A preview for a game like this is almost unnecessary, as most decided long ago if they'd be buying StarCraft 2 or not. With multiplayer as a primary focus it's been even more tempting for fans to follow the games start-to-finish development. Massive single player changes followed even grander online schemes, and with only a day till the games release there may be one or two people out there still unsure what exactly StarCraft II is all about. If that's the case, I've been waiting a long time for this.
Campaign mode has had quite a few changes since it's initial announcement, and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a very different game than its predecessor. Focusing completely on the plight of the Terrans after the Brood War, players will control Jim Raynor as he attempts to overthrow the Terran Dominion. The campaign itself is non-linear, meaning that players will be able to choose whatever missions they'd prefer in any order. Beating a mission means getting some cash for items/upgrades, and naturally making the game a little easier. Fortunately for anyone worried about the storyline, this means little, as players will still get the same story regardless of what order they do missions in.
The real bulk of the game is naturally centralized around multiplayer though, and Blizzard has tried very hard to impress on this front. Most of the units from the original series have made it through intact, with a few changes for balance reasons. The main theme of the game is complexity however, and most units from Brood War have seen massive overhauls. New abilities, both passive and reactive, mean that players will have to be paying attention to their environments a lot more. Fan reaction to the changes has been mostly positive, showing that much of StarCraft II keeps intact the themes of the original series while refining itself for a new generation of RTS fans.
Talking about StarCraft II would also be unfair without mention of Battle.Net, which has been completely revamped for the release of the game. It's integration will handle everything from matchmaking to map selling, which has also been changed (for better or worse). While it's still a little early to tell how map-creation will work out for StarCraft II, there are a few cool ideas that sit within Battle.Net; first and foremost being the ability for map creators to make a little profit from their creations. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't come without it's shady side (naturally Activision/Blizzard will be taking a cut of that profit). How it goes in the long run is yet to be seen, but if it works expect a few more games to follow this model in the future.
The only really bitter point of StarCraft II lies in it's single player campaign, which still does not feature the Protoss or the Zerg. Gamers naturally have little control over this, and Blizzard has assured their community that the three separate games will have strong enough points to validate their purchase, but it's a tough pill to swallow. Being unable to experience every single aspect of the game through it's solo-play is a reversal of the norm, particularly in the RTS genre. Wings of Liberty has a lot to prove on this point, if Blizzard expects StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm to meet any positive criticism.
Either way, for fans of the first game it's hard to ask for anything more. New graphics, new online ranking/matchmaking, new units, completely revamped abilities, and of course fan-based map support. Overall its what anyone in their right mind would ask from a sequel, and with two more games on the way it's hard to imagine that any stone will avoid being unturned. Be sure to tune in during the week, when we give our in-depth review of StarCraft 2. I doubt we'll be disappointed.