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This review was submitted by Dana Koch. If you’ve played StarCraft, or just want to ask Dana more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Yes, yes, I know that the whole gaming universe has its mind currently set on StarCraft II, but this only served as incentive to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s an RTS virgin’s look at StarCraft - not only a good game, but also a deeply influential game, the one that really put real-time strategy on the map.
Loved The S in RTS: Coming from a turn-based strategy history, dipping one’s toe in the world of real-time strategy is a bit of a shock - but it's a pleasant shock. StarCraft quietly teased out in my mind an appreciation for the strategy potential in the genre from the rich variety of situations it presents to you: “simple” time-based survival missions, non-construction, exploration-based missions, or longer, sprawling missions to build up a deadly force to overcome the enemy. There’s strategic value on many levels -- the units themselves, the units across the three races, the dynamic with pitting these races against each other, and more.
Intensity: Because everything happens in real-time, all actions happen at once. This makes for an engrossing playthrough, that demands focus and attention. It’s intense, but it’s not the frustrating, nerve-fraying “intense” like traditional combat-based games can get; you’re kept on your toes, but you always feel like you’re in control.
Polish: Clearly, Blizzard understand the requirements of the genre to streamline gameplay; instead of mousing about wildly across the map, you can set up hotkeys to jump between groups of units so you can coordinate your troop movements, or to jump between areas of the map to, say, focus a strike upon.
Hated Lack of automation and higher-level actions: It probably sounds a bit contradictory to the genre to want more automation; I suspect that part of the challenge of the genre is to manage most things manually. But personally, I really wanted to set up a number of things for certain units to do all at once: for example, to fly a dropship in to one point, unload it at a given point, then get that ship back to safety. Higher-level movements would have also been nice: instead of saying that this group should all move to another point and crowd around it, there’d be examples where I’d want to advance a line of troops in a certain direction.
Engine constraints: This is a major gripe (and luckily, I have been informed that this has been fixed in StarCraft II); you can only move up to a fixed number of troops at a time. I have also heard that a lot of the slight clunkiness in the gameplay in StarCraft has been refined in StarCraft II, so this should make StarCraft II a more streamlined experience as well as a cleaner and graphically improved one.
I’m not sure whether this will have the refreshing appeal to others with different gaming backgrounds as it did for me, but the success and influence that StarCraft had should suggest strongly that it would.
Reviewed by: Dana Koch
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