Print 112 comment(s) - last by n0ebert.. on Aug 2 at 11:59 AM

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 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.

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