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Starcraft II [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

One of the most value-packed PC titles that I've experienced in sometime, Starcraft II offers a whole lot of awesome in one small pack. Both the multiplayer aspects and the single player game are fantastic and expansive. This is definitely a must-have title for all gamers (RTS fans and non alike).

The Pros: 

Plenty of game-types to choose from. Wide, expansive single player campaign, with branching story-lines that allow for multiple play-throughs. Deep multiplayer experiences that are as fun as our memories of the original title. Plenty of game modes including: campaign, challenges, multiplayer matches, and even an arcade shooter to take an in-game break from the war.

The Cons: 

Honestly? I can't think of even one thing that could have improved this title. Rating : 

For the last week or so I’ve been trying to decide on how to approach a review on a series that, honestly, I felt under-qualified to write about. Writing a review of a wildly popular RTS for PC is something that can be a bit tricky when you don’t particularly enjoy RTS games, and your preferred medium is the console for gaming. However, I eventually came to the realisation that there must be others out there like me, people who don’t have an investment into the RTS genre, or don’t play many PC games anymore and wanted to know if Starcraft II was really worth all the hype that it had gotten in the lead up to, and then post-launch worlds.

In a word: “yes.” Starcraft II, even from a laymen’s perspective, is a fantastic entry into the RTS genre and beyond that, even as a game in general. For someone that doesn’t really get in on strategy based games, other than over-simplified titles like Nintendo’s Advanced Wars series, I’ve sunk a ridiculous amount of time into Starcraft II, which would imply they are doing something right.

One of the major concerns for me personally heading into the title is that the game might feel like it was lacking in the single-player/campaign component. After hearing Blizzard’s decision to cut the game up into three different titles, I felt as though the campaign might be lacking and feel like only a part of the whole. However, playing through the Terran campaign it becomes clear quite quickly that Blizzard didn’t just chop one game into three to try and bolster their profits, but actually may have been required due to the decisions that were made to change up the campaign mode. The story of the single-player campaign is solid, the voice cast impressive, and as you play through the game you’ll notice how much time Blizzard spent turning this in to a full, well-rounded title. Interesting choices were made in allowing the story to branch out, allowing the player to make choices that will dramatically change the story as you play through.

Along with the branching story, solid and interesting characters, the game offers a wide variety of features to help boost up the value of the title. In the campaign mode you’ll get to play with troops that don’t show up in the traditional multiplayer-based gameplay. You’ll also have the ability to upgrade the troops, and build new and interesting units through researching the other races (Protoss/Zerg). At the top of the game you’re provided with your own space ship from which you command your troops into battle. This serves as your hub, and offers options like choosing the next mission, speaking with the crew, researching new tech, building new units, buying upgrades, gathering intel, watching TV, and if the main game gets a little stale at any point… there’s even an arcade to play a solid little top-down shooter called ‘Lost Viking.’ All-in-all it feels a little Mass-Effect-y but in a good way, a really good way. Of course these are merely some of the features that caught my attention, and only the single-player campaign.

The main draw to most of the people that were hyped for the title will be the multiplayer, and here it becomes a bit of a split for me personally. As someone that doesn’t play a whole lot of RTS, jumping online for 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 matches against a random series of competitors feels like slow and painful suicide. Pretty much anyone that you’ll encounter online is light-years better than you at every single part of the game, considering most of the people playing are returning fans of the series, or general RTS nuts to start with. However, if you have friends playing, and chances are you do considering the sales of the game, a skirmish match with a couple of pals can be a real blast.

I’ve found that you can go back home, at least when it comes to Starcraft. Even though I was never as big of a fan as a lot of my friends I did play a fair bit of the original title because of the fact that PC gaming was so big when it originally released. Having spent all that time in small LAN parties getting my butt kicked but enjoying myself, I find that Starcraft II provides a lot of the same thrills but in a more modernized sense. Obviously Blizzard has made some major overhauls to the game to bring it into 2010, however the core of the gameplay is just as addictive and fun as we all remember… which is really saying something considering the time-gap between the sequel and the original title.

It’s a hard thing to really quantify properly. For me it’s always going to feel like I’m an outsider looking in. The world of RTS gamers is a passionate one and so highly technical that I would never be able to properly comment on how Starcraft II is better or worse than other titles in the genre. However, as a gamer there are definitely a lot of benefits to people who were curious about the series. I think Starcraft II is going to be one of those must-have titles regardless of your interest in RTS games. It seems like one of those titles that everyone should have in their library, or at least try once. People that played and enjoyed the original are obviously going to enjoy it, and I think even first-time entrants into the world that Blizzard created will find themselves surprised by how easy it is to get into and enjoy.

On one final note, I do need to mention as a sort of “P.S.” that the new Battlenet is incredibly intuitive and well integrated into the game. I don’t think that anything will ever really replace Steam as the standard, but the new Battlenet makes it super easy to find and talk with your friends throughout the game, no matter if you’re in an online match, browsing the menu screens, or pushing through the campaign. Kudos need to be provided for Blizzard for their upgrade of the system considering they’re kind of entering a rather saturated marketplace.