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Published July 26 2010

Gamers buzzing over release of ‘StarCraft II’

It’s a fever pitch more than a decade in the making.

Tom Schultz of the Section 9 Cyber Café in Fargo says some are estimating that Blizzard Entertainment will move 30 million or 40 million copies of the new “StarCraft” video game. And several Fargo stores will be open at midnight tonight just to sell this military-minded sequel to its rabid fans.

“It’s basically the game that everybody’s been waiting for,” says Chris Frank, manager of the 13th Avenue Rock 30 Games store, 4302 13th Ave. S., Fargo.

“StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty” is the follow-up to the popular 1998 futuristic strategy-war game “StarCraft.” Stores can’t sell the game until Tuesday. But several stores in Fargo will be open when the clock strikes midnight tonight so customers can snag a copy.

That seems like a lot of trouble. But as video games go, “StarCraft” is a big deal, and not just in the U.S.

“It’s a national pastime in Korea,” says Robert Sanford, co-owner of Section 9.

That country has television channels devoted to showing people playing “StarCraft,” says Tanner Dietz, regional manager for Rock 30 Games, a regional chain in North Dakota.

“StarCraft” is what gamers call a real-time strategy (RTS) game, as opposed to strategy games where players take turns. And Dietz says “StarCraft” is the game to which other RTS outfits are compared.

“It’s considered probably the gold standard when it comes to real-time strategy games,” Dietz says.

Set in the distant future in solar systems far, far away, “StarCraft” put the players in the general’s seat, where they collect resources, build bases, protect those holding and try and to destroy those of the opponents.

Of course, this is a virtual reality, so you don’t have to just be a plain, old person. You can also take up the cause of a different race. The other options are, in the words of Wikipedia, the Zerg “a race of insectoid genetic assimilators” or the Protoss, “a species with vast psionic power.”

“StarCraft” is different from military games like “Halo” or “Call of Duty,” where you’re actually in the conflict. “StarCraft” gives you a bird’s-eye view and allows you to control your forces and resources as you will. It’s a little like the board game Risk, if it were on other planets, players didn’t take turns, and you mixed in some insectoid genetic assimilators (whatever that is exactly).

“StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty” is actually the first of three parts that form this sequel. The two others will be released later. And, if that’s not confusing enough, there was actually an expansion of the original game called “StarCraft: Brood War” that came out later the same year “StarCraft” was released. So this isn’t the first “StarCraft” thing to come out since the original.

But you can bet by now that gamers are ready for more. And the pre-orders at Amazon.com support that notion. With both a standard version and a collectors edition available, as of Friday afternoon, “StarCraft II” simultaneously held the No. 1 and No. 4 slots on their list of top-selling video games.

Getting the game first

If you want to get your hands on “StarCraft II” quick, you can pre-download it at www.starcraft2.com, install it at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning and be ready to play. Can’t wait that long? The stores below will be open to sell the game at midnight tonight. Just remember to call and pre-order it if you’re going to get it at one of the Gamestop locations:


Section 9 Cyber Café will host a “StarCraft II” tournament at 6 p.m. Friday at its 14 Roberts St. location. Visit www.section9cafe.com for more information.

Starcraft II Trailer

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734