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blizzcon 2009 starcraft 2 single player

The single player element of StarCraft II, while arguably not being as important for the lasting legacy of the game, has had a lot of focus recently. While the fansite events that took place at Blizzard HQ provided some insight on how it will work, BlizzCon was the first time it was available to the public. So how was it?

Not that I want to fanboy out here, but pretty bloody amazing. The best part, perhaps, is that it feels like a natural progression from the talking heads, scrolling text of eleven years ago. Instead of an invisible, mysterious protagonist we have Jim Raynor as a player character able to freely move around his vessel accepting missions and such forth. Instead of talking heads, we have talking bodies. Instead of voiceovers on scrolling text we have ... well voice overs on scrolling text but it's so much nicer looking!

At BlizzCon the player was allowed 20 minutes to explore the ship and attempt one of two possible missions. I spent most of my time looking around the ship and investigating the various inter-mission options. This takes the shape of various departments on the Hyperion which Raynor can visit to hire mercenaries, upgrade troops, investigate side missions and ... drink alchohol. The bar was actually one of my favourite areas. Jukebox strapped to the ceiling, it had a really nice feel to it that gave exactly the right environment for the purpose of the area - mostly exposition and the hiring of mercenaries. A TV provides news reports, which during this small period are entirely about the remergence of the Zerg swarm, and there is a trophy rack on the wall: "I don't understand why anyone would want to hang up bits of Zerg" states Raynor, examining a pair of talons hanging there.

A lovely bit of detail is that, while not everyone has a planned dialogue interaction, everyone in a scene will usually have something to say if you click on them; with multiple permutations. For example, there are two NPCs sat in the bar. If you interact with them they do not talk directly to Raynor but instead between themselves, discussing events on the ship. Raynor himself is also clickable, commenting on his current situation when clicked upon.

starcraft 2 hyperion laboratory


My favourite character was probably the scientist, Stedman, who ran the lab. The cans of drink strapped to his body is a nice touch and his attitude towards his research and Raynor is, while classic, very well done. His in-game use, permanent upgrades over large groups of units after completing certain in-mission tasks, seems like a good idea. In comparison to the paid-for upgrades that are purchasable after each mission, they seem a little weak however - since they actually require a reasonable amount of time and resources allocated to acquire. Talking of those upgrades: the interface for their purchase is brilliant. The screenshot provided in our July 20th coverage does not show what is below that panel - a video and fluff/description of the upgrade in action. This is most useful for upgrades which create new units or upgrades that haven't been seen before and have no point of reference from the original StarCraft or what we have thus far seen of multiplayer.

The missions available were Tooth and Nail and The Evacuation of Agria. These were unchanged from our July 20th coverage, which can be read here. The fact that my main complaint is that there wasn't time to do absolutely everything in one play session speaks well of the game. In-game everything was beautiful - the biggest shock being when I told an SCV to build a Barracks, that same SCV went directly to the spot I told him to build, instantly. It was all very smooth. If there were to be any complaints (and it should be noted that my actual in-mission time was less than 8 minutes) they would be that the mission I played (Tooth and Nail) still seemed to boil down to build army and procede to enemy base for destruction. A fancy skirmish, but a skirmish all the same. I am aware that had I actually reached the relic I would come across giant Zealot-Collosi and had a last defence type situation - but until this point it all seemed rather simple.

Overall, my time with the game, short as it was, reinforced my feelings that StarCraft IIs singleplayer is in good hands. I wish that I had had longer to play with combinations of upgrades and finish missions, but am now left impatiently awaiting the game itself.

 

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

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