Top critical review
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WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KERRIGAN?
on 27 July 2010
One can only respect BLIZZARD for not setting a release date before they knew they could meet it. No matter that this was the most awaited game for over a decade, they would release it "whenever it would be ready". Well, it is ready, it is here and it rocks. Too bad they kicked the respect bucket in the end. But first things first.
THE GOOD OLD GAMEPLAY GETS THE CIGAR
Seasoned and new gamers alike will appreciate the simple yet highly enjoyable gameplay. The factions are well balanced and the units perfectly valued. You gather minerals and vespene gas, you build your defenses, you upgrade, you expand, you gather your forces - and you unleash hell. Repeat as needed until satisfied.
STARCRAFT: THE QUICKENING
The game is much faster than the original. Resource gathering, building, researching and expanding all go faster now. This is something that will appeal to most and I for one liked it. It conveys an enjoyable sense of urgency, adding to the immersion. And because the game is richer and deeper, the tension just keeps mounting.
The game designers either enjoyed STARSHIP TROOPERS one times too many or they are fond of killer bees documentaries. Either way, be prepared to have to deal with a lot of swarming enemies! The plains shall be soaked in Zerg blood leaving you with a thick metallic aftertaste of accomplishment.
SPACE. SPACE IS BEAUTIFUL
Visually this game is GORGEOUS. It looks like C&C4 was supposed to (but failed miserably). The units are detailed in design yet clearly discernible whereas the environments are superbly done (although not that variable). True, I could do with somewhat more realistic graphics but I can see that this could only be done at the expense of clarity when the number of units rises. What needs a bit getting used to is how some of the buildings do not look that different. No complaints about how they look but one can easily confuse them and build the same building twice.
COME FOR THE VESPENE GAS. STAY FOR THE STORY
The story picks up just where SC-BROODWAR left off. Following each mission nicely done videos move the single player story along (no spoilers, not to worry) that, although we are given the illusion of choosing between different paths, apparently they converge towards a predestined end.
DAMN IT JIM, WHERE IS THE REST OF THE GAME?
Why only 3 stars then? Well, in a nutshell: GREED.
Apparently ACTIVISION's influence is not very healthy to customer relations. Together with BLIZZARD they are trying to turn the StarCraft franchise into yet another World of WarCraft phenomenon - and, at the same time, using STARCRAFT II as the vehicle, turn BattleNet into the new STEAM. Unfortunately this results in a barely palatable product and using your fan-base to advance your corporate ambitions is always tacky.
Although priced even more than a full premium game, this is not a complete STARCRAFT sequel. You would not know this by its price-tag(!) but this is only A...THIRD of the game, the first part of three: you can only play the Terran campaign. The Zerg and the Protoss campaigns will be released independently later (and priced as if they were full games, one could safely bet).
To add insult to injury, one has to keep spending even more money if he wants any "premium maps" and "premium content" sold only via the BattleNet. Since this is a game that will be played mostly online don't be quick to dismiss this if you have a competitive streak.
OK, LET'S NOT TALK ABOUT IT - BUT THERE IS A HYDRALISK IN THE ROOM, ISN'T THERE?
Much more serious is the NeverLettingGo-OnLineActivation requirement. The game will ask for activation during installation, which also includes signing up to BattleNet (and, yes, this means that even this expensive game never becomes yours to keep). But that is not all: a periodic OnLine confirmation is also required EVERY THIRTY DAYS, FOREVER. You can play offline but no more than a month between re-activating.
Unlike the latest EA and UBISOFT flops (which have an idiotic Always-OnLine requirement), with SC2, after its initial Activation, you CAN play a single player game (campaign and skirmishes) without logging on to BattleNet. Only, to do this you have to log on as a ..."Guest" (I know, a Guest to your own game and your own computer...). You will be able to save your progress but you cannot tie it to your BattleNet account later, so any progress or accomplishments are lost for your online Account. After your 30 days are up you have to re-activate once more.
That is why a Broadband Internet connection is included in the minimum system requirements. You can decide if this bothers you.
SORRY TO BRING THIS UP BUT SPAWN SEEMS TO BE MISSING FROM MY COPY...
Remember how we could take our original STARCRAFT CD to a gathering of friends, Spawn it on everyone else's PCs and start a LAN party? Now one can play with his friends only through the BattleNet - and the Spawn function has been eliminated! Yes, that means each one of your friends now has to have his own original copy of the game!
The brass at the top conveniently forgets that the ability to Spawn games was the main reason both STARCRAFT and DIABLO acquired such huge fan-bases.
Et tu, BLIZZARD?
This is a good game, one I think we will be enjoying for years - or for as long as BLIZZARD shall allow us to do so. However, I had higher hopes for BLIZZARD's respect to its own customers.