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After a (very) long time, the well anticipated sequel has hit the computers of many budding beta players, including myself and from first looks, the game should be brilliant upon release. The graphics are up to scratch and the tactical-micro element from the first game is still there and important as ever, although the gameplay can still let new players in as well as welcome veterans back.
For those of you not versed in the Starcraft universe, it is an RTS game, Starcraft I probably being one of the most successful RTS titles ever. With it's fast paced game play, and alot of room for skill, it's a brilliant game for both competitive and time wasting play.
Game play: 8/10
The game play, from my standpoint, is excellent. Fast responding controls, old fashioned RTS fun and a simple to use interface with plenty of help for newer players. With the new Map Editor, a feature found in another Blizzard title (Warcraft 3) many cool and exciting mods will also be released to improve and change the game play, sometimes dramatically. Warcraft III saw some really well made mods and the Starcraft 2 beta has already seen some truly fantastic pieces of work.
The only pitfall of the game play is that if you're unfamiliar with the RTS genre you're gonna get stuck big time.
The graphics are mind numbingly awesome.. or are they? While the textures and effects all look very nice, theres a few nits I have to pick here. When zoomed in on you can still see site URLs on the textures where Blizzard have obviously got them from. While this is only an irritation to a nerd like me, there is also another problem. When zoomed in on a little too much, the textures can appear a little.. weak and blurry.
Still, overall, the graphics and models are really, really good and I love some effects such as the Collosus' energy beam.
I'm not a great one for sound, but there's some truly awesome tracks in the game and they can really set the atmosphere for players. It can add another layer of depth and tenseness to the game. The pieces in here are really well made and are like.. well.. music to the ears.
Value for Money: ?/10
As the game has not been put on sale yet, and I'm not prepared to go on the preorder price as it could change upon release, I can't speculate on the Value for Money of the game.
You can play this game endlessly. You can keep playing forever, and to be honest, it has awesome replayabillity. With so many different tactics, players, leagues and maps to try out, you can really get stuck in this game for a long time. It is a game that can be played over and over and it will never get boring. You can spice things up and play with your friends and have a fierce 4v4 showdown, or you can have a tense skill-based 1v1 match against someone you don't know. Truly an endlessly playable game.
My only other nit to pick is how Blizzard are falling down on Battle.net. They are not putting in support for international play, so you can only play with friends in your country/region, so don't get your hopes up to be blasting your overseas buddies any time soon.
Overall I would recommend this game to any player who enjoys a good PC gaming session and likes to have some fun with his or her friends as well as the more competitive gamer, and of course the veterans of Starcraft I will love this brilliantly made and executed sequel. Well done Blizzard.