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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 Reclaimer77 on 7/27/2010 9:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well Pirks made up numbers too. Crysis cost 22 million to develop, not 30. And they claim they made a profit, but because they are a German firm they apparently don't have to disclose those details like American companies do.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if SCII came close or was at that 100 million number anyway. It was factually a massive undertaking, and the Battlenet upgrades for it alone couldn't have been cheap.

I don't care if it cost 20 bucks to make, comparing it to Crysis is an insult to Blizzard. This is probably the finest piece of opening day software I have ever experienced. The graphics, for an RTS game, are NOT old. They are amazing. The game play is flawless. Online play is balanced. And I haven't found a single bug or flaw yet.

Blizzard, you hit a home run. Again. Bring on Diablo III baby, I can't wait.


RE: I was all smiles till..
By tedrodai on 7/28/2010 12:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call the graphics amazing, but they're pretty decent. It looks like they put a LOT of effort into the graphics for the single-player campaign cutscenes/etc, though sometimes the voice acting and/or script is pretty lame.

However, I'm with you on the rest of it. The game is FUN. I'm thoroughly enjoying the campaign and the multiplayer games. I've been thirsting for a really good PC game like this without fully realizing it, because I've gotten used to even the blockbusters being pretty underwhelming in general. This game is going to hold my attention for a while, and I didn't think I'd have such a beast until D3 finally gets released.


"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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