Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Starcraft II : First Impressions

Every man and his dog has probably done a StarCraft II : Wing of Liberty review when they got their hands on a beta key. But given that I didn't have my beta indicators on at the appropriate time, and are particularly craptacular at Real Time Strategy games, I'm posting my first impressions review one the second day of release.

So far, I've only taken part in the campaign. I'm a big scaredy cat, and don't like pitting myself against real people unless I know the tools at hand. And given that I haven't played SCI since at least 1997 (and I might have even stopped playing in 1996), I'll stick to the campaign until I've been through a fair whack of the single player mode.

So, after the initial installation last night, and adding the game to my Battle.net account, I quickly went through the tutorials. They're great. They give a nice quick rundown on how to move, attack, build, do supply and the like. They're also a good introduction to some of the keyboard layout.

Keyboard layout. So far, it's okay, but I think I may end up remapping keys. I'm very used to playing keyboard and mouse, and usually run with an ASDW setup for movement and strafing with the occasional SDFE, depending on the number of abilities a particular character may have. SCII has alot of these keys mapped to unit abilities on the character card (I think they called it that, or was it game card. The bottom right panel, anyway), and you either use mouse, arrows or the minimum to move your view port. Swapping my left hand from arrows to keys (which are mostly on the left side of the keyboard, especially A for Attack) can be a little frustrating. Maybe A will get a special mapping on my mouse.

After completing the tutorials, it was in with the campaign. I played the first one three times, to cover off normal, achievements and hard mode achievements. As a testament to my crap playing, only Raynor and a bunch of the civvies survived the Hard mode, so I didn't bother with Brutal mode.

The between game interface is really well done. I had a bit of fun playing the arcade mini-game in the cantina and noticed the dance of the hologram was based on the Night Elf dance model.

Iffy things were the achievements server and RealID.

Part way through the infestation quest, I got a notification to say that achievements would not be available until further notice. At this point, I'm not playing the game for achievements. That's something I'll go back and do later. In a few weeks or months, the achievements server should be more stable. However, that would be quite annoying if I were that type of playing, and it kept going offline.

Also, since I'm located in Australia and have a SEA version of the game, I had to add my RealID friends again, and I don't get the cross game communications with friends playing WoW. Blizzard have said that SEA players will have the option of installing the North American version of the game so we can play against friends in the US, or just have cross communications with people playing WoW (on US servers). I think Blizzard have missed the mark with RealID for people in the Oceanic region. It becomes apparent that their authentication servers and chat servers are tied together, and even though there might be some replication between authentication servers in North America and SEA. I guess if I didn't play WoW at all, and didn't know anyone playing WoW, it wouldn't matter. It just seems like a bit of shiny has been tarnished. It's a small thing and has not lasting impact on the actual game. If anything, it's commentary on Blizzards effort to break into the social networking scene. And for the record, I'll not be linking SCII with Facebook, ever.

Anyway, I want to end this first impression on a happy note, since I'm very happy with the game. Having upgrade choices, mercenary hires and research trees that don't have to be selecting in the heat of battle is a big plus. Having interactive features between games to progress the storyline is also good.

Somehow, this review seems incomplete, but I've got other stuff to do (like work). Maybe I'll post some more thoughts when I've taken part in the multi player side of things.

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