Starcraft 2: Hands-on test reveals performance and texture problems
At the Gamescom Blizzard stand we could extensively test Starcraft 2. We especially paid attention to technology and performance which both seem to need optimization.
During our test match with the latest version of the game we could already play a skirmish game with all three races. We also tested two missions from the single player campaign of the first trilogy part Wings of Liberty. After starting the campaign we were very impressed by the game engine made cutscenes. The Terran cruiser Hyperion fires through space and Jim Raynor, hero of the first Starcraft and main character of the successor, walks around his ship and talks to his crew.
The facial animation including gestures and mimics are very impressive during dialogues. Illumination and shadows are very detailed as well. While the faces are designed with many details close-up views reveal first weaknesses of the current game version: The textures of some NPC clothings on the Hyperion are rather fuzzy and poor in details. The graphics of Starcraft 2 are said to be optimized until release but big changes are not to be expected as a Blizzard staff member revealed.
We chose the second playable missions: A searching mission in a jungle setting. The rain over the battlefield looks very nice and as usual with Blizzard character animation is good. Unfortunately we saw some fuzzy textures - like during zooming in - of the environment and the atmosphere suffers. During the first battles with Zerg and Protoss we liked the physics system: Destruction of buildings and units looks very realistic. But as soon as many units are involved in a battle the current Starcraft 2 version reveals another shortcoming: Heavy use of physics cause a considerable decline of performance and the game suffers from light stuttering.
We could not get any information about the used test PCs since Windows access was not possible and the Blizzard staff did not reveal the system specs either since official hardware specifications of Starcraft 2 have not been announced yet. However they indicated that fast but not high-end components were used. But the final version is said to run on weaker PCs as well. We think that this needs some optimization.
During the skirmish match with the Zerg we noticed that the textures of units had been overhauled: The alien race looks detailed. However, the textures of Protoss buildings seem to lack details and look kind of plane. Also some light effects do not seem to be contemporary anymore. We noticed performance weaknesses again when we attacked the enemy base with about twelve Berserks and five guards.
Certainly Starcraft 2 is not a weak game at all even if some technical obstacles have to be improved: We liked the presentation of the missions, the controls have been improved, you have new upgrade options and the round tour on the Hyperion between the missions made lots of fun. A big disappointment was the Protoss textures. We hope that Blizzard will use the time until release in 2010 to improve graphics and performance.
Gamescom 2016: Die Spielemesse in Köln - Aussteller, Tickets, Sicherheitskontrollen, Öffnungszeiten, Preise, Anreise