Dark Templars are sweet, and by sweet I mean totally awesome.

Blizzard (or Activision Blizzard). You might know the company for their big title game…The Lost Vikings, but did you know they’ve made a few other games? Really great ones, in fact. 12 years ago, they made a game called StarCraft which was a grittier version of a game called WarCraft and it was set in space. 11 years ago, I began playing said game and it not only ate up my time in college, it digested it slowly and let its stomach acids marinate and dissolve my grey matter during the hours I should have been sleeping. The first few years resulted in a feverish and compulsory gaming of StarCraft, much like masturbating when you finally realize it won’t make you go blind. After that, my habit was sated with playing only a couple nights a week for 4 or 5 hours on those nights. As the years went by and other real-time strategies piqued my interest, I would lapse in my Craft, but I have never gone more than about 6 months without jonesin’ for a little Protoss action.

A couple of years ago, SC2 was announced as a current Blizzard project and my RTS-weenie started spinning out of control (along with all of South Korea’s). Since then, I’ve managed to get along with my life in the way a 3-legged dog still hops around and makes do. No, literally. I’ve been living as a 3-legged dog hopping around and making do – Austin is very accommodating.

Earlier this year, the public beta was announced and I signed up and allowed Blizzard to deeply probe the annals of my computer…What? There’s a lot of history on this ol’ computer of mine. Then, the beta came out! And I wasn’t on the list. Then someone at work had a beta invite they weren’t going to use! And I received the email a day late, long after someone else had snagged it. Finally, I contacted an old boss of mine who had sworn to me long ago in a pact with Satan himself that when the StarCraft 2 beta was out, he would send an invite my way because he knew “someone on the inside”. I never heard back from him. I can only assume he had made other such pacts and that the devil had collected the reward of that man’s eternal soul by the time my email made it through.

With all options exhausted and no stone left unturned, I lost hope. Yes, friends, I admit it: I was down-trodden and allowed my mind to fill with dark thoughts and sin! But then!!!! Two days before I was leaving on a trip to that sacred holy land known as Hawai’i, I received an email from Blizzard welcoming me, with open arms, into its bountiful, blizzardy bosom. I had finally been accepted into the beta.

“Drew, what did you do about Hawaii?” you may be asking. I’ll tell you what I did. I ripped my plane ticket in half and in half once more, logged on to Battle.Net and began a journey of downloading, patching and overall StarCraft 2 mayhem that would not end until the night of June 7th, 2010 when the beta was stripped from my clawed and crippled hands.

Not really. I left for a week and a half, got home, ordered new Internet service which is sloooow (thanks CLEAR) and took 2 days to grab all the patch data. From there I responsibly played the amazing SC2 beta for approximately 4 hours a night for 3 nights (never missing a bit of work, mind you) and like that <poof!> it was gone.

The game looks great, plays incredibly well and while it doesn’t reinvent real-time strategy games (or its own brand) by any means, it gives die-hard fanboys like me and newcomers exactly what they should want: many long nights of glorious, uninterrupted pleasure without any need for protection or morning-after pills.

I would love to be writing more about the Austin GDC that is quickly approaching, but all things have their time and place. Activision’s The Bourne Conspiracy is here and now.

Activision's tips on avoiding the draft

Activision's tip on avoiding the draft

 The Good: Per my post about Bioshock, I played through this game as a Trainee (easy) and still found moments of solid challenge. What the fighting lacked in combos, it more than made up for in QTEs (Quick-time events). The QTEs truly resonated with me for this style of game because for the few hours it took me to play through the levels, I felt that I had the quick, decisive nature of Jason Bourne from the movies (not the books…dear Lord, not the books). In the middle of tapping the triangle and square buttons to deliver brutal punches and kicks, you have mere seconds to tap the correct button during a QTE to stave off an opponent’s vicious attack. If you fail, you don’t necessarily die (unless someone is shooting you), but you do suffer a hard knock to your health meter and in a fight with a boss, that health meter needs to last.

And. The boss fights = greatness. After the first two or three, you know what to expect, but they’re never over-the-top. Simply put, a man in a position that requires him to be better than the men below him is harder to beat than the men below him. Or maybe that wasn’t so simply put. Eh, figure it out.

Lastly, the movie-to-game adaptation is handled better than I’ve seen in most games like this. I’ve seen the movie. I love the movie. But the game flashes back to missions Jason ran before the incident on the boat left him for dead in the Mediterranean Sea. Thank you, Ludlum group, for allowing Activision some artistic license to create an entertaining back story and fresh scenarios that were unpredictable.

The Bad: Not a lot to say here other than the controls were a bit quirky. Okay, in all fairness, after my first hour of playing, I was tempted to put the game down due to control-induced frustration. When sprinting through gun fire, Jason Bourne – a $30 million perfect weapon – runs like Mike Myers’ Philip the Hyper-Hypo, run and jerked to a stop…into boxes, fences, cars or anything else that gets in his straight path. I was finally able to come to terms with it later when I realized the shooting was made a lot easier through the “Bourne Instinct” (aka Spidey Sense). Just take cover, pop up and shoot. If you want a headshot, move the crosshair up a hair.

Overall: Play it. With the slowly growing library of games for this console, it is definitely worth your time.