StarCraft 2 reviews have begun to trickle out onto the Web, two days after the second installment of the StarCraft franchise hit store shelves. (As we reported earlier this week, Blizzard did not dole out advance copies of StarCraft 2 – reviewers were forced to play through the game at the same time as all the rest of the button-mashers in the US. Sigh.)
For the most part, the early reviews are positive, with critics reserving most of their praise for the look and feel of the newest Blizzard game. Over at Joystiq, for instance, StarCraft 2 is getting high marks for its single-player mode.
"Though the budget and spectacle have clearly increased since the first game, what's most striking about the single-player game is the familiarity," writes reviewer Allen Cook. "The standard missions are all there – stealth, base defense and straight-up battles – and the core strategies still work. Blizzard didn't change StarCraft, because StarCraft didn't need changing."
John Mix Meyer of Wired Magazine loves the new StarCraft for the cohesion of its plot. "In the original game, you were simply flung from one mission to the next with nothing but a short mission briefing, or perhaps a brief cinematic scene once in a blue moon," Meyer writes. "In the sequel, you spend your downtime hanging out inside the spaceship owned by series protagonist Jim Raynor."
Joystiq's Cook is particularly amped up about the multiplayer gameplay, which he calls "one of the most finely-honed experiences I've ever played. In order to live up to the legacy of StarCraft's professional gaming scene, Blizzard couldn't just settle for making the game 'reasonably' balanced," Cook notes. "The results of months of tweaks in open beta can be seen in a wonderfully balanced multiplayer experience."
OK, so the gameplay is top-notch. What about the graphics? Well, in a short review posted to the site of the UK Guardian, Mike Andereisz notes the "amazing" look of StarCraft 2. "Every level is crammed with detail – from clunking cranes to bubbling lava and passing wildlife – which all adds to a palpable realism that makes the likes of Command & Conquer 4 seem sterile and bland," Andereisz writes.
Still, not everyone is convinced. Some of the most scathing criticism of StarCraft 2 has been published on Amazon, which currently shows an average customer rating of three stars. "The game itself is really mediocre," writes one Amazon user. "The awesome storyline I was hoping for, wasn't there. It seemed like they tried too hard to follow the first game's ever-changing plotlines of deceit and heroism."
Have you played StarCraft 2? Drop us a line in the comments section – we want to hear from you. We'll likely post a second StarCraft 2 roundup in the next few days, as more reviews hit the Web. In the meantime, happy playing.