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March 19, 2010

Geek Out!: Starcraft II : Wings of Liberty

Posted: 11:20 AM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting nerd culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

[Correction: I mistakenly say in the video that Sarcraft 2 is published by
Activision/Blizzard, but in fact it is being published by Blizzard
Entertainment
. Sorry, Blizzard!]

I got a chance to check out “Starcraft II,” along with colleague Larry Frum.

Subtitled “Wings of Liberty,” the sequel – currently in closed beta - is a long-awaited follow-up to Blizzard’s much-loved real-time strategy game.

The attached video is our full review. But here are a few high points:

Pros:
Beautiful to look at
Smooth game play
Smooth controls

Cons:

Unbalanced game play, based on which race you play
Hard to see whole map
No single-player mode

We both like what we’ve played so far, and patch updates from Blizzard have done a lot to help with the unbalanced game play.

The game will have three releases. We’re expecting the first will allow single-player play as a Terran [i.e. human] and the future ones will expand to the other two - Zerg, Protoss. And with just the first full release, players will be able to go online, at battle.net, and play the other two races in multi-player mode.

What was our final verdict? Watch the video to find out.

Are you in the closed beta? Have you had a chance to play? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.

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Filed under: Geek Out! • video games


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Jamion   March 19th, 2010 12:54 pm ET

Well it is a beta at this point, single player game play is coming they said. Jim Raynor will be back ^_^

Viewing map has always been a strategy in StarCraft, part of the idea behind recon.

Balance is a major issue, that will need to be addressed. And it will be hard. Are the Zerg awesome or are they getting their butts kicked?

Ever sense Mike O'Brien, Patrick Wyatt, and Jeff Strain left Blizzard I really haven't liked much of what they have done. And considering the first StarCraft was their, especially O'Brien's, baby. I don't see how a second game made by a group so fundamentally different could capture the essence of what they were trying to accomplish. Of course I still cross my fingers that it will be good, but generally not liking the approach they are taking to the game.


TonyKMN   March 19th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

Blizzard has a proven track record with RTS balance. I'm not too worried.


David   March 19th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

There is a single player mode, but SC2 Beta does not include it in the beta test phase. If you check Blizzard's website you will see screenshots and videos of the single player storyline.

The whole map is never exposed because of the "fog of war" philosophy. This is also used in the first SC game and in many other real time strategy games. The purpose of having an obscure view of the world map is so you do not know what your opponent is doing until you've either a) infiltrated their base, b) sent a scout to spy on units, or c) engaged the enemy in combat.

Balance in RTS games has always been an issue. I would presume that the beta phase will allow people to test builds and units versus all content, creating feedback for initial tweaking till the official game release.

As a beta tester I can honestly say that the bar has been raised for competitive SC/SC2 play and we will be seeing more unusual builds than the archetypical strategies that are immensely popular in vanilla SC.


Nate Phoenix   March 19th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to call this preview instead of a review, since reviews are of finished products?


Jeff   March 19th, 2010 1:20 pm ET

??


Will   March 19th, 2010 1:23 pm ET

you guys are driving me crazy. show me some gameplay or something! the pics u used to show the races are ridiculous.


Chris   March 19th, 2010 1:30 pm ET

This review is a little misleading. There WILL BE a single player mode it the final release, and it is a very integral part of the game just as it was in the original.


rob   March 19th, 2010 1:30 pm ET

I'm sorry I love star craft but I'm not going to buy 3 games just to play with all three groups. I don't have internet at home so blizzard.net is out of the question. what a bad idea.


Roland   March 19th, 2010 1:32 pm ET

After all these years in development they can keep the game......


Karsten   March 19th, 2010 1:32 pm ET

wow can't believe StarCraft 2 is featured on CNN =)


Jakob   March 19th, 2010 1:34 pm ET

Are the "Cons" supposed to be funny?


Jason   March 19th, 2010 1:46 pm ET

A 'review' for a game that hasn't even been released yet? With a list of 'cons' that are wholly misleading and false? As another commenter said, call it a 'preview' or a 'sneak peek', and acknowledge what even the most casual game fan knows- they game balance is still being adjusted. CNN has been doing this with many stories lately–creating a dramatic headline to make you click the link, which leads to a disappointing or trivial story. I used to consider this site a reliable source of news, but every time you pull this stunt my opinion of CNN diminishes. Whether a review about a video game, or an update on foreign affairs, if you start emulating the National Enquirer, we'll be looking elsewhere for our daily news updates.


Mark   March 19th, 2010 1:49 pm ET

So does this mean that Starcraft II will have a skirmish off -line battle, so I won't have to play on line if I am on the road. I had to cancel my pre-order of C&C 4 because it is only on-line. And you have to log-in before you can even play the single player game. Which isn't right.


Klamathpro   March 19th, 2010 1:51 pm ET

I like playing SC2 Beta so far and the gameplay is nice. But I have to disagree with you guys as far as the graphics. Maybe the last game these CNN guys played was five years ago. At 1920 x 1200 with all settings at the highest (ultra), it still look dated. It looks no better than "Star Wars Empire at War" which is 4 years old. The graphics engine in this is fast, but there isn't even AA available, you .have to manually set AA in your driver to get it, but then the fps drops quite a bit since the game isn't optimized for it. The look is like a cartoon, and the polygons are simple, like an old DirectX 9 engine. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any DirectX 10 features at all.

The patches seem to only focus on gameplay balance. For taking over 10 years to work on this, I am somewhat disappointed with the end result.


rob   March 19th, 2010 1:52 pm ET

I agree with roland, after this much time the excitement is gone for me. I have better things to spend my money on.


Joe   March 19th, 2010 1:55 pm ET

The current beta is a multiplayer beta. The point of this beta is to test such issues as stability and balance in preparation for the actual launch. This is the exact reason why there are only 1v1 and 2v2 matchups. Including a single player mode or other features would only cloud the data set from their end. While yes it allows for a preview of the game it is in no way ready for a “review.”

As someone that’s been a part of the beta for weeks I can say that the few balance issues that have been discovered thus far are well known, Blizzard has openly acknowledged them and is working to find solutions. Balance being of such high importance in Starcraft, it is better for Blizzard to take their time analyzing balance issues rather than making rash decisions which create more problems.


Rhen   March 19th, 2010 2:02 pm ET

I am sorry but if this comes out and does not have 3 race single player modes, or single – multiplayer map mode, I will not be buying it. When Starcraft came out, it had all of this: Terran, Protoss and Zerg campaigns, multiplayer of you vs the computer, network, etc.

To not include this and instead force us to buy expansions, is retarded. They've had plenty of time to get these features in just like the original.


Alex Cancino   March 19th, 2010 2:09 pm ET

I'm not sure I agree with this report completely.
@Pros:
This way the races were presented they didn't look as "beautiful" as they say which might discourage some readers to buy it. The actual beauty of this game is from seeing everything all together: the units, the landscape, the trees and destructibles (doodads), the special effects etc.

@Cons:
Unbalanced? Ok that is completely the point of BETA testing. I don't know a single RTS in this world that is perfectly balanced not even the original StarCraft, Age of Empires or any other RTS out there. It is pretty balanced but it's not nearly near perfection as to call it "balanced". I also saw little effort by the report to show why it is unbalanced.

Furthermore at the current build the game is pretty balanced:
http://sclegacy.com/news/23-sc2/630-starcraft-ii-beta-view-from-the-top

There are some issues that need to be addressed but other than that, it is playable and there is no mechanic or tactic that breaks the game.

No single player mode? Of course. Had Beta had singe player mode it would have been cracked and there is no stopping this. Waiting to release the single player on release is an appropriate way to ship this game and assure players obtain it by legal means.

Hard to see whole map? I don't recall seeing any other RTS with this feature.To see completely the entire map, one would need a really good computer and probably the average user wouldn't be able to get the minimum requirements. I am kind of surprised that a report coming from CNN doesn't do a little more research on the subject.


Emily   March 19th, 2010 2:10 pm ET

I have waited over 10 years for you to tell me that its now unbalanced gameplay?

I am hoping this is just like the unbalanced play in the original rts where zerg was fast build but weaker,protoss was long building but strong, and terran were in the middle but able to repair tanks ships ect.....

Lets see, over 10 years of a loyal fan waiting it had better be good. Thanks for sharing on geekout.


TheOnlyJuan   March 19th, 2010 2:28 pm ET

This was honestly one of the worst reviews I've ever seen for a video game. There were so many things wrong with it I'm not even going to take the time to point out.

Everyone please ignore these two and stick to sites like kotaku, game informer, game trailers, and gamespot for your video game information.

Unbelievable here.


bob   March 19th, 2010 2:30 pm ET

Jason posting @ March 19th, 2010 1:46 pm ET:

I couldn't have said it better, not only is CNN's review/preview of this game a joke, their headlines and correlated articles have been ridiculously different and getting worse....way to differentiate yourselves from the Shock Value news outlets of MSNBC and FOX News!


Telmata   March 19th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

this game isnt that big unbalanced at all.
i think some people dont know what unbalanced and skill is.

and its embarrassing to say there is no single-player mode in a MULTIPLAYER beta...

also, there are no humans in sc2....


TheOnlyJuan   March 19th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

http://sclegacy.com/news/23-sc2/630-starcraft-ii-beta-view-from-the-top

Yeah, balance issues. Right.


Sam   March 19th, 2010 2:33 pm ET

They don't release the single player campaign to beta... single player doesn't require any balancing; multi-player does.

Was gameplay actually unbalanced, or were you unable to win a match? Kind of funny to review a game in beta.

I sure hope you plan to review the finished game before recommending it or not recommending it.


HorstSchlemmer   March 19th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

You're messing up balance with skill...


leeroy jenkins   March 19th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

you reviewed the beta... kind of pointless.


Topher Kohan   March 19th, 2010 5:46 pm ET

Thanks for the comments keep them coming!


Marco Hernandez   March 20th, 2010 1:30 pm ET

It seems that terrans have all the advantages over other races. A single Terran Starfleet is much more powerfull than a Protoss Carrier (Zerg Ultralisk is not even worth mentioning), and the nuke (which I love, don't get me wrong), well, no other race has anything like it.

But I'll be honest, I'ts could be also my lack of strategic planning when playing with other races. I may as well be blinded by the terran race that I sigh when I play with other races.


Kurt Sibert   March 22nd, 2010 2:33 am ET

Near everything about this article is offensive. Calling your technology section "Geek out!" and claiming it portrays "nerd culture" is painfully out of touch given that the majority of young people play video games and interact with these technologies. Furthermore, claiming to have reviewed a game that hasn't even been released is misleading at best, and probably closer to lying. This article ought to be taken down and reworked immediately before someone who doesn't know better takes it seriously.

This is not the level of journalism I've come to expect from CNN.


Mr_Virus   March 22nd, 2010 3:11 am ET

You reviewed a BETA with a MAC

BETA on a MAC

You guys have other games you can try ya know.

One phrase describes all of this, and you "geeks" and "nerds" should know what this means,YOU ARE CASUALS


Ugh   March 22nd, 2010 3:15 am ET

These guys
Have no idea
What they're talking about

OF COURSE THERE IS NO SINGLEPLAYER Its a multiplayer beta. What do you expect.
Second of course you can't see the rest of a map, its an rts game.


jason A.   March 22nd, 2010 3:15 am ET

Wait wait wait wait wait...

hold the phone for just a second...

I'm sorry,are you reviewing a MULTIPLAYER BETA and ATTEMPT to pass it off as a full review for a product that you assume is ready for retail launch??

Are you two guys bloody stupid? or are you two just trying to troll an entire community?

I'm sorry,you work for CNN and you're in the "tech" department

Trolls confirmed

Seriously guys,wait for the retail release before you attempt to produce another offensive "review"

bloody twits...


Shane   March 22nd, 2010 3:17 am ET

I'm trying to understand how you got a job doing this sort of thing when you don't even realize how a BETA, as in BETA TEST or NOT A RETAIL RELEASE, is going to be ever changing considering it is a MULTI-PLAYER BETA.

There isn't a single player campaign because they aren't testing it. They are testing SC2 multi-player as a whole, doing balance changes, testing how it runs on various computers, and testing the new version of Battle.net. This is a pointless review because in a few patches balance could be shifted to another race instead of Protoss being the favored race at the moment.

As for not being able to see the map well if you have EVER played an RTS game then Fog of War should not be a new concept to you.

I really am disappointed in this review mainly due to the reviewers lack of knowledge on the subject.


LOL   March 22nd, 2010 4:09 am ET

These two have no idea what they are talking about, how do they even have jobs at CNN? Any legitimate gamer/starcraft player could give a better review than this.


doomie   March 22nd, 2010 5:09 am ET

this review really was silly, you can't comment on weather the beta is a "buy" or not. in fact you can't really comment on any aspect of the game while it's still in beta. additionally you have to realize that star craft (the original) was such a successful game, that making comments on it before it's even released is only going to ensure that many gamers will leave angry comments on your site. many other posts have already pointed this out, it's a multiplayer beta so obviously there wasn't any single player. this is a little goofy but if you are reviewing the game just a fyi, it's "the zerg" not "zergs" and "terran" not "the humans." this review was not only completely uncalled for but grossly inaccurate.


G9   March 22nd, 2010 5:12 am ET

you two are scrubs


Crota   March 22nd, 2010 11:06 am ET

I have to disagree with you with the game not being balanced. There are some "diffucult matchups" but there are still a fair number of counters. Those of you looking for actual game play video will find that YouTube has hours and hours of videos uploaded already as Blizzard is encouraging the community to share in the beta experience.

http://www.youtube.com/BlizShouter

After re-reading all of your "cons" I do not think you have a true grasp of the beta or the level of copetition this game will be played at. I respect that CNN is trying to cover this as news but a more experienced reviewer should have taken a look at the StarCraft II Beta. Just as a little league baseball coach shouldn't write a blog about golf just because they are both "Sports," a "geek" who enjoys videos games wont understand all there is to know about StarCraft II.


Aaron P   March 22nd, 2010 5:40 pm ET

I have played around 500 games of the starcraft 2 beta. When it comes to balance, in 1v1 especially, complete knowledge of the tech tree is essential for a good game. Without knowing counters or unit abilities the game will appear to be imbalanced, but overall it is a solid game. There are a few units which can be abused in mass numbers, but I'm pretty sure the game will fully polished soon enough.


tmancanada   March 22nd, 2010 9:50 pm ET

This video is ridiculous. First of all, your description of an RTS game is completely wrong. Most RTS games are not about resource management, that's like saying that all FPS (First Person Shooter) games are about shooting aliens.

This game in particular has a resource management aspect to it, but you build what are normally termed 'workers', not 'soldiers', to collect resources. And the resource management aspect of the game goes hand in hand with several other aspects such as scouting (which is why you can't see the whole map), attacking, strategy, and on and on. But my point here is that you describe the genre of game like you're completely ignorant and at the same time are on this huge platform.

This game is being published by Blizzard , who have yet to release a failed product. They have released Starcraft (the prequel) over 10 years ago and it's still being played by hundreds of thousands of players worldwide, not including south korea where it is literally a national pastime. Then they've got WoW, which has more players paying a monthly fee than CNN has viewers. Anyway, I would think that something this big coming out would be a bit more respected from a journalistic standpoint.


CWO   March 22nd, 2010 10:39 pm ET

The beta is pretty well balanced at this point. Just because you lose a lot doesn't mean its unbalanced, it means you suck.


Name   March 23rd, 2010 8:28 am ET

GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wow   March 23rd, 2010 11:51 am ET

The amount of ignorance on this page, both in the "review" and comments, is warping my mind.

The game is not close to release. For hte love of god, it's in CLOSED BETA. You are "reviewing" an unfinished, closed BETA, the purpose of which is to test their online services as well as gameplay.

Unbalanced? BETA.
No single player? BETA.
Hard to see whole map? Have you played Starcraft 1? Do you even understand what you're babbling about?

And for the commenting people gasping about unbalance, or shrieking rumors about not being able to play single player without logging in... you are idiots. Naive idiots. Good day.


Mike   March 23rd, 2010 7:22 pm ET

leave it to a bunch o idiots to review starcraft 2
they have multi player beta which will determine the balance of each race and this is not single player that includes campaign

f'n retards dont review games anywmore plz thx


BadTree   March 24th, 2010 1:33 am ET

i was opted into beta and was accepted, and starcraft 2 is balanced for the most part, they're still fixing some specs...

THE GUY WHO SAID IT WAS UNBALANCED IS A NOOB AND SHOULD HAVE LEARNED HOW TO PLAY BEFORE SAYING THAT MISLEADING CONCEPT because blizzard has always fixed any op spec thats why no other company can compete with them


Dallasite   March 24th, 2010 9:13 am ET

You guys need to learn to do reviews. Based on what you wrote, I'd think you never played an RTS before and couldn't even define what unbalanced. is. I always hear "unbalanced" by people who don't know how to use the tools the game gives them so they get frustrated because a certain strategy is unbalanced. Well, chess seems unbalanced if you play against someone smarter, better, and more experienced as you. Seriously, CNN. stay out of the game reviews and leave it to the professionals who live eat breathe this stuff.

This is the last one I'll even bother to check out on here.


Andrew   March 24th, 2010 4:28 pm ET

This review is rather annoying to me. I am a bit of an SC fanboy, but I will attempt to logically break down the cons they present into non-factors. The reviewers seem to have never really played much of the original, if at all.

Unbalanced game play, based on which race you play
-If it's at all like the first StarCraft, Terran have an advantage over Zerg, who have an advantage over Protoss, who have an advantage over Terran. It's like this for a reason. It doesn't make it impossible to beat the Zerg if you're a Protoss, but it does require specific strategic execution. If you want "identical balance", you both need to pick the same race. I'd rather have a game where there are unique strengths and weaknesses to each faction that your gameplay style can exploit.

Hard to see whole map
-If you could "zoom out", it would horribly misbalance the game. Get someone with a massive monitor or running on a projector and they'll have god-vision of everything going on. You have a mini-map and part of the game is using that mini-map. The static-sized main map is like that for a reason.

No single-player mode
-If you had paid attention to anything Blizzard has put out, they're still in the mission design process. Wings of Liberty is shipping with the Terran campaign, and the Zerg and Protoss campaigns will be released later.

Overall, I can't wait!


betatester   July 26th, 2010 1:16 pm ET

I feel like they did this review far to early into beta to truely do a "review" of sc 2 beta the game was so far from release they couldnt even tell a release date in the video and yes in the beginning mothership did rain supreme and playing on a mac might have been a bad idea if you were not tech savy id say playing on a mac is the ultimate beta because you neven know whats going to happen and it helps weed out some major problems because not everyone owns a pc. Id say this review was good for its time but as a beta tester since wow vanilla up to cataclysm I feel like they should have waited longer untill things were almost perfected to say anything about the game it was just to early...


Trix   July 27th, 2010 2:11 pm ET

After they he started describing the game, build smaller things to build bigger things, I lost interest. They didn't know what they were talking about.


Maico   September 27th, 2010 8:37 am ET

There is still a first patch out there. No unbalancing, of cource still single player-mode and way much more features.
Find this on http://www.starcraft-entertainment.de

Well, I love this game!


Vani Radhakrishnan   September 30th, 2010 12:21 pm ET

Starcraft II continues the epic saga of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. These three distinct and powerful races will clash once again in the fast-paced real-time strategy sequel to the legendary original, StarCraft. Legions of veteran, upgraded, and brand-new unit types will do battle across the galaxy, as each faction struggles for survival. Visit Starcraft II Videos


delequante   November 29th, 2010 9:35 am ET

thanx for getting me mi own toofbrush, hoomin, but i prefer using urs.
pornothe Delequante


Gamer Carl   November 30th, 2011 8:20 pm ET

I own a Starcraft 2 Guide I am Looking for opinions to help myself and other players.We have full campaign walkthrough and multiplayer tips.


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