Starcraft II's bittersweet midnight launch

STARCRAFT II MIDNIGHT LAUNCH | And people say gamers don't get out enough

After seeing my (mostly gamer-populated) Facebook feed filling with excitement about StarCraft II midnight launch parties yesterday, I decided to check out my own city's offerings. I headed to the Gamestops at the Prudential and Coolidge Corner and took a few pictures (see above slideshow). The clerk at the Pru wasn't allowed to talk to me about much of anything, but the Coolidge clerk was willing to bend the rules; he told me they had received about 230 pre-orders, and he estimated the Pru got over 300. Devoted gamers arrived at 9 PM and lined up then, but the real crowds started pouring in from 11 PM onwards. Oh, and here's a tip for you: the Coolidge Gamestop gave out free Monster energy drinks.

How many of those hardcore RTS fans called in sick to work or skipped class today? I'm guessing all of them, and I don't blame them. They've had to wait twelve years for this sequel; StarCraft has maintained a devoted fanbase ever since its release in 1998. In case you didn't know, StarCraft is a computer gaming phenomenon. Particularly in South Korea, but we do all right over here, too.

Unfortunately for those patient gamers, early reviews of StarCraft II have been bittersweet. Gamers who've been plugging away at the title all night long have put up their preliminary thoughts at Amazon, and although they're happy about the new 3D graphics and faster gameplay, several gamers have shot down Blizzard for being "greedy." To quote NeuroSplicer's Amazon review:

Although priced even more than a full premium game, this is not a complete StarCraft sequel. You would not know this by its price-tag (!) but this is only a ...THIRD of the game, the first part of three: you can only play the Terran campaign. The Zerg and the Protoss campaigns will be released independently later (and priced as if they were full games, one could safely bet).

Even worse than that, StarCraft II no longer contains the LAN capabilities that helped keep the original StarCraft popular for so long. "Yes, you can still connect through their servers to your buddy sitting beside you," says Amazon commenter Candace Beauchamp, "but LAN play isn't dead, Blizzard. Some of us like having the ultra-low latency of getting together face-to-face with our friends."

As intimidatingly hardcore as the StarCraft community is, I had considered jumping on the bandwagon and giving this game a shot, but a lack of LAN seriously compromises my willingness to join this party. After seeing so many groups of excited gamer cliques waiting in line together, I can only imagine what a huge blow it was for them to find out that they wouldn't be able to play this game at future LAN parties.

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