Multiplayer in StarCraft II comes in two forms The first is custom melee (that’s any variety of teams from versus teams, to team vs. A.I. in any combination you can come up with). That mode does not apply co-op achievements, even in versus A.I. combat. To get true co-op according to the StarCraft II universe, you have to select the more confusing menu labeled “Cooperative.” At first this looks like it’s just a matchmaking service, but if you’ve made a party you can play together according to their laid out co-op rules without having to search the vast Battle.net network between skirmishes.
The co-op for StarCraft II is, simply put, comp stomp. This particular comp-stomp does add a few nice elements that those of use who appreciate co-op will love. First, you can share Minerals or Vespine gas to help each other out. Communication has also been beefed up, as you can talk either by headset (which is currently being patched, and didn’t work at the time of reviewing), or hitting the enter key while in-game to type in requests or comments.
Blizzard is also a company that is very fond of keeping their games fresh and new. They’ve been patching StarCraft and Diablo 2, games thare are 10 plus years old, as recently as this past year. They’ve also been catching the various bugs that users have been reporting, and working on a lot of quick fixes. This is an encouraging element for those of us experiencing a few issues, and we actually appreciate that more than condemn them for it.
For parents that would like their kids to enjoy the StarCraft they experienced 12 years ago, but are worried about the shmucks of the internet misbehaving, there are also violence and language filters. Perfect for any wary parent, but they are also optional for those of us that enjoy our games as they were made: full of violence and gooey gory Zerg.
The multiplayer gameplay in both modes in general seems a bit gimped compared to the main game. For instance, many units aren’t available for many of the races (medics for Terran, Brutalisks for Zerg, and Dark Archons for Protoss for example) and many of the upgrades work different in multiplayer. This feels a bit odd, especially in co-op (it would be especially co-opish if healers healed ALL friendly units, as well.)
Perhaps it was intentional to leave out some of the more impressive units, to balance the races a bit more, or draw people to the campaign element of the game. I’m not really sure what the reason was, but it’s a bit disappointing to lose some very impressive tech from the campaign when you switch over to play with your friends.
The co-op comp-stomp is also limited to simple RTS tactics. Build, defend, assault, recover, etc. There are no hero or mercenary units, or alternate goals for teams working together. But, once you get a good rhythm going with some friends, the co-op is actually a lot of fun, and can add hours upon hours to your enjoyable gameplay.
An achievement system also challenges players to try new things, deal out some new tactics, and even try out all three of the available races. That’s right, you can play as any of the three main StarCraft races: Terran (human), Protoss (advanced Alien), or Zerg (primitive Alien). Try to find a balance between the three, or just mix-and-match based on your play style.
To be honest, I was never a huge fan of StarCraft back in the day, I was more of a Warcraft man myself. That being said, I eagerly awaited to get my hands on a new Blizzard product, something that’s always a quality experience. Right from the get go it’s hard not to be impressed, the new Battle.net being the forefront of the experience is quite nice.
The controversial RealID system, is in my opinion, a really nice feature to have. I was able to invite all my facebook friends in the game, view them by their real name, and send messages, party invites, and game invites. Something about having their name there adds a more personal touch to multiplayer gaming.
While I was dissappointed in the lack of campaign co-op, I gotta admit after warming up a bit in the game’s co-op mode, it was a lot of fun. I especially had a good time playing the three players vs three AI players with Kat and Marc. We’d strategize from the beginning, each deciding which units to build for our respective races, and when one player would get attacked the other would come to the rescue. It wasn’t long before we realized just how powerful a solid counter attack is in the game.
I really would have liked to see some sort of co-op scenarios, where multiple players are challenged to complete specific in mission goals, instead of straight up comp stomp. Thankfully that’s where the map editor will come in over the months as the community churns out plenty of content.
All in all StarCraft 2 is a beautiful and strangely addictive game. Despite the formula being nearly identical to that of a game 12 years old, and really - not adapting a lot of the progression many RTS games have made in the years - I find myself going back for more. I guess that says it all.
The Co-Op Experience:
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.