Starcraft II – First Impressions

Don’t have much time. I need to edit the podcast, work on TRAUMA and meanwhile, StarCraft II is rocking my world. So far I have to say: StarCraft II is AMAZING. I was in the beta, no surprises there. It was a solid game where I got repeatedly hammered by superior opponents. But this was only a very limited version of StarCraft II. Now that I got the full-version, it changes everything.

In particular, the single-player part is quite remarkable. Blizzard did a really good job at re-thinking how the single-player part of an RTS should work. For example, a lot of the background story is told by navigating through static, interactive rooms on your mother spaceship and speaking to people in a point-click adventure game fashion. Using the same interface, you can also research or buy upgrades for your troops using at least 3 different systems. From there, you can start into missions. You have always at least two missions to chose from, each belonging to a different plot line.

StarCraft 2 Point And Click

Wait a minute! Who put Point & Click Adventure in my RTS?!

The missions themselves are incredibly polished. Each one is distinct and has a unique game mechanic. One time you are fighting against zombies Zerg infested colonists, the other time you are robbing a train or collecting resources on a planet repeatedly flooded by lava. Each mission has collectibles or special, secondary objectives. Completing them earns achievements or research points you can spend on upgrading your troops back on your mother spaceship.

Surprisingly, the single-player mode features lots of units that don’t come up in multi-player at all. It a bit disappointing not to be able to transfer your experience from single-player to multi-player. On the other hand, it makes single-player more diversified and I presume it allowed Blizzard to keep tweaking the multi-player without breaking the single-player missions.

It all comes together quite nicely. You zoom around from planet to planet. There is a lot of interesting dialogue with various characters on your spaceship. Every missions brings something new to the table and drives one of the many paralell plots along. It feels A LOT like an exciting Space Opera TV series.

I need to get going. However I will probably spend the next few evenings on BattleNet. If you are also playing StarCraft II, let’s team up! My BattleNet E-Mail is

[my last name]@[my first name].de

See you there!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

6 responses to “Starcraft II – First Impressions”

  1. McZonk

    I have the feeling about StarCraft 2, but I really dislike the “bad adventure” elements between the missions. I want to play StarCraft not point and click through boring scenes. Only having “Lost Vikings” as an easter egg would be more than enough.
    I like all the cut scenes and dialogs even if the story begins like a romantic-comedy-movie with Hugh Grant or some other totally replaceable actor.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      That’s why I like the point and click adventure solution – I believe pretty much everything about it is 100% skip-able. You can always just immediately click on the “Mission Briefing” notebook if you don’t want to talk to people.

      1. sirleto

        yeah, you can in every sequence press ESC to skip it. thats rock solid :)

  2. sirleto

    for me the whole experience has to much.
    to much story with stupidity everywhere,
    to much adventure gui that distracts me from rts gameplay,
    to much detailed animations and still things not clear,
    to much stupid gui flaws (esc means cancel current build, not open game menu – you can’t build to double build expansion and lab expansion onto a basic kaserne, but when one of both is build there is NO message that you can’t. also when currently building units, you can’t add an expansion – and there is NO message also.)

    i just played the first two levels and i might be a grumpy idiot, but i completely disliked it … so much manpower and yet the game is not more than “good remake” to me.

    looking forward to see diablo3 – expecting more significant changes there.

    on a different note: my pc is not fit enough for starcraft2, which means i played on saschas pc.

    i installed it there – which took way over 30min. copy from dvd, extraction to hd, download of patch, installation. WTF? sorry, but i’m used to bad ps3 loading times of 30sec … but an inital installation of more than fewest minutes really pissed me off.

    and one thing that really screwed up: the gui is to cluttered (menus) the “its a online game and a offline game” stuff is totally overfilled with stuff. the main menu is so stuffed with buttons and stuff that when first starting the game (after sascha entered his accounts credentials) i did oversee the text saying “thing wisely about your account name, as you may only enter it once, never change”. of course i did misunderstood that and just typed in MY NICKNAME on SASCHAS ACCOUNT which of course pisses him off now terribly – because he can never change it back?

    WTF? can anybody sanely explain this to me? you can only ONCE give your account a nickname for the game? no renaming? i mean, of course when i wrote my small online rpgis game in php/sql, i just plugged into a existing php forum software. there is no “rename account” either. but its 4 man months dev time versus horribly gigantic amounts of man months on the battlenet stuff.

    i have no words…

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I agree with you… you are a grumpy idiot. The adventure part feels over the top specifically in the first 3 missions. After that the basic tutorials are over and the game opens up. Things make much more sense then.

      Otherwise, the name change problem is hilarious. I agree that it’s a grave UI mistake – lack of forgiveness. If they don’t want players to change nicknames, they should at least give a short grace period to correct mistakes like this one.

      Otherwise, the GUI is not the simplest one but I find it’s quite sold. Well thought-out functionality, lots of attention to details. I might do a write-up of some highlights I enjoy a lot.

  3. Shantel Rodde

    Whoa, brilliant blog! How are you able to make such great blog posts this much? I’m fascinated ;)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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