StarCraft 2 Impressions: It’s Not Just WarCraft in Space!

StarCraft 2So, StarCraft 2 is finally out as of last week. You’ve been playing it, I’ve been playing it, and Eddy wishes he’s been playing it. Now that we’ve had a good amount of time to digest Blizzard’s long-in-the-making sci-fi RTS follow up, I thought I’d start a little topic where we could discuss our thoughts on the single and multiplayer portions and maybe start a little group so you can wail on me as often as you like.

Starting with the single player, I have to say that the game is very, very solid in its design. Blizzard has been tweaking and polishing the balance on all of their games for a long time, and it really shows in the tightness of the units and how they counter-act against each other. While you do get access to a wider variety of troops in the single player game, they’ve all been assigned a specific role much like their multiplayer counter-parts. There are no “god-units” here, just one that might happen to do better in a given mission. While so far the designs of the missions themselves haven’t really stood out, I’ve been able to do fairly well and I haven’t become frustrated with impossible goals or cheap AI tactics.

Between missions, you can explore Jim Raynor’s battlecruiser The Hyperion. Along the way, you’ll stock the ship with various characters who will aid you in your quest or provide you with missions and upgrades. Exploring your ship is a cross between Mass Effect and an old-school point and click adventure game in that you can talk to or click on anyone and anything, but it’s all done without ever taking direct control of Jim. I liked this part of the game a lot as it added a lot of personality to characters we’re used to seeing from a top-down view. The ability to augment units with Protoss and Zerg tech is also a welcome addition because of how it changes the dynamic of the units. Again, it won’t make any one unit over-powered but the upgrades do give you a nice edge. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m finding the mission design a little samey, but it is improving the farther I get into the game. Once the story starts rolling, you get hooked pretty easily.

Now, I’m going to let you guys go to town on multiplayer, because StarCraft has always had a steep learning curve. I’m not exactly terrible at the game, but a competent player could wipe the floor with me easily. I’ve been doing a few comp stomps with a buddy, and those have been great fun in addition to letting me practice my build orders and hotkey commands. So what do you guys think of StarCraft 2?

Proof That the Dance Command Can Go With Anything

Blizzard sure loves to slip little jokes into their games, and StarCraft 2 is no exception. I’m making my way through the campaign at the moment and I’ve already spotted a few, such as the Night Elf dancing in the cantina and the Metroid cameo. One of Blizzard’s other successful games, World of Warcraft (you may have heard of it) features a fun little command called /dance where you can make your in-game avatar do a few slick moves depending on your species. Looks like the company’s sci-fi RTS isn’t immune either. The marines are jacked up and good to go, and some user captured them doing their routine:

Pretty hilarious, and very in keeping with Blizzard’s sense of humor. Like I mentioned, I’m making my way through the single-player game and I’m finding it solid so far, even if the mission designs are a little vanilla. How about you guys? What’s your StarCraft experience like so far?

StarCraft 2 Finally Launches Today

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for since what feels like forever; the day that Blizzard deigns to grace us with the most hotly anticipated Real-Time-Strategy game in recent memory, StarCraft 2. Well, to be accurate, the first part of the StarCraft 2 trilogy, the Terran-centric Wings of Liberty campaign. I won’t split hairs though, because this is a monumental occasion for gamers of all types. More than any other game I know, StarCraft has a fervent legion of followers; even self-professed “non-gamer” friends of mine have been looking forward to this. Now that the game is finally out, how many of you are playing, and how many of you are waiting patiently for your copy to download? In celebration, check out the beautiful Ghosts of the Past trailer:

So, what’s your first stop: campaign or multiplayer?

Today’s WTF: StarCraft II Lands an “Adult-Only” Rating in South Korea

leaf graphicI think if we tallied up the amount of “WTF” posts we’ve done on GamerSushi, I would imagine that StaCraft II would probably walk away with the proverbial crown of shame. Whether you’re paying for the game in three easy installments, or losing out on LAN gaming, Blizzard’s “it will get here eventually” game is building up a lot of strange press.

I think that this newest piece of SC2-related news might take the cake, though. If there’s one country in the world that loves themselves some StarCraft, it’s South Korea. Honestly, your country has to love a game for the developer to reveal the trailer for one of the most hotly anticipated titles in recent history there. StarCraft is a national pastime in Korea, but it looks like the sequel might not make it to that status.

The Korean Ratings Board has slapped the sci-fi RTS with an Adults-Only rating, citing violence, foul language and depiction of drug use as the reasons. Honestly, how violent is this game going to get? Typically, Real Time Strategy games are played from a top-down perspective, so I can’t image the gameplay being too over the top. Perhaps the game’s cut-scenes are to blame?

How do you guys feel about this? Is the anyone out there playing the Beta that might be able to comment on the violence issue?

Source: 1up

GamerSushi Asks: Are Games Pissing You Off?

One thing I’ve been noticing a lot recently is that it takes fewer and fewer annoyances to make me give up a game in frustration. In my youth, I used to be able to look past repeated cheap deaths or terrible voice acting, but now that I’m older and my time has become increasingly more valuable I’m throwing aside games that rub me the wrong way very quickly.

A couple examples of this have come from two demos I’ve played recently: Splinter Cell: Conviction and Just Cause 2. While they both have the makings of two very fun titles, there are certain aspects of both that make me doubt whether or not I even want to bother with them. I’m going to sound a little petty here, but just hear me out. For Splinter Cell: Conviction, I was having a decent time tagging guys and doing silent take-downs, even if I did find the actions a little repetitious after a while. Once I got detected by the guards, that’s when I started to get agitated. While they’re searching for you, the various henchmen populating the level will spout phrases like: “Target lost, requesting update!”, or, “Continuing search for the target!” over and over until you put several bullets through their skulls. While this may not be enough to set most people off, having to listen to a dozen automatons bark their dialogue while waving their flashlights around really did the game in for me.
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Chaos Rising Trailer is a Bloody Good Time

While I’ve been known to bemoan the stripping down of traditional Real Time Strategy mechanics, there’s one game that goes about it the right way: Dawn of War II by Relic. You may know Relic for their previous excellent strategy games like the original Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. While you needed a PC of the most beefy variety to play CoH, there’s no denying that it had some of the most dynamic game-play I’ve ever seen in a strategy title. Dawn of War took that and refined it a little more, focusing completely on unit manipulation in the field. A lot of upcoming RTSes purport that they want you to feel “attached” to your cannon fodder, but DoW2 comes the closest. A new expansion came out recently, and it’s been getting some rave reviews. Check out the trailer, heretics.

Has anyone else tried this game yet? If so, what did you think of the original, and do you miss the battlefields covered in carpets of slain Orks? Are you going to pick this expansion up? Just for extra nerd cred, who here paints Warhammer figurines? I have a few painted myself.

What is With All the Streamlining?

supreme commander
While Bad Company 2 was released last week on March 2, another sequel that I was greatly anticipating came out that day as well: Supreme Commander 2, the follow up to 2007’s large-scale strategy title. I’d been hearing mumblings going into its release that it was going to eschew the heavy system requirements necessary to render the huge battlefields of the previous game, but I doubted that Gas Powered Games was going to stray too far from the formula of the original. After all, there’s something unique and cathartic about building up a huge base, stocking it with top tier defense guns and shields, then pummeling the enemy’s fortifications with a gigantic navy. The game had a charm that could only come from a prohibitive resource management system, but I loved it all the same.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play Supreme Commander 2 a bit, I can’t help but notice how severely pared down it is from its original inception. I wonder when I became vogue to start taking formerly complicated games and trimming all of the fat off of them. While this trend has been seeing movement for a while, there is another recent example of a game series that started off as bloated with genre tropes as you can possibly get then got whittled down to the bare essentials: Mass Effect. Like I mentioned in my recent post about the upcoming DLC, I’ve been playing the original and the differences in the inventory and level management system are staggering. The same thing is true with Supreme Commander in that there are no more tech trees and the unit upgrades are managed through a simple interface as opposed to a constant advancement of technology.
Continue reading What is With All the Streamlining?

What Were the Top 20 Most Played 360 Games of ’09?

We’ve got one more top something of 2009 list for you, but this time it’s a little different as it’s not some publication doling out their “best-of” awards, but rather a unique compilation decided entirely by you the player. Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb recently posted the chart-topping games of 2009 as tracked by X-Box LIVE, and it may surprise you to learn that Halo 3 has once again taken the top spot three years running with Call of Duty 4 riding its coat-tails and Modern Warfare 2 in third.

I know you’re going to say that MW2 was only released on November 11 of this year, and I’m sure that future metrics will show the widely acclaimed First-Person-Shooter rocketing into the lead and leaving Bungie’s mean green machine in its dust. I just think it’s amazing that Halo 3 continues to lead the charts even though it’s beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. If it’s any consolation, Call of Duty titles fill out the remainder of the top four.

The charts also list the most popular Arcade titles (Battlefield 1943) and the most-played original X-Box titles (Halo 2). How do you think 2010 is going to break down? My bet is MW2 will clinch the top spot then fight with Bad Company 2 until Reach comes out.

Source: Major Nelson

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Happy Turkey Day to my fellow Canucks, and um, happy Columbus Day to my friends in the States. Seeing as how this is a nice long weekend, perfect for unwinding from the stresses of our daily lives, I thought it would be pertinent to do our monthly checkup on your gaming habits.

Personally, I had a nice zombie-themed day yesterday with a few of my friends, and just zoned out on Nazi Zombies and Left 4 Dead. To cap it all off, we checked out Zombieland, which gets two hearty thumbs up from me. Check it out if you like laughter…or gore.

Besides zombies, I picked up Operation: Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, and so far it’s really engaging. It’s a lot more “realistic” than, say, Call of Duty, which makes it perfect for my mood right now. I’ve only played an hour or so, and it’s got my hungry for more.

What about you guys, though? I know Uncharted 2 and Brütal Legend don’t come out until Tuesday (who was the genius that came up with releasing these games after a long weekend?), but I’m planning on picking them up anyways, following up with some Borderlands. Are you planning on getting any of these titles, and what’s in your box, station, or PC right now? Answer, or we shall make you play Wii shovel-ware from now until the release of the 2012 movie, which we will force you to watch. It will be torture unending.

StarCraft 2 Map Editor Can Raise the Dead

Well, this is a fine how-do-you-do. Looks like Blizzard’s plan to charge for custom maps is starting to make a bit more sense. This beast of a map editor was unveiled at BlizzCon, and is probably the most powerful editing tool ever released alongside a game.

Besides being able to make your vanilla strategy maps, the map editor demo given at the Starcraft 2 panel displayed its robust abilities by showing off an Action-RPG and a Galaga-type shooter. StarCraft: Ghost was even brought back to haunt the audience thanks to the fact that the main character’s model is included in the editor.

This is really exciting news in my opinion, but what do you guys think? Are you willing to pay money for some LittleBig StarCraft action, or do you think that maps made by the community should be doled out for free?

Source: Destructoid

Dude, Where Are My Genres?

marioThe more I look at this generation of video games, the more I grow perplexed and a bit worried about what gaming is turning into. No, not that games are somehow becoming lame or less fun. But more in the sense of the quickly disappearing idea of video game genres.

Allow me to explain. When I first started playing video games in the mid 1980’s, there was really only one main genre: the 2D sidescrolling platformer. Super Mario Bros. defined this. While we always had things like Pac-Man and such, the image of Super Mario Bros. and what it stood for as a game was synonymous with the idea that people young and old alike had in mind when thinking of video games. Over time, this idea grew to encompass all kinds of different types of video games, including sports, shooting, puzzle and even fantasy role-playing games.
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GamerSushi Asks: Purchasing Busts?

ff8I randomly decided to get Halo Wars this weekend. Well, not completely randomly. You see, I’m selling my Wii to some poor sucker on this website, and knowing that I’m about to get some extra gaming cash has really gotten me itching for a new game, especially considering all the new titles coming out.

I don’t know if you guys ever get that same itch, but for me it’s killer. It came down to Halo Wars or Killzone 2, and Halo Wars won out, though I’m pretty sure Killzone 2 will end up in my collection in a week or so. The point is, I’m really enjoying the purchase so far. The single player campaign is interesting, albeit simplistic, and multiplayer is just a blast. I imagine 3 v 3 with some friends is stupid fun.

Anywho, it made me start wondering about the most disappointing (or even the worst) game I had ever actually purchased, because this was far from that. I think for me it was probably Final Fantasy VIII, which just let me down in so many ways. What about you guys?

GamerSushi Asks: When to Quit?

quitLast night, while playing a Civilization Revolution multiplayer team game with a friend, we got owned hardcore. It wasn’t entirely our fault, as we got a pretty terrible opening situation (each map is randomly generated). My teammate ended up with both of the enemies within about eight tiles of him, and they pretty much held him under siege as they explored his continent and found all the early bonuses.

There came a point when they took his city that had all of his main forces. Basically, at that point, they were within a couple of turns of taking his capital and winning the game, but they didn’t realize it. We knew the writing was on the wall and we were screwed. And then we argued about if we should quit.

After that, the two teams played it cautious, and then toyed with us for the next hour and a half while we were clearly beat. The whole time we debated about just quitting the game, but held onto a sliver of hope. When it was all said and done, we knew that we had just wasted a bunch of time.

So when is it appropriate to quit a multiplayer game? Do you guys ever do it? I never want to be “that guy” that quits and ruins a game, but in cases like last night, we really should have done it. What do you guys think?

GamerSushi Asks: Video Game Binges

civrevI know we’ve had a feature on this before, but yesterday I went on a wild video game binge. I pretty much spent the whole day playing either Call of Duty: World at War or Civilization Revolution. It’s been some time since I’ve done this, and man, is it ever relaxing.

Basically, I spent almost a total of 10 hours rotating between solo and multiplayer on CoD, and playing a single player game of Civilization Revolution. Like I said, I don’t get to do that kind of thing anymore, so it really brought back some awesome memories. Some people don’t get that playing video games is a way that I majorly unwind when stressed, so the occasional binge is really just like therapy.

So, what was your last video game binge and what did it consist of? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Your Gaming Weekend

vcIt’s a special weekend here in America. A sacred one, if you will. You see, there’s this thing called football, and apparently a big showdown is happening tonight that we are all going to stop and marvel at. By the way, go Steelers.

However, the weekend is also the time for gaming. So what games have you guys been working on lately? Me, I’ve been doing some Left 4 Dead versus still, but the gaming gem I’ve been having a blast with lately is Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3. How nobody is talking about this game, I have no clue, but it might be the best PS3 exclusive out there, I’m thinking. It is also the best Strategy RPG I’ve played since Final Fantasy Tactics, and quickly becoming one of my favorites this gen.

Seriously, if you haven’t heard anything about it, it’s great. Beautiful art, addictive gameplay, a great step in innovating the SRPG genre. So what about you guys? What are you playing?