Customer Review

667 of 827 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starcraft 2: The Love-Hate Relationship, July 28, 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC (DVD-ROM)
Blizzard's (now Activision-Blizzard) obvious success today was hardly a guarantee over a decade ago, and I believe two unshakable tenets of the company back then were responsible for taking them from small game developer to the huge juggernaut that they are now: polish and care. The polish is still there, but the care is gone.

Let me begin by addressing the good stuff in Starcraft 2 first, namely, how polished the game itself is.

Graphics, sound, and game play:

You have to hand it to Blizzard, their art direction is amazing. With such comparatively low polygon count for modern mainstream computer games, there is a world of details coupled with aesthetic color schemes that could make anyone smile. I really cannot stress the attention to detail enough, such as the Terrans laying down their barracks and seeing the beams and foundations go up in real time, the lighting effects of Protoss attack beams, or the reflective organic surface of Zerg bodies. It makes the game feel alive.

The musical score and sound effects aren't fodder to the pretty graphics either; the production values are high and one can hear all of the treble and specific timbre that goes with every explosion or laser beam that gets fired with a clarity and sharpness that's to be expected of Blizzard's products. As any of the Starcraft veterans know, the music perfectly complements each of the three distinct races very well, from the mellow alternative rock motifs of the Terrans, to the new-age majesty of the Protoss, to the sci-fi horror-themed screeches of the Zerg. You may not personally enjoy listening to the background music per se, but it's undeniable that the pieces fit with each race.

The single player campaign, from the missions I have played thus far, are engaging and wholly satisfying, with the feel of an epic trilogy along the veins of high-budget Hollywood trilogies. I have always adored Blizzard's attention to story and lore, even if the same themes (betrayal, vengeance, contrition, forgiveness, etc) are used over and over again in their other franchises, but who's to complain? They're classic, timeless, literary themes.

The game play is fast and action-paced, save for maybe the first 3-5 minutes of the game where everyone is building up. I can't say that Starcraft's brand of fast-paced, high-lethality game play is for everyone, as the learning curve to be considered moderately good is quite high. Thankfully, Bnet2.0's matching service somewhat mitigates this difference by pairing you with someone similarly skilled by considering total games played, win-loss ratio, level of opponents, etc. How well this matches players is up to debate, but so far I don't have any complaints.

Now for the bad stuff, which may sound confusing to new players of Blizzard games, but veterans will instantly recognize the problems addressed.

Omission of obvious Bnet2.0 features, RealID support requirement, lack of LAN support, and cost:

The original Starcraft, and each subsequent rendition of [...], has several key features that is conspicuously missing from the Bnet2.0 used in Starcraft 2, namely:
-Private channel support
-Private game features missing
-Named custom games
-Regional server options

Private channel support:
Why is there no private channel support? If Activision-Blizzard were honest with their words that they wanted a [...] experience so good that we wouldn't want to play offline or on LAN, why leave out such an obvious feature? Private channels allow clans or friends to gather in a chatroom in [...] to organize events, discuss strategies, or just shoot the breeze in general. The lack of private channel support is a huge offense, since this was a standard feature in the days of the original Starcraft, over a decade ago.

Private game features missing:
As it is currently, to join custom games, two players would have to have each other's game ID, and add each other to their respective friends list. Not only that, ALL friends can see and join games that are created by a user on the friend list. What if you just wanted to relax and host a random custom game with complete strangers, or host a custom game with certain friends but not others? Well, you can't easily do this, since any friend on your list can see the game you've made, and can subsequently join it if they wish.

Named custom games:
Anyone who has played Starcraft or Warcraft III on [...] knows that custom game names are important. "2v2 LT no rush 20min" or "DOTA Cali ALL RANDOM" tell game seekers exactly what they're getting into when they join these games. This is no longer possible with the current Bnet2.0, as you are only privy to the game map name, and speed of the game.

Regional server options:
In the old [...] if you had friends in different parts of the world (North America, South America, Asia, Europe), you can switch your [...] server to hop over to any of those servers and play with/against them, albeit probably with much more lag, but nonetheless, the option is there. In Starcraft 2, you are locked to the region of your purchase, so there would be no way for you to change region servers. If you're in the east coast and want to play a few [...] games at 2am and it's too late in the night to find many games on the east coast, you would not be able to hop on over to the west coast where it's only 11pm, and likely more players are still on.

RealID support requirement:
The Orwellian requirement to link one's real name and location to their PUBLIC support forum profile is ridiculous; the potential for abuse is endless, as it is for anything that reveals real, personal information. I guess one could make the argument that it is in the game's disclaimer, or just don't buy the game altogether.

Lack of LAN support:
This cannot be stressed enough, LAN is an integral part of modern multiplayer RTS games, even if the majority of players will not be using it often. Just because most people don't use Radians on calculators, does that mean we should get rid of it entirely and use only Degrees? The point is, LAN settings could range from fun, social gatherings with friends, to tournaments hosted at some internet cafe; being 100% reliant on [...] to be up is hardly reassuring, especially considering that tournaments require the low latency that only LAN environments can provide.

Cost:
At $60, and with all of the previous issues addressed, Starcraft 2 is too much for its worth. I hate to say it, but as much as I love the game play and the level of polish, the price tag does not justify the clear omission of certain key features.

I love Blizzard's RTS franchises, but it seems that Activision-Blizzard has stopped caring about the long-time fans that catapulted them to their prominence today. I love Starcraft 2's game play and level of polish, but I cannot get past some of the egregious offenses that the game possesses.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 51 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 29, 2010 11:59:09 AM PDT
Great write up, hit all negative and positive points right on the head.

Posted on Jul 29, 2010 1:07:19 PM PDT
E. TRAN says:
"The care is gone." Being over-dramatic aren't we? They left certain features out, not because they didn't "care enough", but because it was a design decision.

Private channel support:
Agreed, this shouldn't be hard to implement, but they said they would add it eventually. This is nothing to get out of shape about, you can still chat with your team and friends on bnet.

Private game features missing:
Who has rude friends that join games before they're officially invited anyway???You can always boot your friends out of your games if you wish.

Named custom games:
This is actually to facilitate match making for custom games more easily. Think about it, if hundreds of people create rooms with the same map but named them stupidly different, it would be hard for them to find each other. This takes the guessing out of it. It also slows down the tide of jerks that rig maps with secret easter eggs that ruin the game.

Regional server options:
I haven't looked into this but I can see it being important for some international people.

RealID support requirement:
I thought they decided not to this after the uproar.

Lack of LAN support:
You are misinformed, there is LAN support in special versions that blizzard will supply to tournament makers. Most users will never,ever use this feature though. I'm pretty sure this was a design decision to stop the pirates from enjoying the game with other pirates. It's no skin off my back and like 99% of players.

Cost:
I wish it was $50, but its not, woops. They're a business, the market was willing to pay $60, if not more, so why not? Look at it this way, now they'll be able to make the expansions faster due to extra funding.
How much did you want to pay, if I might ask? $30? $40? The amount of re-playability in this game is insane, plus there's no monthly charges to worry about. If it was just multi-player alone, it would still be worth $60 to MANY people.

You didn't criticize any of the gameplay, single player and multiplayer. Maybe because its really fun and the "offenses" don't stop you from having that fun?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2010 1:14:00 PM PDT
Xan Meijer says:
You've proven that reading needs to be partnered with understanding to be effective. L. Zhou, thanks for reminding me why I should stay away from this game(s). Should this company do a better job with future releases instead of this short-sighted deal-breaker greed logic, I'll reconsider.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2010 1:22:18 PM PDT
E. TRAN says:
I'm sorry, what did I misunderstand? At least I replied with itemized logic/opinion. Perhaps you should try the same and reply with substance in your critique.

Posted on Jul 29, 2010 1:34:14 PM PDT
B. Farren says:
You are completely right, L. Zhou.

""The care is gone." Being over-dramatic aren't we? They left certain features out, not because they didn't "care enough", but because it was a design decision."

That makes it a conscious decision, which is even worse than Blizzard not caring.

"Named custom games:
This is actually to facilitate match making for custom games more easily. Think about it, if hundreds of people create rooms with the same map but named them stupidly different, it would be hard for them to find each other. This takes the guessing out of it. "

When DoTA style maps come out, people will have to guess what options the host will enable.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2010 2:55:15 PM PDT
"It's no skin off my back and like 99% of players."

And you say he is overly dramatic? I'm fairly certain a much higher percentage than 1 would use starcraft over a LAN. Its not as if Blizzard is known for having the most reliable servers or not having queue times when you want to log in and play. This game will be hacked and torn apart just like every other game. I don't see why bliz feels the need to punish people who legitimately purchase the game in their quest against hackers. It goes to show that they really don't care about their fans.

Posted on Jul 29, 2010 5:34:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 29, 2010 5:34:25 PM PDT
J. Keaney says:
This is an excellent review, well done.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2010 8:33:43 PM PDT
R. Hedges says:
"...reading needs to be partnered with understanding to be effective..."

I love that chain of words, bordering on philosophical!

Posted on Jul 29, 2010 11:14:59 PM PDT
Thanks for the review. How long did we wait for a sequel to this game? I mean a real graphics upgrade and furthering of the story... how long? And now apparently all the TORRENT and juarez knock offs that sprouted in the last decade have made piracy rampant among the gaming world, which is why Blizzard and other software developers have to go to such draconian measures.

Sad but true. Welp, maybe I'll wait another ten years to install this thing.

Too bad. I Was looking forward to doing some SC as Protoss; "CARRIER HAS ARRIVED!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2010 8:15:28 AM PDT
E. TRAN says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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