Hands on: StarCraft II limbering up for world-wide assault

Format: PC

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Price: £44.99

Release: 27/07

‘We’re dedicated to creating the most epic entertainment experiences…ever’ opines Franck Pearce, co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment and Executive Vice President of Product Development, ahead of a presentation of the (more-or-less) final build of ‘StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty’ for PC. It’s a motto which screams all-American razzamatazz, enough to make the more derisive of the assembled British games press have a wry chuckle to themselves but, when push comes to shove, it’s impossible to knock Blizzard’s track record (‘World of Warcraft’, ‘StarCraft’, ‘WarCraft’), so why not flaunt it?

Blizzard’s latest is the long-anticipated sequel to real-time strategy smash hit ‘StarCraft’; boasting in excess of 11 million copies since its 1998 debut due to an unlikely, yet mammoth, South Korean. In the Far East multiplayer ‘StarCraft’ competitions are a competitive sport, upon the results of which huge sums of money exchange hands. Though the multiplayer side of ‘StarCraft 2’ has been in online beta testing for a while now, the single-player campaign has been restricted to just a few airings in public.

‘Wings of Liberty’ single-player action focuses on the Terran’s, the blanket term for the scattered factions of humanity still left in the universe. Expect their campaign to encompass internal squabbles as well as war with rival species the technology obsessed Protoss and the Zerg, a mishmash of ‘Star Trek’s’ Borg and ‘Alien’s’ xenomorphs. It has already been revealed that both Zerg and Protoss will eventually receive their own expansion sets as Blizzard concentrate on one species at a time; whether that’s a cynical move to squeeze consumers of every last penny or a genuine attempt to create distinctive, imaginative content remains to be seen.

Pearce confirms that ‘Wings of Liberty’ comes with some 29 missions in the box, each part of a branching storyline which sees the game’s protagonist, Jim Raynor, undertaking some tough moral choices. Graphically the game hits the high notes too, the in-game engine not only depicting the ensuing battles but also flexible enough to be impressively utilised during story revealing cut-scenes. We are also guided around Raynor’s battle cruiser, the Hyperion, from which campaigns are selected, upgrades researched and mercenaries hired. Clicking on the various passengers allows the player to enter into a story-revealing chat with them, there’s even an onboard cantina replete with TV tuned into the latest broadcasts so you can see exactly how your campaign is affecting the universe at large.

The highest presentation levels in the world would of course be for nought if the gameplay itself was turgid and lacking. Luckily Blizzard are well aware of this, Pearce explaining that the development team has gone to great pains to make missions as varied from each other as possible. Some of the levels present to play through illustrated that, one taking place on a volcano ravaged world where players must plan for constant lava flows as much as their enemy. Another mission sees the player protecting a giant laser drill from Protoss forces while it bores into an enemies stronghold. Luckily the drill can be ordered to attack the heavier Protoss units, the trick being to reach a compromise between forcing the drill from it’s main target and using it as a artillery unit.

The gameplay won’t be anything revolutionary to anybody au fait with the RTS genre but the interface has a sheen to it which makes ordering troops all the more intuitive. Keyboard shortcuts are also present; their use actively encouraged by tutorial missions which force the player to use them; a must when eventually taking to the competitive Battle.net hosted multiplayer field. Expect more on StarCraft as it inches its way to release, including a closer look at multiplayer.

Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    C# Developer (LINQ, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery) London

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits + Bonua: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    PHP Web Developer (PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS, Zend)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    VB.NET Programmer (SQL, C#, .NET, Analyst) - Investment

    £35000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: VB.NET Progra...

    PHP Web Developer (LAMP, CSS, PHP, MySQL, HTML)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform