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Over 10 million expected to sell this year

The original StarCraft real-time strategy game was released twelve years ago, and went on to revolutionize computer gaming. The use of three distinct races with their own unique units and gaming strategies led to an explosion in LAN gaming, especially in South Korea. Over eleven million copies of the games have been sold, with millions more illegally copied. A dozen novels centered on the game universe have been written, and it is still one of the most popular in the world.

StarCraft is particularly popular in South Korea, where professional players and teams earn sponsorships and prize money through competition in televised tournaments. Over 10% of the country's population of nearly 49 million still actively plays the game.

Blizzard Entertainment hopes to recapture that success with today's launch of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the long anticipated sequel to the original masterpiece. Development on the sequel started in 2003, but had been stalled due to the resources needed for the World of Warcraft MMO. The company eventually decided to split the game up into three parts: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void.

Wings of Liberty follows protagonist Jim Raynor as he leads an insurgent group against the Terran Dominion following the events of StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion pack. The non-linear single-player campaign has the player taking on mercenary jobs for money in order to buy additional units and upgrades. There are key missions that will appear to explore the storyline and keep it linear.

The expansion packs will feature Zerg and Protoss single-player campaigns to complete the storyline, as well as additional unit and multiplayer maps. Full multiplayer gameplay with all three races is available out of the box.

Graphics are of course much improved over the DirectX 2.0 standard of the original. Unfortunately, the drawn out development process meant that the game was targeted for DirectX 9.0c, and lack the features of DX 10, 10.1, and DirectX 11. While the game looks good, it doesn't look as good as it could be.

The game is still capable of challenging graphics cards, especially at higher resolutions like 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. ATI Eyefinity multi-monitor technology is supported, and players fortunate enough to have a Radeon 5870 HD Eyefinity Edition can game with up to six monitors.

Heavy use of the Havok Physics engine and ability to use more units also means that the game is more likely to be CPU limited. Although StarCraft 2 is not multi-core optimized, players will still see a boost from using dual- and quad-core systems.

The original StarCraft game made heavy use of LAN gaming as internet usage was not prevalent or fast at the time of its release. Broadband internet access is now readily available, so Blizzard has made the decision to remove LAN gaming support. Gamers will be required to connect through Blizzard's servers in an attempt to crack down on piracy.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is available for sale in retail standard and collector's editions, as well as for digital download directly from Blizzard. MSRP for the standard edition is $60, while the collector's edition sells for $100. It includes a 176-page hardcover art book, a 2GB dog tag USB flash drive containing copies of the original StarCraft and Brood War expansion, a soundtrack CD, and a DVD with interviews and additional cutscenes.

In an unusual marketing move, Blizzard announced that South Korean players would be able to play StarCraft II for free as long as their World of Warcraft subscriptions are active. Retailer K-Mart is currently offering a $20 gaming coupon on in-store purchases of the game through the end of the month.

 





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RE: I was all smiles till..
By Asmordean on 7/27/2010 10:33:05 AM , Rating: 3
It's their form of DRM. They won't patch it out and will probably sue anyone that tries.

When it comes down to it though, how many places do you and your mates play LAN games that lacks any sort of net connection? From what I understand validation and match setup is performed via net and the actual game data is peer-to-peer meaning even a 3G phone connection shared could probably handle a few people running a game from their home.

I would prefer it not there at all but in the end I understand the reasoning and accept it.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By solarrocker on 7/27/2010 10:40:41 AM , Rating: 3
I seem to be missing the old days more and more, where you could just ring up a mate and ask to "Borrow" one of their games to play. I remember my Dune 2 disks (Yes actual floppy disks) that went from one to another till we all had the game.

I wonder if this game will be available on Steam for download, anyone? As the problem is I life on an island in the Caribbean and getting games here is a pain at best.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By zeratul2010 on 7/27/2010 10:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
@solarrocker

I'm in Barbados and we will have it on store shelves in a couple days I am sure as we are under the US distribution. If you want it can be ordered from here.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By solarrocker on 7/27/2010 11:03:59 AM , Rating: 2
zeratul2010,

I'm in the lower Antilles, things do not get delivered that fast here :)


RE: I was all smiles till..
By StevoLincolnite on 7/27/2010 2:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
We ended up getting it a good 12+ hours before the Americans, one of the first on the planet in fact. (Australia.)

We are locked into the Asian server currently, through the Singapore POP.
So we have to "Register" our copy of StarCraft with Blizzard, then download the game again just so we can play with our American buddy's.
Talk about a big stuff around... One thing I liked about StarCraft 1 was that it was simple, just install, patch and game on your server of your choice.
Now they added in several more steps right next to a long install process and removed functionality like LAN gaming, Server Choice etc'.

Also, I wasn't exactly impressed either by the fact after spending $100 AU on a copy of StarCraft 2, that they couldn't even put the game in a proper CD case, nope, it's in a cardboard sleeve, talk about cutting costs.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/27/2010 9:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
In S.Korea here and got the US copy. Game locked down until the US release. Doesn't help when we're like 18 hours ahead.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By zmatt on 7/28/2010 8:22:03 AM , Rating: 2
Wait, there isn't a Korea specific version? Wow, that's surprising considering how popular the game is.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/28/2010 6:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
There is a Korea specific version, but I'm US military. AAFES gets us the US version.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By zmatt on 7/28/2010 7:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
I know how you feel. The state of the gaming industry is sad. The other day I dusted off my old Civ 3 disk and installed it for some nostalgic gaming. I didn't need to "register" or require a "serial" or have to call home or anything. It installed and let me play. Even though the direct support for the game has been gone for years now and I doubt they still have any servers from the publisher. The same with starcraft, my copy just works. Be it with a little tweaking with the .ini's to get the resolution right. Game devs wonder why they aren't selling like they used to, I can point directly to this as to why. I bought starcraft and Civ 3 years ago. I could have pirated them, but they were good games and priced well, there was no need to. When they charge $60 for a game that doesn't have a complete single player experience and no lan play they have lost my business. I can find entertainment elsewhere. And just to set the record straight net ply is inferior to lan play. From a technical standpoint I have someone else's server to worry about, people can join that I don't want to join, and I don't have full control. On Lan play, it's faster, you decide who gets in and out and you have full control.

Anyone who still buys this game at this point is just bending over and taking it as far as I am concerned.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By ninus3d on 7/28/2010 9:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
The amount of hours in the campaign was larger than most other RTS's ive played and faaaaaar less repetitive than the original.
It also contains a "buttload" of content, anyone calling this game incomplete just havent tried it :)

Might be me and spoiled with internet, but I havent used LAN in a game that has a proper onlinefunctions in yeeears, and b.net is pretty darn proper :)


RE: I was all smiles till..
By zmatt on 7/28/2010 10:37:56 AM , Rating: 2
Well call me an misanthrope but I don't like playing with people I don't know. Online play was ruined for me a long time ago.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By Akrovah on 7/30/2010 6:47:15 PM , Rating: 2
There is absolutely nothign that says you can't play with only people you know.

I haven't actually tried themultiplayer portions of the game yet (trying that this weekend), but ther is a big shiny "Form Party" button that looks like it will let you link up with friends and get your Starcraft on together.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By Aenslead on 7/31/2010 3:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
You, sir, are a misanthrope.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By cdwilliams1 on 7/27/2010 1:44:11 PM , Rating: 2
It won't be available on Steam for download.... Blizzard has their own, competing, online store available thru their service - battle.net. You can purchase a digital copy over there just like steam.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By rburnham on 7/27/2010 11:57:29 AM , Rating: 2
Having become used to Steam, the BattleNet thing sounds fine. Sure, we'd love to do things the way they were done 12 years with LAN play, but things have changed. It sounds like they are adding some neat features to their online system, so they are at least throwing us some bones as they try to fight DRM. People just need to relax. It's just a video game.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/27/2010 12:00:45 PM , Rating: 1
With no broadband connection available, I can't play it. SC 2 is a non-issue for me. Oh well, guess they don't need my money.

Tried Steam, doesn't work on my machine. Valve couldn't fix it.

Hope everybody else enjoys the game!


RE: I was all smiles till..
By yxalitis on 7/27/2010 7:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but broadband is more a less a requirement of living with the modern Internet, complaining that one thing or another doesn't work with dial up (I assume that's what you have) is not reasonable. GET broadband, even Wireless will do if their are no fixed lines provided to you location.
Really, that's like saying "I can't buy nice cars, the roads here are unmade, and they get chipped too easily" the problem isn't the cars, but the lack of proper services to your location.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/27/2010 9:07:28 PM , Rating: 2
Not everyone can get broadband. My parent's house can't get broadband. It's all 56k, which connects at 28.8k.

Also why isn't the game at fault? It's fully capable of making it a lan game, but they don't. It's like selling a truck that has a tow hitch for a regular trailer and not a gooseneck trailer. Not everyone is going to have a regular trailer.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By someguy123 on 7/28/2010 2:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
Well, in this case it's more like buying a car and complaining it uses unleaded gas when only leaded is available in your underdeveloped area.

The game is designed completely around its multiplayer. Just playing the single player really doesn't justify the cost, but most people will be spending hundreds of hours on the multiplayer.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/28/2010 6:51:03 PM , Rating: 2
If it's centered around multiplayer, then having zero LAN support makes even less sense. You'd assume they'd add in as many options to the player as possible and throwing in LAN support doesn't take much work.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By someguy123 on 7/29/2010 11:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it would take them no work, since bnet is merely hub that connects you via a peer2peer connection. You're essentially playing LAN if you play only with people at a lan center, you just need to go through bnet to verify the copy of your game.

The reason they've left out LAN is because many lan centers were just buying one (or downloading) copy of starcraft and just installing it on every computer since the lan feature requires no verification.

I won't argue about whether or not this was fair, but it's what happened.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By dusteater on 7/27/2010 12:42:23 PM , Rating: 5
The issue is that even to play single player you need an internet connection. I work overseas in Iraq sometimes and have no access to the internet but alot of down time. So guess what... no gaming. That's what really kills me, these companies are directly attacking our service men/women over seas. Disgusting if you ask me.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/27/2010 9:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's all good. Pirates will help us military folks.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By Bryf50 on 7/27/2010 11:04:26 PM , Rating: 1
Thats not even true. You don't need internet to play the single-player. Pretty said people will use any excuse to justify being a cheap bastard and pirating.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By Bryf50 on 7/27/2010 11:04:55 PM , Rating: 2
sad*


RE: I was all smiles till..
By afkrotch on 7/27/2010 11:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
After your done with your single-player campaign, what else you gonna do, but LAN party it up? I wasted many an hour in Pakistan doing that.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By Akrovah on 7/30/2010 6:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
It is true, actually. You ahve to log into your bnet account almost before you even get the title screen.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By n0ebert on 8/2/2010 11:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
No it isn't. I just disabled my internet connection and started the game. It prompts you saying it can't connect to battle.net and asks if you wish to quit or play offline. In offline mode you can't (obviously) play multi-player and cannot earn achievements. Otherwise, play the single player and enjoy the story.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By w1z4rd on 7/29/2010 4:26:50 AM , Rating: 2
I bought the game, i feel like such a hypocrit - i knew it wouldnt have LAN and now i'm suffering because of it. i didnt know this but you absolutely HAVE to have a internet connection (working) in order to play the game, even offline mode you have to connect to battlenet!
this irritates me - now due to THEM wanting to cut down on piracy, im going to suffer when they update there servers, or when my ISP is down (i live in a 3rd world country it happens ALL the time)
And this whole LAN thing makes it worse on the side that most my friends dont have internet. i live in a house where we LAN everyday too - that plus the fact it took me 6 hours to install the game because of a bug in the installer (dont do any windows updates!!) Blizzard are going to get a hate mail from me. Good thing i've got an 8 hour flight tomorrow to write up the mail. I'm sorely dissapointed with the execution of this. sorely dissapointed in blizzard as a whole, i've loved everyone of there games. this is the first time i've actually said "F*ck this sh*t" i want a refund!!


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