Blizzard’s presence at E3 this year wasn’t substantial – they have their own conference after all – but we did get a chance to take a look at StarCraft 2, and it was like going home again. I’m just not sure if that’s as great as it sounds.
Back before high school, I lived in Blizzard’s pocket. I burned a summer playing Diablo, then spiraled right into StarCraft without stopping to catch my breath. Even though I grew out of Diablo, I still have a copy of StarCraft on every machine I own. Not really because I play it, but if only to remember where I came from. When I got in front of the game today, it was like my nostalgia was fully-realized.
Here’s StarCraft 2: Take the original StarCraft and make it pretty. Toss in a few new units and upgraded map features, and you’re about done. Wish I had more for you, but even the new stuff felt like the old days, and that’s OK, if not incredibly inspiring.
Blizzard plans on keeping the games short, in the 15 to 20 minute range – like last time. You can play one of three races – Terran, Protoss or Zerg. If you want to play online, they’re using a system called battle.net. Oh, and if you’re worried the game is straying too far from its successor, Blizzard is bringing in professional StarCraft players to consult on balance and gameplay.
In fairness, though, it’s a sequel, and sequels shouldn’t turn a franchise on its head. And Blizzard isn’t exactly known for taking huge risks with their IP. Most of the changes to the game are incremental, though they’re specifically interested in making sure each unit was useful. If you think back to the first game, each race had a few units no one bothered to use because they just weren’t worth the time or resources (Ultralisks, I’m looking at you).
Some old favorites are making a return, obviously. Siege Tanks were featured prominently, and they look great with the updated art style. Each race is getting a few new units, too, including the Protoss Mothership, a flying unit capable of creating black holes to pull in enemy flying units, complete with light-bending effect and fantastic-looking explosions.
Ultimately, I’m not sure it’ll grab me the same way StarCraft did, if only because it doesn’t feel new, but at this point, I definitely wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers. Really, Blizzard’s too smart to try to fix what isn’t broken, and StarCraft was anything but a broken game. So hey, if you liked StarCraft, you’ll probably like StarCraft 2. Which means I’ll have another permanent resident on my hard drive in the near future.