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Starcraft II: First Impressions

July 29, 2010

I have never considered myself a huge Starcraft fan. I played the first Starcraft and enjoyed it, but I have always found Warcraft 3 and its expansion a more enjoyable experience. However, the past few weeks I succumbed to the hype that has been surrounding Starcraft 2 for the past eleven years. I picked up my collector’s edition Tuesday and it was worth the wait. The game is a clear upgrade from the original Starcraft, not only visually, but in gameplay as well.

Starcraft 2 is your typical RTS-game. You must manage their resources and troops while keeping a close eye on your opponent, something this game constantly encourages you to do.  Starcraft 2 is by far the most balanced RTS I’ve ever played, period.  Several new troop types have been added to the three playable races- Terran, Protoss and Zerg- ensures that returning fans from the original will have a fresh and exciting experience, instead of the sequel feeling too much like an expansion.

The story set a few years after the first game, but flows in a more mission-based experience similar to that found in Dawn of War II. Players will find themselves selecting a mission and then returning to their ship to interact with characters as well as upgrade troops and buildings. So far I have found the story to be a much deeper experience than the first, with more characters and better dialogue to aid the storytelling. One area I felt was slightly lacking was the voice-acting. Some characters are solid while others need some work.

Blizzard, the game’s developer, also added several new environmental additions such as “rich” resources like terrain morphing. These resource grant your harvesters more resources, but are generally in a more dangerous position on the map, making them riskier positions to hold. I was fighting on a volcano while it was erupting, forcing me to relocate my base and rethink my strategy.

The single player experience is very different from the multiplayer. You will find special units in the single player campaign that are not included in the multiplayer, once again for balance. Blizzard has included around 20 maps into the game, all feeling unique and different experiences for each match that played. The multiplayer and has revived a hefty upgrade making it an overall better experience.

Now the graphics engine has defiantly been upgraded, but not close to the newer games we have seen on the PC lately. To be honest, I don’t think t Starcraft 2 looks much better than Warcraft 3. This is of course because of Blizzard’s devotion to its fans ensuring that this game can be played on older PCs, making it accessible to all gamers. I like the destruction and explosion effects the engine offers, as well as the character animations.  I do find the environment kind of bland, but the map layout is much better than the first game.

Starcraft 2 was worth the wait. I’ve only played a few hours and I’m hooked. The new features included in this game and the extremely polished and tight gameplay really makes Starcraft 2- like all Blizzard games- stand out in the RTS genre. The story is solid, the graphics are average. Most importantly, the gameplay is epic. This is defiantly a contender for Game of the Year and is definitely one of, if not the, best RTS game ever released.

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