Archive for the “Starcraft II” Category

Welcome to another fun filled edition of the Cub Report!

In this episode, we find out what happens when I give the Cub my old computer.

A short while ago, the Cub’s computer took a data dump, and left us scrambling to come up with a replacement.

We ended up getting me a new computer, and passing my old one on to him, leaving us both with an upgrade.

The only thing I had to do to get the computer set up for him was to install the backed up Minecraft game/world saves for him.

So, hey, Portal is on the desktop, he played that a bit. And it had World of Warcraft, of course. And I installed a painting program for him to get his art on.

Over the weekend, he was bored, and asked me what this other icon on the desktop was. Starcraft II? What’s that?

More importantly, can he play it?

Sure. Why not? He’s ten, he can give it a shot.

I explained to him that it wasn’t a World of Warcraft style of game, instead it was like a science-fiction version of Warcraft III, which I let him play a bit a year or more ago.

“You make a base, fortify it, build armies and go out to smash other bases.”

Okay, cool. He’s excited, he wants to try it.

I set him up with a fresh start in Campaign mode, and let him at it.

He did a few missions in campaign mode, but he didn’t really care for it.

“Is there any way I can just do a battle? I build a base and the bad guys build a base and we fight?”

Why yes… yes there is.

I showed him how to set up a match against the AI, the different variables, how to browse Blizzard maps, what team AI was and all of that.

Then I let him go to it again.

He got his butt handed to him by the enemy in his first match. He was kind of upset.

So I told him that if he’d like, I’d replay the battle, and show him some of the things I do to defend my base, build resources and kick butt.

“Sure!”

I sat down, he had Terran set up against Terran on a 1v1 map, and I showed him how you can set up your SCVs to harvest minerals and gas, build more SCVs to farm faster, send an SCV down to another nearby mineral site to start a second command center and bring in more resources, and have a couple SCVs off on their own building missile launchers, barracks and bunkers with Marines around the perimeter.

I showed him how to group armies with Ctrl+#s, I introduced him to the concept of avenues of approach, and how to upgrade weapons and armor and perform research.

I showed him how some forces can only attack ground targets, some can only attack air, some reveal the surrounding area, and some units can attack both types.

Then I built a force of 5 Battlecruisers and turned the keys of the kingdom over to him.

He likes Battlecruisers.

He played several more AI matches over the weekend after that. He tried some of the 2v2 maps, with an AI on his team and two AI opponents, and also one match with two AI buddies on his team with one lone little AI victim.

Does everyone do that at some point? Set up a completely one sided and horribly unfair situation where the poor bad guy is just screwed right out of the gate? It’s not fun to actually play, but it seems like a rite of passage for an RTS game, gives you plenty of time to build up impregnable defenses, a ridiculously large and overpowered army, and then have the AI bad guy die because your two AI allies lost no time in zerg rushing him?

Anyway. He had a lot of fun.

He loves the battlecruiser, he likes the looks of the Thor but I don’t think he’s built them much. So far he seems to go for dominance of the skies rather than open-field tank battles.

He likes the Viking, he asked me if I knew that the Viking was a flying gunship that can land and transform into mecha. Very cool. Also, there are medic ships!

I came in on him last night, he was whooping it up, I wanted to see what trouble he was up to.

He’d started a 1v3 battle, with 3 Terrans against his one Zerg force.

When I popped my head in, he was grouping zerglings into armies. Lots and lots and lots of armies. And giggling.

“I’m going to send THIS army to scout the enemy camp, and THIS army to attack his weak point, and THIS army to cover the way to the enemy base so I’m not surprised, and THIS army to defend my ramp here, and THIS army….”

Um, yeah.

Okay, so, note to self. Do NOT buy a second copy of Starcraft II. I can just see getting my butt zerg-rushed from thirteen different armies while still trying to finish building my first barracks.

Also, those giant things that Zerg can make that look like dinosaurs? Why can they burrow? He was building them, burrowing them and giggling.

Why? Why make something that massive a sneak attack? “La la la, walking along the trail, all is quiet, HOLY CRAP INSTANT MUTANT RHINOS ARGGGHHHH!”

My son likes the Zerg more than the Space Marines?

That’s just wrong, man.

Comments 12 Comments »

I did run out and get Starcraft II on Tuesday night. Kmart has a special this week that if you buy Starcraft II, you get a coupon worth $20 off any video game (PC or otherwise) good until Jan 1 of 2011. The coupon prints at the register when you buy it.

We’ve been talking about buying Mario Galaxy 1 or 2 for the Wii for Alex, so $20 off is pretty sweet.

Of course, if any of you have a free copy of Mario Galaxy sitting on your shelf gathering dust you’d want to mail to me, hey, I won’t whine.

No? Didn’t think so. :)

There has been a general lack of blog posts this week, mostly due to wanting to wait until the hilarious “You might be a bad tank” comments stop. But they don’t stop. They keep coming. When I finally bite the bullet and take all of your submissions and names and roll them out on a blog post, it’s going to be epic.

Getting back to Starcraft II, I’ve played it a little bit on Campaign mode now, the first 5 or 6 missions.

I’m not going to write some kind of walkthrough, or guide. Many folks were in the Beta and probably beat the campaign already, and any one else interested in the game should want a spoiler free discussion, because the first thing I can say up front is, the single player campaign mode is beyond anything I expected. It’s just great.

I have yet to play a single PvP style mission or quick battle. I played through all the mini tutorial missions (that are 100% optional; I just wanted to see how good they were. They were perfect, except I don’t think they ever discussed creating teams of units using Control-1, Control-2, etc. Still, great job.)

I then started the campaign, and it’s been great. Incredible amount of CGI cut scenes, tons of them. Lots of options. Every mission has drop dead mission objectives, and then optional objectives that reward you with potential upgrades to units and stats.

The upgrade tree customization really is VERY rich. You can even choose upgrades from the Laboratory based on mission exploration of optional objectives that give you new units. They also designed the upgrade trees from exploration so that you have to choose between two upgrade options, and whatever you choose locks out the other one forever. The difference between the two options is usually one of your playstyle.

As an example; one option level is, choose between two gathering upgrades – either you gain +25% faster Vespene Gas gathering, OR you can make two SCV gathering units at a time in your queue.

Basically… it’s an RTS game with tons of story, imaginative missions, and above all a great opportunity for making decisions that have an actual impact on your future success, and have long lasting effects on your game.

It’s great.

I did play WoW a bit last night, I’m not trying to burn out or anything. It’s not like I’ve left WoW forever or anything.

But I’ll be honest; Starcraft II is a far, far better game than I would have hoped for. I’m damn glad I bought it.

Have a great weekend!

Comments 12 Comments »

I promised you a book review, and by golly you’re gonna get it! In my own, inimitable BBB style.

Starcraft II: Heaven’s Devils by William C. Dietz is at it’s heart a military sci-fi tale that follows a very familiar style.

There is a familiar theme that keeps getting repeated in military novels. Naive young man goes off to war, enters boot camp, is exposed to the order and structure of training, feels prepared and confident, and then goes out into the harsh reality of the real world, where blood stains your stuff, people die even when they’re you’re friends, and chaos seems to reign. 

It’s a familiar theme because the coming of age tale is something to which we can all relate, and it helps draw us into the setting. Much like us, the new recruit doesn’t know what the future holds, and as things are explained to him along the way, we learn right along with him.

For those of us that have been there before ourselves in some way, we can also chuckle as we remember just how naive and stupid we really were back then.

This particular story is centered on Jim Raynor, a young man helping his family keep their farm alive on a dusty agrarian world, as the Guild Wars rage between the Confederation and the Kel-Morian guilds over who will control the future of Terran colonized space.

As the story progresses, we follow young Jim’s own coming of age tale as it unfolds, from his very beginning on the Confederation world of Shiloh, and all the way through until the end of his military career.

Along the way, we become acquainted with the ways of the Confederation military might, and bear witness to the birth of an elite force, the Heaven’s Devils.

The story is set in the Starcraft universe, and is faithful to the Starcraft lore that has come before. This is not a reboot, revamp or reconstruction for Starcraft II, it all fits nicely in the existing storyline. In fact, much like the recent book Arthas, the back of Starcraft II: Heaven’s Devils includes a detailed Starcraft timeline that lays out important events in sequence, and for each event lists the book(s) in which those events can be found. 

Yes, Starcraft II: Heaven’s Devils is a tale set solidly in the Starcraft universe, and yes it is faithful to the existing lore, but first and foremost this is a military sci-fi novel in keeping with the finest works of William C. Dietz. Anyone that is familiar with his work on Legion of the Damned will feel right at home here without having read anything else, or having played SC1.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Legion of the Damned… Dietz infuses his military sci-fi with a stripped down quality; the story advances from event to event, and you’re expected to keep up and pay attention. He doesn’t spend much time describing the color of the grain in the fields of Shiloh, and he doesn’t bother you with details on what the major export crop of whatever town the characters happen to be in might be. His books also bear a cynical edge and black humor common to military sci-fi, a tone perfectly in keeping with the setting and subject matter of this book. 

I enjoyed this book a great deal, but at the beginning, it was hard for me to get into. The “From boot camp to the front lines” theme has been done so many times, in so many ways, and let’s be honest… not all of them can be Full Metal Jacket. When you realise what the theme of this story will be, an experienced reader will start to worry… “Is this going to have some imagination, some new and interesting edge to it, or is this going to be some formulaic piece of derivative crap?”

Hey, I know that’s what I was worrying.

So yes, starting out, when I saw what direction the book was heading, I was worried. I dragged my feet a bit.

In the end, it goes off the rails in a very good way, and has a great “Oh crap” feel to it. It’s not a story you’re going anticipate, it does a good job of sucker punching your expectations. 

Still, in the early stages, I didn’t know that it was going to go off the rails.

What kept me going was the promise that this was Jim Raynor’s story.

I played Starcraft I, so I know who the hell Jim Raynor is. At the time Starcraft I begins, it’s been ten years since the end of the Guild Wars. We know that the Confederacy won the war and now rules unchallenged over Terran space. It’s all one big happy Confederation family. we als know that if you want any sense of freedom in the Confederacy, you go out to the rim of colonized space looking for some crap out of the way planet and find a hole to hide in.

Four days before the Starcraft I story begins, an alien fleet popped out of nowhere and laid waste to a colonized Terran Confederacy world. Panic among exposed colonial worlds ensues, and we enter from stage left as a Confederation assigned Magistrate abrubtly placed in command of the colony of Mar Sara.

As the Colonial Magistrate, we are tasked with protecting the colony from a feared alien invasion and chilling them out so they don’t panic at the idea of being Zerg chow.  On our very first Starcraft I mission (real mission, not the training mission) we encounter a very dusty, tired, and cynical James Raynor, the “local Marshall” of Mar Sara, and we enlist his aid in relocating refugees immediately in the wake of General Edmund Duke’s surprise announcement of a 48 hour lockdown and colonial quarantine.

From there, the Starcraft I story takes off running… and from there we got to know Jim Raynor very well. Jim, and Kerrigan.

But what was Marshall James Raynor’s story back before he ended up on Mar Sara?

Starcraft II: Heaven’s Devils did what I really wanted. It does tell Jim’s story, and along the way also tells the story of the elite unit he was a part of, and gives us one hell of an eyes wide open view at the reality of the Confederation Terran Marines.

Unfortunately, the book ends near the conclusion of the Guild Wars, and leaves us with a ten year gap to wonder what happened until we see him again in SC1.

Still, have you seen the trailor for the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty game out this Tuesday?

God, I love that trailer.

I think it’s safe to say that if you want to know more about the man that comes to lead a Mercenary force in the new Starcraft II game, if that trailer makes you interested to know more about what kind of actual military background he had in the Confederacy, and why he wasn’t STILL a loyal little happy Confederate puppet, then Starcraft II: Heaven’s Devils will answer those questions admirably.

Oh, and yeah… I’ll be buying the game on Tuesday. What can I say? They had me at “Kerrigan”.

Bottom line – It was a good book. I had a good time. I’d like to see Dietz fill out those missing ten years.

Comments 6 Comments »

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®