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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 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 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.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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