Customer Reviews: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
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on August 1, 2010
I've watched the Starcraft 2 Amazon reviews come in with great sadness. Sadness because this game deserves so much more than 3 stars, but also sadness because most of the points the negative reviews make are completely legitimate.

Starcraft 2 is a great game. I got it the day it came out and haven't touched another game since. Like the original Starcraft, it's an almost perfectly balanced RTS with three unique races. The Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss each have many new units and tricks up their sleeves, and as with the original, the game takes mere hours to learn but a lifetime to master. Each and every last unit has its perfect situation where it can be used to turn the tide of a game. The production values are phenomenal all around. The sounds and voice acting are fantastic, the attention to detail is amazing, and if you've got a computer that can handle them, the visuals on max settings are absolutely gorgeous. And it doesn't just look and sound good; it plays good, too. A bunch of little technical issues from the original have been fixed: you can issue commands to multiple hotkeyed groups at light speed without some commands being lost, your own units will actually move out of the way when you're trying to construct a building, rally points are more efficient and separate ones can be set for worker units, etc. It's all the fun of the original, but it's now sleeker, sexier and handles better. It is faster paced than the original, and the multi-player automatic match-making system is Blizzard's best yet. As a bonus, it (like Starcraft and Warcraft III before it) ships with a map editor that lets you customize nearly any aspect of the game; skilled map-makers will be making new maps, missions and mini-games for years to come.

So when does a game like this get a 3-star rating? When its own creators unwittingly do almost everything in their power to sabotage it, that's when. Thanks to some miscalculations by Blizzard, there will be entire sections of the fan base that will find this game either unplayable or unappealing. Though the gripes have been listed many times on here, I'll summarize them once more and give my take on just how much they're really likely to annoy you:

1. You need an Internet connection to play, even in single-player mode. Obviously, if you have no or sporadic Internet, this will be a deal-breaker. You can technically play a single player version offline, but it comes with limited features and privileges.
2. You need to make a account to be able to play at all. For some, the very idea of having to go online and sign up to use a product you just shelled out $[...] for is a slap in the face. Also, this account will be your one and only Starcraft II account; no more starting over with a new name or record.
3. No LAN. I guess maybe Blizzard thought nobody actually LANs anymore? Clearly, the people have spoken, and Blizzard thought wrong. If your fondest Starcraft memories are of playing the game on a LAN with friends, this might be a deal-breaker for you.
4. The region lock. In Blizzard's previous games, you could freely switch between regions. Now, if you're an American and you want to play with your European friends, you need a European copy of the game. It's hard to see what good this does besides making Blizzard more money.
5. No chat rooms. The game's automatic matchmaking system is beautiful, but let's say you want to chat with other players in a chat room for a while before migrating over to a game. No longer possible. Just about the only way to make new Starcraft 2 friends and partners online is to privately message people you were randomly paired with after a game, or to privately message random players in your (or a friend's) league division (hint: if you do this, people will think you're weird). Blizzard has promised to add chat rooms in a patch, but for now, this is the issue annoying me the most.
6. Your and RealID friends are practically invited to stalk you. I don't think I've seen a game where adding someone you're "iffy" about to your friends list could end up more detrimental. Not only are you always online while playing this game, you always show as online to everyone on your friend's list. You can choose to show as "busy," but there's no option to hide.
7. The campaign is Terran only, and a multi-player RTS plus one race's campaign might not be worth $[...]. In Blizzard's defense, there are 29 missions, strung together to form an amazing story with cut-scenes and cinematics between each. Each mission can be completed on 4 difficulty levels, all featuring optional objectives and achievements. But for all that, an RTS veteran could blitz through the entire campaign in a matter of hours (on normal mode, at least). If you're one of the players for whom the campaign is the main draw, paying $[...] for a game it only takes hours to beat would be a bad deal.
8. There's no global ladder. If you play league games online competitively, you get ranked in a league, but aside from the top league (so I'm told; I'm not in it), you have no way to tell where you stand relative to everyone else in your league. You can only tell where you stand relative to the others in your 100 person division, and the divisions themselves are not ranked. I much preferred Warcraft III's system, where you could see where you stood relative to everyone.

The funny thing is, some of these new features people are griping about aren't inherently bad ideas. For instance, it's actually very cool to be able to chat and share your achievements with friends while playing the campaign...unless, of course, you just want to strategize and be left alone. Which brings me to what I think is the heart of Blizzard's mistake: they should have made a whole lot more settings OPTIONAL. You should have the OPTION to play single player online or offline, the OPTION to show as visible or invisible to your friends, the OPTION to play LAN, the OPTION to switch regions. But instead, Blizzard's "my way or the highway" approach will leave all of those who can't get past any of the above eight things out in the cold. So please, Blizzard, save your fans, yourselves, and your game a lot of trouble, and make more features optional in future patches.

I'll close by addressing what I think are the three groups of people holding off on buying the game: if you're dismayed by all the negative publicity, but none of the above problems are deal-breakers for you (and there's no reason why any of them have to be), go ahead and buy it. It really is a great game, and you'll have a lot of fun. If you absolutely can't get past one or more of the problems and know they would make the game cease to be a fun experience, then you have my sympathy and you get to keep your [...] bucks. And finally, to those for whom the issues really aren't deal-breakers but who are refusing to buy the game on matters of principle: you have my respect, and even my admiration. But man, you're missing out on a good one.

Update (4/19/11): Since I wrote this review, chat rooms have been patched into the game, though they aren't used nearly as much as the chat rooms in Blizzard's previous games. On other positive notes, the game is frequently patched, balance issues are addressed and taken seriously, the game has very active forums where players talk strategy in detail, and Blizzard is continuing to make new maps and scenarios and integrate them into online play. On the negative side, it's becoming more and more apparent that most of the bigger complaints against the game (like the lack of LAN, online requirement, and region lock) aren't going to be patched away. Overall, I'm still playing the game pretty regularly and having fun, but there's still plenty I'm gritting my teeth about.
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One can only respect BLIZZARD for not setting a release date before they knew they could meet it. No matter that this was the most awaited game for over a decade, they would release it "whenever it would be ready". Well, it is ready, it is here and it rocks. Too bad they kicked the respect bucket in the end. But first things first.

Seasoned and new gamers alike will appreciate the simple yet highly enjoyable gameplay. The factions are well balanced and the units perfectly valued. You gather minerals and vespene gas, you build your defenses, you upgrade, you expand, you gather your forces - and you unleash hell. Repeat as needed until satisfied.

The game is much faster than the original. Resource gathering, building, researching and expanding all go faster now. This is something that will appeal to most and I for one liked it. It conveys an enjoyable sense of urgency, adding to the immersion. And because the game is richer and deeper, the tension just keeps mounting.

The game designers either enjoyed STARSHIP TROOPERS one times too many or they are fond of killer bees documentaries. Either way, be prepared to have to deal with a lot of swarming enemies! The plains shall be soaked in Zerg blood leaving you with a thick metallic aftertaste of accomplishment.

Visually this game is GORGEOUS. It looks like C&C4 was supposed to (but failed miserably). The units are detailed in design yet clearly discernible whereas the environments are superbly done (although not that variable). True, I could do with somewhat more realistic graphics but I can see that this could only be done at the expense of clarity when the number of units rises. What needs a bit getting used to is how some of the buildings do not look that different. No complaints about how they look but one can easily confuse them and build the same building twice.

The story picks up just where SC-BROODWAR left off. Following each mission nicely done videos move the single player story along (no spoilers, not to worry) that, although we are given the illusion of choosing between different paths, apparently they converge towards a predestined end.

Why only 3 stars then? Well, in a nutshell: GREED.
Apparently ACTIVISION's influence is not very healthy to customer relations. Together with BLIZZARD they are trying to turn the StarCraft franchise into yet another World of WarCraft phenomenon - and, at the same time, using STARCRAFT II as the vehicle, turn BattleNet into the new STEAM. Unfortunately this results in a barely palatable product and using your fan-base to advance your corporate ambitions is always tacky.
Although priced even more than a full premium game, this is not a complete STARCRAFT sequel. You would not know this by its price-tag(!) but this is only A...THIRD of the game, the first part of three: you can only play the Terran campaign. The Zerg and the Protoss campaigns will be released independently later (and priced as if they were full games, one could safely bet).
To add insult to injury, one has to keep spending even more money if he wants any "premium maps" and "premium content" sold only via the BattleNet. Since this is a game that will be played mostly online don't be quick to dismiss this if you have a competitive streak.

Much more serious is the NeverLettingGo-OnLineActivation requirement. The game will ask for activation during installation, which also includes signing up to BattleNet (and, yes, this means that even this expensive game never becomes yours to keep). But that is not all: a periodic OnLine confirmation is also required EVERY THIRTY DAYS, FOREVER. You can play offline but no more than a month between re-activating.
Unlike the latest EA and UBISOFT flops (which have an idiotic Always-OnLine requirement), with SC2, after its initial Activation, you CAN play a single player game (campaign and skirmishes) without logging on to BattleNet. Only, to do this you have to log on as a ..."Guest" (I know, a Guest to your own game and your own computer...). You will be able to save your progress but you cannot tie it to your BattleNet account later, so any progress or accomplishments are lost for your online Account. After your 30 days are up you have to re-activate once more.
That is why a Broadband Internet connection is included in the minimum system requirements. You can decide if this bothers you.

Remember how we could take our original STARCRAFT CD to a gathering of friends, Spawn it on everyone else's PCs and start a LAN party? Now one can play with his friends only through the BattleNet - and the Spawn function has been eliminated! Yes, that means each one of your friends now has to have his own original copy of the game!
The brass at the top conveniently forgets that the ability to Spawn games was the main reason both STARCRAFT and DIABLO acquired such huge fan-bases.

This is a good game, one I think we will be enjoying for years - or for as long as BLIZZARD shall allow us to do so. However, I had higher hopes for BLIZZARD's respect to its own customers.

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on November 13, 2010
The original gameboy was released by nintendo in 1989. On the side was a little port for what was called a link cable. This cable allowed me to hook my gameboy up with my friend's gameboy without issue. Let me rephrase: In 1991 I could link two primitive gameboys together and play a game with my friend.

In the mid 1990's I experienced my first time with LAN. I played Myth: TFL by Bungie and the Marathon trilogy with my friends. It was all so simple.

In 1998, the original Starcraft was released. In what could be considered the pinnacle of LAN party potential, millions of hours have been spent in basements, playing this game the entire night through without a single connection issue.

In 2002 microsoft released the original xbox. Countless nights were spent with friends playing Halo over LAN without fail.

By now the standard had been set.

In 2010 Blizzard released Starcraft 2...No more LAN. No more dependable, secluded nights playing on the local internet with your buddies. No, now everyone has to log in and go through their security checkpoint to play someone their computer is connected to directly. down? Tough luck. Internet connection issues? Oh well. It's not like the capability to do this has been available in games for around for two decades now.
Let me rephrase: 20 years after I could connect two gameboys together to play pokemon, my friends can't connect their two decked out gaming computers together to play the biggest game in e-sports.
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on July 28, 2010
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.

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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on April 18, 2013
Starcraft 2 - Wings of Liberty had a lot of potential of being a great game. But most of the focus was on the multiplayer aspect and not much was focused on the single player campaign. Almost each mission had a time limit, which never gave you time to check out the new unit you received. In addition, most of the missions were side quests, just so you can get a new unit to added to your arsenal, and little focuse on main storyline. Also I don't know why Blizzard thought the campaign was too long, to me the campaigns were too short and got repetitive and boring very fast. Furthermore, there is no LAN built into the game, so you can't play the game locally with your friends. Because it is required for you to be connected to Blizzard's servers constantly or you can't play the game for more than 30 days without an internet connection. No wonder the game got pirated very fast, because a lot of gamers wanted to play the game with out having an requred internet connection. And if blizzard ever decides to shutdown the servers, say 8 to 10 years later, you basically have a useless game that can not be played at all. I don't understand why if I buy a game it should be mine, but these companies want you have just the license to the game and thats it. Not buying any future Blizzard games if they continue this practice, because Diablo III really worked out swell for them during Launch. (Sarcastic)
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on November 19, 2014
I played the first Starcraft and I enjoyed it as RTS was so new back then. This one is better graphics but similar gameplay, so what is my issue? Simple, same as Diablo 3, a server connection is always needed but so many people are playing at the same time that you are disconnected. I do not even do multiplayer online, don't have time for a crowd to join but I must stay online, fine I do and it still drops me. Before it was just perfect if you had to keep your game disk in and Blizzard would play for you knowing you could not copy their media at all. And I do have disks for this game which I purchased from Newegg or Amazon, don't remember which but I must quit after so many times I get disconnected. NOOOO, my internet service is on, I can go Ebay too and I am writing this on Amazon as soon as I got dumped by Blizzard server. This is exactly why I stopped playing Diablo 3. Frankly, I have the Reaper of soul and Heart of the swarm still in shrink wrap but I cannot tell anyone go buy Blizzard, if this is the best they can do for you.
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on June 6, 2014
You must have an internet connection, even to "play offline".
Furthermore, my email service was recently shut down so I cannot change the email on my account to a new one (requires me to click a confirmation email in the old account which no longer exists) So I can no longer even play the game. While I could play it was an amazing game & a great story. Its too bad blizzard expects you to bend over backwards to be able to play. Also while running the game it simultaneously runs a background program to monitor what other programs are running (All blizzard games do this now, not just SC, also EA games too)
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VINE VOICEon December 2, 2012
The original StarCraft arguably the greatest real-time strategy game ever made. Sure it had a couple of quirks, like the Guardian's pathfinding bug which made them move into close to turrets when they didn't have to, but overall you had a perfect balance between the three races and an extraordinary campaign. Realistically, you're never going to make everybody happy with a sequel because it can never live up to the perfect game that people will be imagining it will be. So when I say that this game is very similar to the original StarCraft a lot of ways, it's not a bad thing.

I was extremely into StarCraft a year or so after Broodwars came out. I got it in that big battle chest thing with the two strategy guides include. I spent countless hours playing the game with friends, on my own, and played the campaign two times through completely. The original had this on mode where you could get other people to try out the game by joining your games and it was a lot of fun. It also lacked copy protection and was pirated mercilessly. As a consequence, blizzard has gone 100% in the wrong direction. The copy protection StarCraft two is stifling. It give you an idea, let me tell you, install process went. Remember this is using the disc and not the digital download.

I put in the disc and let the program install the whole 12 gigs. A nice touch, they've put a bit of back story in the installer so you hear a little bit about that previous game to get you started while it's installing. They're still waiting for quite a while, but it's a large game who can fault that? It also asked to activate on So I log into my web browser and try to go there,and naturally all my old StarCraft accounts are now invalid. Hooray. So I set up a new account and then go to play my game. But wait, the installer has to run and optimization will take between 15 to 60 min. this is after the entire install from the disc. So fine, I wait for it to do its little thing and then it starts downloading patches conveniently telling me that it has a certain amount time to go before the game is playable, but I can play before it's fully patched. So apparently to aid in copy protection prevention they don't include the whole game on the disc. So now I'm waiting even longer until it can download the freaking installer. Fortunately you can play before the entire patch has downloaded, but still expected to spend more time waiting.

If you're on an AT&T internet account or anybody else with bandwith caps you need to know this. By default the installer downloads some data via P2P. So not only are you downloading the patches (as of this writing about 1.57 GB) you're also losing bandwith as it UPLOADS on your own connection without informing you first. To Blizzard's credit you can disable that feature from the installer's options at the top, but I personally felt stolen from because it was done without my consent. Ask me first Blizzard if you're going to be too cheap to use the bandwith from your own servers! Maybe I'll be cool with it for speed, but not asking isn't right.

So I finally get the whole thing downloaded and happy and I'm prompted to enter my password and username. It seems I have to enter this every single time I log in. There's no remembering my password so I have to type it every freaking time. Not only that, the game requires a constant Internet connection unless you want a play as a guest. Even then, you're only allowed to play your own game for 30 days between activations. This level of copy protection is freaking ridiculous. Oh, and per their terms they make it very clear that you don't own anything they're only licensing it to you. Again, to their credit they have very prominently how you can return the game for a full refund if you do not agree.

The game includes only the Terran campaign. Personally that's my favorite race anyway, but it seems like they're trying to make a cash cow to separate the game at into three separate parts. Each game is priced higher than the normal freestanding game, but on the other hand there's free online play which you have to factor is built into the price. If you're paying any kind of monthly fee to play online with people you would easily go over the cost of the game so don't find the high initial price all that disturbing. I should note, you do have guest passes that apparently let you have other people try the game as sort of a demo, but they have to download the 13+ GB full game to do so.

Gameplay is quite similar to the original game, but somewhat faster paced. There are naturally more units and everything looks great. The movies in between levels have been improved drastically. Everything looks more lifelike and I have no complaints. That said, after playing it I've just sort of felt like it was just there. I don't have the same emotional attachment and feeling of excitement I had playing the old game. Somehow, I doubt I'll get around to playing the campaign again. The best way I can describe it is like a sequel to a movie that's technically better in nearly every respect, but has all the heros wearing Pepsi logos on their outfits and the theater usher is checking your ticket stub every 10 minutes.

Even with all the extra stuff, I had such good feelings about the original that if this game and come out say year or two before it did I would've bought a new computer just to play it. As it was, I waited until the game was on sale for about one third its initial cost before even considered buying it and even then it was iffy. Blizzard, you kind of lost me guys. I find I'm much happier playing the Warhammer 40k games. Not nearly so much headache. Not planning on buying the next one.

Update #1

With the current patch you CANNOT play offline. You're stuck with the same always on tether certain other games have. I've read some posts and it may be a glitch, but this is intolerable for me. I can't have my connection up constantly. I truly regret purchasing this game.

Update #2 12/3/12

Just FYI, will install itself and it's cache on the C: drive even if you install the game on another partition. The installation has added a bit over 200 MB to my primary partition. I won't bore you with details, but it's somewhat irritating to me because it increases the size my periodic backups need. One reason I tolerate Steam is that at least it plays nice where I installed it; also it's offline mode works. SC2 offline mode is still broken as of today.
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on March 21, 2013
Buying a game on CD implies that the CD contains the game and thus ready to play out of the box as a Single player. This is not the case with Starcraft II. When the CD is in the PC, Downloading from the internet is required and the process takes about one and a half day to complete. Makes one wonder what is on the CD if you have to download everything from the internet. This is deception. It appears then that this is more of an online game and not a self contained game. The download process is a pain because it does not allow for anything else to be done; meaning that you can't really surf the internet because it will slow the download process nor can you watch, let's say, Netflix movie (picture quality degrades).
After downloading is complete, the game is still not playable. I cannot log in even after having a Battlenet account. I have played WoW fine with no problems(I knew that this was on online game from the start; unlike Starcraft). Apparently there is some technical issues ( this is not supposed to be a customer problem). So now I have to be a techie (do customers have to be one?) as I go through some technical steps with the rep. But still the game is not playable. Now the rep wants to know specs about my system (suggesting that something about my system is the problem rather than theirs; after all, I can log in and play WoW fine but not Starcraft). Look, I'm just a customer. I bought a game and I just want to play right out of the box. It's simple. Blizzard is not making that happen because of their DRM mentality. Does this encourage me to buy games from them in the future (I don't think so)?
Honestly I cannot rate this game because I can't play it. I'm returning this game. It's worthless.
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on February 10, 2015
They make you stay online just to play an AI skirmish. Remember when your computer was allowed to run the games you bought and paid for? Those times are long gone. It's much easier to fish out your private data if their garbage is ever in your system running. Remember pausing a game to come back later? F*%@# you! You'll be signed off our server and forced to surrender your game. Blizzard has become a bag of seedy crap. I just want to own and play a video game you jerks!
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