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StarCraft II Beta Impressions and Screens

I have fond memories of playing Warcraft II at LAN parties, struggling to get the network connection just right to allow the games to sync up with one another.I will forever remember the multiplayer setup screen theme music of Warcraft 2, with its crescendos and feverish tempo which only served to heighten the adrenaline rush of a successful connection and subsequent beat-down.

That was almost a decade ago, and Blizzard, you've come a long way, baby. I had an opportunity to sit down with the StarCraft II beta this week, and as jaded a veteran of the boom and rush as I may be, I find that it not only meets but also exceeds my expectations. Notably, StarCraft II is for the most part a graphics revamp of the original game. The tactics are still there - the tried and true zerg rush, turtling with Protoss, the pesky Terran penchant for bunkers in all the wrong places.

But Blizzard has gone further. The multiplayer interface is divine in its simplicity. Gone are the clunky machinations of uncertain matchmaking. You click, it finds you a game. The interface itself presents a seamless transition between the game and Battle.net. The prompts are informative and nearly everything takes place from one integrated, elegantly laid out screen.  Multiplayer matching is wholly painless, a welcome evolution from the days of router forwarding and IP exchanging.

My first few matches, I found myself gravitating towards my old faves-- Protoss boom, Zerg rush, staples of any old school StarCraft player. It surprised me how quickly I fell back into the old build order. After amassing what I thought was a sizable force on one map, I set out to blast my opposition's resource gathering outposts. Too late, I happened upon a plateau covered in photon cannons guarding a gold-colored outcropping of minerals.

I was obliterated in short order, and learned a stern lesson that while some things stayed the same, there were new elements to consider. Golden minerals are worth far more per chunk than regular blue ones, and so tend to provide the owner with a massive boost, although it paints them as a giant target.  Another feature worth looking out for are distractions and stealthy environmentals like smoke, which can hide enemy units. Xel'Naga towers, activated by proximity, can reveal large swaths of territory among other functions.

Auto-cast is a much welcome addition, and players who lose too many buildings find themselves revealed on the map to prevent the lonesome supply depot hidden in a corner from denying a victory. From what I've seen so far of the game, StarCraft II is set to be a quality sequel deserving of the title. Fans of the original StarCraft will find comfort in being able to jump right back in with a healthy smattering of new units and strategies to employ.

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  • trkorecky
    What is it with RTS developers deciding that, even with the widespread use of 1680x1050 and higher resolution monitors, we should only have the ability to see a building and perhaps a handful of units on screen at the same time? Is it really that difficult to zoom the heck out or am I just spoiled by the use of my mouse wheel to zoom in Supreme Commander?

    Might as well keep playing at 640x480 or 800x600 at this rate...
    Reply
  • jeraldjunkmail
    This game will never see the light of day...
    Reply
  • dude88yl
    can tom's do some benchmarking for this game? pretty please?
    Reply
  • ultraultralisk
    Of course it'll see the light of day, it's insane to say that it won't. It's come so far, just look at the Beta.

    For those who weren't lucky to get into the beta right away, I was in the same boat. I hunted giveaways all around the Internet, but it was just little kids trying to get followers on their Twitter so they could brag to their mommy.

    Fortunately I did find a legitimate site a day ago. I thought it was a scam because who would really be giving away such a coveted invite, right? But when I woke up the next day, I had been e-mailed with a beta key. I thought it was a fake, but I attached it to my battle.net account and it worked!

    I think they have a bunch of beta keys left, because two of my friends who posted on the blog got theirs too, so if you want to try your luck for the Starcraft 2 beta keys then the URL is here:

    http://starcraft2betainvites.blogspot.com

    Good luck guys, I want to see more people who got their keys for free, and less who paid $300 for them.
    Reply
  • Hmm.
    Reply
  • Graphics look pretty terrible. I guess that's why it's still beta.
    Reply
  • victomofreality
    This game is so close I can taste it! I was beginning to believe it was going the way of duke nukem.
    Reply
  • scook9
    I do not see what you are all complaining about with the graphics...it is an RTS not Crysis....this is leaps and bounds past blizzard's past RTS games and their engines

    And the effects from attacks and spells are awesome
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    trkoreckyWhat is it with RTS developers deciding that, even with the widespread use of 1680x1050 and higher resolution monitors, we should only have the ability to see a building and perhaps a handful of units on screen at the same time? Is it really that difficult to zoom the heck out or am I just spoiled by the use of my mouse wheel to zoom in Supreme Commander?Might as well keep playing at 640x480 or 800x600 at this rate...Camera height is important such as camera position it's why you cant rotate left and right and hold it there, blizz is making the game for competitive rts. =p

    Anyways 640x480 800x600 you'd get screwed the game shows the most at 16:9 resolutions the least at 5:4 resolutions and
    16:9>15:9>16:10>4:3>5:4 in terms of viewable area.

    In other words you're just spoiled, also there is a benefit to getting high resolution images and models look cleaner at higher resolutions because the game is in 3d =p
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    dude88ylcan tom's do some benchmarking for this game? pretty please?game plays on ultra pretty well at all resolutions around the power of a 4870/5770/260 and above.

    although i should point out that there has been graphics bugs with some of the 58xx series something about minerals disappearing for no reason at random times, it low numbers of this happening and mostly in CF set ups but it's an odd bug none the less.
    Reply