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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: What?
By NYHoustonman on 7/27/2010 10:38:46 AM , Rating: 3
"Development on the sequel started in 2003, but had been stalled due to the resources needed for the World of Warcraft MMO."

Yep. I had never seen this confirmed, but there it is. WoW needs to be ended... I want a new Warcraft RTS, damnit!

RE: What?
By rburnham on 7/27/2010 11:41:01 AM , Rating: 2
I could only shake my head when I read that. I liked the few months I spent on WoW, but for it to be as popular as it is just seems silly. It's a good game, but it's not THAT good. The fact that it takes resources away from Blizzard's other games is just annoying. Imagine if they had skipped this Cataclysm bullshit. I bet we'd have Diablo III a lot sooner.

RE: What?
By Digimonkey on 7/27/2010 1:36:31 PM , Rating: 2
If anything WoW helped fund Diablo 3 and SC 2, so people need to quit their whining. Good for you that you don't like playing WoW, 12 million other people do.

RE: What?
By niva on 7/27/2010 4:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
WOW is their biggest cash cow, this is how they can afford the supposedly 100 mil it took to develop SC2.

I've never even played WOW but I have nothing but props for Blizzard in terms of their games and I'm sure it's grand. Can't fault them for wanting to make money and dedicating their resources to their #1 selling game. I'm actually surprised they even bothered with Diablo and SC2 instead of just focusing on a new WOW.

RE: What?
By callmeroy on 7/27/2010 12:11:27 PM , Rating: 3
Actually where did that come from (no I didn't read the daily tech article)...because that line, I can tell you with 100% fact is NOT accurate anymore...

Maybe in 2003 they had limited resources so some games were put on hold in favor of others....that's not the case today.

From interviews from World of Warcraft Magazine, Blizzcast (pod casts) and reading the blizzard forums....Blizzard staffers have stated at least "today" they have dedicated resources and departments for each franchise.

The folks working on Cata (upcoming WoW xpac) have NOTHING to do with SCII, they haven't even laid a finger on it.

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