Sci-Fi Fodder

StarCraft II

There are quite a few Sci-Fi games available, but not too many will compete with the hype surrounding "StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty". Heck, I saw a commercial for the game while watching a Cardinals/Phillies game on ESPN!

StarCraft II is the long-awaited sequel to Blizzard's highly successful military science fiction real-time strategy video game, StarCraft (released in 1998, and still being played). The game centers on the battle between three species: the human Terrans, the insect Zerg, and the Protoss, a species with psionic powers. This installment focuses on the Terrans, with two planned expansions packs set to focus on the Zerg ("Heart of the Swarm") and Protoss ("Legacy of the Void"). The gameplay involves building up your forces and defeating the other species, which is considerably more hectic that you would think!

There is an excellent, indepth review of the game available at WoodTV, which can be found here. It's really positive, with the reviewer noting that he thinks he expects to still be playing StarCraft II five years from now. He also predicts that "...Blizzard will sell millions of StarCraft II copies."

However, there is some controversy surrounding the release. Not with the game itself, but with the multiplayer infrastructure. Yep - I am talking about RealID.

RealID was a feature that Blizzard created for it's BattleNet multiplayer platform that allows your friends to see your real name while playing. You have to 'friend' someone for them to see your name, but once you do, they can see it whenever they are connected to BattleNet (i.e., whenever they are playing a Blizzard game).

This, in itself, is not that big a deal, although I like the idea of being able to 'hide' every so often and not participate in group activities. (Yeah, I know it's antisocial, but sometimes you just want to game alone, right?)

The real issue came when Blizzard announced that they were going to display the Real ID name when a user participated within the game forums. This created a huge outcry, with a flurry of forum posts discussing the proposed change. As an example of the potential for abuse that could happen with real names exposed, forum members posted personal information on a forum moderator, using information that was readily available on the web. That crossed a line, but it did make a point. Blizzard quickly backtracked and modified their policy, and gamers still retain a certain anonymity on the forums...for now. I think they will have to find a happy medium for commenters to be accountable for the content that they post, yet balance potential abuse via having personal information available in public forums.

None of this should affect the Sci-Fi minded gamer from checking out this game. You are not required to participate in the online community or play the game in multiplayer mode (although, most everyone does!). It really looks to be a future classic.

StarCraft II will be released concurrently on Windows and Mac OS on July 27th, 2010.