STARCRAFT II FREE TO PLAY

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a game by Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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In 1998, Starcraft told the story of three races in conflict, & it went a little something like this... The Terrans - human colonists - are torn apart by civil war và find themselves stuông chồng in the middle of a war between the Protoss và the Zerg. The Protoss & the Zerg are enhanced alien races given an evolutionary leg-up by a meddling superrace called the Xel"Naga. The Protoss gained psionic powers that singularly failed to lớn stop them from waging civil war, while the Zerg were given advanced parasitic powers, turning them inlớn a hive-like plague, wiping out or infesting everything in their path.

It was the combat between these three very different races that was the basis of StarCraft, và it was the fine balance between their very different modes of combat that made it so breathtakingly chất lượng. StarCraft had an elaborately constructed universe, finely tuned combat and a cracking story. It was, without crawling too far up Blizzard"s arse, the greademo RTS of its time, and if you can suffer the dated graphics, it"s still ahy vọng the best.


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By revealing the game in Seoul, Korea, the master tacticians at Blizzard chose the friendliest ground possible for their announcement. That said, it was interesting khổng lồ note the tone of the crowd, after the initial hooting & cheering died down. Occasionally a suspicious or aggressive sầu question would emerge, made more blankly hostile by the translation. In short, I witnessed the birth of a nerd-fury.

You see, Korean gamers love sầu StarCraft - it"s part of their regular TV scheduling for god"s sake - và they"ve had nearly ten years lớn imagine how they"d change it if they were king. Now the sequel is real, this nascent reality is fighting against a decade of fantasy. The atmosphere at the event was equal parts excitement, nervousness và resentment - it was lượt thích The Phantom Menace all over again.

So, let"s ask the questions the Koreans are asking, because their demands are going to have a huge impact on what Blizzard end up providing. Will the adherence to Korean expectations stifle the innovation - the "big new feature" that we fickle Westerners demand? Will Korean gamers reject the sequel as a reinvention of chess, or will it eventually displace the original game, & cause the gaming TV channels khổng lồ suddenly look lượt thích they"re in the right decade?

Fourth Race?

This came up again và again; the Koreans definitely want another race. There was much speculation about the Protoss/Zerg hybrid race mentioned in the first game, but no - playable races will remain limited khổng lồ the Protoss, Zerg and Terrans. The emphasis will instead be on making the three races even more distinct, lớn make each phối of tactics more varied.

How about radical changes khổng lồ the gameplay then? Again, no. There"s still no naval combat. There"s still the simple "minerals and gas" resource management, và the 50/50 division between resources and combat. Blizzard are going out of their way khổng lồ distance themselves from the "big new feature" kind of showmanship, instead focusing on developing the features that made the first game so strong.


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That said, small tweaks with larger ramifications abound. There"s no longer a limit on the amount of selectable items, for example, & the fog of war applies to higher ground - but it"s still identifiably và defiantly StarCraft.

New Units

Take a deep breath. Aware of the tactical và visual chaos that ensues from simply slinging more and more stuff at a game, StarCraft ZZ is being kept lean. For every new unit, an oldunit must bow out. The victims of this cull will be determined by whether or not they"re part of the "essence" of StarCraft. So, Zealots, Siege Tanks và Zerglings are safe, và given new powers. Many other units, however, will face forced redundancy. Lead designer Dustin Browder took us through the thử nghiệm đoạn phim, which showcased the new Protoss fleet. Here"s a quick summary...First you"ve sầu got the Protoss Immortals - slow-moving heavy assault units, with a shield that activates automatically when under heavy fire. In combating them, you"ll want lớn use units with lower firepower, as they won"t activate the shield.

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The high ground is even more important now, because the fog of war is 3 chiều too; gaining a hilltop vantage will allow you to lớn attaông xã your enemy unseen. The Protoss Stalkers are mean-looking harassment units, & have the ability khổng lồ "blink" - teleport lớn you & me -anywhere in visual range. Send a probe up that hill & you"ve got yourself blinking access, plus some great purchase to rain down invisible hell on your opponent.

Blinking is a great example of a basic move sầu that offers more devastating possibilities the better you are at the game. You or I might use blinks to run away from an infestation of Zerglings, or to run away when we realise we"re hopelessly outclassed. However, Blizzard anticipate that pro gamers will use the ability khổng lồ piông chồng off enemy units that would easily win if left lớn fight without intervention. Seeing the tide of combat changed by this ability was one of the things that made the crowd gasp most audibly.

The fact that skill & timing beats straight statistical advantage is a running theme. The new Phoenix ship -a fast, flying Protoss unit - has the capathành phố to lớn Overload. This is a powerful attaông xã, discharging the Phoenix"s energy in an explosive sầu burst - but it"s balanced by the need khổng lồ sit down, recharge và have sầu a think about what it"s done. Used with skill, the Phoenix can wipe out entire ranks; used at the wrong time, Overload will leave you prone, stupid & dead.The new Protoss Colossus - a spiderlike unit that houses its control centre atop four spear-lượt thích legs, seems more than equipped khổng lồ khuyễn mãi giảm giá with your everyday Zerg Rush, using a beam ray pointed at the floor. Preoccupied with ground threats, the Colossus is hugely vulnerable khổng lồ air attachồng.

You get the idea - it"s a game of counters, as is every RTS out there. Blizzard"s point is that you get good by learning the counters - you get great by developing your reflexes và making eight decisions at once.


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The Protoss also have sầu access to lớn Phase Prisms - mobile shields that can float around and protect areas as you see fit. When you combine this with the ability to lớn "warp in" your units, you can more or less create a Protoss army anywhere in the field. Obviously, get too gung-ho và you"ll leave sầu yourself wide open to attachồng.As for the Mothership, this is the most expensive sầu và powerful Protoss unit with a Planet Cracker attack to destroy ground troops, a Blaông chồng Hole khổng lồ draw in air units and Time Bomb to slow down all enemies in the area. This includes the cool ability lớn stop missiles, and it"s a nice way khổng lồ show off the Havok physics engine when the missiles drop harmlessly lớn the floor when the field wears off.

Warcraft 3D?

Another concern among muốn our Korean pals was that, with the move sầu to 3D, StarCraft II would be too much lượt thích Warcraft III, but such worries were soon dismissed. Warcraft III was a deliberate attempt khổng lồ distinguish the two RTS franchises - it had a slower pace, fewer units, less focus on game economics, several skills per unit & a focus on RPG heroes. StarCraft II, meanwhile, is a sequel khổng lồ StarCraft in every way. Massive sầu armies (think huge Zerg swarms), fast action, a svào emphasis on resource management và definitely no heroes. If you"re looking for direct first-person unit control lượt thích Rise và Fall, or innovative display options like Supreme Commander, then take your ass lớn the bachồng of the queue.

TV Appeal?

This might not be an issue of direct interest lớn the UK, because the limit of our TV gaming coverage has traditionally been someone on QVC playing a PSPhường, screwing up their face and saying: "Well I don"t get it, but apparently it"s all the rage with the nippers." But it"s all-important to the Korean pro gaming circuit, & we"ll definitely feel the impact of this.

For a start, the graphics will be clean. Particle effects won"t be used for the sake of it, as all they bởi is obscure the action, và beam weapons won"t be overdone for the same reason. It"s not only the players who have sầu to lớn be able to see what"s going on, it"s a stadium full of oohing và ashing fans. Expect distinct, sharply animated units and vast, swarming battles - just don"t expect daft amounts of bloom, massive sầu beam weapons và smoke all over the place.


How About The Plot?

This is another tight-lipped, no-go area. The initial announcement was Blizzard vice president Chris Metzen"s unsatisfying assertion that "everyone who survived will have sầu their stories told. As more people nagged about the fourth race, this was extended khổng lồ a promise that the Zerg/Protoss hybrid would be dealt with. In a meeting the next day, the only other scraps of plot information were that the game is phối four years after the events of the previous game, and that people have been "having adventures in the meantime. In other words, we were like dogs sniffing at the bottom of the bedroom door.

Are You Excited?

There"s no doubt that there"s a tactical genius at work in the heart of Blizzard. And with all the money, talent and perfectionism at work in the company, there"s almost no doubt StarCraft II will be a sublimely balanced strategy game in an expertly crafted universe with a staggeringly engaging plot. That"s just what we know Blizzard will give us. But will it be enough to lớn supplant Korea"s national pastime? And more relevantly, will the expectations of another country mean we get something not khổng lồ our tastes? Like I said though, Blizzard are master tacticians; so you can start getting excited right about... Now.