Before we broach the topic at hand and get stuck into the matter of whether StarCraft 2 is actually looking like it’ll be at all good or not, there’s something I’ve got to get off my chest. Depending on how devoted you are to Blizzard and the StarCraft 2 series, it may affect how you interpret my opinion.
So, I never played the original StarCraft. I’m not the only person in the office who hasn’t either. In fact, the people who did play the game are very much in the minority and, of that minority, only around half of the people I’ve spoken to actually liked the game.
Of course, those that did enjoy the original did so with an oddly brazen and almost cultish level of devotion. Their eyes would widen from their work-sleep as they passed my desk and saw my screen, their minds energised by their proximity to the game. It was, to be honest, a little disconcerting.
So long and thanks for all the seaborne creatures
There’s no science or strict rule about StarCraft’s appeal there and I’ve no doubt that there are plenty of people who have mixed or middling impressions of the franchise. It’s important to try and understand the level and type of adoration that people seem to attach to StarCraft though, because it’s something we’ll be returning to later. Even at it’s most basic, it’s handy to remember that I’m one of a minority of games journos who didn’t obsess over the game in their youth and that my opinions might not totally line up with those of the hardcore fans.
And, with that said, I think I can safely reveal my honest impressions of the game, which actually didn’t blow me away as much as I had expected. StarCraft 2 is, it turns out, just a game.
At this stage it’s not even a complete one either, as the beta offers only a handful of multiplayer modes – 1 v 1, 2 v 2 and 2 v AI, to be exact. There’s less than smidge of singleplayer content and at this stage things are still in such a state of flux that the constant re-balancing makes a tutorial impossible. In many ways, playing the StarCraft 2 beta evoked memories of playing the full version of Call of Pripyat in the way that it just dumps you in the deep end and implies that it isn’t the game’s fault that you might not be able to swim.
My money is on the blue guy
That’s not a criticism though – if the StarCraft 2 beta was feature complete then it would be a finished game and this article would be titled ‘StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty Review’ instead. It’s still important to disclose that fact though, if only to ward off comments about my intelligence when I say that it took me a good 10-15 minutes to make sense of the interface and figure out how to build Terran structures. Coming straight in off the back of the Command & Conquer games, it took me a while to find my feet.
Contrariwise though, alums of the first StarCraft won’t have any of these problems and will likely find much of the interface surrounding StarCraft 2 unchanged from the original. That was certainly the general consensus among the nostalgic group of Blizzard fans that occasionally congregated around my PC – that StarCraft 2 seems pretty unchanged from the first game in terms of deeper mechanics. It was hard to tell if the onlookers were annoyed or approving of this information – another point we’ll return to later.