It took about as long for me to find a competitive Brood War match in Star Craft: Remastered as it did for me to get stomped. Just seconds in both cases, which points to a strong launch for SC:Remastered, which aims to reinvigorate the classic RTS's multiplayer scene and preserve its campaigns for the foreseeable future. At that task, it's a resounding success.
I don't personally find StarCraft's look appealing—it's all chrome spray paint and dirt—but as expected, it runs at hundreds of frames per second, and what was formerly pixel mud has been honed into crisp pixel blades. I still think it's drab (C&C fanboy over here), but now it's drab and sharp, faithful as any remastering could have been, and I doubt anyone wanted otherwise. Just look at this slick view of my base being crushed by the might of the Zerg.
The main event is the multiplayer. As Kwanghee said in our preview from a couple months back, Brood War hasn't been easy for newcomers to approach in some time. SC:Remastered modernizes the experience, with automated matchmaking and a new competitive ladder. Just a day in, it's a clear success: as I mentioned, I had no problem matching up for a 1v1 competitive stomping—even in the middle of a Tuesday on the US East server—and there are a decent number of custom games to join.
(At the time of writing, it seems matchmaking has stopped working, but it's not for lack of players—they're chatting about the issue now. I'm assuming this is a temporary hiccup, but I'll update this story if the problem persists.)
If it wasn't clear from StarCraft's reputation as a competitive game dominated by hotkey-smashing athletes, it's still hard as hell for new players. If you don't know the strategies, and you aren't fast, it's pretty likely your base is going to be insta-crushed by the armies of people who've been playing these games for nearly 20 years.
Remastered could really use a beginner's area: unranked matchmaking for new blood. That, and perhaps some integrated tutorials to explain the past couple decades of strategy. Otherwise, I'm doubtful that too many newcomers will stick around for repeated ass kickings—not when there are so many other, new competitive games to get into.
For those who are serious about multiplayer StarCraft, though, I can't see any reason why SC:Remastered isn't a boon. And for the rest of us, the original and Brood War campaigns are now preserved for as long as Blizzard keeps them updated and running smoothly on new hardware and operating systems.
What's better is that rather than disappearing the original version, as Beamdog does with its cRPG 'Enhanced Editions' which replace the originals on GOG, Blizzard has made the classic StarCraft free. Players with the free version miss out on the improved graphics and audio, as well as the matchmaking and leaderboards, but get to play the campaigns and LAN games with modern OS support.
I can't find significant fault with anything Blizzard has done here. This is a project for StarCraft fans that serves them whether they spend $15 or not, and makes no compromises.
Beginners beware: StarCraft's reputation as the original esport and originator of the term 'actions-per-minute' has not faded with time. Prepare for a steep learning curve. For old pros, though, it's time to get back on the hover bike.
For more on StarCraft: Remastered, check out our recent interview with senior engineer Grant Davies.