Starcraft II Catch-All

Being a huge Relic fan myself, I think you'll enjoy this. What I like is that it doesn't scratch the same itch, so if you're just a general strategy fan you'll find great things about both. I still love Relic games for their sniper-like focus on squad tactics and map control. I like Starcraft 2 for its faster pace of play (multiplayer matches are average 10 minutes long) and the variety of build/race options.

Battle.net gives you the standard multiplayer experience, but in future it should give you a more X-box Live type experience across Blizzard games. Since it's so new (in its current iteration) really all you get is matchmaking and achievements. It does have a Party system though, which is handy at times, and the friends list is very easy to use.

BlackSabre wrote:

But... is it worth it?

HELL YEA!!!!

Spoiler:

sorry :(

It's worth it for the single player alone. It has a lot of trappings that the Dawn of War 2 campaign had but instead of dumbing down the gameplay to an action RPG, each mission is its own lovingly crafted mini-game using the familiar mechanics of the classic RTS. The multiplayer will always be there if you want to get around to it.

Can anyone recommend some good online articles/videos for someone looking to get a foot in the Starcraft 2 door? I'd love to get into it (seems like it would be right up my alley and something I could really get addicted to), but also have very little RTS experience and am very intimidated a lot of the discussions that I've heard/read about it. Just looking to get a better feel for it before I jump in with the purchase. HELP!?!

OK, interesting. So, if you eliminated the single player campaign, is the rest of it still good in it's own merit?

Basically I figure the single player is exceptional, but I know that's only going to last so long for me. Am I going to get my value and time out of this game from the other non single player elements?

kevindoc wrote:

Can anyone recommend some good online articles/videos for someone looking to get a foot in the Starcraft 2 door? I'd love to get into it (seems like it would be right up my alley and something I could really get addicted to), but also have very little RTS experience and am very intimidated a lot of the discussions that I've heard/read about it. Just looking to get a better feel for it before I jump in with the purchase. HELP!?! :-D

Day9 Dailies

If you browse much earlier in this thread, you'll see a lot of people promoting this guy. He was a Starcraft 1 pro that does these daily commentaries. He's very charismatic and entertaining to listen to.

Try Daily #115 to start. It's a 2v2 with 4 of his housemates that aren't particularly great players.

BlackSabre wrote:

Am I going to get my value and time out of this game from the other non single player elements?

I have a hard time imagining you wouldn't get your money's worth if you spend any reasonable length of time learning and participating in the multiplayer. The matchmaking system seems fantastic so far.

I've spent about 4 hours in the past 2 days just playing the Nexus Wars mod and checking out some of the other custom maps. Assuming blizzard makes a few improvements to that, there should be a whole mess of fun new custom modes and maps to play around with in time.

So far my favorite mod is Red Circle Tower Defense.

Click for larger
IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4121/4858588041_782a9a98d9_b.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4077/4858587965_f57b414d2a_b.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4122/4859209864_face06500d_b.jpg)

I've only completed all 40 waves once on 88% difficulty.

EDIT: Here's a bunker defense mod called OverRun!!!

IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4093/4858452061_68c8f705ae_b.jpg)

BlackSabre:

There's no need to get the game immediately. It'll always be there for you to purchase. IMO, the longevity of the game depends on how many friends you can play with and how many of the mod-making efforts you like. Of course, you could make maps yourself, that are suited to your own tastes, but not everyone's up for that.

Some of the best ways to enjoy SC has always been on custom maps that play nothing like the original game's basic mode. Tower Defense spawned from SC1, and SC2 continues to have TD mods for download. I believe a DOTA mode is in the works or already out. I'm thinking about making an "Automated Base Mode" myself, if I can get a handle on modifying the game AI.

Tom Chick's review is up at GameShark. I tend to agree with his taste in strategy games, and I pretty much agree with this, although I like the cheesy story.

I really like this part:

Today, I feel sorry for the developers of real time strategy games. Particularly really good ones. You worked your butts off to make a game in a once-glorious genre fallen on hard times. Maybe you crafted a haunting minimalist sleeper like Multiwinia or a flat-out work of genius like Rise of Legends. Perhaps you used a popular license as a license to innovate and, voila!—Dawn of War 2. Maybe you had an Endwar revolution and no one showed up. Perhaps you hid a fantastic RTS in a charming open world game like Brutal Legend or stealthed it onto the Wii with an unassuming title like Swords & Soldiers. You might have reworked a popular mod into something special with its own unique identity, calling it Demigod. However you managed it, you were doing the yeoman's work of not just keeping the genre alive, but keeping it lively.

And then along comes Blizzard, dumping its RTS onto the scene like an avalanche. Here it is! Massive, expensive, online, unimaginative, slick, marketed to Kingdom Come, skating on the popularity of an old franchise that didn't have the grace to die out.

As much as I respect half of what Tom Chick says, I really have to disagree with that. True, Blizzard's never been particularly innovative when it comes to an RTS, MMORPG, or whatever category Diablo fits into, but in each and every case, they've made their games damn fun. They're not the Wright Brothers; they're the guys that came along and brought flight to everybody else and made it fun. If a fun game to him is "Massive, expensive, online, unimaginative, slick, marketed to Kingdom Come, skating on the popularity of an old franchise that didn't have the grace to die out," then f*ck him, I don't want to be small scale, cost-effective, offline, etc., etc. So yeah, go save your crap for someone who cares, Tom Chick; I'm still enjoying the game I've waited 12 long-ass years for. Go pretend that Alpha Protocol is better than Mass Effect 2 or some other ridiculous claim you make to get noticed like every other tired blogger trying to generate hits by saying black when 99% of people are saying white.

Except, he likes the game. Starcraft 2 is all those things he says, yet it is still f*cking awesome. Despite/because of its lack of innovation in a genre that's changed nearly beyond recognition in the last 12 years, it's still the game he, you and I wanted.

Look at this week's GotW comments and you will see a lot of people who were apparently hoping for something else. This game is for us, not them.

I have to say, it feels pretty cool to have a game that feels as perfectly made to my spec sheet as this.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Tom Chick's review is up at GameShark. I tend to agree with his taste in strategy games, and I pretty much agree with this, although I like the cheesy story.

I really like this part:

Today, I feel sorry for the developers of real time strategy games. Particularly really good ones. You worked your butts off to make a game in a once-glorious genre fallen on hard times. Maybe you crafted a haunting minimalist sleeper like Multiwinia or a flat-out work of genius like Rise of Legends. Perhaps you used a popular license as a license to innovate and, voila!—Dawn of War 2. Maybe you had an Endwar revolution and no one showed up. Perhaps you hid a fantastic RTS in a charming open world game like Brutal Legend or stealthed it onto the Wii with an unassuming title like Swords & Soldiers. You might have reworked a popular mod into something special with its own unique identity, calling it Demigod. However you managed it, you were doing the yeoman's work of not just keeping the genre alive, but keeping it lively.

And then along comes Blizzard, dumping its RTS onto the scene like an avalanche. Here it is! Massive, expensive, online, unimaginative, slick, marketed to Kingdom Come, skating on the popularity of an old franchise that didn't have the grace to die out.

I pretty much disagree with most of the things he says. In some cases, I actually think that he may be factually wrong. It's the practice matches that are optional, right? You need the placement matches to be placed in a league, or at least I thought so. Is that not so?

He skips and glosses over so many things and he gets certain things just flat out wrong. The missions do not play the same regardless of which choices you make. In fact the three split missions are notably different from each other, and getting upgrades instead of Mercs makes it play even more differently.

I do not play SC1 regularly anymore, and SC2 not that much, but even I can appreciate more in SC2 than Mr. Chick. Why was he chosen to review a game he doesn't seem equipped to understand?

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Except, he likes the game. Starcraft 2 is all those things he says, yet it is still f*cking awesome. Despite/because of its lack of innovation in a genre that's changed nearly beyond recognition in the last 12 years, it's still the game he, you and I wanted.

Look at this week's GotW comments and you will see a lot of people who were apparently hoping for something else. This game is for us, not them.

I have to say, it feels pretty cool to have a game that feels as perfectly made to my spec sheet as this.

I don't much care whether or not he likes it. He could hate it to the heavens as long as he got his facts right. He doesn't. He touches no community aspect, no map aspect, no mod aspect. He notes things that are not there and avoids features which are. I don't know if he's even reviewing SC2!

It is not a lack of innovation that makes SC2 great. SC2 innovates enough. What makes it great is that it's still an RTS, not a Diablo-RTS hybrid.

Yeah, he did clearly get practice and placement matches mixed up.

Other than that he's a big strategy fan, but he always disses the campaigns arguing that the mechanics of the game are actively detrimental to decent story telling.

LarryC wrote:

I don't much care whether or not he likes it. He could hate it to the heavens as long as he got his facts right. He doesn't. He touches no community aspect, no map aspect, no mod aspect. He notes things that are not there and avoids features which are. I don't know if he's even reviewing SC2!

It is not a lack of innovation that makes SC2 great. SC2 innovates enough. What makes it great is that it's still an RTS, not a Diablo-RTS hybrid.

I don't know if these things are either important or necessary for a review though. Except for what I've bolded there, I agree so much I about got whiplash nodding.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Yeah, he did clearly get practice and placement matches mixed up.

Other than that he's a big strategy fan, but he always disses the campaigns arguing that the mechanics of the game are actively detrimental to decent story telling.

I would argue otherwise. RTS games like SC2 are made to be fast-paced and exciting. He complains about the pace some. That boggles my mind! The game is entirely under your control! If you're that bored, go 6-pool someone. Can it be that he's so inept that he can't even build a Spawning Pool and attack-move 6 Zerglings?

The game goes out of its way to show you the MP ropes. It even has challenges that introduce players to how to make an exciting early game. Did he miss that part of the game? Did he review an incomplete copy, somehow?

The story missions are the same. You can play them as nonstop action from the first second - no waiting. I can't say the same for DoW2!

Has anyone figured out a way to remap the "remember this camera location" hotkeys from Ctrl+F8-F11 to Ctrl+F2-F5? Even cracking open the hotkey MPQ, I can't find the keys for camera control.

BlackSabre wrote:

OK, interesting. So, if you eliminated the single player campaign, is the rest of it still good in it's own merit?

Basically I figure the single player is exceptional, but I know that's only going to last so long for me. Am I going to get my value and time out of this game from the other non single player elements?

Ahoy Sabre, it seems you have stuck with the same questions I did.

Having bitten the bullet recently, but still waiting for my copy to arrive, the stuff that convinced me was:

- Quality of the matchmaker, which I had the chance to check out during Beta;

- Depth of the game, inherent to it's design. A great DoW2/CoH vs C&C/SC comparison is here, which I focus this:

Base-building games, however, are suited for multiplayer because of the depth added when players are required to make visible tech choices as well as build and control a standing army. The resource collection model based around worker units and "minerals" also makes economic harassment a powerful tactic, which can lead to an assured victory if correctly executed.

I find this to be quite true. DoW2 is all about squad control. Sure, you might and should have a strategy in mind when you play, but it's actually not very nuanced, causing a "samey" feeling in the game. I mean, the plan is always to get to T3, either getting vehicles to keep the advantage, or getting AV to shoot them down, then going with super-units. You rarely completely overwhelm your opponent before that, unless the skill gap is huge and you go 500-0. It really is all about your troops, to the point that sacrificial units (barring Spore Mines) are very detrimental to your play, since they feed XP to your opponent. And we know how a T1 squad kill usually seals the deal, even though the game drags too late T2 due to VP ninja capping.

SC2 on the other hand allows for much more different ways to win and lose. You can be a great micro guy that just steam rolls early game, or you can play Bob the Builder, be on the defensive and win by attrition. And even these two models of play will differ on the timings for when you get stuff, and how you use it. And sending whole armies to their death is actually a viable strategy on certain scenarios. Best thing to do is to check out Day9 dailies, like others have said. He usually tries to cast "different", high level of play games, so you get a sense of all the whacky stuff you can pull.

A big fracking minus to SC2: zone locking. I don't know if you are aware, but Blizzard divided the world pink-map style. So, you can only play with NA GWJ'ers if you buy the NA version. Same with EU. I find this to be total BS, but since I really want to play this game, and lagless games with fewer friends > laggy games with more friends, I got the EU version. Blizzard said a while back they are looking into bypassing zone locking, but there's no ETA or anything. Heck, if they supported LAN, a guy could always try stuff with Hamachi or something, but that would make us filthy pirates, not friends who want to play together (yes, this one's a big f****** chip on my shoulder. No, not the LAN. The zone locking).

I was also talking to Pawz the other day and he told me that the game is super expensive down there -__-, so that's also something to consider. Anyway, since we both are coming from the same experience, I hope my reasoning proves helpful to you

LarryC: I think I read a different review. He mentions that it's fast and may not be for everyone, I don't see that as a complaint, rather a valid criticism. He also goes out of his way to make the MP and the interface seem as friendly as a tough game can be.

MrDeVil909:

What I mean is that the games he mentions that "innovate," don't, in fact, innovate. Rise of Legends, he asserts is a better game because it takes micromanagement away from you. That about makes as much sense to me as auto-headshotting in an FPS game, or auto fill-in in Sudoku. Perhaps he also thinks that Chess can be improved by reducing it to a two-option multiple-choice game?

On some level, I can appreciate that that sort of option can make the game more accessible for the casual gamer, but that does not automatically make the game better, and it's not "innovation!"

Why not just put a button that says "I win!" and roll dice to determine the winner? There - all macro AND micromanagement automated.

Don't mistake my tone for being irked at you. I'm just annoyed when industry journalists can be this wrong about a game and have people believe their incompetent takes. For what it's worth, I'm just as irked at the Wii review scene. Nearly no one gets those games right.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

LarryC: I think I read a different review. He mentions that it's fast and may not be for everyone, I don't see that as a complaint, rather a valid criticism. He also goes out of his way to make the MP and the interface seem as friendly as a tough game can be.

He doesn't mention the challenge modes. He fails to correctly mention practice and placement rounds, and he mentions nothing of the ladder system. I'd say he didn't go far enough out of his way to really give readers a take on the competitive league scene.

He doesn't go into regular replays you can watch. You can forgo the entire MP ladder thing and just watch replays and get enjoyment out of that.

He doesn't go into friends lists and how you can play custom maps that play exactly according to how you want (because you can retool them into whatever you wanted).

It has all the earmarks of someone who wants to sound fair, but really has an agenda, and an incomplete understanding of the game to match.

LarryC:

No worries, do I see where you are coming from.

But innovation can mean streamlining. Rise of Legends and the Relic games since Homeworld have innovated through streamlining. DoW has innovated by focusing on squads and playing dress up with hero units. These innovations, which you don't like and I'm ambivalent about, have kept the genre alive through a tough decade.

So I don't see the opening for his review as an attack on Starcraft 2, more an expression of sympathy for guys like Relic. Imagine being them. They have worked hard to keep the genre alive, yet here comes SC2, totally ignoring everything they have done since SC1 and just sitting down on top of the pile.

Chick's review may seem a little hostile because he is very careful to highlight how this is a game unlike anything else in the last 5 or more years. When was the last 'typical' RTS? I don't know. So a potential buyer who hasn't bought it yet does need to be warned that it may not be what they are familiar with.

*cross edit*

LarryC wrote:

He doesn't mention the challenge modes. He fails to correctly mention practice and placement rounds, and he mentions nothing of the ladder system. I'd say he didn't go far enough out of his way to really give readers a take on the competitive league scene.

He doesn't go into regular replays you can watch. You can forgo the entire MP ladder thing and just watch replays and get enjoyment out of that.

He doesn't go into friends lists and how you can play custom maps that play exactly according to how you want (because you can retool them into whatever you wanted).

It has all the earmarks of someone who wants to sound fair, but really has an agenda, and an incomplete understanding of the game to match.

I agree that he should have mentioned the Challenge modes, but I don't really know that the rest is stuff that a potential customer on the fence needs to know about TBH. All those things are pretty arcane for casual players.

LarryC:

I think you're not getting Tom Chick's approach to games. He is totally casual about this. Although there are points I also disagree, and at least 1 word that is too much ("optional placement matches"), his conclusion is spot on.

Spoiler:
So far, the league play system has worked great in the first week. But of course it's going to work great in the first week, when so many of us are just getting warmed up. Will the skill level of the player base rise and leave fewer options for casual players? Will Starcraft II be popular enough to maintain a population of folks who don't regard it as an e-sport? Will it be a game you can play online once a week with random opponents?

and

Spoiler:
But it's a grim irony that our best hope for a thriving community of casual RTS players lies in an RTS this traditional and demanding.

He's reviewing the game for people who might do 5 hours per week of SC2, including watching replays/casts, not just playing. And for those people, yes, the game really is hard and unapproachable.

What you said about FPS and auto-aim is totally true. That's how shooters became more mainstream, thriving on more casual friendly ecosystem: consoles.

And before people throw stones at me, there's no debate: the finer control provided by a mouse & keyboard on a FPS rises the skill ceiling, to the point that twitch shooters aren't strong titles on consoles.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Starcraft 2 is all those things he says, yet it is still f*cking awesome.

Actually, he said: "Don't get me wrong. Starcraft II is a fine game. It's just not great."

Ok, I'm done being a dick for the night.

oMonarca:

Even so, he's incorrect in his assertion. Even people who only play once a week for 5 hours are going to get better. Assuming you played that much, you should be able to keep up easily, and I know this from having friends who played no more than 5 hours a week.

Moreover, even if you couldn't find opponents in league matches, you have your Friends list, and you can always play against a stronger opponent under a handicap in a custom game, which is new in SC2. This doesn't even mention the various downloadable maps like the TD one, which requires no great skill to enjoy.

Too, you can also play coop against AI on standard or various custom maps, which means that the skill of your allies doesn't matter as much in terms of who you can play with, or you can team up with another friend and have a counterpart on the opposing team that isn't as skilled.

Various other ways I've played under a skill disparity include weighted maps (stronger players placed in more precarious positions) or asymmetrical team matches (3 on 2 or even 3 on 1). Why was none of this mentioned? All of this makes SC2 always something you can pick up and play with friends.

For the life of me, I can't see what about SC2 was unimaginative. Yes, it's derived a lot from the genre at large, but since when is bringing more RPG into RTS a bad thing? I mean, isn't that what we've been praising DoW 2 for? Why does he trash Blizzard for taking something good and doing it better? I don't get it.

Yes, Blizzard is the 800lb(800 ton perhaps) Gorilla(no offense, gorilla) of PC gaming. But what they do, they do well. They've made mountains of money by taking things which are good, and making them better. If you ask me, that's innovation unto itself.

Dyni wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Starcraft 2 is all those things he says, yet it is still f*cking awesome.

Actually, he said: "Don't get me wrong. Starcraft II is a fine game. It's just not great."

Ok, I'm done being a dick for the night. :D

So you'll be back to be a dick in the morning?

:p

The "f*cking awesome" was my own perspective.

oMonarca wrote:

He's reviewing the game for people who might do 5 hours per week of SC2, including watching replays/casts, not just playing. And for those people, yes, the game really is hard and unapproachable.
.

Yeah, the review is not for us. I never base a buying decision on a review, but I do think his perspective is very interesting.

For more clarity on it people should listen to the latest GameShark podcast where he explains his perspective aimed a little more to our hobbyist sensibilities.

LarryC:
Man, you assume way too much from a casual player's dedication and attention span. 5 hours per week might mean that the campaign will take around 2 months to finish. Give it one more month for MP, and then he/she is off to a different game. This is the kind of players that find mods is a nerd step too much.

AnimeJ:
I would call that refinement. But I'm also from the school that believes that while what Blizzard does is polished, fun and engaging, is also, when it comes to actual innovation, very scarce.

oMonarca:

By the same token, if the player is only playing that much, then the game is already greatly overvalued for the asking price! You got a single player mode that will last you 2 months of gaming, not including built-in challenge modes, practice matches (which are dead-easy), vs. AI local games, and vs. Friends functionality. That's not a "fine" game. That's f*cking awesome!

oMonarca wrote:

I would call that refinement. But I'm also from the school that believes that while what Blizzard does is polished, fun and engaging, is also, when it comes to actual innovation, very scarce.

I don't come from school of anything. I like to go into a game fresh, without bias. Much of SC2's framework is modeled after tried and tested RTS gaming, but then again, much DoW2 was also derivative, as was much of ME2. Many aspects of all these games are iterative.

The true landmark game remains SC1, because it feels like a modern RTS. It is, if you'll excuse the idiom, the Citizen Kane of RTS games. This right here - SC1 - this marks where RTS as we know it comes into recognizable form. NO RTS before it is playable today, from presentation and control issues.

There were many control innovations and design innovations that could be found in SC1.

SC2 is a presentation and game design iteration. It doesn't change the basics, but it does recreate the strategic game completely.

oMonarca wrote:

AnimeJ:
I would call that refinement. But I'm also from the school that believes that while what Blizzard does is polished, fun and engaging, is also, when it comes to actual innovation, very scarce.

Yes, what Blizzard does is refinement. But the level at which they are able to refine concepts is above and beyond what any other company is capable of. There are tons of games on the market which are little more than a refinement of last year's edition, yet how many of them sell nearly as well as anything Blizzard's put on the market? SC2 sold a million and a half copies in 48 hours. How many are they going to sell over the next 6 months? 12 months? Even if their only real innovation is making someone else's concept polished, fun and engaging, it's something that should be recognized as such IMO.

oMonarca:

Again, I have to point out that you must be talking about a different game. SC2's multiplayer is not fantastically different from what had gone on before, but the single-player experience is something new, with all the Wing-Commander style battleship thing and all the upgrades and storylines you can pursue. There's even a shmup in there.

SC1 is landmark because prior to SC1, there were clear issues that needed to be addressed in MP RTS game design that it fixed and implemented. You could say that SC1 perfected the genre formula. You can't innovate on perfect. You can only move away into creating another genre, or you can innovate on aspects other than the basic formula.

If you're talking strictly multiplayer? Sure, SC2 isn't much different from SC1. The single player is where they completely differentiated themselves. From the idea of having a hub for missions to making extensive use of cutscenes to push the story forward, these are things that I haven't seen in any RTS I've played. DoW 1/2 were mostly talking heads, similar to SC1. Have we seen a hub like that? Sure, but not since Wing Commander that I can think of. Same goes for permanent, purchasable upgrades. I can't think of any RTS I've played where that was a mechanic.

There's plenty of innovation in SC2, if you ask me. I think the issue reviewers are having is a 'seen it before' one. We're honestly at a point in gaming where very little is new across the spectrum, and the only innovation left is a blending of cross genre elements. And that? That's something Blizzard excels at, too.

LarryC:
That's f*cking awesome, in a way that's not truly groundbreaking, since it's what SC1 already was, updated to modern days, with a stellar budget. For someone that played SC1, but now has family and work to tend to and not a whole lot of time to put into the game, it might get a cooler experience with Red Dead Redemption, or as a strategy/squad game, Dawn of War 2.

It all depends on what the player is looking to take away from the game. New and different experience? SC2 isn't really recommended. Polished, balanced and fun? SC2, sure!

AnimeJ wrote:
oMonarca wrote:

AnimeJ:
I would call that refinement. But I'm also from the school that believes that while what Blizzard does is polished, fun and engaging, is also, when it comes to actual innovation, very scarce.

Yes, what Blizzard does is refinement. But the level at which they are able to refine concepts is above and beyond what any other company is capable of. There are tons of games on the market which are little more than a refinement of last year's edition, yet how many of them sell nearly as well as anything Blizzard's put on the market? SC2 sold a million and a half copies in 48 hours. How many are they going to sell over the next 6 months? 12 months? Even if their only real innovation is making someone else's concept polished, fun and engaging, it's something that should be recognized as such IMO.

It's just semantics discussion now. If I invent the wheel, but you make it better and profitable, you're not really innovating, but evolving, setting the bar higher. Again, quality, attention to detail, polish, are all Blizzard's trademarks. They don't make something truly new and different since maybe Warcraft 1.