StarCraft 2 Beta First Impressions

Written by Joe Martin

March 9, 2010 // 8:21 a.m.

Tags: #beta #protoss #rts #sc2 #starcraft-2 #terran #wings-of-liberty #zerg

Companies: #activision-blizzard #blizzard

Wings of Wax?

As I firmly declared earlier, I’ve not played the original StarCraft, but from discussions with those who have and from watching other people play it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

Oh, sure, there are new units and new gee-whiz graphics and so on – but everything explained on the previous page was true for the first StarCraft too. There have been additions, but the majority is unchanged.

And that could be a problem, because while there’s definitely a lot to be said for having faith in the original formulas and sticking with it, there’s also a lot to be said against it, in theory.

Hardcore SC fans will undoubtedly be glad to hear that the sequel hasn’t deviated too far from the formula that they first fell in love with, but as someone who doesn’t fit within that niche then you’ve got to ask why you don’t just play the old game instead. Yes, on one hand; if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it, but on the other hand why pay for the sequel when the original is still incredibly popular, well-supported and catered for with a plethora of mods?

StarCraft 2 Beta First Impressions Wings of Wax
Invisible tank monsters? That's not fair!

The obvious answer to the larger question is obviously that we haven’t yet seen everything the full StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty might offer. There are multiplayer modes which are locked off, not to mention the Terran singleplayer campaign which will come in this first instalment.

Still, there’s the nagging feeling that maybe Blizzard could have catered to new StarCraft players a little better by re-jigging some of how the multiplayer works because, to be honest, I was new to the series and I didn’t find it a whole lot of fun. In fact, I found it downright annoying at several points and the more I played of it, the more I felt myself being torn into two very distinct viewpoints.

The first viewpoint sees the game in a very professional manner and recognises how very well put-together it is, even at this early stage. It recognises that it doesn’t really matter whether I personally get on with the game, as long as the rules that form the form the spine of the experience are fair, consistent and appealing to others. It’s not as simple as pointing at the beta and declaring that it’s broken, boring and unenjoyable – it clearly isn’t.

StarCraft 2 Beta First Impressions Wings of Wax
Zooming out is not an option

The other viewpoint doesn’t share that detached outlook though. It sees things through my own eyes, cynicism and all, and it doesn’t like StarCraft 2 multiplayer because there’s no room for the underdog to stage a comeback. This personal opinion is deeply depressed by the fact that in every game I played my opponents always did the same thing – an early rush with low-level units – and that it didn’t matter what I’d done to counter it.

The only way to win seemed to be a rush of my own, done faster than my opponent. There’s often no way for a slow-starting player to recover a victory from the jaws of defeat, because the result of each battle is often decided in the opening minutes and the speed with which you can hurtle through build orders. To me, that saps the creativity and tactical element out of the game and means it’s something I plainly don’t like.

It’s quite hard to reconcile those two opinions because, when all is said and done, though I can still recognise that there are people out there who will like StarCraft 2 and that the game is a good one, it frankly still isn’t one that I’d ever personally recommend.
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