You know, people are always complaining about a “lack of ‘originality’” in games these days. But one thing is for sure: when Blizzard stated that they were going to announce a new game out in Seoul, South Korea a while back, nobody went “oh man! I sure hope they start a new series!” And if you did there’s something seriously wrong with you. Indeed, when this came out, the big debate was whether it should be Starcraft 2, Warcraft 4, Diablo 3 or the vague concept of a World of Starcraft. Granted, there was no love for Lost Vikings, but the fact remains that nobody wanted Blizzard to announce some grand new game, and if they claimed to, they were lying. That’s beside the point, however, as the important news is that one of these games is now a reality. Starcraft II is officially announced.
Details of the game are tentative, but some interesting tidbits were announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational (the conference where this announcement was made). The game is still, as you’d expect, a RTS, that centers around building an army and using the infamous Vespene Gas and crystals (both of which you’ll always require more of). Each race has new units and abilities for existing units. Everyone remembers the ol’ Zealot. Hell, most Terran players would end up getting beaten about five minutes into a match when one of them walked into your base and killed all your SCVs at one time or another. Well, they’re back with a new ability that allows them to essentially rush an enemy down when attacking.
The Protoss have a few new units confirmed. The Colossus is a large, bipedal unit capable of getting across multiple levels of terrain, and is especially effective against large numbers of small units (read: zerglings). The Phoenix (or maybe Fenix?) is a new unit that is made to seem especially powerful against air units. Warprey are a new flying unit that can easily take down the slower units of the game effectively (and are super-effective against buildings) with a weapon that scales upwards in damage the longer it is fixed on a target.
Immortals are another new soldier for the Protoss who are specially designed to take big hits, with a special shield that activates when the more-powerful units of the game lay a direct hit (the movie showed them taking out Siege Tanks, for example). Story-wise, they are the replacement for dragoons (for those who don’t know, old and disabled Protoss soldiers were offered the opportunity to devote their consciousness in the form of a Dragoon, rather than growing nostalgic for the battlefield but after the end of Brood War, the facilities to do this were destroyed by the Zerg), and their four-legged status certainly implies that they could be the replacement in the game as well. Stalkers, though, also seem strikingly similar to the Dragoon, who are also quadrupeds and admittedly have the ability to shoot both air and ground units, but are created by the Dark Templar, so they could be entirely different from Stalkers. They have the ‘Blink’ ability, allowing them to teleport (though the scope and distance of this hasn’t been made fully clear).
The most interesting new unit is probably the Protoss Mothership, which is pretty much just what you’d expect it to be; a massive ship (which naturally takes exorbitant amounts of resources and time to build) that has some serious power…too bad you can only have one of them at a time. The Phase Prism is probably the most-unique unit announced, functioning as what is best described as a flying Pylon, as it is able to power buildings by its presence. There is also a new structure for the Protoss called a Warp Gate, which allows units to teleport anywhere, but costs massive resources.
While this is a load of information for the Protoss, the Zergs and Terrans didn’t get this much unveiled for them. Terrans were mainly shown getting their asses stomped by the new Protoss units, and the Zerg were barely touched upon. Terrans do have something in a new unit called Reapers, foot soldiers who are equipped with jetpacks (the idea should sound familiar to Command and Conquer fans). You can also expect Marines, Siege Tanks and Battle Cruisers to return as well. Zerglings also now have the ability to turn suicidal and explode themselves. Blizzard will almost definitely announce other features for the two races, and even on the Starcraft II website, the Zerg and Terrans don’t even have their own sections. Because of that, Terran and Zerg players had best pay close attention to future conferences that Blizzard will hold or attend.
Gameplay details maintain that this game will be quite similar to the original StarCraft. As stated, you need to build an army using the two resources and then kill all your enemies. Levels remain 2d with multiple tiers, and will still take place between the three races; Zerg, Protoss and Terran. Not all units will make the cut from the last game, and there will definitely be more units announced later on. The way the video played out, it definitely seems as if there will be a higher emphasis on ‘counter-units’, or units that specifically beat another unit. This may have been just a demonstration that these units aren’t pushovers, however.
A release date is yet to be announced, and the game was stated to come out “when it’s done.” It’s allegedly been in development ever since the release of Warcraft 3 in 2004, but it’s still likely to not see the light of day until 2008 at the earliest. You can check out the official site at http://www.starcraft2.com/.