Thrilling strategic-combat game set in outer space
Windows 8 / Windows 7 / Windows Vista / Windows XP
As of August 2011 the Starcraft II: Starter Edition replaced the original Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty demo that was released by Blizzard in the summer of 2010. The full edition of the popular real-time strategy game extends the Terran story arc of the award winning Starcraft (1997) and Starcraft: Broodwar (1998).
The Starcraft II: Starter Edition gives new users free online access to the first four missions of the full game (Mar Sara 1-3 plus the first optional fork in the story as a teaser). In addition, new users get access to the first two Terran training missions: Tactical Command and Covert Ops. Covert Ops extends the story arc of the tactical stealth game Starcraft: Ghost, which was announced in 2002, postponed indefinitely in 2006, but not cancelled. Stealth operations feature prominently in the full version of Wings of Liberty.
By contrast, Tactical Command helps new players prepare for the rigors of online access to the terran race in custom games and single-player vs. the sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) online via Blizzard's wildly popular Battle.net. For players that like to keep track of earned mileposts, Blizzard automatically saves all achievements collected while playing the starter edition to the user’s Battle.net account. New users of the starter edition also get access to several custom maps including but not necessarily limited to: High Orbit, the Shattered Temple, the Xel’Naga Caverns, and Discord IV, which Blizzard expects to rotate over time.
All in all, the Starcraft II: Starter Edition gives new players a decent introduction to events in the Koprulu Sector. However, dedicated gamers will not only enjoy working their way through the machinations of Arcturus Mengsk, the rise and fall of the Overmind, the devastation of the high-tech Protoss, and the ultimate emergence of Sarah Kerrigan as Queen of the Zerg before moving on in the story. For the less romantically inclined, the earlier battle missions offer preparation for the weapons systems and tactics in the more recent story line.
More importantly, they develop useful skills for the main event, the gladiatorial one on one competition on Battle.net. Unlike the earlier Wings of Liberty demo, the Starcraft II: Starter Edition comes without time restrictions on Battle.net while giving new users greater access to single and multiplayer combat and more free content.
For those gamers less interested in the story arc who want to dive right in instead, there are innumerable how-to guides available online, including build-times and ratios, optimal build paths, as well as tips and tricks to beat the AI. While the AI in the earlier versions was admittedly rather slow, in Wings of Liberty it really is insanely fast and plenty challenging for all but the quickest gamers.
With its multiple speed options, modern graphics, political conniving, romantic entanglements, and alternate paths to completion, the Wings of Liberty offers something for almost everyone. The Starcraft II: Starter Edition offers a reliable vehicle to whet the new player's interest in buying the full game, just as Blizzard intended it to be.