Thursday, 5 June 2014

First Impressions: Starcraft II

This is a game that I have been meaning to play ever since I first saw it in a demo at PC World. And while it has taken me almost four years to get around to it, I finally have. Or at least the free version anyway.

All I've gotten around to so far is the matchmaking against an AI but in the spirit of First Impressions, I decided to write about it anyway. Campaign and online mode will be discussed in the main review when I finally get around to buying the full version. So, get ready for another four years wait!

One of the main things that I noticed about Starcraft II is the speed of the games. By which I mean that it is fast for a strategy game. My games tend to last for about 45 minutes to an hour but I am playing (and losing) against AI whereas I have seen professional Starcraft II players (as it is, basically, a professional sport now by the way) complete games within 14 minutes and have all the high levelled troops etc. Even 45 minutes is fast when compared to the two to four hour long games of Age of Empires and the two days of Sid Meier's Civilization games. And yet, even within this shortened timespan, the game doesn't feel thin or stretched at all.

The gameplay comprises of gathering minerals, building buildings, upgrading things and training troops as per normal strategy games. However, unlike AoE where you can leave people gathering materials and building for extended periods of time, in Starcraft II you have to be building, training, upgrading and gathering all the time and at the same time. This makes the game much more about multitasking than some other strategy games as you simply cannot afford to waste time.

The game starts with you choosing your race from a choice of Terran (humans), Protoss (a godly race scattered after disaster) and Zerg (bugs, insects, spiders, horrible creepy crawly things) before being placed on a random section of the map. I have chosen Terran on the games I have played and so the rest of the First Impressions will be about them. You then have to start gathering minerals from blue crystals as well as Vespene Gas, once you buy a Refinery of course, by using SCV's (who are your resource gatherers, builders and repairers). I'm not completely sure what each resource does but I'm pretty sure that minerals are the most important. There are more resources but over the course of my time playing the game, I haven't encountered them. Also, resources run out after a while (something I found out through painful experience in my second game).

There are two types of building: basic and advanced. As you can probably guess, advance buildings cost more and and are more, well, advanced. The different types of basic buildings include a Bunker, which is used to hold troops so that they can help defend your base, a Command Centre, where you can make SCV's, a Refinery, used to get Vespene Gase, a Barracks, used to train troops and a Missile Defence tower, used to defend against air units among a few others. You can then upgrade your buildings such as upgrading your Command Centre into a Planetary Defence, which gives it weapons to defend itself, or upgrading your Barracks to let you train two troops at once. The advanced buildings include things such as an Armoury, letting you upgrade your troops, or a Ghost Barracks, which unlocks the Ghost in your Barracks.

The different types of troops that I've seen include heavy troops like Marauders, fast troops like Reapers and basic troops like Marines. I've also seen some vehicles and aircraft although have only used them once. Battling (at least for me) included chucking as many troops at the enemy as possible before preceding to be destroyed.

Overall, the game is a nice change of pace for strategy games and I'm looking forward to playing through the campaign and online modes. But I should practice a bit more first. Look out for the review (hopefully it won't take four years!)

Goodbye for now, Harry


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