Let me make something as abundantly clear as I can right now. I am not going to review StarCraft 2. Not now, and probably never. Russ even asked if I'd like to attend the release party in my home city of Brisbane, but I turned it down. That's right: I eschewed a party in favor of staying in with a blackcurrant Lemsip and Split Second: Velocity. Why? Because I don't give a toss about StarCraft 2.
I'm not saying it's bad or an unnecessary sequel, although it could well be both of those things. I'm saying my opinion on StarCraft 2, or indeed any real time strategy game, is about as much use as Roger Ebert's opinion on gaming as a whole. Or Ug the caveman's opinion on the diesel engine. I don't play them. I've never been able to get into them. They're just not my cup of tea. Okay?
I've often wondered why this should be the case. I've said in the past that it's because I prefer games with stories, but RTS games still have stories. The WarCraft series had quite an in-depth one before World of WarCraft came along and froze it into a single moment of time. I think what it's that I've never liked games where the main character is just some kind of amorphous, otherworldly entity pulling the strings from on high. I guess I like to feel like part of the action. I'd rather be looking through the eyes of a commando on the front lines than the armchair general ordering him to his death. Or maybe I'm just too thick to get my head around an action plan involving more than one grizzled unit.
Now, a war consists of the contributions of many different individuals. And I can guarantee you that I haven't been the first person to think this: A war could be the setting for some kind of universal massively multiplayer omni-game in the future that anyone with any tastes could play. People who like tactical shooters play the infantry on the ground. If you like flight sims you're in the air, bombing vital targets. Action-adventure soloists get to go in as the commandos, alone behind enemy lines to meet special objectives. It's a nice idea, but a lot of problems come to mind on reflection. Won't each army have like five hundred commandos? How do you convince everyone their contribution is equally important? And how do you bring the racing fans into this? Has any major battle in history been decided by an illegal street race?
But the point is, what about real time strategy? Is there a way to combine that with the other, more direct play styles? Forgetting about the omnigame concept, could you just have a game where one player is playing an RTS and the rest are on the ground playing, say, Battlefield? This is another thought I know I'm not the only one to think: Team Fortress 2 most notably was messing around with the idea of a "commander" player very, very, very early on in its extremely long development.