was reported to be 14% approval rating.
Action Insurance Gag: When the Odin comes under fire offscreen, Tychus quips "Ah hope this thing's insured."
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Justified since Raynor is smeared as a terrorist and mostly gets help, new blueprints and other stuff because he pays people for it or does them favors. Becomes a little less justified in the final missions where theoretically, you should have the entire technology of the Dominion at your disposal—but then again, you're in the middle of an inescapable warzone and it's pretty friendly of the game that you can call in mercenaries and arsenal upgrades at all. Plus, through the final missions, you can see wrecked battlecruisers and wraiths fall down around you constantly, It seems like things aren't going well for your allies.
Advancing Wall of Doom: One of the terran missions has a planet near a sun going supernova (which is, indeed, the name of the mission itself). You have to complete your objective before a wall of fire sweeps across the map, and in the meantime have to keep relocating your base to stay ahead of the flames.
Raynor: Relax, partner; we got HOURS till that sun explodes!note True, actually. In the mission briefing, the advancing fire is explicitly NOT the supernova shockwave proper, but is instead explained as a side effect of the impending explosion of the sun, specifically, a side effect of the sun suddenly increasing its output by a factor of six.
The Dark Voice, the leader of the Hybrids, achieves at least a galactic if not universal scale Class 6 in the Overmind's Apocalyptic vision of the future. It will absolutely happen if Kerrigan dies.
The last missions of the Wings of Liberty campaign are about inflicting a Galactic Class 2 upon the Zerg. Only part of one planet is cleansed of the Zerg, but according to Word of God (and the sequel), without Kerrigan (who was in that part) the Zerg broods start fighting one another, reducing them from a coordinated interplanetary threat to isolated (if fierce) local threats. Recovery is impossible without another central guiding intelligence, or until and unless Kerrigan recovers and re-establishes control. A lot of effort goes into preventing the latter. It fails.
Stetmann's logs on the Zerg and Protoss specimens read like this ("it grew an ocular organ today", "it must be getting power from somewhere", "at the first sign of trouble I'll throw it out of the airlock myself..."). By the end of the game, it turns out the Protoss specimen has been helping Stetmann all along and is now covertly supplementing the ship's systems, whereas the Zerg specimen is rather ominously reported as, "trying to escape."
In the mission "In Utter Darkness", the Protoss create and seal one of these, along with the history of their species, into a temple as the last of their civilization is destroyed by the Xel'Naga hybrid-controlled Zerg Swarm. The mission is a prophetic one that takes place in an alternate future.
Arc Theme: For Wings Of Liberty: A man is who he chooses to be.
Arm Cannon: General Horace Warfield wins this one, literally, with a cannon replacing his arm after losing one to Zerg poison. Fortunately, he retains his other, Hydralisk-punching hand.
Artificial Stupidity: If you set up an "even" team match involving AI—you plus computers versus other computers, with all computers set to the same difficulty level—your allies will nonetheless be dumber than your opponents. The opponents move out as a team, whereas your allies do no such and are only likely to send help (to you or each other) if your base isn't too far away. Even if they do help, there's also a disproportionate chance that the opponents will out-macro your allies as well and thus have larger armies. And finally, the computer doesn't need to scout to find the weakest member of your team; they just know.
Bar Brawl: The cutscene "Bar Fight": After you finish the mission "Maw of the Void" and collect the last piece of Xel'Naga technology, the non-primary members of the Hyperion are considering a mutiny because Jim "sold" them to the Dominion when he agreed to work with Valerian to defeat and de-infest Kerrigan. To them, this is a betrayal, since they've signed up to fight against the Dominion, not to work alongside them. They also feel going back to Char is a Suicide Mission. Then, Tychus (who was drunk) says that nobody can trust in "that drunk Jim Raynor". Raynor hears all of this and fights with Tychus, ending in Tychus being neutralized and ordered to fix Raynor's jukebox that was damaged in the fight. The Firefly music near the end just adds to the awesome.
Baseless Mission: There's several of these in the game, many of which require you to be careful with your forces so you don't squander them.
The "Wings of Liberty" Terran campaign takes heavy advantage of the fact that all their production buildings can be lifted off and moved to another location. There's a lava level with resources found only in canals that get flooded every few minutes, another one where you need to keep moving your base ahead of a wall of flame, and a couple of maps where your starting location just doesn't have many resources to begin with.
Batman Gambit: Valerian's plan to recruit Raynor relied pretty much entirely on predicting Raynor would want to confront Arcturus face to face rather than, say, blasting his ship out of the sky with the Hyperion's Yamato Cannon. It also relies heavily on Raynor's guilt of leaving Kerrigan behind and his wanting to cure her instead of just killing her like he swore he would in Brood War.
Bilingual Bonus: The First Planet that Doctor Hansen decides to settle down on is called Meinhoff. Incidentally, the German words "Mein Hof" Literally translate as "My Yard/ My Home" (Their Safe Haven). However, the Planet is soon overrun by the Zerg Virus, and Raynor is forced to evacuate the survivors, bringing them to a safer Planet which, just by the way, they called "Haven". Things are looking up, when The Protoss turn up and try to vaporize the place because they think the infestation is still not defeated. So much for Safe Havens in any language.
Big Damn Heroes: Half of the single-player campaign consists of Raynor running around the galaxy rescuing abandoned colonists from zerg and occasionally protoss. However, at the end of the campaign Jimmy's invasion of Char kicks it into overdrive, with him bailing out half the Dominion fleet including their General, mopping the floor with the zerg on their home turf (which an Enemy Mine alliance failed to do), and deinfesting Kerrigan.
One of the medic's Stop Poking Me quotes is a hilarious jab at the Protoss.
"We've got a protoss here who needs mouth-to-mouth! Er... mouth to something, anyway."
The Zerg. Their tissues mutate and their immune response hunts mutated cells down; if the mutant tissue survives long enough, the entire body develops that mutation. Their amino acids also have "unique R-groups" that let them absorb protein to fuel their Healing Factor. That tissue culture Stetmann's got growing? It used to be rotting.
The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: In a Char cutscene, Warfield drops a hydralisk spine and it lands point-first. Moments before, Raynor fires an HEV bullet and the expelled casing also lands "point"-first.
Blatant Lies: UNN's news reports (at least, Donny Vermillion's parts. He knows which side of the bread the butter's on, Kate on the other hand...).
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 an ability where they quickly gain health 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 SP-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.
From the Campaign, the Automated Refineries and Science Vessels. Not as badass as some of the other upgrades, and certainly don't cause much of a boom, but by god are they useful.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted in the cutscene flashback of Sarah Kerrigan at New Gettysburg when she's shown to run out of ammunition and energy.
Break the Haughty: Donny Vermillion does not take it well when he finds out about Tarsonis, throwing all his pro-Mengsk sentiment in his face.
Broken Faceplate: A scene near the end of the game shows the aftermath of a battle, with many broken and immobile suits of Terran power armor strewn across the ground. One prominent shot shows a large hole shot through the characteristic domed visor.
Bullet Hell: The Lost Viking arcade game, particularly the Zerg level and the Terra-Tron boss.
Call Back: Kind of literally when an old adjutant you dig up plays a conversation from the first game. Also, that event was rendered in glorious 3D in a new cinematic.
Canon Immigrant: Many of the new characters were featured in the side novels and short stories before making the cut into StarCraft II.
Played straight as can be with Raynor's revolver. He's only got one bullet, too.
The artifact pieces, somewhat. You collect the first piece as early as the second mission (as an opportunity to make some money), and other bits here and there... until after the fourth piece, when its purpose is revealed.
Considering it is one of the main sources of Raynor's animosity towards Kerrigan, it is surprising that he doesn't make a single reference to Fenix, his closest Protoss friend who was betrayed and murdered by her hand in Brood War.
Cliffhanger: Heart of the Swarm and Legacy Of The Void have a lot of things to explain. The game ends with Jim carrying a now (mostly) cured Kerrigan off Char. Though this resolves that plot, there's still Zeratul's vision and the Dark Voice, Valerian's dealings with Raynor, the Moebius Foundation and "Dr Narud", and of course Kerrigan's curing means the zerg are leaderless, although a quick glance at her cured body reveals an odd skintone and the nastiest dreads in existence, so she isn't totally free. Besides the above point, the only real resolution to any of the overarching story is Raynor exposing Mengsk's war crimes to the Dominion.
On Hard and Brutal difficulties, the AI will use units you don't have and cannot have access to yet, such as Siege Tanks in the second mission and Ravens and Banshees in the train mission. Later missions also give the Dominion bases Tech Reactor add-ons to their buildings so they can double-train any unit they like long before you can access them, and on Brutal they get more of the other upgrades you won't have access to yet, such as their buildings auto-repairing themselves. Also, their units will start with better upgrades and may even have higher upgrades than you can possibly get at that point.
Mostly averted outside of the campaign, though. Insane difficulty AI cheats, but Very Hard and lower difficulties will not.
Since the player is free to play through the missions in any order they like, you can end up fighting enemy units, seeing various sideplots, and snagging new units you aren't supposed to know exist yet. For example:
You can play the final Tosh mission and find Thors, before the Odin, its Super Prototype, makes its "official" debut in other missions.
In a similar situation, if you complete the mission for the 4th artifact, you'll see a cinematic of Raynor meeting with Valerian and the Dominion Fleet, at which point General Warfield is supposed to be accompanying them. You can then play the "Media Blitz" mission, the final mission of Matt Horner's Revolution campaign, and attack Korhal, where Warfield is handling security.
Alternately, you can first play "Media Blitz", causing Donny Vermilion's nervous breakdown, and then complete "Maw Of The Void" and have him back, reporting on Valerian Mengsk's failure to arrive to a battlecruiser's christening ceremony which was proceeding despite the general mayhem caused by the rioting in the streets. The continuity's hosed either way.
At one point, Horner accuses Raynor of putting everyone at risk so he "can get [his] girlfriend back". However, a player can complete the entire Zeratul arc before this conversation, the ending of which gives Raynor a very good, non-selfish reason to want Kerrigan alive.
In one of the Zeratul missions in the ruins of Aiur, you find Warp Gates abandoned from the planet's fall. Reactivating them reveals a high templar and stalkers that got caught in the warp matrix when the gates lost power. Two problems with this - protoss didn't reverse-engineer the xel'naga technology for Warp Gates until after they evacuated Aiur, and stalkers are dark templar machines based on the dragoon that also weren't developed until after Aiur was abandoned and the two races were reunited. The Tal'Darim also seem to be fans of using Stalkers and Void Rays (Dark Templar + High Templar energized warships) despite their fanatic hatred for Dark Templar.
Similarly to the protoss example above, the recovered adjutant is not the same model as the ones shown in the original game—though it does have a trace of a Southern accent, in contrast to your normal adjutant.
In the mission "In Utter Darkness", you warp units in regularly despite it being the last stand of all remaining Protoss. You might handwave it in that this particular location has strategic importance, so they're being warped in from less strategically important parts of the last stand, since Jim mentioned that there were more protoss than he'd ever seen.
Swann reverse-engineers a schematic of the Thor by studying the Odin, which is to be showcased on Korhal as a prototype for a new line of Dominion weapons. However, according to the Frontline graphic novels, two years prior to the game Thors are already in use in the field, so why the need to show off their prototype? Furthermore, according to the official website for the game (which admittedly was abandoned long before the game came out), the Thor was developed secretly on Korhal, while the Odin is on planet Valhalla. A short story explains that it was moved to be finished.
Continuity Nod: Once you've hacked the old Confederate adjutant, it mostly sputters static, but repeatedly clicking on it has it identify itself as the exact same Adjutant from the starting Terran campaign of StarCraft I. Since this adjutant happens to have data from a very important event in that campaign, it makes sense that it's the same one.
Additionally, the lines that it intercepted as part of the Tarsonis defense network prior to the Zerg attack (along with the lines from Raynor's flashback of above event) are the exact same ones from the last few Terran missions in StarCraft I.
Contrived Coincidence: Swann reverses-engineers the Thor from the Odin, and it just so happens his schematics for the Thor are exactly the same as the Dominion Thors. The only differences in the optional upgrades you can purchase... which Dominion Thors automatically get if you rescue them in the initial invasion of Char. Thors were stated in Frontline to be reversed engineered by Umoja.
Convection Schmonvection: Apparently if you're badass enough, you can walk around a hell world covered in molten magma full of infectious agents without putting down your safety mask. Additionally, your units rapidly lose health if they're caught in a wall of fire caused by a supernova, or if they're caught in a rising "tide" of lava; merely being in close proximity to the fire or the lava is fine. And if you're attractive enough, you don't even need to wear clothes. Rule of Sexy trumps mere 1000 degree heat, any day. Or can create it.
Cosmetic Award: There are TONS of Achievements to get: something like sixteen hundred points from the single player campaign alone (each Achievement being worth 10 to 20 points), and getting them is surprisingly addictive. The only reward is getting more portraits and a higher points score for your player avatar, but it's still fun to get awarded for pulling off something hard like blowing up 20 different things with Yamato cannon blasts, killing 50 units with Zeratul in a single mission, or preventing the protoss from destroying a single SCV of yours in a mission where they're constantly being exposed to fire...to say nothing of completely esoteric and (on the surface) impossible ones, such as warping in a zealot...while playing as zerg.
The manga short story "The Voice in the Darkness" is a Cthulhu Mythos crossover. Also, the 2007 April Fool's joke "Tauren marines" was a crossover with World Of War Craft.
There is also a Murloc Marine.
Diablo makes a cameo in the rising lava level, reminding much of Hell as it was in Diablo 2.
The official DOTA mod features characters from WarCraft and Diablo, like Thrall and the Witchdoctor.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Averted with one of the cutscenes previewed before the game's release, wherein Zeratul kicks a bunch of zerg ass and even harms Kerrigan, as Zeratul is pretty much just as destructive in-game, and has the same abilities too (beyond being stuck on flat planes). Kerrigan, however, displays a severe case of Cutscene Incompetence.
Cutting Off The Branches: Although the storyline has multiple branching paths, Blizzard is on the record stating which paths are canon. If you want to know, the canon ending of the Tosh missions is Breakout, the canon ending of the Ariel Hanson missions is Safe Haven and when given the choice of what to attack on Char, Raynor chooses to take out the Nydus worm network by flooding it with lava.
Tape: "Welcome to Anger Management Volume One. Repeat after me: "Anger does not dictate my life." Spectre: "Anger does not dictate my life." Tape: "Anger does not dictate my life." Spectre: "You just said that you stupid b-!"
Deal with the Devil: Again, Tychus's deal with Mengsk. For his freedom, he just has to play along with Raynor until he gets to Kerrigan, then he must kill Kerrigan. This was, by the way, half revealed in the opening cinematic- the dialog reveals that Mengsk is letting Tychus go free, but at that time it is not revealed why. It was even invoked by name in the final cinematic.
Death from Above: Pervasive throughout, but one example that stands out is in the A Card to Play cutscene (a squadron of Banshees destroys an attacking Zerg force). Nuclear strikes initiated by Ghosts or Specters would qualify as well.
A number of Terran units sport a very southern accent, the jukebox between missions plays mostly country, and of course, the Dominion's predecessor was called the Confederacy.
Some of the terran in-game themes also have country-like parts.
Annabelle, one of the terran NPC's and the only female in the Hyperion's Cantina, talks like Southern Belle if you click on her (one of her lines includes "Well I do declare!").
Demoted to Extra: Kachinsky was supposed to have his own mission chain but it was scrapped. He does get to be the default profile picture for people who haven't earned avatar achievements yet, and is seen wandering around every room on the ship, as well as being the voice of the short-lived committee debating mutiny against Raynor.
Determinator: There are several in this game, Raynor is an obvious one. Even years after the events of Brood War he still wants to try to save Kerrigan and he eventually does. He also has an axe to grind with Mengsk and the Dominion, another goal he refuses to give up on even when logic and good sense says he can't win.
Players who followed the development of the game will notice that many of the campaign-exclusive units and upgrades were originally in the multiplayer at some point. Examples include the Diamondback tank, the Battlecruiser's missile barrage and defense matrix abilities, the Science Vessel's nano-repair (indeed, the Science Vessel itself), and the Banshee's missiles doing splash damage.
Speaking of the older units, nearly every one of them exists within the editor, and many of them can at least be encountered in missions, like the Protoss Scout or the Zerg Scourge.
Several people got their copies of the game early, but it couldn't be installed—attempting to do so prompted an error message that the game can't be installed until the 27th, when the game was officially released. The same message appeared for those who downloaded digital copies before the 27th as well. It was "Hell, it's not yet time!"
Several units that normally don't have an attack have voice quotes for an attack command, just in case you want to edit them to have one for your custom map. You can hear them ingame when selecting multiple units and the portrait used is one without an attack.
There are triggers in campaign maps which will automatically end the mission in victory if you do something crazy, e.g. wipe out all the enemy bases in a mission where your only goal is to survive for a set amount of time. Some of these stunts will even net you hidden achievements.
Ariel Hanson leaves the Hyperion once you resolve her storyline, however, if you complete any of the other missions in the game, she'll have something to say about it, right up to the point of no return.
During the first Hanson mission to evacuate Agria, there's dialogue from Hanson yelling at you if you destroy the neutral colonist structures.
If you somehow manage to defeat Colonel Orlan on Cutthroat without hiring Mira Han, she doesn't appear in the ending cutscene and the dialogue does not reference her.
During the final mission All In regarding Kerrigan herself. She possesses a unique spell enabling her to instantly kill any unit. It has quite a long cooldown, but it can destroy Thors even if you have the Immortality Protocol upgrade. However, the developers didn't think of the possibility of a player using the Hive Mind Emulator to hijack control of large groups of Zerg units. This makes even one or two Brood Lords able to stop her cold.
Wings of Liberty is fairly easy on Normal difficulty, with the exception of the final mission. There's also a significant spike in difficulty just going from "Normal" to "Hard." On Hard, the A.I. changes its tactics completely and often has unfair advantages. For example, in the third "Zero Hour" mission, the zerg not only swarm you in vast numbers but reinforce their area by spawning Creep Tumors and building Spine Crawlers, and get orbital strike backups.
There are also several missions where you have additional objectives on Hard to make it more challenging. For example, you can't lose too many civilians in The Evacuation in addition to having to escort 50 of them to the airport.
While on "Normal" difficulty you can select any game speed you want, on "Hard" you cannot go below "Fast". On Brutal difficulty the game speed is locked at "Faster", the highest setting.
Earlier: "Zero Hour" is pretty tough compared to the first two missions, but not right away... just manning those bunkers is enough at first, but it gets pretty intense by the end.
Three missions stand out for this trope. "In Utter Darkness," "Supernova," and "All In" are, by far, the most difficult missions of the game and stand above the others assuming equivalent difficulty levels. "All In" isn't too terrible if you know a few secret knocks, namely using a ridiculous number of siege tanks and making sure to intercept Kerrigan with a ball of stimmed Marines short of her hitting your tank line. "Supernova" doesn't give you enough time to build a proper force to face the Tal'darim and, to make it worse, they frequently attack you and cause atrocious losses. Moving your base under pressure is very problematic. "In Utter Darkness" is probably the worst of the three (although "Supernova" comes close), as success in this mission depends on being able to pick out hybrids for Lift with your Phoenixes. This gets very problematic once the number of units on the map gets so high they're all stacked on top of each other. Though to be fair, "In Utter Darkness" gets ridiculously easy if you can get the Dark Templar wall up on the bridges and then simply mass Void Rays or Carriers. This strategy works even on Brutal difficulty and is relatively easy with practice allowing you to get every achievement. If you have no idea how to do this though than dear god good luck.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Collect the MacGuffin, team up with your worst enemy's son, fight a losing battle while outgunned and outnumbered while the MacGuffin charges up energy, take a bullet from your oldest friend and kill him, and finally rescue Kerrigan. Oh, and since this is just the first game in the trilogy, and considering what we learn by the ending, it'll only get worse from here before the final ending of the trilogy. The heroes are really earning their happy ending in this game.
Elite Mooks: The Aberration is a zerg unit that only appears in the campaign. It's big and can take a lot of damage, but fortunately only has melee attacks. It is implied that it's an "advanced" form of an infested terran, since they only appear in missions where infested terrans feature prominently.
The Hybrid Destroyers and Reavers, both of which are WAY stronger than any unit you have access to, baring some hero units, even with the campaign upgrades.
Elite Zombie: Infested Marines, which have a ranged attack as opposed to the standard Infested Colonists claws, and the above-mentioned Abberations (which fit into the Brute subtype of elite zombie), which are massive, centauroid infested terrans with huge zits all over them. Due to the Zerg Healing Factor, all three also count as Regenerators.
Enemy Mine: The final missions have you team up with the Dominion - who you've been fighting the entire game - to put an end to the zerg threat by saving Kerrigan.
Escape Sequence: The secret mission has an invincible Hybrid chasing you as you escape the facility.
Most of the missions where you fight against the Tal'darim. Try as hard as you can, but it won't be easy to come up with an adequate reason for Raynor to fight them, and the missions themselves do nothing to drive the plot forward. Even more, the entire story is completely invalidated by Heart of the Swarm, where it is revealed that the Tal'darim work for Dr. Narud aka Samir Duran, the same character who gave Raynor the mission to gather the artifact pieces in the first place, therefore basically ordering him to kill his own servants for nothing.
Executive Meddling: Blizzard and Gretech's efforts to push SC 2 at the expense of the Proleague have earned them this reputation. This is also thought to be the reason the game has Facebook integration and lacks LAN multiplayer.
Exploding Barrels: Even the RTS genre isn't safe. In this case, they make an appearance in the secret terran mission.
Failure Is the Only Option: The final mission in Zeratul's flashback campaign in the second game has you controlling the last protoss army in a fight to the death against The Dark Voice, his hybrids and the mind controlled zerg. The mission only ends when all of the protoss are dead, including the normally un-expendable hero units. There are no victory conditions, just "you have killed enough zerg to be worthy of the name protoss", and optionally you can defend a key building long enough to Fling a Light into the Future. Also counts as Storyboarding the Apocalypse.
Fanfare: The game's main menu music starts off with a remix of the original menu music and then usually fades into a quieter background theme, but every now and then it will instead progress right into the full main title. It is awesome every time it happens.
The Chick: Ariel Hanson, though one way or another, she doesn't stick around.
The Sixth Ranger: Gabriel Tosh, who joins the crew for good if you help him out.
Flavor Text: contrary to the first game, where non plot relevant exposition was in the manual, most of the lore can be accessed in game.
Fling a Light into the Future: The bonus objective of the final mission in the protoss mini-campaign is to protect the protoss archives long enough to allow the high templar within to preserve everything they know for future species, and thus invoke this trope.
Forgotten Fallen Friend: Possibly justified. The last time we saw Raynor in Brood War he was swearing revenge for Kerrigan's treacherous murder of Fenix. Fenix isn't even mentioned in this game, but because Zeratul, the one who wants Kerrigan dead more than Raynor, tells him that Kerrigan is vital for the survival of the sector, thus rendering the whole vengeance thing as something... suicidal, to say the least.
When Raynor finds Zeratul's sneak in the Hyperion, Zeratul alerts him that Kerrigan must be alive or something very bad will happen to the universe as a whole.
Zeratul: You will hold her life in your hands...
Tosh tells Raynor he suspects someone on the ship is working for the Dominion and Horner constantly tells Raynor that Tychus is up to something and that someone has 'a gun to his head.' Both foreshadow Tychus's betrayal at the end of the campaign.
If you pay attention to the News Ticker when watching the UNN news reports back at the bar on Mar Sara, it foreshadows quite a few things that will happen later on in the campaign.
Friendly Sniper: During the invasion of Char Raynor uses a massive anti-Zerg rifle, while maintaining his good ol' boy sense of humor.
Gambit Roulette: Mengsk's plan with Tychus: Release him with the cover story of being employed by Moebius (an organization led by his son) in order to innocuously guide Raynor and his crew towards acquiring the artifacts, one of which Mengsk almost had in his possession already. These artifacts would then stay in Raynor's possession long enough to bait him with the idea that it could "cure" Kerrigan, while simultaneously baiting his own son towards the foolish gambit of attacking the zerg homeworld in order to deploy said artifact. All so he could have Tychus kill Kerrigan.
As of Heart of the Swarm, it seems likely that the idea to have Tychus on the planet Char originated not with Mengsk, but with Emil Narud, who also made sure the artifact was there to de-infest her. Given that the Tal'darim also work for Narud, it's plausible that Narud had a great deal of this planned out, though there's evidence he had to adjust his plan on the fly—in other words, speed chess, not roulette, with elements of Crazy-Prepared (there may have been other "agents" out there who could have killed Kerrigan; Tychus just happened to be the one in position).
The Hyperion is supposedly in orbit when Raynor is leading missions. During the cutscenes, it demonstrates the ability to scan planets and show troop movements on the surface. The player is unable to use this ability during the missions, instead relying on traditional scouting.
As lore and unit descriptions have it, Reapers are recruited from the most dangerously unstable of convicts, Ax-Crazy psychos that could not be redeemed even through neural resocialization. When you first meet them Rory Swann—a guy who gets irritated at the notion of just allowing pirates on board—exclaims "Hell, cowboy, we gotta train more of these guys! They're seriously bad-ass!" Of course, as The Engineer, he's probably more interested in their gear than the men inside the suits.
The mercenaries you can hire can also be seen working for enemy forces, especially on higher difficulties. Irritating, but given that "Cutthroat" revolves around mercenaries demonstrating Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, it isn't unbelievable that some of them may be double-dealing. However, the Battlecruiser mercenary unit "Jackson's Revenge" is, according to its profile, a unique old Confederate battlecruiser. That's why you only get to hire one per mission, there's only one of it. However, even if it gets shot down and destroyed, next mission it'll be free to hire again. On Brutal difficulty, some of the enemy battlecruisers, such as in "Breakout" and the aforementioned "Cutthroat" are replaced with Jackson's Revenge, thus allowing a Mirror Match if you do the artifact missions up to the point you have Battlecruisers and can call in your own Jackson's Revenge. Imagine it—JR vs JR in "Breakout", both get destroyed, then move on to "Cutthroat" and have JR vs JR again. Mind Screw much?
Kerrigan's durability in gameplay. The cutscene with Zeratul has him slice one of her "wings" off, in gameplay, she's more durable a freaking warship.
The Hive Mind Enabler at the last mission. The Xel-Naga Device is supposed to destroy all of the Zerg on Char ... but your Zerg are unaffected.
Gatling Good: The Viking, a transforming combat walker / fighter jet, uses these in walker form, as does the Goliath. Tychus gets his own personal one in his on-foot mission. The mercenary battlecruiser Jackson's Revenge gets gatling lasers, which is mostly Rule of Cool since the original battlecruiser doesn't have them and Jackson's Revenge shows no noticeable advantages for having gatling lasers.
Genre Savvy: Raynor, on hearing that Hanson's locked herself in the lab while messing with a Zerg virus. What does he do? Enter the lab... in full Power Armor, turns on his lights before entering, and orders all access points sealed so the hybrid running around won't escape. He loses points for not lowering his helmet though.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: When the decrypted Adjutant is playing back its recording, its eyes turn red whenever Mengsk is talking, green for Raynor, and blue for Kerrigan.
Good Guy Bar: The cantina on the Hyperion, complete with an arcade machine and a jukebox hanging from the ceiling. Raynor's in another bar in the beginning on Mar Sara and it looks like said bar is actually his headquarters. Of course, since he has only a handful of troops on-world and his staff is literally a holographic head in a box, he doesn't need much.
Gotta Catch Them All: In order to unlock the final three missions of the campaign, Raynor must complete all the missions whose objectives are to acquire pieces of a Xel-Naga artifact that is the key to defeating Kerrigan. It is not necessary to complete all of the non-artifact missions to beat the campaign, although a certain number must be completed to unlock various artifact missions.
Gravity Sucks: Apparently the platform above Char needs power to stay in orbit.
Guide Dang It: There's only so many credits you can get in the course of the single player campaign, and A LOT of stuff you can buy.
Kerrigan has one of these in the New Gettysburg flashback: after she ran out of ammo, energy (her cloak failed), and had no other possible weapon of fighting the zerg, she tossed her IR goggles away, dropped her rifle (which we see clatter to the ground in slow motion), and stared up at the sky as the camera pulls away.
Hold the Line: Their use is lampshaded when Raynor comments that with siege tanks and bunkers you can Hold the Line against just about anything.
The third mission, a direct throwback to the third mission of the first game. They even take place on the same world, and probably close to the same location. The last mission of the main campaign also qualifies.
Also "The Dig", with the twist that "the line" is a gigantic Fricking Laser Drill. That can defend itself.
Hollywood Voodoo: If the player chooses to side with Nova over Tosh. When running away, Tosh threatens Raynor with a voodoo doll in his likeness, and then stabs it. Nothing happens, because Tosh has attuned the doll to the wrong person: Tychus.Hilarity Ensues.
Humanity Ensues: The ultimate accomplishment of the Terran campaign is to de-infest Kerrigan, though the reversion is not complete- she retains the dreadlock-like tentacles that let her control the zerg, and a deep-seated drive for revenge against Mengsk.
Hybrid Monster: The protoss/zerg hybrids that were merely in prototype back in the secret mission of Brood War are now beginning to awaken. We see two kinds, and they're both nightmarishly powerful and nigh-immortal. Picture something as intelligent and psychically powerful as the Protoss with the physical prowess and determination of the Zerg and you can tell the as-yet-unseen Bigger Bad has some very nasty things in store for us. Oh, and it's implied that Mengsk and/or Dr. Emil Narud are behind their creation or at least in on the gig.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Literally in the case of the Protoss. Their new dropship is a flying robot called a "Warp Prism" which stores units in a teleportation matrix. It can also double as a warp-in point for new troops from a Warp Gate.
At one point, Jim Raynor says that the Tal'darim "seriously need to learn when to quit." Not to belabor the point, but this is the guy who is attempting to bring down the largest political power in the sector, is willing to fight fanatical Protoss for money, and agrees to a plan to rescue Kerrigan, murderer of billions, from the Zerg. A sense of perspective is not Raynor's strong suit, apparently.
Medics sometimes cry "Medic!" when they die. Guess they can't Heal Thyself.
In the Bar Brawl cutscene, Tychus tells the others that they can't trust "that drunk" (Raynor). While being drunk himself and the least trustworthy guy in the faction next to Tosh.
Orlan, in the Cutthroat mission, says to Mira Han, after he had been hired by Raynor to hack into an Adjutant, but decided instead to sell the information to the Dominion.:
"I'll show you what happens to double crossing backstabbers!"
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Throughout the game Raynor is shown to be losing faith in his own revolution, especially when Kerrigan is thrown back into the mix, and Matt calls him out on it at one point as his personal feelings for Kerrigan interfering with his ability to lead. During the last mission as the artifact is about to activate, after you fend off Kerrigan for the last time, the human part of her mind calls out to Raynor and tells him not to give up. It works this time.
Incredibly Lame Pun: Two marines once insisted on calling a Medivac a "heal bus", much to the chagrin of its pilot. Eventually, the pilot murdered them because it was just that bad.
Informed Flaw: The game constantly emphasizes that Raynor and his men are fairly small-time rebels working out of a single broken-down battlecruiser with limited supplies, manpower and funds. This doesn't stop them at all from building the Dominion's most recent and powerful units, making technological breakthroughs on the zerg and protoss that the Dominion has not, and kicking the asses of all three races several times. Though some of his success can be chalked up to a protoss crystal in the lab supercharging the ship's systems, it doesn't explain everything. Finally becomes averted at the end of the game, when you're explicitly stated to be working with the Dominion and Valerian is helping to supply you with schematics and resources.
In Working Order: The Xel'Naga artifact. Interestingly, Ariel Hanson notes that the artifact is thousands of years old, which is really young compared to most Xel'naga artifacts, which are millions of years old. Probably built around when they were uplifting the Protoss.
It's Raining Men: Mercenaries, MULEs, and a couple of protoss tech upgrades deliver units in orbital drop pods. The Zerg get their own equivalent of this in some of the Wings of Liberty campaign missions; some kind of purple, fleshy torpedo falling from the sky that unleashes zerglings and creates a Creep Tumor on the spot. The Protoss are exempt from this trope, presumably, because they just warp in units via teleportation.
Is This Thing Still On?: The two news reporters frequently do this at the beginning and end of their broadcasts. In particular, Donny grumbles about Kate upstaging him, and Kate is heard yelling in triumph after Donny suffers a mental breakdown and she is given the anchorship.
Kill It with Fire: Firebats, hellions, and perdition turrets aren't the most powerful units available, but they all do splash damage, making them excellent against the swarming, lightly-armored zerg. Plus, perdition turrets are hidden until they deploy; firebats are tough; hellions are quick. Both firebats and hellions get a campaign upgrade that widens the splash as well.
KnightTemplar: The Tal'darim, a fanatical protoss faction that stayed behind in Aiur colonies has become quite xenophobic. In the mission "Maw of the Void", they've captured some Dark Templar, which will join you after you free them.
Last Stand: "In Utter Darkness", where the Protoss—the last free race capable of standing up to the Fallen One—are wiped out in a single, glorious defensive action. May also count as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for the Protoss species as a whole.
Lost Forever: Once you invade Char, you can't complete any missions from other arcs, nor can you play Lost Viking anymore. At least you're warned of this beforehand.
Ludicrous Gibs: The Zerg. Marines/human infantry in general are not spared from this either.
MacGuffin Delivery Service: Sort of. The characters spend most of the campaign collecting pieces of an artifact, including one left on a world whose sun goes supernova. The Big Bad also wants this artifact, and at the start of the final mission she even says "You've brought me the Xel'Naga artifact". However, perhaps she was mistaken about it, or was going to use it a different way, because it seems very effective at the purpose for which Raynor uses it, and which Kerrigan was trying to stop him doing so.
Probably Dr. Emil Narud. Emil means "to rival, to emulate, to copy". Now spell his last name backwards and consider the meaning of his first anew. On a more prosaic note, take a wild guess as to the profession of Horace Warfield.
Mega Manning: How Raynor expands most of his arsenal in the campaign. The Raiders head to a new planet and either see some abandoned vehicles in the environment or get a gift of new units from an ally. Engineer Swann scans their schematics and voila, you've got your own set of blueprints and can manufacture them freely from now on. There's also the Research upgrades. As you collect protoss relics and zerg DNA samples, the Hyperion scientists learn more about the other two races and can eventually duplicate choice bits of their technology/biology for usage in your army.
Mini-Game: In the Cantina you can play Lost Viking, an arcade shooter style Bullet Hell game where you control the eponymous Lost Viking trying to make his way back to Vikingville, but watch out for the evil Terra-Tron, HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU.
Mind-Control Device: At the top of the campaign-only Zerg Research Tree, Egon uses a sample of the Overmind's DNA to create the "Hive Mind Emulator", a device that mimics the Zerg Overmind's transmissions, basically turning control of Zerg units over to you. It's invaluable on Char, where resources are scarce and those buggers outnumber your guys a-hundred-to-one.
Mushroom Cloud: The Artifact gives off a huge, blue mushroom cloud if it is destroyed.
Never Trust a Trailer: A sizable chunk of the trailer/commercial footage for StarCraft II happens out of order in the campaign. For example, one trailer has Matt handing Raynor his badge and this apparently motivating Raynor to take back up the fight: in the game Raynor has been keeping up the fight, just laying low for a bit, and the scene of Matt handing him his badge is much later in the game. In the trailer Matt's line "vengeance doesn't factor into this, our revolution is about freedom" is directed at Raynor. In the game he's actually talking to Tosh...although he could also be gently reminding his commander, given the context of the scene. A commercial trailer shows a hologram of Mengsk telling Raynor he's way in over his head. Mengsk is actually talking to his son, though Raynor is also present and when he announces his presence, Mengsk directs a similiar line to him.
Nightmare Fuel: The normally stoic, deadpan and fearless Tosh is clearly wigged out from the Hybrid's psychic "scream" after the raid on the Dominion laboratory. invoked
Blinding. Searing. Like the sun burning in your face with your eyes squeezed shut. I have never felt such a thing before. I hope I never do again.
Tychus:Well, now, these Dominion eggheads thought of everything. I'll be right back.
Nostalgia Level: The third mission is a direct throwback to the third terran mission of the original, and even takes place in the same areas of the same planet, Backwater Station on Mar Sara.
In the third-last one, you have to rescue General Warfield, a decorated general whom's been the greatest enemy against your faction. This is the exact same plot as the mission where you rescue Edmund Duke from the first game. To top it off, Warfield is also travelling in a green Battlecruiser that gets shot down, with almost exact same units Duke had (he has a couple medics though). Several other levels will also make you nostalgic. For example, the second-to-last mission has you choosing to cripple the enemy's air or ground capabilities before the final assault, which parallels the UED's mission where you choose to take out Mengsk's battlecruisers or ghosts in Brood War.
The secret mission could be described fairly accurately as "Dark Origins but with Raynor instead of Zeratul".
Obvious Rule Patch: The Zeratul missions don't give you access to sentries because all of them would benefit from having Force Field to block choke points into your base. The final mission which is a vision of the future in particular would be plum easy if you were allowed sentries.
The player will also think this if they hear the words "Nuclear launch detected" and have no idea where it's about to land.
One Bullet Left: Done thematically. Raynor's revolver only has one bullet left, and it's meant for Arcturus. He almost wastes it on Valerian (who he mistakes for Arcturus), and ultimately sacrifices it to save Kerrigan from Tychus.
The Lost Viking game in the Cantina; the aformentioned lost viking dies from one hit (without any power-ups) in a Bullet Hell-type game. Good luck.
The Zerg Changeling. The unit can be spawned from the overseer, and is designed to imitate an enemy unit so it can scout your opponent's base. It technically has five hit points, but everything in the game— including workers— does at least five damage.
One-Man Army: If you thought some of the heroes in the original game were strong, wait until you see the Odin. In addition, an achievement for one mission where you're required to get 50 kills with Zeratul is called One Man Army.
Plot Coupon That Does Something: Some artifact pieces, when put together, actually come in handy in the final level in Wings of Liberty, instead of just acting as an "I Win" button if you hold out long enough.
Powered Armor: With the Orbital Strike research, they even come in drop pods. Even without that research, there are some cases where the drop pods are used, such as for infantry mercenaries.
Private Military Contractors: The mercenaries in the single-player campaign. They're actually quite badass, with much more impressive unit models and more powerful statistics. If you hire all of them, you get the achievement "Band of Legends". If you manage to call in all available units in a mission, you'll see why.
Psycho Prototype / Flawed Prototype: Spectres—next-generation ghosts—depending on who you ask and who you believe. Their psychic powers are more destructive, they're harder to control, and they tend to be more eccentric in general, but they're also under fewer mind-control implants than ghosts and, unlike ghosts, are all volunteers (at least to become spectres; those who were previously ghosts, like Tosh himself, were not so lucky with the initial stage of training).
This is especially amusing considering that warfield's armor is stylized in a cammo pattern, which sticks out line a sore-thumb on the volcanic Char. Whereas the Red Shirts have red armor which would blend in much better with that environment and actually be more effective cammo, than the cammo Warfield was wearing.
Reinventing the Wheel: Averted and played straight in the campaign. Averted in that unit abilities (Marine shields and stimpacks, bunker capacity, etc., which need to be researched in multiplayer) are purchased and then stay with you for the rest of the campaign, while damage and armor upgrades are reset for every mission.
Everything the zerg Overmind did in the first game, from infesting Kerrigan to the invasion of Aiur, was an attempt to circumvent the Dark Voice's plans. The Overmind couldn't resist its xel'naga programming, so it arranged its own destruction, transferring control of the Swarm to the hopefully-independent Kerrigan.
Also, as seen in some of the earliest trailers, the scene of Kerrigan's infestation is changed too. Originally occurring on a platform called New Gettysburg over Tarsonis, StarCraft II shows it taking place on the surface of Tarsonis in a city of the same name. (That has been retconned since the campaign's novelization, Liberty's Crusade, came out. Also, the city called New Gettysburg was in a mission that was cut from the original game, possibly adding to the confusion. And the orbital platforms did exist, as seen in the artwork of the recap slideshow that plays while the game is loading.)
Rise to the Challenge: Twice. The mission "The Devil's Playground" (your first Tosh mission) has the lower levels flooding every few minutes, forcing you to evacuate before your units die. Another mission ("Supernova") has you having to relocate your base due to a fire barrier consuming everything at it's way. And a later mission ("Belly of the Beast") has you outrunning a rising lava river as you try to escape a cave.
Robo Speak: The damaged Confederate adjutant, the raven, and (to a lesser extent) the science vessel (which is not actually a robot) and standard adjutants, as well.
Rousing Speech: Raynor gives one to the surviving Terrans on Char in a cutscene prior to the final mission (may have been unintentional, but the marines chose to listen to him anyway). Also, in the side-mission "In Utter Darkness", Artanis gives an epic one when he arrives on the battlefield prior to everyone getting killed by the zerg and the Hybrids in an apocalyptic Bad Future.
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: In case regular protoss weren't dogmatic enough for you, the terran campaign features the Tal'Darim, who don't really care for humans at all and swear bloody revenge on you every time you help yourself to something they're guarding.
The mission setup and outcome for the "Haven" missions. A protoss named Selendis is preparing to annihilate every community on a planet because some of them are infected with zerg parasites. You can choose to help out in slaughtering the infested terrans or to tell her to back off and fight her because the colony's doctor insists she can cure the infested humans (and incidentally, Selendis doesn't take it personally if you fight her). If you choose to fight off the Protoss, the "infested colonists" are represented by about five guys with tentacles in a holding pen and the rest of the colony is just fine. If you choose "exterminate the infection," the entire colony is a pulsating, writhing mass of Meat Moss. So either way, your actions are justified.
In addition, if you decide not to cleanse the Colony, the Doctor is seen walking off afterwards just fine. If you DO decide to cleanse it, turns out she was secretly harboring a Zerg infection, and turns after. Same thing happens in "Breakout"/"Ghost of a Chance": if you side with Tosh, Dr. Hanson will reveal that Nova was lying about Spectres being incurably insane, but if you side with Nova, the mission itself will confirm that Tosh was using a psionic waveform indoctrinator.
Self Healing Phlebotinum: The Protoss crystal in the lab gives this power to the Hyperion. An late optional upgrade in the campaign allows all Terran buildings to slowly self-repair; and a Zerg upgrade allows vehicles to self-repair, by alloying zerg tissue with metal to make a regenerating memory-material. Somehow.
Separate, But Identical: Raynor and the Dominion have access to most of the same units. Some of the old units like wraiths, science vessels, firebats and vultures are less-commonly used by the Dominion since according to the lore these units are obsolete and are being/have been replaced by newer units, but they're still around.
Each mission unlocks a new unit. Missions come in chains, and generally you can do a mission from a particular chain (like the ones where Tosh hires you to get stuff for him, or artifact hunting with Tychus) before switching to another. Missions late in a "chain" are more advanced than earlier ones and appropriately grant a more powerful unit. This results in quite a few of the early missions being very easy if you acquire the stronger units first. For example: The second Ariel Hanson mission pits you against swarms of low-HP, slow-moving Infested Terrans. If you do enough Artifact missions first, you have Siege Tanks which can be posted on high ground surrounding your base, and with two or three Siege Tanks overlooking every chokepoint, your base is completely impenetrable. Reapers, which you get in Tosh's first mission, will also dominate that mission, as your objectives are to hold of swarms of light-armor units by night and destroy buildings by day—two things the campaign Reapers are particularly good at. Better, in fact, than the Hellions you are given for this mission. Finally, Ghosts (from the final Tosh mission) completely change the character of this mission if they have full upgrades. Properly managed, these permanently cloaked sniper-assassins can slaughter their way across the map with near-impunity, day or night.
A significant part of the third-to-last mission can be skipped, provided you have an ability to summon infantry units behind the enemy lines via drop-pods.
As the game progresses, it's possible to brute-force several missions with Vikings. They completely outclass Wraiths in every facet of the Odin hijack mission, they're more mobile than Goliaths in Welcome To The Jungle (in addition to countering Colossi handily), they ease the transport burden during the Moebius evacuation, and they're the overachiever's aerial spotters for the laser drill mission.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This is essentially the mood for the cinematic A Better Tomorrow. After breaking open New Folsom prison, Matt Horner believes that their real victory was releasing everyone who ever spoke out against Mengsk. That the point of their revolution is to build a better tomorrow. Tosh scoffs at this and calls it naive; claiming that tyranny can only be succeeded by tyranny, and that one can only fight the present enemy. Raynor is in the middle, believing that Matt's better future will arrive; but those fighting out of hatred and revenge, like him and Tosh, will have no place in it.
This trope is used to good effect to show how utterly screwed General Warfield and his men on Char are. Even with the insane amount of dakka inherent with this trope they don't so much as slow the incoming wave of zerg down.
Also inverted when Raynor guns down a certain hydralisk. You only see one shell drop, and it's that one shot that brings the hydra down. The shell is big enough that it embeds itself in the ground with a thunk, like nothing so much as the Ring in the Lord of the Rings films when Bilbo finally lets go and drops it to the floor.
Stetmann: "Those things are pretty nasty. Next time you should try not to let them splash you. Tychus: "Thanks for the advice, son. Now shut up."
Story Branching: The game allows you to choose to either free the Spectres from The Alcatraz at the end of Tosh's mission line, or side with the Dominion and prevent a jailbreak. This results in gaining either Spectres or Ghosts as playable units.
Summon Bigger Fish: A few of the "commando" missions feature this. You have the option of, for example, unleashing a bunch of caged test subjects upon Dominion soldiers. If you do a little exploration, one such mission even lets you unleash an Ultralisk upon the enemy (note that you have to fight whatever survives the initial confrontation, so releasing the Ultralisk is ill-advised).
Super Prototype: The Odin, a prototype Thor. It is implied the Dominion intended for the Odin to be replicated exactly, but for whatever reason they settled on the weaker Thor. According to Rory, the Odin is a piece-of-junk showpiece made to show off to the Dominion public during its demonstration. Rory goes on to tell us the Thor isn't as strong as the Odin but is less expensive to produce and maintain. Which is probably why the Raiders only use it in two missions, given their limited resources. Well, that and it's so big even the Hyperion can't haul it around.
Donny Vermillion: Ladies and gentlemen, each night I bring you the news in the most fair and balanced manner possible.
Take Your Time: Generally averted in the missions themselves. However, in campaign mode, the player has a fair amount of control about which order they perform the missions in. Therefore, a mission can become available and the player can choose to do half a dozen other missions before tackling it. That's all well and good when your job is just to raid a location and recover an artifact, but a bit odd when the mission involves evacuating a planet under attack or recovering an artifact from a planet where the sun is going supernova. Needless to say, you'll always arrive before (and just before) the sun goes supernova or the people you're trying to help are slaughtered by the zerg. Valerian actually encourages this at the start of the Maw of the Void mission.
Valerian: Take your time, commander. I'd rather do this right and get the artifact.
Tattered Flag: A battered, bullet-riddled Dominion flag appears in the beginning of the cutscene "Fire and Fury", representing the damaged-but-defiant condition of the Terran troops themselves.
Technology Marches On: A lot of the campaign-only units are Too Awesome to Use (in multiplayer) or would even be Game Breakers, but a few others that are returning units from the first game are demonstratably inferior to their new counterparts—minus their mines and a slight speed advantage, Vultures aren't as nearly effective as Hellions, and Wraiths aren't quite as effective as either Vikings and Banshees. This is even lampshaded in-universe: Swann says that Vulture bikes are deathtraps, while Raynor says they're a classic piece of engineering. (Possibly also a lampshade of the Broken Base.)
Biology marches on too, apparently. Some of the zerg samples you bring Egon are from sub-species of Zerg that are no longer used as playable units, like the Defiler. Apparently Kerrigan just isn't using those types of zerg any more, which is why samples of them have become rare and valuable for examiners. On the same note, some of the zerg breeds have evolved into massive beasts of destruction like the Leviathan or the Omegalisk.
On the other hand, some old-school Terran units are still just as effective as ever. Goliaths remain well-balanced units with a nice antiair niche, and the classic Medic can now be upgraded to heal faster and use less energy, which in tandem with lower build time and costs can make it superior to the Medivac in some situations. Unedited medics inserted into a certain custom game that adds Brood War units to the standard cache of StarCraft II units result in completely overpowered Terran infantry for melee games.
Tempting Fate: Before the third mission, Tychus sees a decorated trophy Hydralisk skull on the wall and wonders how good a deal they would get on hunting some zerg. Then the mission starts:
Raynor: I've got transport coming to pick us up. All we got to do is sit tight. Tychus: Don't sound too hard. I figure, we earned ourselves a little R&R. Adjutant: Commander, I'm detecting a massive concentration of Zerg bio-signatures landing at the abandoned dig site. Raynor: I should have know it. Damn you, Tychus! Tychus: I swear man, I didn't know nothing about no Zerg.
Tychus also does this before "Supernova"; he mentions that the planet Typhon "don't look so bad". Naturally, this is just before the star's output jumps 500 percent, which makes things a lot tougher for the Raiders...and the player.
The Diamondbacks can attack on the move and do additional damage to armored units—they're introduced in a mission ("The Great Train Robbery") where you need to chase down fast armored units.
The battlecruisers are slow to move, slow to build, expensive and ultimately plain inferior compared to a balanced fleet of banshees and vikings, but the mission they're introduced in features rift fields that slowly drain the HP of units. Only the battlecruiser has enough HP to fly into the fields, fight, and escape back to base before being destroyed.
Too Awesome to Use: The artifact's energy nova takes several minutes to recharge when used, so make sure you only use when it absolutely need to. One of the achievements is to complete the mission on Hard difficulty and only use the nova once, so you'd better make damn sure you make that one usage of it count (the one use you are allowed is likely meant for about one minute before the timer is up and you get attacked like crazy). Also, a lot of the campaign-only upgrades and units are too powerful for Multiplayer. You're going to need everything for the final mission, though. It's not called "All In" for nothing.
The AI simply does not know when to run from a fight in the single-player campaign. In "Smash and Grab" you have to grab an alien artifact from a Tal'darim base before the Zerg overrun them on another front. Rather than pull their units back to regenerate their shields and wait for the next attack wave after fending off the Zerg, the Tal'darim will send their units down the lane into battle and get themselves utterly crushed. And then in "Media Blitz", despite commanding the Odin with 2500 HP and enough firepower to kill any enemy unit in two shots, any Dominion defenders you come across, even if it's just a lone Marine, will charge in and start firing.
Subverted by the Tal'darim Executor in "Maw of the Void", who will fight you, then teleport away after taking enough damage to regenerate his shields and energy. He does this two or three times.
Trailers Always Spoil: The final commercial trailer for the game ruins the surprise twist that Raynor allies with Valerian Mengsk (though not the reason Raynor agrees), and that at some point he returns to Char.
Tripod Terror: Technically, Colossi have four legs, but they still fit the spirit of this trope, since they're gargantuan walkers on long legs whose primary attack is frying the enemy from a distance with a sweeping heat ray, just like the Martians in the War of the Worlds. As a bonus, those long legs aren't just for show—they can walk right over cliffs, giving them a good mobility advantage.
You're able to fit pretty much your entire army and whatever colonists you rescued from Mar Sara inside the Hyperion. Of course, when units are to scale it's a lot harder to see the fine details (see games like Supreme Commander), which is why Blizzard went with this. At the other extreme, an actual to-scale battlecruiser would probably occupy most of the screen. They're more or less explicitly stated to mid-sized flying cities, with crews larger than 6,000. You might actually be able to run an entire revolution out of just one.
Several buildings can also produce units far too big to fit inside, like the Thor and Battlecruiser.
Lampshaded with the Odin: it's only a tad bit bigger than the Thor in-game, but Swann specifically notes that it's too big to even fit inside the hanger, while apparently you can fit multiple Thors inside.
Unwitting Pawn: As a result of working for the Moebius Foundation, Raynor unwittingly ends up allying with the Dominion he had been fighting with all along, though in the form of Valerian Mengsk, not Artcurus. On top of that, it seems that both have been double-suckered by a third party. Poor Jimmy seems to get suckered at every plot twist and turn since the first game.
Heart Of The Swarm reveals that both Raynor and the Dominion were indeed double-suckered—by Emil Narud, who is really a servant to Amon, whom the former has been trying to resurrect.
Viewer-Friendly Interface: The first cutscene showing Swann shows that his console is identical to the one the player uses when selecting upgrades for units. Apparently he personally arranges it so that every single piece of hardware has but two possible upgrades—no more, no less. Seems an odd way of doing things.
Voodoo Doll: Tosh likes them. Although sometimes his aim is a little off.
Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Tal'darim, who give an excuse for TvP levels in the campaign. Subverted as of Heart of the Swarm, when it's revealed they work alongside Narud.
War Is Glorious: Reconstructed with flair near the end of the game. Fighting the zerg is still horriffic and suicidal, but "some things are just worth fighting for". So Raynor rallies the troops with a private monologue that just accidentally happens to be broadcasted to all marines on Char. And in the end the terrans manage to leave a positive impact on the greater story of the universe for the first time ever.Hell yeah!
Mengsk: Make no mistake, war is coming. With all of its glory, and all of its horror.
The battlecruisers return with the Yamato cannon, while the void ray is a ship built around a Wave Motion Gun.
In a campaign mission you control the Drakken laser drill, which is a Wave Motion Gun on a mount. It can take out archons in less than three seconds. In perspective, Tychus says the Laser Drill puts out about 180 gigawatts of power.
The High Templar's feedback ability vs Maar. A single shot of feedback is enough to drain Maar's energy to prevent him from using his special abilities as well as taking out a good chunk of his shields. As a result, he's nowhere nearly as a dangerous he would be normally.
A bumper for a news story claims zerglings are allergic to lemon juice. It turns out to be true.
We Have Reserves: Kerrigan demonstrates that the species that is the Trope Namer for Zerg Rush still holds to that line of thinking after more than ten years. She practically lampshades it.
"My forces are without number."
Wham Episode: The entirety of Zeratul's mini-campaign. Starting on Zhakul, we have our first contact with an active hybrid. It's all but immortal and gets stronger every time you defeat it. After that, there's the trip to Aiur in which we learn not only that Tassadar is still alive, for a given value of alive, but also what the Overmind's true motivation for creating Kerrigan was and realize it wasn't as evil as we'd thought. Lastly, and the most whammy of them all, the Overmind's vision of the future, in which we learn what happens if Kerrigan is killed. You control the last remnants of the protoss race against the immensely powerful Dark Voice and his army of hybrids and zerg. It ends with the Dark Voice extinguishing the star you're orbiting and presumably destroying all life in the universe.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The implication that the zerg were hounding the colonists specifically so they could get their claws on Dr. Hanson has yet to be followed up on, maybe because she is potentially dead.
What drives the Revolution/Matt Horner missions. They manage to show to the Dominion civilians all the truth about its foundation, thus unmasking Mengsk and starting a revolution.
Also the reason Kate Lockwell reports the way she does, to the ire of Donny Vermillion: She became disillusioned after meeting Michael Liberty in an Expanded Universe story.
World-Wrecking Wave: The Xel'Naga artifact's purpose, calibrated to harm only zerg. When fully powered at the last level, it destroys the entire Primary Hive Cluster on Char, and de-infests Kerrigan to boot.
Tychus: What it was like, Jimmy? Fightin' them...Zerg? Raynor: All the scrapes were in back in the day, all the narrow escapes...none of it compares to how terrible they are, Tychus. You don't know what real fear is until you've got a thousand of these sons of bitches bearing down on you.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens in the Overmind's vision where the zerg, commanded by the hybrids, who are themselves puppets of a greater power, are used to destroy the last protoss army, and then the hybrids are used to kill them, themselves, and every other living thing in the universe. Most, uh...Triumphant, for lack of a better term, Example?
Zombie Apocalypse: The mission "Outbreak" is pretty much this. Tychus even lampshades this by saying "I think I saw this in a movie once!" You have to fend off hordes of infested terrans during the night and counterattack during the day. There are often hundreds attacking at once...fortunately, individually they're pretty weak, most of them have no ranged attack, and flamethrowers and other area-effect weapons are pretty good at mowing them down. Hell, one of the achievements for the mission is also called "28 Minutes Later".