Off Topic: A Review of StarCraft II

I posted this on my husband’s game blog, but I’m a bit annoyed and this site has a wider reach 🙂 Maybe I’ll get some good support if I post in multiple places.

First thing you need to know about me. Before meeting Brian in college the only games I played were minesweeper, solitaire and Oregon Trail (the original). I am not a hard core gamer, and when I play games I play them over and over. When I met Brian I used to sit with him in his dorm while he played on his computer. The game he was playing most often Freshman year was StarCraft and I asked him to teach it to me. Soon after I surpassed him in StarCraft and became totally addicted. Since then I have played many other real time strategies and have loved most of them.

It just makes sense that Brian would come home on Tuesday with a copy of StarCraft II just for me! I installed it immediately and proceeded to play whenever I have time. I have to admit I was worried. I thought that Blizzard was going to go the route of World of WarCraft and make the focus on massively multi-player, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were able to keep the old StarCraft feel while still introducing new features. I love that you can now choose which missions to do and in what order. I love the idea of mercenaries and the fact that you can choose your own upgrades and research projects. I love the single player game play in general.

That said, I completed the game this morning and am a bit disappointed to find that the time spent in single player is no where near as long as you’d expect. It took me longer to finish the original StarCraft and I was in college – aka had tons of free time – then. I was re-playing StarCraft before this release, and it took me less time to finish StarCraft II than it did to finish the Terran campaign in StarCraft. So my fears that Blizzard would put the focus on multi-player were not unfounded. Apparently they were hoping that you’d be online playing so much that you wouldn’t realize that you just paid $60 for 3 hours of game play (maybe I’m exaggerating, I didn’t keep track of how long it took me – I will the second time through).

Let’s top all of that with the DRM that Blizzard thought they’d add to the game and I’m wishing there was a money back guarantee. What DRM? Well apparently in order to play offline you must authenticate (don’t ask me to define this) your game on I signed up with and registered my game. I signed in and played single player for a hour or so. Then the next day I took the computer with me on the road (with the disk in the drive) and tried to play offline. This was no possible. The game kept telling me to authenticate my copy in order to play offline – but no where does it define ‘authenticate.’ I checked the support forums and the web, everyone says you should only have to sign into the game once while online and then be able to play – but I did this and got no where. I wrote to support and got a form email telling me that I had to authenticate my game every 30 days in order to play offline – once again no explanation of what ‘authenticate’ means. I tried to call support but it was a 45 minute wait and I was not going to waste my minutes on that.

So – final verdict. The game play is pretty darn cool and the improvements well done without losing the real StarCraft feel. The price tag is an insult – and an obvious ploy to get us to play $180 for a full game instead of $60 for all three campaigns in one. The DRM is nothing but trouble and there are plenty of hacks out there I can use to bypass it (legally I might add) but should I have to do that when I paid for the game? Maybe I would have paid $30 for the game and been perfectly happy, but as I said earlier – I’m wishing I had a satisfaction guarantee and could return it.

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