Starcraft 2 Beta

There’s a difference between you and me, Dear Reader. An acute divide. One of us has played "Starcraft 2," and one of us has not. I don’t know if we can still hang out, honestly. It might come between us. I still like you and whatever, but I think we should just be friends. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s also you. So I’m sure that before we break off all contact and I forget your first name, you’d like me to explain to you what brought our friendship to this screeching halt. You’d like to hear what "Starcraft 2" has to offer to you, the unwashed masses. Or maybe you don’t, but I feel like telling you, in what I think we can both agree is a cunningly masked form of outright bragging. I call it "my impressions." You can call it "the reasons you cry yourself to sleep at night." I played "Starcraft 2," Dear Reader, and this is what I thought about it.

-It’s the same game. Which is pretty incredible when considering the distance that separates it from its progenitor. I’ll be honest, that sameness is not entirely a good thing. I mean I admire not fixing what isn’t broken, but SC2 is almost creepily familiar, it’s like kissing your cousin (I haven’t done that, I’m just saying). I can’t imagine that this is the same engine they used on "Starcraft," but damned if it doesn’t feel that way. And while it’s always good to see an old friend again, I must confess I was hoping for a "Half Life" style reinvention sequel, something that obliterated the past. I’m worried that the extreme nostalgia of this thing will make people who have been playing the original for a decade cock their heads in amusement, then return to what they were doing.

-It’s very pretty. I mean, there’s no two ways about that, it’s a pretty game. It won’t change your life or anything, and there’s the slightest hint of cartoony on the periphery of it that I don’t care for, but it’s still a looker.

-It’s the same game. Which is pretty inc…wait, crap, sorry. I said that one already. How weird. On to the next point.

-It’s very pretty. Hm. We seem to be going in circles. Let’s double check.

-It’s the same game. Yeah, it certainly seems like we’re just…

-It’s very pretty. Okay. In the immortal words of Tim McGraw, it’s time to set this circus down.

Seriously, Blizzard? WTF? I mean it’s a great game, but it’s just…the same thing! Were you guys just too afraid to push the envelope or something? That certainly doesn’t sound like you. I don’t even know what to talk about because everything is so much the bloody same. Sure there are new units with new abilities, and maybe that would satisfy me if you were making this thing three years after the original, but its been more than a decade. Here is a list of everything I wanted from you that you did not provide:

-More races. How obvious was that? Give me another race. Hell, give me two. The original was innovative because it was a three-pronged war (as opposed to C and C’s polarized conflicts), I was just expecting that you were going to up the ante and show us how an RTS with like ten different races can be done! I mean where’s the trail-blazing here?! 

-A single game. This three-game-release crap is just confusing and annoying. Frankly, I don’t really even want a single player campaign so massive that you need three releases to do it. The single player is a chore, we all know we’re here to face off on Battle.net. Even you guys admit multiplayer is the focus, so WTF?

-A gritty, realistic look. You finally did it. You finally made "Starcraft" look like "Warcraft." Sigh. Listen, guys, I know you like "Warcraft" better than "Starcraft." Ssshhh, don’t speak, I know you do. I know you didn’t intend the original to be a success, I know you’ve been avoiding turning it into a franchise ever since, and I know you resent its unrelenting longevity, especially in the face of "Warcraft III’s" rapid fade to obscurity. You’re like some kind of cruel godmother who hates the youngest child because she’s prettier than the older sibling, and I’m sorry. But I don’t want a cartoon "Starcraft." I don’t. It reeks of you trying to pretend you’re making a "Warcraft" game. You broke your own mold with the original, and I wish you would more fully develop that art style into a new, sleek, adult, sexy vision for the sequel. Now yes, the Beta is gorgeous, but I can’t help but feel like you’re choosing the path of least resistance with this direction.

-Co op. Am I crazy here? Ensemble Studios pooped on your face by implementing this in "Halo Wars" on the Xbox 360. May I remind you, the Xbox 360 is a console. Strategy games on a console are the lowest kind of degenerate scum, and they’re walking all over you right now. If you’re going to insist on epic poems for single player campaigns, and again I advise against that, at least let me tackle it with a buddy.

-REBALANCE DAMN YOU. "Starcraft" is a perfect game except it isn’t. The dirty awful secret of the original, whispered in back rooms when no one is around, is that it commits the gravest sin an RTS can possibly fathom: imbalance. We all know the Protoss are too powerful. We all know Blizzard hoped they could offset the Protoss’ infinite HP and crushing attacks with high unit production cost, and we all know they were wrong. We all know that your buddy who insists on being Protoss is the least talented SC player in the group, and yet he gloats over his victories like he had anything to do with them. They must must MUST remedy this imbalance in SC2, and from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s no dice. 

Look, let’s not mince words here, I’m going to buy "Starcraft 2" twice. And I’m going to love it. But it could have been more, Dear Reader. I feel that it could have been so much more. Maybe Blizzard should go back to making one of these damned things at a time, instead of hammering us with "Diablo III" and "Starcraft II" and a WoW expansion in the same breath. Or maybe they should realize that their owner, Activision, is literally the spawn of Satan. Either one could help the situation.