Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (no spoilers)

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – Cinematic Trailer

It’s finally out! The much awaited sequel to Starcraft which came out more than 10 years ago is finally here. It should be declared a holiday in South Korea for the games’ release. I too picked up the game on launch day and after finishing the campaign in two days, it was worth the wait.

We’ve seen the trailers and apparently, all the pre-rendered cutscenes are almost all the cutscenes in the game but that’s for later. Let’s start with the install.

You buy the physical disc from your favorite videogame retailer or download the client online and buy the access code. This is a great feature which allows you to buy a copy of the game without having to line up for the game.

The game takes up 12GB to install. It installs the entire game on the computer so there’s no need for discs after the install. The South East Asian version comes with the game code as well as two guest passes for Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft. Once installed and running, it asks you to log in to battle.net which takes you to the Blizzard website to register your game. This was pretty straightforward and once that’s over, you’re good to go.

Starting the game will launch the updater and will immediately update your game. Once the game starts you can then choose your poison, single player or multi-player. For the purposes of this entry I will refer to the single player experience as my friends pick up the game in weeks to come. I have an aversion to playing online with strangers but that’s a another story.

The single player experience now includes the difficulty of “casual”. This is great for beginners who are new to the RTS (real time strategy) genre and have no idea on how to play. This makes the game more accessible and thus enjoyable. You are bombarded by tutorial after tutorial and a few missions to set you at ease. You can skip the tutorials if you’ve played the previous games. This game will only set you on the path of the Terran campaign. We’ll have to wait hopefully not long for the Zerg and the Protoss expansions which are coming. Once that’s done and over on to the rest.

Blizzard has included “challenges” which tests your RTS skills with short missions designed to make you into a better gamer and hopefully survive the online ranked matches. A new addition to the game is the inclusion of achievements. You can now earn points and brag to your friends how far or how bad ass you are in Starcraft 2 by your achievement points. I learned early on that you cannot earn achievements by playing “casual” on the campaign. You’ll have to start off with “normal” difficulty.

Even though this is the Terran campaign, you can still play all three races in multiplayer mode or against the A.I. The downside of this is that you spent most of the entire game playing terran and when you come face to face with the zerg or protoss controls it’s a brand new learning curve. Not all of the shortcuts are the same for the races or even from the last game so they’ll take some getting used to before I try to test my skills out there.

Speaking of out there, you can now find your friends via Facebook who are also playing this game. This is good but that’s about it. Blizzard promises further integration in the future much like what World of Warcraft has started. Maybe something like posting every time I get an achievement would be nice.

The races are more or less balanced out now. It’s not so much as the all powerful zerg anymore. The nukes are now separate from the command center and pretty much else has stayed the same.

Now for the not so good surprises.

There is no map creator so don’t bother peeking around. I looked. Worst of all, there’s no offline gaming or LAN capability. THIS MEANS YOU CANNOT PLAY THIS GAME WITHOUT IT CALLING HOME TO BLIZZARD. I had to type that last sentence in frustration because it is. I can understand the no LAN capability with trying to keep the game free of cheaters and all but the single player?? Come on!?! I do quite a bit of traveling and I bring my computer along and what do I do on a boring long haul flight? Play stuff on it. Yes, PvZ has become my companion on these flights and I was hoping to replace zombies with some zergs. But the game will not let me. Everytime I start up the game, it wants to call home and make sure that I’m the owner. WHAT!!?

Sure it only needs to call home when the game starts and then afterward you can get disconnected but that won’t help me playing in the middle of nowhere or better yet, 39,000 feet in the air.

I already gave my details, first born child and money to play this game and it still won’t trust me with it? I felt like I bought an MMO. Which I can understand why it needs to always be connected online but this is getting out of hand. I’ve read comments over the internet that it is possible to play offline via “guest” mode. Guess what? It only lets me play with first mission. Maybe it has something to do with the South East Asian version, but I highly doubt that.

Couldn’t they have made the DRM serialized to the computer, dial home, then you can play on or offline and when the system detects a similar serial, the current game is shut down. Isn’t that the way other software makers do it? This online thing is really bothering me.

This is the most expensive Blizzard game I’ve ever paid. Yes this game costs just as much as a current generation console game or even more. I was shocked at the sticker price when I pre-ordered the game and to think this is just 1/3 of the whole game. When Warcraft 3 was released here, it cost half the price to what Starcraft 2 is charging. Even Diablo II didn’t cost this much.

This game is almost everything that it promised to be. But the technical shortcomings prevent it from being a runaway hit. See all the 1 star reviews on Amazon and irate customers to see I’m not the only one disappointed about this one. I really like the game. Although I will not be playing professionally anytime soon. I look forward to the expansion and I just hope that Blizzard fix these shortcomings especially when they still have 2 more Starcraft games coming out and Diablo isn’t that far away.

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