StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm screenshots emerge

A Dutch website, www.insidegamer.nl has posted a big batch of screenshots for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which is part 2 of 3 of the StarCraft 2 story arc. All of the screens come from the single player portion of the game and they contain heavy spoilers in them for the Wings of Liberty campaign. If you haven’t finished Wings of Liberty, it would be a good idea to hold off checking out these screens. If you have finished the Wings of Liberty campaign, the spoilers in the screens are very minor. Check ’em out in the gallery below. (Click on individual images to enlarge.)

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The original image post on Inside Gamer is found here: http://www.insidegamer.nl/pc/starcraftiiheartoftheswarm/screenshots

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm teaser trailer

Update 2: The trailer is back up. It’s different than the last one, but still good. When the dust settles and the embargo ninjas get scarce, I’ll post the original trailer once more as I have a copy of it. The description below the video describes the original trailer that leaked.

Update: The video was taken down. I’ve embedded a YouTube video for now, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Earlier this week select journalists and StarCraft community members were shown Heart of the Swarm and today a teaser trailer was released. I’ve embedded the trailer below. For those that haven’t finished Wings of Liberty, there are some big time spoilers in the video and in my reaction below the video.

In the trailer we see Nova leading a team of Ghosts against Raynor in an attempt to either capture or kill Kerrigan. Kerrigan appears to be back in her old Ghost duds and possibly preparing to do battle alongside Raynor or possibly she’s just finished a battle of her own as Raynor finds her standing alone in a room that’s just taken significant damage.

Thinking about what’s in the trailer, it seems that Raynor is back on the run with Nova coming after him and Kerrigan. It’s possible that the Dominion has deemed Kerrigan too dangerous to leave alive, or that they want her for testing and intelligence purposes. Either way, Raynor and his team are back on the run and I would guess they’ll be looking for help either from the Protoss or other rogue Terran groups. It remains to be seen if we’ll be doing missions that involve Raynor at all in Heart of the Swarm, but at least we can see that their stories will advance significantly.

We do know that Heart of the Swarm will focus much more heavily on the Zerg, as their campaign will play out here. I was pretty surprised the trailer was devoid of Zerg. Blizzard still hasn’t committed to a release date for Heart of the Swarm, but I’m eager to find out those details.

What happened to StarCraft Arena?

What happened to StarCraft Arena?

I’ve had a few emails from people asking me if I know what happened with StarCraft Arena, formerly hosted at www.starcraftarena.net. The truth is, very people know for certain what happened, but I’ve picked up on some rumblings and rumors that paint a pretty reliable picture.

StarCraft Arena was basically a portal for HD StarCraft and Husky to post their StarCraft 2 commentary videos and replays. The site also had forums where fans of the game and both HD and Husky could talk about StarCraft 2 strategies, events, and news. At times the site would go down, and it would stay down until the fans of HD and Husky made enough of a fuss to get the issue addressed.

When the site went down this last time, many people figured it was another blip and that it would be back when Husky or HD got around to addressing the issue. Unfortunately, this time it seems that site is gone for good. Reports are floating around that HD and Husky have had a falling out of sorts and they’ve decided it’s just best to go their separate ways and leave the domain to die. Nobody seems to know what triggered the squabble, but it appears to have been the final nail in the coffin for a site that already had issues from time to time. Additionally, both HD and Husky are contributing replays to the incredible sc2casts.com website and mobile application. With this new place to share their casts, there’s really no reason to attempt to patch things up and revive the StarCraft Arena site.

If you’re looking for an easy place to catch replays, I highly suggest checking out www.sc2replays.com. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone or tablet, definitely download the free app, as it’s even better than the website.

StarCraft Arena is worth checking out

StarCraft Arena is a community-driven site dedicated to StarCraft 2 news, tournaments, discussion, and strategy sharing. The site has numerous videos that cover some really intense matches between some of the best players in the world, all commentated by either HD or Husky; a couple of great players and notable figures in the StarCraft community. Just by watching the videos you can get some  great insight on how to start your StarCraft 2 multiplayer matches, how to respond to moves made by your opponents, and how to judge when it’s a proper time to attack or counterattack. The videos are very entertaining even if you just want to be the casual observer and don’t care much for competing yourself.

Aside from the videos, StarCraft Arena has organized tournaments where they invite the world’s top players to join in. These tournaments are pretty intense and they draw huge attention from the vibrant community that calls StarCraft Arena home.

Even if you’re not much of a StarCraft 2 fan, it’s worth dropping in and checking out a few commentated videos. I have to wonder if these sort of communities are the early beginnings of competitive gaming making its way into a bit of a spectator sport in the United States. It sure would beat the WNBA, huh?

Yep, PC gaming is still pretty awful

Man, what a letdown today has been in regards to gaming. StarCraft 2 showed up in all of it’s collector’s edition glory today and I couldn’t have possibly been more excited to play. As it turns out, this game is still a PC game. Right from the get go I had issues. While installing the game I got an error at 94%, and I had to restart the installation process. After getting the game installed, I was informed that I needed to update my video card drivers to avoid less than perfect performance. I download the drivers, install them, restart my computer, and fire up the game once more. I decide to start a new campaign. As soon as that new campaign is nearly loaded, the game crashes and I’m asked to submit a bug report to Blizzard. After doing that I go and finally get into the single player campaign and play the first mission. I check my options, and the game recommends I run everything at Ultra settings (so it’s DEFINITELY not an issue of my computer being underpowered). After finishing the mission I click continue to move onto the second, when the game crashes again and once more I’m filling out a bug repair to send to Blizzard. Lovely. After that I try to restart the game, and I’m told that my installation is corrupt and that I need to run the repair utility.

Awesome.

I saw more of the image below and the install screen than I did anything else on day 1. PC gamers love to talk about the superiority of the platform, but holy jeez I won’t ever fault anybody who refuses to play on anything but a console when there are issues all over the place. It’s not like Blizzard didn’t have the last decade to get this thing right…

So yeah, PC gaming is a terrible thing. It’s too bad, because there’s a lot of awesome stuff on the PC, but once you venture beyond the friendly confines of Steam, it gets real sketchy real fast.

StarCraft 2 is out tomorrow

Yeah, it’s not like I have to report this to remind anybody, but it would just be plain wrong if I didn’t have a StarCraft 2 related post this week. Tomorrow is the official launch for StarCraft 2 and I’m hoping that everybody out there has their copy on preorder, their PC upgraded to run the game smoothly, and lots of free time. Today would be a good day to get some extra chores done around the house, love up the wife real good, and take your kid to the park for some daddy time, because all your extra time belongs to Blizzard starting tomorrow.

For those that didn’t play StarCraft between now and its release back in 1999, I do feel comfortable saying that you’ve missed out on one of the ten best released games during that time period. Even by today’s standards StarCraft and its expansions are still good RTS games, so if you have a chance to pick it up (you do, it’s cheap), it might not be a bad idea to play through the original before getting StarCraft 2. And yes, you should all be planning on getting StarCraft 2.