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10 things to do to get ready for StarCraft II

What's a real-time strategy gamer to do?

After years waiting, speculating, and beta-playing, StarCraft II is available. But unless you were clever enough to pre-order it, you're unlikely to have it yet: having to wait for the end of the working day, or until the queue dies down in the game store. Here's a list of to-dos to help you while away those hours, minutes, and milliseconds.

First, buy it. Buy it now. It's available in store and online from all the major players. The RRP is £44, but most people seem to be selling it for £34. Get it while it's hot.

Check Out Blizzard's Beginner's Guide to StarCraft II. Skip the story and lore stuff (stories in RTS's always suck) and focus on the Gameplay Overview. Skim the parts that make StarCraft II sound like every other RTS under the sun and study the user interface overview. Familiarize yourself with the GUI, then fantasize about trouncing glib contrarian writers who pre-hate StarCraft II and think Blizzard can do no right.

Read the Battle.net Terms of Use, Word for Word. Including the part where Blizzard writes, using all caps, that it "MAY SUSPEND, TERMINATE, MODIFY, OR DELETE ACCOUNTS AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON OR FOR NO REASON, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU." Thank your deity of choice that you can still play the single-player campaign offline.

Play Some Limbo. It's not a real-time strategy game, but it's still probably better than StarCraft II... or anything else you've played this year.

Play Some Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Chaos Rising. It is a real-time strategy game, and probably the best that's come along since the original StarCraft. Make fun of anyone who disagrees.

Download a Countdown Reminder Tool. Set it to run until your will have the game in your hand (and on your PC). Calculate the number of seconds left every five minutes and write this down. Divide that number by one. The result will be the amount of time you could have been doing something productive while waiting for StarCraft II.

Read Patrick Miller's Guide, How To Dominate StarCraft II. Do it. Miller knows his stuff. (He's also pretty much telling you how to whup him.)

Program Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for Hotkey Training. Set up a few macros and key sequences. Test your left hand's ability to crunch hydralisks, upgrade roach warrens, and deploy dark templars. Realize that hotkeys are so 1998. Revel in the anachronism.

Take Cover in a Bomb Shelter. Blizzard's StarCraft II website reads "nuclear launch detected," so you'd better hurry. (That, or phone Homeland Security and offer them another rabbit hole to fall down.)

Hang Out On Blizzard's StarCraft II Message Boards. Using your legal name to post, type up a polemic about mob-think message board collectivism. Accuse fellow forum-goers of being reactionary fools. After the death threats reach a fever pitch, enter a federal protection program and change your legal name for real.


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