In the words of the announcement trailer, “hell, its about time!”… and so here are a few of my first impressions of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Needless to say these are my views of a game, which is a subjective thing.
After a lengthy install (the single DVD contains PC and Mac, and installs an 8Gb game), it was ready to download a mercifully short patch. After a typically beautiful Blizzard cinematic (most of the game cinematics are in game movies, which really shows the power of this engine) I was greeted by the Battle.net login. The new UI is clean and easy to use, and since I had played with multi-player in the beta, I jumped straight into the story-heavy single player campaign. Thankfully the history of the world and the first game and expansion is given during the install.
I fully expect this to not be the normal length for an RTS (of 40+ hours) but instead around about 20+ hours as they have split the game into 3 instalments – one for each race. The races, for those who don’t know, are Terran (human… not a surprise really), Protoss (think elves, or Eldar from 40k) , and finally the Zerg (alien hive mind creatures and my favourite). There is also the challenges section which I have yet to try but they look like being quite interesting and will add a good few hours to the single player side (as I probably fail repeatedly to try and complete them), as will trying to get all the achievements in the single player missions.
In the actual games, the UI is clean (if a bit big on my older 5:4 monitor), the units react smoothly, it looks gorgeous and clean, and even when the action gets manic you can see whats going on and react. It is wise to learn at least some hot keys and how to bind units/buildings as it does help. I cannot emphasise enough just how well it’s all put together, it may not turn to be the longest RTS ever but its very finely crafted and feels solid.