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Aug 10

Starcraft 2 rant

I have purchased every one of Blizzard’s PC games, and this is the first one from Blizzard I’ve played where I feel they’ve made a major misstep. Actually, multiple missteps. Following hot on the heels of the Real ID debacle (from which they sheepishly backed down), the net is steadily filling with complaints about Starcraft 2. Coming a decade after SC1, SC2 has been many years in the making. The game is essentially SC1 with better graphics. The feel of gameplay, the hotkeys, the tactics, all of it were instantly familiar to me, and it’s been over 5 years since I last played SC1. If that was all it was, that would still be okay. It would be an outstanding game.

But SC2 has two very significant shortcomings – all of which imply that Blizzard is becoming increasingly focused on making money, rather than being nice to their up-to-now very loyal fanbase.

The first issue is the single player campaign. It’s 26 missions long (including 1 hidden bonus mission), and starts off with Raynor going after Mengsk while the Zerg invade again. The campaign is played almost entirely as Terran, with a few Protoss missions thrown in. Unfortunately, the plot is lack-lustre. It’s disjointed, lacks much emotional involvement, and is incomplete. It’s obviously setting up for expansion packs, but this storyline is so incomplete that it seems they’re not even trying to hide the fact that they’re trying to commercialize the shit out of the franchise. When you put it next to a game like Mass Effect, which has an epic storyline, the lack of quality is even more stark (not to mention the similarities between the Zerg/Rachni Xel’naga/Reaper storylines).

The second and biggest issue is battle.net. Truth be told, the single player side of SC2 is merely a sideshow. When the Koreans got a hold of SC1, they effectively turned it into a multiplayer game. However, Blizzard removed four things from multiplayer mode that used to be in SC1: LAN support, chatrooms, the ability to play without an internet connection, and worst of all, the ability to play with anyone around the world.

I can live without LAN support, although it baffles me why that was removed. I have no idea why they removed chatrooms – if you want to chat with people after a match, there’s no easy way to find them. If you’re going to run and control the online multiplayer community – then why are you taking the communal aspects out of it?!

The worst thing they did was to region-lock the game. WHY? Blizzard claims that it’s to ensure that people get the best multiplayer experience, and the only way to do that is to play people in the same region as you so as to minimize lag. This is ridiculously patriarchal. And to add insult to injury, their official line is: if you’re in America and want to play Asians, you need to buy a second copy of the game. What the hell. So now I have absolutely no way to play SC2 with my friends in Australia without forking over another $60.

  2:18pm  •  Computing  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment

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