Got A StarCraft II Beta Key!

I've had the chance of playing the StarCraft II beta for some time now, due to friend of mine kind enough to share his Key. But finally a stranger handed me out a Key he had no use for to use for my own pleasure. Now I feel confident enough to post about my experience with the game many of us have been waiting for for over a decade.

My impressions on the beta so far (after playing more than a hundred games):
Graphics - 7/10
They capture the feel of the classic StarCraft well enough, wrapping it nicely into 3D. It's not state-of-the-art graphics but the animations and unique and distinguishable unit and building models make up for it. On the downside, it does feel a little bit like plastic. The terran could be dirtier, the protoss could be shinier, the zerg are fine (even though their units are sometimes hard to distinguish in the heat of battle). Sadly the maps feel really, really empty. I hope they add many more objects to each map.

Gameplay - 8/10

It all depends on what you expect. it's the classic melee, super fast when it comes to base management and unit micro, and you have to be extra careful not to be overrun by your enemy because you built the wrong forces. To me, it's a little dissapointing, having hoped for a new race, more new units or some RPG-features. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want WarCraft 3 heroes, but couldn't the terran units have some sort of rank system that makes them better with each kill, or unlocking upgrades? I guess they really saved it all for the single-player campaign. Although, neither did I want the game to become slower than any of these features might have made it.

So far I've mostly played random. Each race feels very different from one another. Protoss have few but powerful high tech units, Zerg are massing, not giving a shit about a single zergling being killed, and terran are just the dirty old bastards that keep on bunkering in their base.

I really like the new economy features. The Zerg Queen to spawn larvae, expand your creep, heal, the Terran Command Center to scan, cal down extra supplies or MULEs and the speed buff for Protoss units you warp in and upgrades you research. It's the little choices you face each time (what do I spent my energy on?) that makes it so much funnier than the old order-worker-to-mineral-field stuff in StarCraft 1 that felt like work.

The new mobility features in the game are cool. Nydus worm used more freely, without creep, Protoss Collosi and Stalkers, also Reapers traversing cliffs. Hell, I got owned by those Reapers today. I also like how they added features like watch towers, blockades and high yield mineral fields to each map.

What I don't like is how each map feels the same. You are in a secluded base with one exit (maybe two ramps when the second one is blocked by obstacles you need to destroy first) with a ramp leading down to an expansion which everyone passes if they want to enter your main base. I also don't like how a couple of units feel. The Marauder is a pain in the ass. It does extra damage to your armored units, but it also has an upgrade which can slow units down with each attack. It means they deal extra damage to your ranged units but also slow down your light melee units, which are supposed to pick them down, but not able to because they never reach them. Also the Roach feels a bit strong. I wish Blizzard had focused more on it's regeneration capabilities instead of it's damage output and range, to make it more like a hit and run unit. But I guess that might have overlapped roles with the zergling too much. On protoss side I don't like the Immortal. It feels like a do-it-or-don't-unit. It's superior to any armored unit but gets its ass whooped by any small unit. I just thing that the contrast is too strong. I could go on about likes and dislikes of other units but I'll spare you that now. 2.0 - 7/10
Ever noticed how Blizzard never used the '2.0' themselves? They call it 'The new experience'. Yes it's new, but it's nothing groundbreaking. The matchmaking feels superior to even the one in WarCraft 3. I rarely feel like I get opponents too strong or too weak. Navigation is also good enough once you get used to it. The party system is nice. Achievements are nice, but... NO CHAT ROOMS? SERIOUSLY? How is this 'new experience' goign to bring people closer together when all we can do is fight each other? If anything, it's going to part people.

Editor - 10/10
I've spent very little time with the Editor myself. Just a bit with the terrain and the triggers, but nothing fancy. I lack the time. In it's core it is an advanced WC3 editor, but it feels a bit complicated, but every editor does when inexperienced. Those '10/10' come from looking at other custom maps. Hell, it's only been a couple of weeks and I'Ve already played Side-Scroll-shooters, 3D-shooters, Resident Evil, Pacman, Tetris, Racing games, Adventures, tested new abilites and some other crazy shite. So forget DotA (or AoS as it should be called in SC2), get ready for totally different games.

Overall - 32/40
The first two weeks I played nothing else, after that less and less, and only today, when I got my own Key, I picked up some multiplayer games. This had many reasons. One was the repetitive gameplay I've experienced, it's especially frustrating when losing (What the Fuck? Marauderrushed again?), andd it's quite impossible to maintain a certain skill level in playing random when playing to rarely. It was also because the Editor was released, so I played aroudn with that for some time. But also becasue I got my hands on Settlers 7 and Asssassin's Creed 2. The former (which I did design levels for, if anyone cares) I put to rest a week ago. I also had lots of studying to do.

Oh, 32/40 doesn't mean it is a dissapointment, it means it is a Beta without Single-Player and enough time. I'm really looking forward to the full game release on July 27th, but I am not yet sure if I'll buy it right then. A-level tests will be in September/October and plan on doing some summer preparation. But I already know it's going to be my most played game of the year.

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