Déjà vu. As part of our ongoing celebration of all things StarCraft, we're hosting a Starcraft smörgåsbord, with a different theme for each of the days leading up to and the week following SC2's release. This article is a part of the "Everything We Know About StarCraft Day", the first of the bunch, and was the second time we featured StarCraft II in a "best of 20XX" feature as the release date kept getting pushed back.
The stars get craftier
In a way, the decade of bottled up restraint, canceled spin-offs, and lack of sequels is what's most exciting about StarCraft II. Waiting more than 10 years to revisit the Zerg, Protoss, and Terrans shows Blizzard's respect for the franchise, and this reverence permeates the sequel's design, from the fine-tuned roster of simple-but-nuanced units each race is allowed, to the intricate animations that bring battles to life. A vibrant color palette communicates unit types at a microsecond's glance, and when the arc welder of a boxy SCV constructor flicker-crackles and its pilot reports “job's done” in a casual, southern drawl, it makes building bunkers a satisfying task.
More encouraging is StarCraft II's focus on story—Jim Raynor's battlecruiser serves as your mobile base in Wings of Liberty, vith fully-rendered versions of your crew waiting inside to chat up between missions. Point-and-clicking around the bridge, cantina, and other areas digs up bits of lore; you can purchase units and upgrades through your engineering deck, or pull up the galactic map to choose which missions to take, which adds replayability to Wings of Liberty while we await the release of the Pross and Zerg campaigns.
[Annotations left to right]
ETA: Q2 2009
X-Factor: Strong story mode for an RTS, with a rich narrative and lore.