Yeah, I’m writing about a 4 year old game.  Hey, it’s new to me.

I am surprised at how much I’ve been grabbed by the Terran campaign.  It’s cheesy as all hell, but there’s something about this style of game that I like – focused, fairly small-scale real-time scenarios.  It’s not the pure battle of the real online Melee, and it’s easy to see the triggers and the seams in the AI – if you can even call it that.  I’ve seen nothing beyond “throw units at the enemy when the time is right.”

But it’s a definite genre, one that’s not all that common these days.  I got the same high off Dawn of War 2, which I played by myself, and co-op, and even tried on Hard.  Both expansions, too.  I loved that game.  Reaching way back, I remember loving Myth 2.

You fight a battle, you reach for extra objectives, you spend your credits on upgrades.  It’s a fun formula, and it’s rarer than it should be.  That, or maybe I’m the only one who digs this stuff.  I hear there was a lot of hate for DoW2 amongst the gaming cognoscenti, and a good number of them attacked it for the very things I loved the most.

The biggest problems that StarCraft 2 has come from the fact that it’s StarCraft, and the extreme ludo-narrative dissonance that is unavoidable given the game’s basic design.

It all comes down to the base.  That’s the biggest and ugliest flaw this game has.  First off, it’s just ridiculous.  The whole idea of building units on the battlefield is nonsensical from the start.  Dawn of War 2 made it work because you never brought new units onto the battlefield at all.  Myth just gave you a set of guys, and that was it.  Both of those systems were better, because running the base is just pure busy-work.  I understand that it’s a key part of micro in the real game, blah blah blah.  I’m just an old man, I guess, but I don’t see the need for such an ugly attention-splitter when the problem of resource gain has been solved in better ways by more recent games.

But ESPECIALLY in the campaign, it makes no sense at all.  “Gee, good thing this firebase we just set up happens to be centered around a naturally occurring outcrop of minerals.  Lucky the people who built this building we’re standing upon just left them here, like a sculpture or something.  We can mine them and transform them into new weapons on the spot, in minutes.  Fortunately that Barracks we just built came with a theoretically infinite quantity of men.  I handcrafted them myself, out of pure mineral.  But, even though they’re magical mineral men, they won’t leave the barracks or do anything unless the proper kit is built for them.”

A more fully SF game could have made it work, I suppose, with 3D printers and AI, but of course StarCraft doesn’t go that route.

Gah.

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