To really appreciate how spectacular a sequel StarCraft 2 truly is, it's necessary to wind the clock back to the year 1998.
It was my second year of varsity and my first as a senior in res where the halls regularly reverberated with the sound of intense gunfire as students battled it out against each other in Quake 2.
It was also a time when I for one detested the very notion of playing a real-time strategy (RTS) game. Hearing the well-known voice of Command & Conquer declaring ?Building complete? as if it was the single most important occurrence known to man, was something that too often replaced the fast-paced rock music of aforementioned classic first-person shooter.
It also irritated me to pieces.
So you can imagine my reluctance when a fellow student tried to convince me to pirate a brand-new little RTS game called StarCraft (I bought a legal copy later, mind you). Succeed he did, however, due in part because it was based in space (I always did like the idea of space) and it was developed by Blizzard, who had made quite a name for it with Diablo and the vastly enjoyable Warcraft 2.
More than a decade later, it remains one of my favourite games of all time ? a title that I've clocked and replayed more times than I care to relate, except in the inner halls of geekdom.
Twelve years later its sequel finally arrived on gaming shelves, its plastic box waiting to be ripped apart in a frenzy of anticipation. Ensuing disappointment is almost as established as a pie and a Coke.
And then, as the well-known music of the original starts playing softly in the background as you boot up the game, a remarkable thing happens: you begin to smile as your eyes glisten over in the realisation that this is going to be one of the most amazing sequels ever made.
I can go into describing the shear breathtaking visuals (better than anything you've ever seen in any RTS game ever made), the way Blizzard spent the I-don't-know-how-many-years finely tuning this remarkable game (usually a long development period is just an irritation, but in StarCraft 2 it shows), or the imaginative and balanced gameplay.
But there's only one thing you really need to know: Blizzard managed to create that most difficult of achievements in gaming sequels, which is to keep the core of what made the original so good, while reimagining everything around it.
StarCraft 2 is a breathless game that oozes quality, careful planning, and remarkably high production values from every pore.
It can easily be grouped together with Quake 2, Riven, Uncharted 2, Half Life 2 and Call of Duty 2 as a case study in how to create an exceptional sequel. Except, StarCraft 2 outshines all of those, making it the best sequel every created.
It is, in a word, brilliant.