Ahh, StarCraft.  The original holds a nostalgic place in my heart.  Needless to say I was looking forward to cracking open the newest StarCraft offering from Blizzard,  STARCRAFT II: WINGS OF LIBERTY.  Upon opening it, installing it (on Mac OS X for my version), getting myself set up on, and firing up the first mission I realized a surprising (to me) fact: this game is basically StarCraft HD.  I don’t mean that in a bad way.  In creating their sequel, Blizzard managed to keep it feeling just like the original.  There are, of course, changes — new units, balance changes, a new more fleshed out campaign mode, and a fancy 3D engine — but it still plays, sounds, and feels like STARCRAFT.

The mechanics of both the old and the new STARCRAFT are the same.  The “genre” is real-time strategy (RTS), meaning that players make their strategic and tactical choices whenever they feel it appropriate without having to wait for the other player’s turn to end as they would in a game like Chess or Risk.  The major choices a player faces are what to build (and in what order), what to train, and where to send units (soldiers, ships, and the like).  Though it is a war game, players may not realize that what every match boils down to is resource management (though, this is probably true of real world wars, too).  The major resources are minerals (act as money), gas (a secondary cost to add game variation), and supply (the player’s current limit on units).  One quickly finds that without control of several sources of minerals and gas, and a steady increase in supply, their army is destined to be overrun by an opponent’s who does have control over those resources.

The game is very well balanced across its three different races.  Though I personally found the Zerg to be less beginner-friendly and therefore harder to win with, after some study I found that the successful Zerg player’s whole mentality is different, which I think shows the strength of the design team that they can manage to make three different army styles that actually play differently.  The lazy way would be to simply have different units balanced by moving stats around from unit to unit, but functionally don’t play any differently.  I suppose that’s why Blizzard is considered the Pixar of game developers.


  1. James Wyett says:

    Haven’t played this sequel yet, but I’m glad they didn’t change much about it. Sequels are tricky that way. You try to keep the feel of the original and yet be innovative to stay relevant. Kudos to Blizzard appear to be in order.

  2. Rob says:

    Yeah, they basically made a graphic update of a great game and kept it great. You may miss a unit here or there that you might’ve been nostalgic about, but the new units are fun, too (and all the old ones are still in the campaign mode). It is definitely a case where if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one just as much.

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