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Welcome to issue 31 of the Legacy Weekly! This is the first issue since the release of the Wings of Liberty campaign. Enjoy!

Interested on keeping the best arsenal in town? StarCraft Legacy is offering a series of contests that will give you the chance to obtain the top gear for gaming. Create your very own Protoss, Terran or Zerg unit concept and get a chance to play StarCraft II with Razer’s gaming hardware. As well, feel free to design your very own “Scenario of War” in StarCraft Legacy’s mapping contest. The prize for the best map will be our own favorite video card, the Nvidia EVGA GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB). We love this video card, and you can read StarCraft Legacy’s own review on it and its 1GB sister card.

We recently analyzed the first volume of the manga series, Ghost Academy. If you don’t plan on reading it, plunge into our spoiler-crowded article.

It just seems that StarCraft II was released yesterday, but a month has passed since its launch. Around the world, StarCraft fans rush through the campaign achievements or try to join the ranks of the top melee players on their servers.

Since release, Blizzard has updated StarCraft II with small patches that have resolved achievement issues. The first content patch is still under the cloak of Blizzard Entertainment. Players wait for the infamous “Void Ray Fazing” issue and other balance concerns to be addressed in upcoming patches.

Meanwhile, getting a BlizzCon 2010 ticket is out of many people’s hands. The tickets for this annual event were sold within an hour of sales being opened. Yet, Blizzard gives their fans one of the last chances to attend BlizzCon this year. Blizzard recently announced their UMS map contest. This contest offers three major prizes for the best custom maps. An all-inclusive trip to BlizzCon 2010 in Anaheim California and $5,000 US are the prizes for each of the three qualifiers. These prizes are enough of an incentive to get your mapping skills back into top priority.

As we all share the joy of StarCraft II, Blizzard and the artist community group “Sons of the Storm” pay tribute to Michel Koiter. He was one of the twin brothers of the art group “Twincrusier,” and he passed away in 2004. Michel was honored in the Wings of Liberty cinematic “Worth the Fight” where he was a fallen crew member of Raynor Riders. The close relationship between Blizzard employees gave them the power to make one of the most badass memorials ever. You can read the memorial article written by his brother here.

Lastly, Blizzard stated that they will grant every player a free character name change. Subsequently, the name change feature will become a premium service:

We wanted to let everyone know that in the near future we’ll be allowing everyone a chance to change their chosen StarCraft II character name for free.

In some cases, people chose character names that don’t represent their usual multiplayer nicknames, as they were unaware of how the character names were being used. It’s important to us that everyone is represented by a name of their choosing in their multiplayer games, ladders, and on the forums and community site.

In addition, beyond this initial free name change, we’ll be launching a service similar to the one we offer for World of Warcraft which will allow additional character name changes for a fee. We'll announce more details on how the free name change and additional paid character name changes will be implemented in the near future.

This artwork was created by Deviant Art user t2100ex9. It is the first StarCraft-themed piece that he has illustrated.

StarCraft Legacy has linked StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty reviews from all around community into a single news post.

StarCraft Legacy’s community has its own hot topics. Join the discussions or vote in our polls. Currently, the front page poll asks, “On what difficulty did you play the Wings of Liberty single player campaign?” If you visit the forum, be warned that you might encounter storyline spoilers because spoiler tags have been lifted.

You can discuss WoL's final scene here. You can predict and speculate about HotS here. Finally, browse the North American ladder thread here.

Finally, this a YouTube video featuring College Humor. It provides a general viewpoint of the casual StarCraft commander.

 

 

Vitals

Map: Storm of the Imperial Sanctum
Creator: ekcolnovkol
Players: 5v5
Map Type: Aeon of Strife / DotA
Length: 15-60 minutes
URL: http://www.sc2mapster.com/maps/storm-imperial-sanctum/
Reviewed by: asfastasican

Description

Storm of the Imperial Sanctum (referred to as Sanctum) is StarCraft II’s first, bold attempt at creating a worthy successor to Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Sanctum is a map where you have two teams with bases located on opposing sides of the map, and every player selects a unique hero unit to control as their avatar. Both teams fight down three lanes with friendly NPC units, and they clash with the other team along the way. As the army units die around them, each player gains experience and minerals from participating in the action. Your hero will level up, get better stats, get new abilities and upgrade them. You spend your minerals on items and equipment to make your hero stronger. As players kill each other, they take each other’s minerals. Dead players respawn after periods of downtime, and teams will try to gain the upper hand while pushing down the lanes and destroying the enemy’s defensive towers. Victory is achieved when one team is able to push back the enemy into their base and kill their main building.

The loading screen in all of its generic glory!

Review (History Lesson Included!)

We’ll likely cover this map frequently, for, seeing as though many see it as StarCraft II’s official DotA, we’ll be expecting this map to evolve over long periods of time. Think of this review as my first impressions of Sanctum and less of an actual review. It wouldn’t be fair if we took only one look at such an ambitious project and then determine its worth merely a month or two after StarCraft II’s release! Be prepared for quite a history lesson in DotA-type maps as well.

Say hello to Molgloo Grunty, the Murloc space marine! He’s a pretty good roamer, meaning he’s built to spend most of his time running around the map while ganking enemies.

Sanctum is a map that has its roots in the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) or “DotA Clone” genre. Several stand-alone games and mods/maps alike have tried to build upon this newfound genre ever since it evolved from the AoS (Aeon of Strife) type maps of the distant past. AoS (which was also a reference to a fictional period in StarCraft lore where the Protoss tribes fought against each other in civil war) was a simple map with 1-3 lanes between two enemy bases. Players would select various types of Warcraft III heroes and run down these lanes fighting in a small war against two factions.

Meet Garamond Singsprocket, the little MULE that could!

This style of map was fun and refreshing from other maps of that time, and there were many variations of these maps created by many different mapmakers. It’s hard to say who started everything from scratch, but it’s safe to say that AoS was pretty fun even in its infant stages. It had a certain appeal where you felt satisfaction as your hero got stronger and as you proved your dominance over the other guy doing the same thing. It was a different kind of satisfaction compared to the satisfaction you got from leveling up in a RPG or other custom maps. The rounds were quicker, the replayability was definitely apparent, and there was a strong PvP aspect to these maps as well.

Garamond attacks with his targeting lazer while his automated SCVs and his two missile-type attacks do even more damage!

DotA was born from a series of maps that refined these AoS maps. The original DotA maps had a different, yet similar style, where “jungles” were introduced in the empty spaces between the lanes you fought in. The heroes that were created were more interesting and original, creeps in the jungles added more killing fun to the game, and the items had a lot more thought put into them. Having a more refined item system introduced more strategy to the game beyond simply getting life steal items or giving your character more stat points. Later on, Eul created Defense of the Ancients. DotA was an refined version of AoS where competition and aggressive play was further rewarded. As time went on, Guinsoo took what Eul created and further developed it as DotA Allstars. After Guinsoo’s Allstars map grew in popularity over many years, Icefrog took over, and he still develops the map until the present day.

One objective of Sanctum is to destroy the enemy’s defensive towers and push your way towards the enemy’s base.

Why bother to learn about this genre’s history? Well, the whole point of giving you a more in-depth understanding of the game’s origins is to point out that Sanctum has very big shoes to fill. We’re talking clown sized shoes here, people! DotA Allstars was what I would call the second coming of Counter-Strike. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twelve years, you’ve probably heard of a little shooter game called Counter-Strike. It’s a game that actually became more popular than the original game (Half-Life) it was based on! Imagine if your game company made a smash hit, “Game of the Year” title. Now, imagine how you would feel if your game found itself overshadowed by one of its own mods very early on and for the rest of the game’s entire life? You would probably be as dumbfounded and excited, simultaneously, as Valve was about Counterstrike.

The item menus pop up where you are in the base or next to a shop.

There came a time where DotA Allstars actually became more popular than WarCraft III’s melee ladder was. The map was continuously updated by fans and for the fans, which resulted in the map being played for a great many years. It has remained popular and loved by many players across the world. During the past two years, a handful of new game developers have developed their own stand-alone games, Heroes of Newerth, which are similar to DotA Allstars, and they have since become relatively successful franchises.

The Vernal Inhibitor (a.k.a Power Trends/Steam Boots/ Berserker’s Greaves) is an item that increases your attack speed and movement speed while giving you decent regen effects.

Demigod was the first DotA clone to be released. Unfortunately, it ultimately ended up being a failure, seeing as the game was plagued by extensive piracy and was a victim of its own horribly written netcode. League of Legends was later released by Riot Games, a company founded by Guinsoo himself after he left DotA Allstars and had supposedly disappeared into obscurity. Finally, Heroes of Newerth was released by S2 Games, the European game developer that had made hybrid genre (FPS+RPG+RTS) Savage and Savage 2 during the past half-decade. Most of these new games, along with the original DotA Allstars, are played by many gamers all over the world, and many more players are being introduced the MOBA genre now as we speak.

Zerg Symbiosis (a.k.a Mask of Death/Hungry Spirit/ Vampiric Scepter) is your basic life steal item if you want to gain life back while attacking your enemies.

Now, as for Storm of the Imperial Sanctum, the map sports a healthy selection of unique heroes that have cool abilities and special, custom-made effects. It basically has the same foundation all of these previous games have, and it achieves its goal of being a SCII DotA clone. In one of my games, I played Garamond, who is a durable version of a Terran MULE with special abilities. Garamond deals ranged damage to his targets by using a lazer. He also sends out pet SCV drones to deal additional damage to his targets and casts spells against his enemies as well. As I played him, I tried my best to push down a lane and take out my enemies with the help of my allies.

The Ironforge Beacon (similar to a Necronomicon or a Puzzle Box) is one out of many beacon items in SotIS. These items give stats and allow you to summon mercenary units by your side and help fight the good fight.

I also spent a lot of my time at the base exploring the in-game GUI and tried to sift through all of the item purchase menus. The menus and interfaces that pop up serve their intended purpose by relaying information about what items do, what items combine into other items, and allowing you to buy these items by simply clicking on them. Items that you purchase automatically buff your hero, and there is a very small window from which you can activate items that has additional abilities with cooldowns. The secret shop, where more powerful items can be purchased, is located near the center of the map on the west side.

The secret shop!

There are creeps on the map with respawn timers, and you get money for attaining the killing-blow on enemy minions just like in DotA. You also can kill enemy heroes to get minerals just as you can in DotA. However, there are a couple of new concepts that DotA does not have. In DotA, players can travel the river that flows through the center of the map and grab runes (power-ups) that temporarily buff your hero for a short period of time. In Sanctum, you instead gain control of a random temporary unit that you can use to fight enemies and destroy their minions and buildings.

You can gain control of Rune Creeps by grabbing them as they spawn along the river.

There are also items in Sanctum that can summon mercenary units to your side to help take out your enemies. One of Sanctum’s other key features are the unit types. Armored, Biological, and Psionic units counter each other in different ways, meaning that this system is reminiscent to WarCraft III’s armor system and also to its Strength/Agility/Intelligence hero system. Some things never change though, seeing as that Sanctum still has a big super creep like Roshan from DotA. The super creep named Aeon stands tall near the center of the map. Either team can move in and try to take him down for additional rewards.

Bigger and badder than the likes of Roshan, Kongor or even Baron Nashor, Aeon stands ready to curbstomp your team and prove to you that he is this genre’s true and only god!

Criticisms

Where does that leave Storm of the Imperial Sanctum as of this moment? Well, as things are right now, Sanctum is in its infant stages and it doesn’t really hold its own against what League of Legends and HoN have to offer. Some of you may not appreciate me comparing a map like Sanctum to games that have been created by full fledged development teams, but I feel it is valid to do so. In my eyes, it’s valid to compare them alongside each other, seeing as that these other games are the only few in the entire genre. I not only believe it is valid to compare Sanctum to sophisticated games like HoN that are in the same genre, but I also believe it is justified simply because League of Legends is free to play and is funded by microtransactions. To pick up StarCraft II in hopes of playing the next and best version of DotA is and will be a huge let down for WarCraft III fans. You will pay $60 dollars for StarCraft II when instead you could pay $30 for HoN or a bare minimum of $0 for LoL. Whether you like it or not, these other two DotA clones are competition for Sanctum.

Once you take out the front entrances to the enemy base, you not only make your forces stronger, but you also disable the main enemy building’s shields. Destroy it and you win the round!

Sanctum is, in fact, a DotA variant. Make no mistake about that. I’m not even saying this map falls short of expectations or that its creators are to blame for it not being perfect or awe-inspiring. Most of the blame generated by perfectionists like me will be placed on the shoulders of the Starcraft II devs themselves. Firstly, the lag when playing custom maps like Sanctum will prevent this map and many other maps from being enjoyable to play, or it will at least kill any expectations of these maps from ever being played competitively . Secondly, the creators of Sanctum have to use graphics, units and assets from what Blizzard has given them, which is mostly space themed units and random pieces of terrain supplemented with a customizable lighting system.

Some effects in Sanctum are flashy and fun, while others like this aura aren’t as easy on the eyes.

Sanctum, in its current state, is very dark, and the map itself has extremely poor readability. New players and veterans alike will have a very hard time focusing their attention on units and the playing space. Even other attempts at creating SC2 DotA like E.P.I.C. have better readability. When you compare Sanctum to a game like League of Legends, it’s literally like contrasting between night and day. LoL features a bright color palette, great character detail, and exceptional art design. Clicking and targeting units in Sanctum can sometimes be difficult because of current unit sizes and model scaling. Players that will try Sanctum may be turned off by how the map feels or looks when they play it. This effect on a player is subtle and may not be directly realized at first, but it could easily affect the player’s feelings and first impressions. If anything, the only thing you can blame Sanctum’s creators is its dark terrain, but they are still limited by what Blizzard has given them within a short period of time.

Can you see where I’m going around this dark swamp? Because I can’t!

Conclusion

There are other little things about this map that can be nitpicked, such as the lack of synergy between some of the heroes’ abilities, but the game has just been released, so we can’t expect so much within a short period of time. I did enjoy playing Sanctum, and I hope to return back to it soon to see it after matures. This is exactly why I plan on returning to Sanctum to give it a second review when its creators refine the map’s look and gameplay. Time will gradually change the game’s balance and make the game more fun. The effort that this map’s creators have put into it has already warranted at least a second review from guys like me. We promise to deliver further coverage as long as Sanctum grows and develops a small community that is alive and kicking. And yes, I personally promise you guys that if I do it next time, I won’t include another exciting history lesson that strangely resembles a boring wall of text!

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