StarCraft II - updated impressions

Nov 1, 2007

The Thor is a monster. Hundreds of tons of high-density steel, two legs, four arm-mounted particle beams, a further four artillery cannons secreted away within its excessive shoulderpads and a really bad attitude make it the perfect vehicle for blowing through slow-moving enemies. But it's not invincible.

The Viking is a terror. It's a smaller mech unit armed with two giant gatling guns that can cream infantry in just a few moments. And it's oh-so-maneuverable. At any moment, it can fold its legs away and take to the sky. It makes the perfect base raider: fly it round forward defences and set it among the workers and drones for massive economic damage. But it, too, is not invincible.

This is the challenge and thrill of StarCraft II, the long, long awaited follow-up to the brilliant sci-fi strategy original. In your hands are tiny soldiers and glorious machinery. When you throw them against an enemy the result is usually swift and obvious: you either win, or you don't.

The weak points are clear. Groups of Thors waddle into action, their stumpy legs barely carrying the great mass of metal and gunpowder hefted on their iron shoulders. All that weight causes them problems when turning. Like the Death Star, their guns can't track fast-moving targets. The canny commander will get infantry in close to circle the Thor, cackling as they dodge its artillery barrage.