Review in Progress: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

We've started in on Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty's campaign and are here to offer a brief look.

In Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty's opening cutscene, the gruff, cigar-chomping Tychus Findlay opines, "Hell… it's about time." He's talking about his release from prison, but he also speaks for Starcraft fans that have waited many years for the original game's sequel. Well, it's here, and like many of you, I am voraciously gulping down the game's campaign, in which I am already totally invested. As you may already be aware, the press didn't get copies well in advance; GameSpot received boxed copies yesterday and had to wait for the battle.net servers to go live and allow the game to be installed. This is why you haven't seen any advance reviews, but the good news is that we are well into the game and will bring you our review as soon as we've finished the campaign and spent significant time with the other modes--both online and off. Obviously, we're not ready to pass on a final verdict, but I am willing to say this much: The campaign is pretty great.

The early campaign missions are what you would expect: smaller-scale battles that gradually introduce you to the units you will be commanding. In this case, of course, you will only be controlling Terran units (or at least, we assume) because Wings of Liberty includes only a single campaign. Yet even the early missions are super fun, thanks to small and subtle details that get you invested. Even the first mission--a typical "lead all your units around and shoot everything that moves" task--gets under your skin. You shoot down propaganda holograms, which give you a sense of the emotional influence Emperor Arcturus Mengsk wields over his subjects. And when the colonists you save rise up and fight, you taste their desperate desire for freedom.

If you're particularly skillful in this level, you can earn an achievement by making a Zerg boss feel the burn.

And so the campaign continues, having you fight the Zerg while avoiding overflowing lava, shoot down racing trains, retrieve artifacts in the midst of Protoss versus Zerg showdowns, and more. The between-mission activities are what make the campaign so intriguing--not just the missions themselves. There's a point-and-click adventure element here in which you can click on the various characters aboard your ship, and they fill you in on the backstory or further flesh out their motivations. Not only does it get you immediately interested in Jim Raynor and his colleagues, but it also allows players unfamiliar with Starcraft to get up to date quickly and easily.

You aren't just advancing the story onboard your ship, however. You also research advancements (using research points you earn for doing missions and finding important items during missions), hire mercenaries that you may summon during your mission, and spend the currency you earn for doing missions on upgrades to your base and units. Many of these enhancements are either/or propositions, so there's clearly some replay value here, if just to see how these choices manifest on the battlefield. In-game achievements also provide a reason to return to single-player missions, and many of them are a real challenge to complete, often requiring you to play on harder difficulties to unlock them.

Jim prefers to be lit through a slatted window.

As you might have guessed, Starcraft II's cinematics are incredibly impressive, but what's more impressive is how well the gameplay pulls you into the story--through varied objectives, through unit and hero feedback, through visual and musical touches that set just the right tone for your mission. Obviously, there's a lot more to talk about with Starcraft II: the social features, the challenges, the editor, the online ladders, and more. We'll bring you a full review when we can, but in the meanwhile, we'll be uploading movies and screenshots for you to feast upon. We hope you enjoy them!

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Discussion

322 comments
TStilwell
TStilwell

Okay, Auguest 2nd. It is time to get the review out. The rest of us have played everything several times and we aren't even getting paid for it! Get the lead out!

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

I wish Gamespot brought back ratings that weren't rounded off to .5 since games may not always deserve a perfect 10 but are certainly worth more than 9.5. Like GTA IV it has its flaws and to me isn't 10 worthy but it can be more than a 9.5 too.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

I know there will be three parts but are the next two done as like expansions or as like stand alone games? Because I wouldn't want to buy the next one and have it kind of out date or abandon the previous one.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@ gideonkain You can lay spider mines,but you got the rest right.I really miss Lurkers.They were awesome.

gideonkain
gideonkain

Is it the best RTS ever? Yes. Do I wish I could still drop Reavers, lay spider mines with Vultures and send Lurkers in undetected ? Yes. The best move Blizz could make would be activating these "lost units" in MP when the next expansion is released

Zanmato7
Zanmato7

There is no RTS like this one. Starts from begining to the end!! That is fact...really dont know why all of you compare this game with ME or any other game. This game speaks for its self. Masterpeace...EA can kiss ass Blizzard...(to be clear,I am kind of a fan of RA and C&C series,play it all but 1st time with SC)

Mephers
Mephers

Fun game. Was mostly interested in the campaign, hard to describe my thoughts. Everything was epic and quality, but i felt just a lil let down for some reason. Almost finished the campaign in one day. Haven't had a huge amount of time with multiplayer yet. I was disappointed with the ending of the campaign :(

destroyeur
destroyeur

Well I should have said voice acting more than the voice itself, it lacks intonations, I barely believed the ingame character was talking more than an actor inside a studio. Mengsk suffered from the same monotonous pale performance, even more so when he gets mad.

NukeKnight
NukeKnight

They had a different voice actress for Kerrigan this go around. Also just give the game a 10 or a 9.5 already lots of content and the games multi and single player are amazing, granted I'm able to play the game at full graphics with no problems.

Tehspartan333
Tehspartan333

@destroyeur. Sorry, but what is wrong with Kerrigan's new voice? It has the same kind of tone as the old one.

destroyeur
destroyeur

Daniel888, I am critical of SC2 but overall it is a way better game than DOW 2 wich i gave a 4 maybe less, and COH, how can you compare something to Blizzard gameplay, especially when they perfected it again. What I don't like is Starcraft had a great story, unlike almost every other RTS, but Wings of Liberty doens't do a good job at it and doesn't feel like there is much to it too, feels like a second expansion pack. To me the look and atmosphere is as much important to tell the story as the characters speaking to each other and "living" the story, Diablo 1 story wasn't told by Deckard Cain alone, but mostly the music, ambience, and the feel of its artistic direction, Starcraft 2 could have used a more dramatic look, like the Zeratul and Kerrigan cinematic, that piece was great minus Kerrigan's voice. And lenghtier mission, expanding on a second, a third, and more main objectives as the unpredictable ever-growing forces of the Zerg kept chasing Raynor, all that on way bigger maps, would communicate the scope of its story as you progress thru the campaign.

Tehspartan333
Tehspartan333

@mohitmukheja. Usually they get pre-releases before everyone else, so they can review the game for the release date, but Battle.net was closed for everyone, so they couldnt get their hands on the game before the rest of us could. Keep in mind that this is also a very big game. Not a 6 hour long Michael Bay movie like MW2.

Kabals
Kabals

I have already finished this game on the hardest setting. My thoughts are that the story was pretty good, the graphics? Meh. The in-game graphics are better than the original but still are outdated compared to other games on the market. The cut scenes are really nice and look very good. I was puzzled by the ending. What in the world will the Zerg and Protoss story be about? Maybe prequels to Wings of Liberty? Not sure I would understand the motivations of the characters unless that was the case. I'd say this is a good game, 8 out of 10. But after finishing it, I also said to myself, "they spent three years working on THIS?"

mohitmukheja
mohitmukheja

There is no way a game would take so much time to review. When they can review games like MGS4 & GTA4 in one day, I wonder whats taking them so long. Though I dont care but I guess GS and IGN people are waiting for other site to post their review. May be reviewers went on some vacation or something. And now fanboys will down rate me just because i expressed my thoughts.. lol.. silly puppies.

Tehspartan333
Tehspartan333

@Daniel8888. The game is fun. Just because it is not your type of game doesnt mean it's not "fun". Those games you mentioned in your previous post haven't done anything innovative compared to SC2. And as I see it SC2 is very groundbreaking compared to other games in that genre. I think Command & Conquer 4 is a perfect example of why innovation does not equal a better game.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

@dudezmobi, I just hope that GS don´t be afraid of the fanatic pressure about this game, and give it a hyped score. I like to believe that it´s not the case. In my opinion this game deserves a 7 or less. You see, people keep saying about the perfect balance os SCII. This was one of the main concerns of Blizzard indeed, they kept saying that "it will be done when it´s done" (or something like that). But I think that in the extreme care they give to the balance, they have forget about the FUN.

dudezmobi
dudezmobi

@Daniel - dead-on... from development to release was way too long... gamers already seen better....

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

ME and ME 2 are not groundbreaking at all, RA 3 is bad. Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the ME series are not revolutionary but super great. People think great means innovative. It doesn't have to be that way.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

@Tehspartan333 I understand that a perfected formula makes the game looks better, and new, and not worse and old. Include some new units and tweak the gameplay is ok for an expansion, not for a 12-year awaited sequence. I agree that Warcraft III and SC are the best games ever. Not arguing that. But, you have a context here. Back in 1998, and 2002, the expectations were different, and what was considered innovative and new was different either. If SC II was released 8-10 years back the way it is now, one thing. But today, after Mass Effect I and II, Company of Heroes, DoW II, C&C Red Alert 3, well, it IS disapointing.

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@dudezmodi-asking how much do I make for keeping watch of this forum is not a tool for a debate. That's an attack to the persona not the subject in debate.

dudezmobi
dudezmobi

@vortex- i think they are not fanboys but tech support guys assigned to monitor forums... they flood forums so that negative posts would not be noticed hehehe

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@dudezmobi-20 years of RTS playing experience or development? You are clearly having a misconception of what it means by polish. Relic games are not as polish. Sure they are innovative. Nothing to take away from that. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is dummy in terms of mechanic but it is polished and perfected.

gommybear
gommybear

Anyone saying this is anything other than a good game is biased. You can't possibly say objectively that this is not at least a GOOD game. In my opinion (biased the other way) it's an AMAZING game... but seriously, I can't see how anyone can say objectively that it's a BAD game.

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

And why do Blizzard fanboys post so much here? If they were liking the game so much they wouldn't be here but PLAYING IT! When I got Dragon Age I played it 11 days straight, 10 hours each day and I didn't have time to defend it on GS or other sites. You guys just stay here and replay to every bad thing that is being said about the game and apparently many people don't like it. Ravenchrome even made 4 posts in a row. Rofl...

dudezmobi
dudezmobi

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Tehspartan333
Tehspartan333

@Daniel8888. The thing is that the SC formula is perfected. It is what you expect from a perfect RTS. I own both Company of heroes, and the Dawn of war series, but Starcraft and Warcraft remain the best RTS games in my book. I do not care about annoying cover mechanics and mediocre tactics. I prefer fluid and fun gameplay over that.

Herenr
Herenr

"You confused number of squads with specialized abilities as if one thing is the same of another." No I didn't. In fact, you didn't mention special abilities until I brought up the aspect of mission structures. "by the way, anyone who plays DOW II can see which special abilities I´m talking about. It seens that you did not." When did I say DoW II didn't have special abilities, or even comment on special abilities in DoW II? Can you please quote me? "You admitted that CoH had 7- 8 objects per mission, and said that it´s like SC II that has, most of time 2 objectives." That's completely incorrect. I said CoH has 7-8 missions with more than one primary objective. You can clearly see this in my previous statement(s) towards you. "The multiplayer is what makes RTS lasts for years. If I want to use medics or the firebat, I have to play the campaign over and over again. How exciting is that?" Wait.....I thought we were talking about the campaign? How did we get into a discussion on MP? "You keep ignoring the obvious truth." Why is what you say true and what I say, apparently, false? It's your opinion; nothing more, nothing less.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

Herenr, You confused number of squads with specialized abilities as if one thing is the same of another. by the way, anyone who plays DOW II can see which special abilities I´m talking about. It seens that you did not. You admitted that CoH had 7- 8 objects per mission, and said that it´s like SC II that has, most of time 2 objectives. Since you quote me, you understand that, 7-8 diferent things to focus in each mission is more exciting than only 2. And, having exclusive units that you could no t use in multiplayer games, it´s frustrating. The multiplayer is what makes RTS lasts for years. If I want to use medics or the firebat, I have to play the campaign over and over again. How exciting is that? You keep ignoring the obvious truth. SC II is a minor game, compared to what we expect, compared to the best RTS released ins the last 4 years, and, (the more I play it, the more I have the feeling) to SC I.

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@dudezmobi-the pathfinding in this game is the most advanced i've seen so far in an RTS. You clearly do not understand what it means by polish. Supcom 2 is an example of an unpolished game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the prime example of polish. No, it is not the most advance game but it is undeniably more polished than most mature game out there. Starcraft 2 follows this example.

dudezmobi
dudezmobi

i like starcraft, but im not convinced that sc2 is a good game... if this game gets higher than 7.5, i would be surprised... for the development time of 12 years i think it is not that polished... path finding is bad, when you move your units to a blocked location they just circle around, super short campaign, unit formation is difficult... i cant form a single firing line to maximize the amount of damage... its like playing an old rts game....... the level of enjoyment would not justify the price tag... you guys know there are more, i will stop here..... i'm so disappointed...

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

@badtaker No... they should give ONE BILLION point to this game!! LOL :)

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

SC2 nailed my head!! :( Now give me Heart Of The Swarms & Legacy Of The Void...

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@Daniel8888. How am I a Blizzard employeee? I live in a faraway country. It is known to the majority of the gaming world that Starcraft 2 is polished and balanced. More so than any of its competitor. If you think new ideas mean polish than Archon is one of the most polished game ever. In truth, it is not. It is not easy to come up with a working tech-tree, units, etc. Even I can think about crazy mechanics and uber cool units. But is it easy to make all of them work very well? NO.

brainiac1988
brainiac1988

Still no review? c'mon guys. its been a week.

Daniel8888
Daniel8888

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

dudezmobi
dudezmobi

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@vortex_gw, Do you know what it takes to make a super polished, balanced game?

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

People play God of War because they want God of War experience. People play GT because the want GT experience. People play GTA because they want GTA experience. People play Starcraft because they want Starcraft experience. A radical change should be in a new IP. Changes and tweaks can be good when the core and the essence of what makes a game great in the first place should not be shaken. Wanna shake, try a new universe, new IP or something.

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@votex-if you want innovation, you don't you go check out Archon? or Natural Selection 2? Those are even more innovative than your Dow 2.

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@vortes_gw. It is not just koreans at eat a lot of them but in other parts of the world too. Everywhere you go, apple is way more popular than your oranges. RTS is known because of the apples.

edubb85
edubb85

Surprise, surprise a DoW fan bitter towards Starcraft 2. What is that jealousy?

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

A great man once said, "People who expect apples to take over oranges because koreans eat a lot of them and thus the rest of the world should too are wrong.''

Tehspartan333
Tehspartan333

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Zanmato7
Zanmato7

This game worth every dolar! Blizzard rock ass with this. Cant imagine what will be with Diablo 3. :)

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Ravenchrome
Ravenchrome

@votex_gw, Dude what are you bluffing about? You just assume I am a fanboy because I had just registered? WOW man, that's way far fetched. On the contrary, it is you who is bviously a fanboy based on your name alone. gw=Game Workshop. It would be best if you get out of video game world and go back to play your GW game.

olorin84
olorin84

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

rapiergv
rapiergv

does anyone else felt not that sucked in by the story? not that it's not a good one, and i am curious where the story will be headed in the next 2 games, but.. i can't help feeling just a bit disappointed.