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StarCraft II Beta: First Impressions

Feature; Jun. 23, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Ryan Goodman
Subtypes: Opinion, Preview

One of the most highly anticipated sequels of all time is upon us with the release of "StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty" next month. A lucky few, however, were given a sneak peak of what to expect when they were chosen to give the game a go in beta testing. I was fortunate enough to wake up about a month ago to an e-mail from Blizzard inviting me to participate. I'm proud to say that the wait, SC fans, will likely be worth it.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Screenshots

If you were worried about some major gameplay changes, similar to the difference between WarCraft II and III, don't worry. SC II plays just like its legendary predecessor, with some minor tweaks here and there. All three races (Terran, Zerg, and Protoss) have new structures to build and units to create, while bringing back most of your favorites from the original. One thing Blizzard decided to add was to give units unique abilities. For example,  Zealots now can charge at a faster moving enemy to make up for their slow movement, and you can now turn your Zerglings into suicide bombers!

One thing Blizzard decided to do in SC II is create a new "ladder" system that evens out the playing field for new players. After you play 10 "placement" matches, you are matched up with players that better compliment your playing ability, making it a more fair and competitive fight. It worked really well here, so hopefully it will make the multiplayer experience a more enjoyable one for newbies when the real deal comes out.

A major concern for many SC vets would have to be how this beast would perform on their old, aging PCs. I'm pleased to say that most of you should be able to run it with little problems. My PC is ancient compared to many decent gaming PC's, but it handles SC II with little problems. The only lag or slowdown I experienced was similar to the lag experienced in the original, when someone would drop out or disconnect from a fight. The main menus and actual gameplay handle as smoothly as before. Now, obviously if you own an older PC, the game won't run at its fullest potential. But if you don't have enough money to upgrade to a high-end machine, or don't care if it's not running in full 1080p and just want to play it to play it, you'll still get a well rewarded experience.

Overall, StarCraft II is shaping up to live up to the high expectations that were placed when it was first announced back in 2007. It still remains to be seen what you can expect in single player, especially with the campaign mode being split into three different titles (Wings of Liberty being the first), but the bread and butter of StarCraft is its multiplayer, and it is definitely shaping up to be the new high-standard in real-time strategy games.

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