Dear Starcraft II,
I’m sorry. I have to be frank with you.
You were destined to be the alpha. The omega. The game to define this decade, the tour de norm of how nerds young and old waste hours strategizing how to make little colored aliens die. The piece of pop culture that would come to be part of the huge tapestry of our digital entertainment legacy. The single force that would reinvigorate the bleeding, ailing RTS genre and draw the millions of gamers worldwide away from high-power consoles and back to the computer.
Instead, you showed up, five years late, a piece of mediocrity that sports a long list of ‘game-breakers’:
- When I loaded you onto my 24″ iMac, you kept crashing (a first for me, having a program crash repeatedly on the MacOS platform) because you didn’t understand the screen resolution (1900 x 1200).
- When I loaded you onto Windows XP, you worked, but it took you two hours to install (how can it take that long to extract 12 GB from a DVD installation disc?).
- You have no LAN play. Yes, we already knew that was not coming, but even so.
- You require players to be connected to the internet at all times. Period. Even for single-player and campaign modes.
- Your gameplay is the same as your predecessor: when I play Terran, I still build Marines and Firebats first and stuff them into bunkers. When I play Protoss, I build first build Zealots and photon cannons. When I play Zerg, I first build Zerglings and Sunken Colonies. Really? Is this Christmas 1999, and I’m unwrapping my Starcraft Battle Chest present all over again?
- Your graphics, while decent in HD, are not significantly more spectacular than in your predecessor; in fact, everything looks even more cartoon-ey: the pylons are fatter and more rounded; the barracks have absurd aspect ratios, and the Dark Templar…
- You only sport one campaign – Terran – that is frustratingly short and contains only a side-story of the larger epic tale here. Despite what Blizzard says, I will not enjoy buying you again in 2011 and again in 2012 to get the full storyline.
- You’ve essentially gotten rid of the unit camera shots I loved in your predecessor – the little clips that would show up in the bottom bar when I had a certain unit selected. It’s a small detail, but it really matters to me. I loved the way the Zealot’s throat would light up when he spoke. I loved the way the Dark Templar was covered in shadows. I loved the Mutalisk’s…ummm…mouth. Was it really too hard for you to retain a feature that made your predecessor so extraordinary?
- You seem to have copied the music and sounds from your predecessor. The music has a little more country-style twang guitar, which is amusing, but the soundtrack doesn’t paint a new, engaging experience for me.
- Biggest of all, you took twelve years to succeed your predecessor. Twelve years. (Only the Terminator series has that kind of time gap between sequel releases.) You were first announced in 2005, after Blizzard canceled the ambitious and exciting Starcraft: Ghost project to start work on you. You were delayed in 2007, when the team working on you got reassigned to that bastard behemoth of WoW. You were delayed again in 2008, and in 2009, and again earlier this year. All of us out here, all of your fans, believed that time was being used to flesh out the storyline, polish the gameplay, optimize the experience. Instead, you were merely being delayed so Blizzard could maximize the profits from WoW before migrating gamers to the next platform. This is obviously not a project that received twelve years of continuous, close scrutiny.
Of course, you expected haters to hate on your release date. I’m sorry to be one of them. But I waited for you, for twelve years, from the time I was a middle schooler to now when I’m a college graduate, and I’ve changed so much while you’ve stayed…well, essentially the same (except now you don’t have LAN play). I’m sorry. I’m going to have to rethink this relationship until, umm, maybe 2011, when you get re-released with a different campaign.
Your Disenchanted Lover, AJ