A quick review of Blizzard’s StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty beta. Well really more a first impression. This review relies on you at least having a basic knowledge of the original StarCraft, sorry.

Note: The publication date for this post is wrong due to a mistake I made, and I originally wrote this post before 2015.

I started drooling almost non-stop when I heard Blizzard had a beta programme. I already own the original StarCraft game, so via battle.net I asked to participate, downloaded their system checker and waited a couple of weeks, if that. Was it was worth the download?

Yes. Okay that one word isn’t an invite to stop reading this review, it’s worth continuing. The beta programme only allows playing of multiplayer maps against other players or the AI, but it’s still worth playing.

I would like to point out early on how smooth the installation of the software was and that my hardware firewall didn’t require configuration to play online and the computer’s own firewall only required a few clicks. Plus everytime you connect to battle.net via the StarCraft application it checks for updates, then automatically downloads and installs if required. Even if you’ve been away for a while, it will just keep upgrading until your up-to-date. Believe me this shouldn’t be underestimated, especially the firewall configuration aspect. Also I’ve played games if your running different version numbers of the same game, you can’t see friends and battle or co-op. A very smooth process and makes life easier for everyone.

So the gameplay? On first instance you think, I waited all these years for this? Updating graphics and a few touches here and there, how disappointing. Then it begins to dawn on you, this is no simple make over. Instead it’s what many other game companies could learn from. Produce a sequel that fits snuggly into the ‘canon’ and gives the impression and familiarity of the original, yet go beyond. Plus with so much time since the original, the impact is enormous.

Take the supply depots. In the original you would have then dotted everywhere and you still can in the sequel. However now you can lower them into the ground so they don’t get in the way of your units. What does it mean? Well other than not trapping units you can move units more freely around your base and you don’t focus as much on large building placement. Ideal improvement for ground unit movement.

The ships look impressive and the familiar voices are there when you select them. The ships gently sway when stationary, the ground units move and individual buildings all graphically look fantastic, even on a lower spec system. The attention to detail of individual unit actions is incredible. You actually enjoy seeing the enemy spawning units or attacking…. well until the moment you lose a unit!

So wait a minute no new units? Actually there are, plus buildings and upgrades. Don’t undestimate the updates to the existing units though, go delving to discover. The developers have seen other games come and go and have obviously learnt from others as well as this beta programme, among other influences. Such as a new building you can track incoming enemy units, I remember such an item in Red Alert 2 Yuri’s revenge.

Let’s not forget though the maps themselves. Lush details, smooth, depth. The AI is fantastic and takes this game to another ‘level’. Okay so you probably know where this review is leading. Multiplayer wise if you loved the original StarCraft, your going to love this. It feels fresh like the first time I played StarCraft, yet familiar. It’s what a sequel should be, yet…… I have a suspicion I’m going to be even more impressed by the single player version when it’s released.

Good job Blizzard.