Starcraft 2 was worth the wait. There have been mixed reviews, and honestly I feel the same way. Not everything has improved over the original. The graphics, the story, the persistent unit upgrades, and the endless playability of this game leave it heads above its predecessor. Battlenet 2.0 and the licensing honeslty suck, and you need to have an internet connection to play the game (yes, even the single-player game).

The Starcraft story continues in the single-player 29 mission campaign. Unfortunately, only Terran is included in teh steep price you will pay for this game… if you want the others, you will need to PAY. Single-player game has a familiar feel, but also an RPG aspect as it allows persistent unit upgrades. There are also branching missions, single-player only units and abilities. Beautiful if not breathtaking cut scenes fill in the story with amazing detail in the expected Blizzard fashion… no expense was spared on the graphics engine, story, or music while creating Starcraft 2.

There is no longer a LAN mode. :(

This gets two big thumbs down. Why Blizzard would take something so good about the original and make it crappy is beyond me… oh, perhaps they are making the games as a business now; making the games for the money rather than the gamer. This is a sad evolution in Blizzard’s corporate greed. The licensing requirements and the lack of LAN play are two BIG reasons for some people to not buy this game.

The multiplayer Battlenet 2.0 is Blizzard’s next “evolution” of the previous system. Many have argued that it is worse than ever. One advantage is that you can play any one of the three races right away online (you can’t otherwise). One of the best features of Battlenet 2.0 is it improved matchmaking ability linked with how simple it is to join up with friends. There are also achievements that can be earned in the game that can be displayed in your profile or even in game. There are no chat channels in Battlenet 2.0, so it is difficult to meet and play with people you DON’T know — there is an instant messenger client built in, however, but it makes it a much more lonely experience. Another interesting feature is the marketplace where you can buy and sell custom maps.

The map editor is better than ever. If you’re like me, you enjoy hours of designing and creating unique maps for you and others to share… the fact that we can sell them now means you could put a little coin in your pocket while having fun doing it. Good luck promoting your maps though, they’re only ranked by popularity so you will probably never get anyone to see your map, let alone buy it.

It seems to me the SCVs are smarter than the original, bases and troops are more efficient, and the “army” control groups are larger than the original Starcraft. The units navigate in the same way they always did, if I remember correctly, but they just seem more fluid (probably the graphics engine).
All in all, I recommend this game, but if you can wait, you might want to hold off for the boxed set of all the expansions when the game is a year old. Blizzard is really trying to rake its gamers across the coals on this one. I for one, will not buy any of the expansions until they are “old” and come way down in price.

That being said, it is refreshing to finally play the long-anticipated sequel to the original Starcraft. It was painful going back to the outdated graphics just to play the old Starcraft when the feeling struck… well, no more. I have years to play Starcraft 2 online, replaying single-player, and generating custom maps — as long as I have an Internet connection and Blizzard allows me to continue LEASING the game from them. Blizzard, you get 1 thumb up. I hope you consider changing your licensing structure for Diablo 3, but I won’t hold my breath… it’s probably going to be 10 years anyway!
Story: 4/5 Beautiful graphics and music enhance the continued saga of the Starcraft storyline. Well thought out, and well displayed. It would be nice if the whole story was included in the price. I don’t want to buy more campaigns to finish the story.

Graphics/Design: 5/5 Perfect. I am thrilled to have a version of Starcraft that has modern graphics… I never have to play the old starcraft again!!!

Gameplay: 2.5/5 The improved graphics play right into the fluid motions of the units and structures. The mechanics remained largely the same as the original Starcraft, so it made gameplay that much easier. But the “improvements” to Battlenet, removal of LAN play, and the crappy licensing issue greatly reduce gameplay… as I said earlier. This was a cash cow for Blizzard… I’m not sure they’re in it for the gamers anymore.

Repeat Gameplay: 3/5 Battlenet, 3 races, and the map generator are three, er… 5 reasons that I will play this game over and over for years to come.

Overall: 3.6/5 Blizzard has risen to the challenge (as I had hoped and expected) from the graphics aspect, but failed with their new licensing, required internet login to play, and screwing players out of content for money. Blizzard, I hope you can clean up your act and remember that WE, the gamers, loved you for your love of gaming… not for your love of making money.