Last night my guildmaster and I went to the launch of the Sci-Fi London film festival, Life in 2050. This is a 5 day extravaganza of Sci-Fi films based at the Apollo Theatre in Piccadilly Circus in the centre of London. The festival is sponsored by Blizzard, amongst others, since the imminent launch of StarCraft II, Wings of Liberty dovetails nicely with the futuristic theme of the films.
Since my GM is a srs journo, Blizz wined and dined us royally* before taking us across to the venue, ready for the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award, which was being presented. Apparently China Miéville swept the boards. Why apparently? Well, being the geeks we are, we spent the whole time drinking free beer, and playing the Starcraft II beta which Blizz had thoughtfully provided, instead.
So what's StarCraft II like? To be honest, it struck me as being much like StarCraft I, but with considerably prettier graphics. By which I mean, of course, that I got my arse royally kicked by all and sundry (just as I used to 10 years ago), until I retreated, chastened, to single player mode. It's not surprising that the gameplay isn't drastically different, since StarCraft is a national obsession in Korea, and presumably a huge cash cow for Blizzard which they don't want to overturn. (That last sentence gives me visions of Korean water buffalo-tipping which is not really relevant.) The beta was very stable, and to all intents and purposes the same as the release, unless you are a Korean e-sports gladiator.
Anyhow, notwithstanding my ramblings, Blizzard are offering 500 beta keys for StarCraft II, 100 per day, free, gratis and for nothing, so you can try out it for yourselves. All you need to do is to turn up at the Apollo Theatre and actually play a bit of StarCraft II. That's it. simples.
Of course this isn't much use to anyone outside the M25 London orbital motorway, but for those of us who live or work in God's own country - fill yer boots!
*full disclosure - assuming the royalty like kebabs and beer.