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Liveblog - StarCraft 2: The Startenising

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I should be at the StarCraft II launch party in that London right now, but poorly-timed trains have done for me, so we’ve sent Quinns instead. Which does at least leave me free to install and play the copy of the game I picked up earlier today. Once the activation servers turn on, anyway. OH THEY’VE TURNED ON OH GOD WOO GO.

Here’s a blow-by-blow account of my exciting Installing And Then Playing A Videogame adventure.

Yes, the most recent updates are at the bottom. We should probably find a liveblogging plugin sometimes. Just hit refresh to update my blither.

The disc is in the drive! It’s so on.

Oh, no dice. I’ll try again in 30 seconds.

Nope.
Nope.
Nope.
Nope.
Nope.

Hurrah! I’m allowed to choose a folder to install to.

Installing! This is it”

Hmm, this sure is taking a long time. Bloody DVDs. Wish I’d pre-loaded instead.

I don’t know StarCraft 1 that well, so the handy re-cap on the installation screen is useful. Sure does bombard me with a lot of planet names and techno-babble, though. Such things lack resonance when quick-fired so.
So Kerrigan’s like Sigourney Weaver in Alien Resurrection, but with more back-talons? Goddit.

I bet StarCraft nerds fancy Kerrigan more as a spider-horror-thing-with-boobs than they did when she was human. Weirdos.

Sounds like this is going to be a tale of overthrowing corrupt governments, then. LET THIS BE AN INSPIRATION TO THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN.

It’s installed 30629 somethings out of 37594 somethings. Files? Blizz-o-bytes? Spies? Pigeons?

93%. Come on.

100%! And… patching. Noooo.

40% patched. Modern videogames sure are cruel.

100%! Again. What fresh horror will hit when I dare to hit the big blue ‘Play’ button?

Goodness, it actually worked. I’m in. Well, once I’m past a loading screen featuring the biggest picture of sweaty man’s face I think I’ve ever seen.

Hi-CGI intro, as you’d expect. The dialogue’s super-cheesy: “even freedom has a price.” Music and voice alike sound like one of the Optimus Prime chest-beating speeches from the Michael Bay Transformers movies.

The Texan man in the spacesuit is very confident about something, and a bit snarly. Good for him. I really should have played StarCraft 1 more.

Logging into Battle.Net. This means my real name, address and blood-type will be broadcast onto the side of the houses of parliament, right?

Two stupidly long EULAs to scroll through and accept. Why not make them one? Why not get a real Earth human being to summarise them into something that other real Earth human beings could actually read? So backwards, so pompous.

STOP SHOWING ME GIGANTIC PICTURES OF JIM RAYNOR’S FACE. I’m not playing this game because I care about some guy with some face. ROBOTS. ALIENS. BOOM. Get on with it.

Just poking around in the Battle.Net interface. The music suddenly sounds like Star Wars meets period drama.

Oh good grief, you have to unlock player portraits. Is nothing sacred? This means I’m stuck with the image of one of four very boring, glassy-eyed looking people until I’ve played a bunch more. It’s just a JPG! It’s insane to limit access to 20k picture files.

Right, New Campaign. Let’s do this. There’s Raynor’s sweaty porn-star face again. Ew.

Casual, normal, hard, or brutal? Well now, that’s personal. I ain’t telling you.

(Normal. For now.)

Oh, this cutscene’s in-engine. Interesting. Some of the textures are lousy, but the faces are really impressive. You ain’t seen BLizzard do this much fidelity before.

OH GOD I JUST REALISED I DIDN’T GO TO SETTINGS FIRST. I’ve never loaded up a new PC game without immediately heading to settings. What’s happened to me? Eject, eject…

Erm, has the guy who does Raynor’s voice ever acted before? Pauses’n’that are all over the place.

The talking briefing-heads on the HUD look ace.

Do I want to watch a movie about how to move units? No thanks. Good work on giving me the option to skip it, though. Also, this nuts and bolts kind of stuff probably is essential for the curious WoW audience who’ve picked this up because it’s Blizzard.

A little dog! A little dog ran by, yelping cutely! StarCraft 2: 10/10.

It’s leading me, like Lassie. Can I shoot it?

No, I can’t shoot it. StarCraft 2: 1/10.

Tell you what, there’s a crazy amount of incidental detail in here. I’ve not seen this much moneyeffort poured into an RTS singleplayer mode before. Mechanics I can’t speak to yet, but there’s a crapton of world-building in the art.

The unit barks could do with toning down. I know people love/need that for multiplayer, but “Raiders roll” every 10 seconds spoils the urgent mood a little.

(This isn’t a review, and I’ll kick you in the ear if you call it a review. It’s more akin to the notes I take whilst reviewing something, to later be turned into sense and conclusion. Fevered rantings of a changeable madman, basically.)

OOH A COW.

Can’t talk, playing. Feels a bit Fallouty in a way. Not in how it plays, obviously. But the dirt-poor frontier town, with unwanted government assuming loose control.

Bonus objective: destroy six holograms. Not sure why. Can’t help myself, though.

Hmm, they’re attempting tragedy in tiny, chunky pixel-man-o-vision. Not sure if it works – the run animations make it a little too comic.

High-carnage rebellion scene. I’ve not done owt yet except have six lads selected and repeatedly right-click on stuff, but it feels pretty epic.

(Oh yes, it alt-tabs beautifully).

I lost eight units in my first mission, chums. HOw much better will you do? (Clue: much.)

Did they keep this pretty impressive in-engine cutscene stuff quiet, or am I just late to the party?

It’s a bald man with a funny eye. Should I know him?

Ew! He just stubbed out his cigar on a live fly! That’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen! Jesus Christ, Blizzard. Horrible

Oh wow: the mission briefing screen is an animated, interactive affair filled with talky dudes, country music and tons of incidental detail, like a screen from a point’n’click adventure.

Er, I guess things will probably get a bit spoilery from hereon in, so do cover sensitive eyes. I’m not far from bed however, so there won’t be too much more of this tonight.

I can change the song on the jukebox in the bar in the briefing menu/level/thing. And there’s a dirty-country version of Suspicious Minds on it. StarCraft 2: 11/10.

I should probably get back to playing the game, but hanging out at the bar with Elvis playing and a hulking space marine standing awkwardly near the door is too much fun.

I just noticed that the Huffington Post linked to our Snake on Youtube story. Thanks, the Huffington Post. Right, let’s go get briefed. Tons to do this in bar screen though, really impressive stuff, smart way of building the world/atmosphere.

No aliens yet – the only enemies thus far are the Dominion (‘hyper-Republican shits’). Same as your chaps but different coloured trousers, basically. SC2 in symmetrical shocker.

Base building and gathering a-go. Now this reminds me of the game I got my arse absolutely kicked in a few months ago. Giving me plenty of time and tutorial though, newbies should find a way in.

This is making my PC run incredibly hot. Getting really sweaty. I’ve taken my shirt off. Is that okay?

Oh man, I completely forgot to mention: absolutely no issues with the activating/unlocking/logging in thing. Seems like they’ve got the infrastructure for it this time. Then again, I think I may be ahead of much of the world in playing this – the storm may be yet to come.

Hmm, I’m reverting to my teenage ways of building as much as possible, selecting everything then right-clicking in the furthest corner of the map. I suspect this is not training me to be a multiplayer elite.

I need to find a clever way of always keeping medics at the back. By clever I mean easy, lazy.

Achievement Unlocked… for completing the mission. That isn’t an achievement. That’s just playing a bit of the game I was going to play anyway.

I’m earning credits to spend on stuff in the armoury, which I haven’t unlocked yet. I suspect this is going to be super-compulsive.

Right, going in for one more mission and then bed. Will throw a couple more thoughts here before I retire, and dream of men with big metal shoulders.

Ok – third mission was, as someone predicted, a Zerg bughunt. Good fun, interestingly packed with optional, more challenging tasks. The Zero are spamming your base with waves while you wait for evac, but you could take the fight to their incredibly well-defended, super-fast respawning base. Don’t think you can wipe them out, but it manages the threat to you – and there’s an achievement loosely associated with it.

Bedtime, then. Impressive stuff – thoroughly traditional, needless to say, but there’s a meatiness, a confidence and a clear focus on making this old-school game not boring. It’ll do well. Night-night, chums.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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