With Starcraft II: The Wings of Liberty being the popular behemoth all semi-popular behemoths would aspire to become and with this humblest of blogs being rather lackluster in its coverage of mainstream gaming, I really wouldn't suggest expecting this particular post to tell you whether you have to buy Starcraft II or not. I am, after all, far from the greatest admirer of real-time-strategy games you'll find online. And I'm not particularly good at them either.
Anyway. Thing is, I managed to rather easily finish the single-player campaign of the game, what with having opted for the medium difficulty setting, played a bit with the tutorials and custom maps, and can say that, yes, this is quite an impressive game indeed. But, really, you can read elsewhere about just how gorgeous, polished, perfectly balanced, well-designed, deep and enjoyable the thing is, as the internet seems to be filled with reviews praising the game and screaming about the subtlety with which it teaches you to be competent in multiplayer or the impressive variety of its mission. I wont argue with them. In fact I quite agree.
I really can't identify with this guy. Yes, despite the slightly similar beard. He's never heard of the Alabama Song.
I even agree with the more than a handful of people that find its storytelling -no matter how impressively presented- and characters deeply lacking. I simply don't feel I need to discuss such matters. They've been done to death. What I wanted to touch upon instead, is that, despite it being brilliant in so many ways and mightily addictive, Starcraft II failed to impress on quite a few levels, beside the storytelling one.
For starters the core gameplay feels incredibly archaic. I mean, I am quite aware of the fact that the original Starcraft was considered a masterpiece, but that was over a decade ago and certain game do, in fact, age. I do expect a modern RTS to at least allow my units to take cover and flank the enemy. I also want to actually think while playing and not keep trying to develop extra fingers, which seems to be SC II's main objective.
Click them, click them to DEATH!
Added to that and quite frankly shockingly the A.I. of the units is, at times, and bluntly put atrocious. Marines tend to get lost, SCVs stand and get murdered or simply do the wrong thing at the wrong time, making the amount of required micromanagement border on the unacceptable. Really, SC II does sometimes feel like a mouse-precision exercise, disguised as an action game, disguised as a strategy game featuring a banal yet captivating plot. Not particularly satisfying that.
As for the promised strategic element, well, it's quite laughable and not even close to the standards Medieval Total War set ages ago, which -once again- came as a disappointment. All strategic options, actually all two of them, barely matter and are there only to provide you with an incentive to spend some more quality time between missions and gawk at the exquisite and impressively detailed environments. Maybe even click a thing or two.
Oh, and I would have thought that rush techniques were so passé...Related @ Gnome's Lair: