Starcraft 2 Campaign Impressions

Starcraft 2, ten years in the making, arrived today. Well, part of it arrived, at least. Wing of Liberty features, for those of you in the dark, the Terran portion of the campaign, along with a fully featured multiplayer mode. This, naturally, caused a bit of a stir on the internet, because why would you pay above full price (60$) for a third of a campaign? Starcraft had three, for a lesser price.

Well, I’m here to assuage your fears. The campaign in Starcraft 2 is pretty awesome. Hit the jump for some juicy, spoiler free details (unless you didn’t expect Raynor to be there. Then there will be a spoiler…a sentence ago).

Starcraft 2, very intelligently, spends its install period catching you up on all the pertinent facts you need to know to understand its campaign. Well, that’s not entirely true: it kind of glosses over Brood War. Sure, Raynor wasn’t a big player in BW, but the whole Dominion being somewhat destroyed during the events of that game is pretty important. Fortunately, it’s glossed over in the campaign, too, so no big issue. It’s just a little odd.

The campaign mode functions much differently from how it did in the original. Sure, the missions are roughly the same, though they feature some more Warcraft 3 inspired effects, more general personalization, more lively levels. The levels feel lived in when they should, which is a nice touch. In general, though, the actual levels are similar: go here, defend this, attack that, a drip feed of new tech.

What’s different is the stuff between missions. Talking heads are replaced by rather ugly exploratory segments akin to old Wing Commander mid mission places, and you can talk to a variety of people, who offer you missions. Additionally, you can control the drip feed of technology by doing different missions. For example, doing one mission might unlock marauders, armored rocket infantry, who you can then use in other missions to good effect. However, at the point I’m at, it seems like a lot of these new units are of limited use in the other available missions: most intend you to use the ones you were given in that level.

In terms of storyline, it’s kind of silly. The acting’s about as bad as we remember it being, and the graphics in these mid level scenes are pretty fucking terrible. Like, really terrible.

Do I have a full opinion on this game? No. However, from what I’ve played, it seems to possess more inertia than other games by Blizzard. I mean this: all of Blizzard’s previous games perfected on an existing innovation. Warcraft and WC2 perfected RTS, and Starcraft turned it into something transcendent. Diablo perfected the roguelike; D2 made the roguelike accessible. Warcraft 3, rather than aping Starcraft, went for a very different battlefield aesthetic. World of Warcraft made the MMO accessible.

What does SC2 do? Well, it seems that it takes the ideas of Relic’s Dawn of War, the hard counters to specific units and the more close down combat, and combines it with Starcraft. The thing is, it’s a lot easier to horde units in SC2, because you’re not limited to controlling 12 units. I never played the multiplayer beta, but it seems the counters will be harder and that SC2 is built more for high level play than low level play (in that, skilled players understand counters. New players understand battlecruisers). We’ll see.

We’ll have more thoughts on SC2 as it develops. I.E., we play it more.