We love: Longevity (we hope)
We think this is the most important aspect of Starcraft 2 that we've encountered so far. We were a little unsure whether Blizzard's subtle tweaks and changes would damage the long-term appeal of the game — and to be honest, it's only been a week — but we are confident of the lasting appeal of both single player and multiplayer. There are a few single player missions that we want to go back and try again on harder difficulty settings, and plenty of multiplayer tiers and leagues to be contested. The game is relatively easy to get into — and to get addicted to — but very hard to master. We think it strikes a difficult compromise between playability and complexity.
Will it last 12 years? We're not willing to gamble on that just yet, but it's a positive sign that we're keen to replay missions and multiplayer stoushes while hanging out for the Protoss and Zerg expansions.
We don't love: Occasional pathfinding glitches
During the course of our play we've run into occasional pathfinding glitches with a few units. Protoss Stalkers, for example, struggle to simultaneously teleport across impassable terrain when in large groups. If you give a unit an order while they're walking up a ramp, they occasionally get stuck moving back and forth on the incline's edge. This isn't a problem for micro-managing or inventive players, but losing a battle because your reinforcements are stuck crossing the map can be infuriating. This takes away slightly from the otherwise excellent gameplay.
We don't love: Mediocre in-game cut-scenes
We think the in-game cut-scenes, using the game's rendering engine, are a bit of a disappointment. That's not to say they're poorly planned or don't add anything to the storyline, because they do — it's just that occasionally things get a bit clunky and polygonal. This has the unwanted effect of breaking the immersion a little, taking the player out of the story and distracting them with jagged edges and washed out textures. Don't get us wrong, Blizzard, the scenes are much appreciated, but we'd prefer the smooth and slick full motion video cut-scenes any day.
We don't love: No LAN!?
Now, we know this is a difficult one. To be honest, it's understandable why LAN support has been removed from Starcraft 2. The original's lax approach to copyright protection — which allowed LAN play on multiple computers using a single CD key and 'spawn' installations — also allowed it to be pirated relatively easily with no repercussions. Starcraft 2 avoids that possibility by requiring you to be constantly online while you're playing. Since it's integrated with Blizzard's Battle.net service this allows statistics tracking and match-making. But no offline play means that the days of taking your PC over to your mate's place, hooking up and gaming are over. It's understandable, but it's still a pity.
Verdict: There's more to love than not
We still haven't finished testing Starcraft 2. However, so far we're largely impressed. It's no mean feat for such an anticipated and hyped video game to successfully deliver on almost all its promises. Keep an eye out for our full review of Starcraft 2.
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