'Ello all, it's yet another segment of 10 Hours In. For those unfamiliar with the concept, whenever I get a new game, I play it for ten hours, and then post my opinions on it. This is based on my belief that if you're not having fun after 10 hours, then the game isn't worth your time. If you disagree, sorry and you're free to believe that, but I'm not going back on my opinion.
I'd also like to announce a new addition to 10 Hours In. I've received a few complaints about my tendency to write about 15 paragraphs and give out headaches with my massive walls of text, therefore I've added my brand new TL;DR section. One paragraph basically summarizing the review.
Starcraft 2. Love it or hate it, everyone seems to have an opinion on Blizzard's latest entry in the hit strategy series. While also known for their other bestsellers, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft, and Diablo, Blizzard has created a strategy series so popular South Korea has turned it into an official sport, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line at any given time. Any game that has this big of shoes to fill is going to be held under pretty close scrutiny, does it pass?
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The story revolves around former marshal James Raynor. You follow him and the crew of his battleship, the Hyperion around the galaxy as they fight to overthrow the corrupt Confederate government, while also fighting back against living virus that is the Zerg swarm.
Story wise, sadly it's pretty generic. Most of the main characters end up saying the same dead, cringe inducing action movie lines that were old 5 years ago. "It's not over 'til it's over" and "There's always hope" are commonplace to the point of nausea. The cutscenes, while few, are graphically soothing, with impressive detail going into the facial animations and lip syncing. The pre-rendered battle scenes, while fewer still, stand out as the most dazzling, it's only unfortunate there weren't more.
The gameplay is a nice mixup, keeping the core Starcraft elements intact but changing it up just enough so that it doesn't feel stale. You start out the same, building up your economy and building units, but as you get into the early skirmishes and onward, everything is viable to change at a second's notice. Almost every strategy has a counter, and no unit is completely useless. Economy raiding, sudden drops by air and straight up deception are not only allowed, but encouraged.
The campaign missions vary from standard attack and defend to timed missions, hit and runs, hero missions, and unfortunately, escort missions. And, while most missions are fresh and interesting, there are some that are downright boring, The Dig standing out in particular. Thankfully, these missions are few and far between, and the gently sloping difficulty curve makes sure you're almost never bored, but never frustrated, either.
Between missions, you can spend credits earned through mission completion to spend on Mercenary Units or upgrades for existing units. You won't have enough credits for all the upgrades, so purchase wisely.
Sadly, for 30 missions, I was still able to beat the game on normal difficulty in about 6 hours. Now, granted, it kept my interest for the entire time, but still, c'mon people, Halo 3 had a longer story mode then that. There are other modes of course, Skirmish, Challenge Mode, and naturally, Multiplayer.
After playing a few Skirmish missions, I noticed something. There's one hell of a difference between Easy difficulty and Normal difficulty. I mean, I may very well be bad at games, it's an accusation that's been hurled against me many times, but I honestly don't think this has to do with my personal skill level. Other then that, besides a slight advantage I've noticed in the Terran's infantry, the races were completely different and also extremely well balanced, and I had alot of fun blasting the zerg to goo with my siege tanks. The death animations are superb, the audio is wonderful, and the maps are very well balanced.
Challenge Mode is a series of 9 missions, 3 for each race and of increasing difficulty, where your multiplayer skills are honed and put to the test. A succession of tests, ranging from micromanagement skills to strategic positioning, are both extremely difficult, and a blast to play. It's just a shame there aren't more.
Yep, that's right. No matter how much I don't want to, Multiplayer is an essential part of Starcraft's experience, and to miss out on it would end with probably a few death threats in my inbox and a flame war in my thread. So, cautiously, I went out into the untamed wild of online multiplayer...
And promptly got the absolute shit kicked out of me.
I mean, I expected me to be a little rusty, what with not touching Brood War in years and with Starcraft 2 having been out for some time now. But it seems that I just get my base up and running and get out a few small Marines before 15 Thor walkers are blasting down my pitiful wall.
However, although I never won much of anything, I never felt that my losses were anything other than my own incompetence. Except with the aftermentioned Marauder unit, everything was balanced and had an easy counter, and most battles revolved around scouting your opponent and building the appropriate counter.
The Battlenet servers never crashed in my attendance, and I almost always instantly connected to my next opponent whenever I clicked Ready. Battlenet provides support for parties, spectator slots, and ladders out the whazoo. I walked away somewhat impressed by Battlenet's features, if not exactly blown away.
So, 10 Hours In, what do I think?
While far from the galaxy-devouring, end-it-all game that it was hyped up as, I enjoyed Starcraft 2 somewhat. I felt it was worth the admission price, and I guess that sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?
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