Hello gamers and welcome to day three of our 16th week!
Zerging the #23 Position…
I remember making fun of Starcraft a lot when I first heard about it. “So, it’s Warcraft in space. Uh, I give a shit about this because… why, exactly?” Stuff like that. The lesson here, as always: I’m an idiot. Back in the late 90s, before the Diablo series had really hit it’s stride with Diablo II and World of Warcraft wasn’t even a dot on the horizon, Blizzard was making some of the best RTS (Real Time Strategy, for you neophytes) games in history. Seriously, I’d still play the shit out of Warcraft II if I had a computer that’d run it. Starcraft, initially, felt to me like it was going to be more of the same, and from a mechanical standpoint it wasn’t wildly dissimilar from other top-tier RTSs of its day. You had a variety of buildings and units, you maneuvered them around several different battlefields to collect resources and beat your opponent, and that was it. The one major change (and, in fairness, it was a big deal at the time), was that you had 3 unique races to choose from instead of just two. But what set Starcraft apart for me was the world building, backstory, characters and mythology that Blizzard developed for what has become one of the most successful franchises in PC-gaming history.
God damn, but I love those Protoss Archons. Nothing made me happier than making about 20 of them and then just going to town on an enemy’s base while I had 15 Carriers overhead wrecking shit. Me likey Protoss. While it wasn’t groundbreaking from a mechanics and gameplay standpoint (it shared very strong similarities to Warcraft II), it’s worth pointing out that Starcraft excelled on all those fronts; it took the systems and templates of it’s predecessors and refined the hell out of them. So much so, in fact, that for a decade plus it became the de facto competitive RTS for tournament play. The game was released in 1998 and when I went to Blizzcon in 2009 they were still running an international Starcraft tournament for big money. While the competitive scene is what kept the game relevant until the release of Starcraft II in 2010, I can’t help but feel like the spirit of the game suffered a bit from the emphasis on tournament play that became so prevalent in it’s later years. I personally never got any satisfaction of seeing who could make the most zerglings in the shortest amount of time. That’s basically what the competitive scene boiled down to in the end. Now, don’t get me wrong. Starcraft absolutely should be remembered for its contribution to the development of eSports. I just don’t think that’s all it should be remembered for. Kerrigan, Raynor, and Zeratul deserve better than that.
DEV CYCLE OF DEATH
Starcraft is almost as famous for it’s sequel’s dev cycle as it is for being awesome. It took twelve fucking years for us to get the next chapter in the Starcraft story. Twelve. Years. Let me put that in perspective for you; when the original Starcraft came out, I was a junior in high school. When Starcraft II launched, I was married, a dad, and was spending a bunch of time bitching about how the damn kids today wouldn’t know real music if it came up and sat on their heads. The messed up part about this, though, is that I think it’s absolutely a good thing that Blizzard took as long as they did to release Starcraft II. I can say the same thing about Diablo III, although admittedly that game had some serious issues at launch thanks to the incredibly misguided inclusion of a real-money auction house. The point I’m making here is that Blizzard releases stuff when they feel that it’s ready. Period. They don’t try to shove stuff out the door to hit a release window, and I deeply appreciate that. We’re seeing way too many developers, (including some of the biggest names in the industry), release way too many games that simply aren’t ready to hit the shelves. It fucking sucks, and it needs to stop. I promise you, we’ll all live if you take an extra six months or a year to make sure your game works before you ask us to fork over our money for it. If more studios followed this advice, maybe we wouldn’t have Microsoft trying to buy back our affections with free Xbox Live time after the unmitigated clusterfuck that was the Master Chief Collection. Seriously, take a page from Blizzard’s playbook, people. Take the time you need to make a stellar product, and gamers will love you for it. History backs that up in a big way.
BEST IN CLASS
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness will always be my favorite RTS of all time. It just will be. My affections for that game know no bounds, and the fact that it isn’t included on this countdown confuses and angers me, much like Gambit is angered and confused by the personal computer and those of us that have played games on it. But while Warcraft II is my favorite RTS, I have to admit that Starcraft is unquestionably the greatest RTS in history. No RTS game had a longer run or a greater long-term impact on the genre, and I’m certainly not going to sit here and say it doesn’t deserve it’s seat at the head of the table. Obviously, we’re leaving Starcraft with a flawless 5 out of 5.