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So, we’ve established that the graphics and style are awesome. But what about what really makes StarCraft great – the gameplay? After staring at the video around 15 times, it’s time to write down my thoughts.

What we’ve seen is hard to judge. This is a pre-alpha version of the game, and some of you may remember how much previous versions of StarCraft have changed during development. Likewise, the video only featured short battles between the few working units, which have been tweaked for the purpose of the presentation.

We, at project TerranoZergus, promise to follow the development of StarCraft 2 and provide you with detailed analysis of the pieces of information released about the game 2 as they emerge. For now, lets discuss what we know:

The Balance:

Blizzard seems to have stuck to the hard counter type of gameplay, made famous in Brood War. Every unit seems to have a specific counter unit, which has a great advantage over it and has the power to destroy it quickly and efficiently. This was made very obvious in the video, where each unit was presented by destroying the previous unit on the screen. However, we were not exposed to the logistics and technology level associated with each unit.
 The Zealot rush ability is most likely an upgrade, similar to the permanent speed upgrade in the original game. Without it, the marines, in large numbers, have a clear advantage over the slow-charging Zealots. In the same vein, the Banelings, which destroyed the Colossus easily, could be an upgrade to the Zerglings from which they evolved, only attainable at a late phase of the game. When we compare the Mutalisk to the Phoenix, we clearly see that the Mutalisks are a fast, hit and run type of unit, while the Phoenix is a slow air-superiority unit, meant to cover ground forces.

When we factor all these different unit attributes, we see a different picture. We hope that in the final game, the counters are not clear cut and the game is complex enough so that every situation can have many solutions for each race.

Mobility:

One great change that seems to have gone unmentioned is the apparent added mobility to all races. While we don’t know how early in the game this mobility will be allowed, it seems that with these new options and the much improved interface, it’s going to be a lot easier to move masses of units around the game map.

The Phase Prisms aren’t particularly fast, but their strength lies in allowing the player to warp in large amounts of units anywhere he wishes. The Zerg Nydus Worms seem like an improvement to the old, hard-to-properly-use Nydus Canals. It seems that this time around, they will be easier to use (thanks to, in part, a better interface) to quickly shuffle Zerg units around the map. While we haven’t seen a comparable form of transportation for the Terran side, they have always been the mobile race. Flying buildings, jetpack infantry – and the rest remains to be seen.

Abilities:

Ahh, this is where we’ve seen a few new, very creative ideas. Blizzard has always been innovative with their units and abilities, and it seems like we won’t be disappointed with StarCraft 2.

The Warp Ray’s concept is brilliant: A weapon that increases its damage output the longer it focuses its fire on a single target. This will provide for many interesting decisions during battles. Likewise, the Phoenix’ “overload” ability is a great way to give a reason for the player to focus his attention on the battle.

For now, the Mothership’s abilities (and the unit itself!) look extremely cool, but overpowered. It remains to be seen how difficult it will be to field one of these beasts, and get it to the point where it can successfully use its abilities.

We haven’t seen any dedicated spell casters yet, but they will obviously have a large role in this game, as they always do in Blizzard games (has there been a Blizzard game without a Blizzard spell?) . I, for one, will be disappointed if the Blizzard-casting Templars don’t make an appearance in this StarCraft incarnation.

All in all, it looks like we’ll have a lot to play with in StarCraft 2. It still looks like the game we all know and love, only more so!

Whoa.

This was the first reaction I’d had when I first saw the high quality gameplay preview video, and I’m sure most of you understand! For 20 whole minutes, I was reminded of what it felt like to play StarCraft for the first time, and was ecstatic that I’ll have the chance to repeat the same experience again, almost 10 years later.

The graphics and style look sharp. The cartoon feel is always present, but doesn’t interfere with the serious atmosphere of the game. The havok physics engine is a welcome addition to the StarCraft universe, and while we only got a glimpse of its implementation in the game, I’m sure it’ll have a great impact on visuals and gameplay.

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If anyone had a doubt that StarCraft 2 will be able to capture the feeling of the original, I believe they are now satisfied. Blizzard has shown that they were able to translate the essence of StarCraft into a modern day 3D engine, and give us a worthy sequel.

Get the video here.

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