Starcraft 2 (First Impressions)
Well its the wee hours of the 27th and Starcraft 2 has decided that it will allow me to install the game now. I had no issues installing, updating or authenticating the game. Memories of Half Life 2 and Steams consternate refusal to allow me access to my own game soured any feelings I had towards online authenticating systems. In comparison Blizzards attempt was brief and pain-free.
After a good few hours playing and a third of my way into the game I feel I have a good grasp about what its is all about. In typical Blizzard fashion, there are no original ideas present just old genre aspects delivered well. The story is better than other typical RTS titles in that there actually is a story. The narrative prowess of RTS games has never been known to inspire gasps of wonder, yet I do see Blizzard’s typical polish working its magic. This shouldn’t surprise me since they did create the only other RTS in Warcraft 3 that managed to make a storyline that kept me interested.
The game engine feels a little dated. With all options set to high and ultra it didn’t inspire anything close to awe. Certainly not something I would expect when putting all my graphic options to a level deemed as “Ultra”. The engine is very functional and responsive but certainly not a visual spectacle.
Like most RTS’s I have a strong urge to pull the camera out further than the standard view. The cameras default location and furthest out level of ‘zoom’ still feels rather claustrophobic. While the ability to zoom really close is available I can never imagine it being useful except when taking a screenshot.
While building a base I found that in the year 2010 the AI can still trap units between buildings. I should be able to entrust my automated construction units to do what they are designed for. Would be like hiring a worker to concrete your driveway only to find him yelling for help in a corner surrounded by wet concrete.
The game itself is an extremely standard affair. If you have played any RTS in the last 10 years you won’t be surprised by any of the missions on offer. Destroy key buildings, out live a timer, keep a unit alive, Escort from A to B, all very basic and uninspiring. However its Blizzard and what they lack in originality they more than make up for in quality. So if you do want to destroy ‘key buildings’ this year I have no doubt that Blizzard have made the game for you.
I have yet to put much time into the multiplayer, nor do I intend to… much.
RTS Multiplayer often feels rather devoid of skill. [shock gasp horror] I’ve always found that memorizing shortcut keys to the predetermined optimal build queue does not translate into fun, for me at least. Theres something rather clinical about being beaten by a person who fires out keypress like a typist, I’m afraid I’m not masochistic enough to compete by learning those keys and typing them faster. A pretty broad depiction of online play perhaps but I feel its pretty valid nonetheless.
The multiplayer does have features which are in my opinion missing from almost every online competitive game ive played. Rankings, tournaments, replays, you know lots of persistent information. The little numbers that all add up to detail your online history and growth as a player. For that I commend it wholeheartedly.
In a nutshell Starcraft 2 is fun, well conceived and has tons of incidental details. It fills in these video game barren months quite well, but its nothing new, nothing spectacular.
So either Starcraft 2 has a lack of oomph or my own dissatisfaction with the genre has curbed my enthusiasm because I recall thinking much more highly of Warcraft 3 and its expansion when it was released. I’m leaning more towards lack of oomph.
I have to quickly mention the humour present throughout the game as well as the music. Both are well delivered, from the frequent iphone apple piss takes to full arcade games playing Shmups named after Blizzard’s own game Lost Vikings. The music is such an odd mix I don’t quite know how but it somehow works.
I will no doubt awake to reviews showcasing 9/10, 10/10 even. I would take every one of those reviews with a giant pinch of salt, pepper and her other condiment friends. I’m going to call a Eurogamer 9/10 right now. Gogo impartial reviews unhindered by advertising profits and pressure.