A tool for beginners, an addiction for pros
There's 2 genres that I always considered my gaming "Achille's Heel": those being RTS and fighting games. While I understand the concepts for both, the strategy and the depths of knowledge of required seemed almost too above me and taking on something this complex seemed more daunting than say, a racing game. While it's easy to play the 2 genres and get a good feel for them, it's when you hop online battling against other players does the quote-unquote "science" of the genres show up such as build orders and upgrades vs frame watching and hitboxes. Which is what makes Starcraft 2 a welcome enjoyment because not only are there massive tournaments and prizes to be won from the pros, but it has enough accessibility and teaching tools to get the "noob" like me up to speed. Oh and the story is pretty great too...
The game takes place 4 years after the events of Starcraft: Brood War which left former soldier-turned-zerg queen Sarah Kerrigan taking out many of her oppositions and invading the Protoss homeworld Aiur before disappearing. You follow the story of Jim Raynor, now frequently accused of wrongdoings by the Dominion and the media, as he hears of a Xel'Naga artifact that will hopefully be able to change the course of the war and stop Kerrigan and the Zerg, dealing with Arcturus Mengsk and also some of the Protoss.
As someone who hasn't finished the original game, the story of Wings of Liberty is quite easy to follow and it's also very nicely told. While dialogue and characters can be a tad flat, the events and presentation of everything does scream that overused word "epic" and makes for a rewarding experience. The other benefit is when it involves the mission structure as like most RTS games, further missions you go into the story, the more the game opens up in terms of how to play. Earlier missions will revolve around basic base building, base defenses, micromanaging to escorting key targets. If there's one thing I'd criticize is that the actual story itself can feel like it takes awhile to get going and for me, the game really started to pick up steam only when I had maybe 6 or 7 missions left.
Included with Starcraft 2 (well once everything's patched) is a pretty robust set of features. There's challenges to help acclimatize you to not only unit counters but helping with fights, hotkeys and controlling units to fighting against the AI, either solo or with up to 2 buddies. Then there's the map editor which can contain some pretty out-there additions. One of the more well known ones is StarJeweled, a take on Bejeweled where points acquired in the puzzle game can be spent on units battling the other team. Building up to ultralisks and immortals is quite fun though after extended play, my eyes got a bit...wobbly. And then of course there's the popular multiplayer with rankings and seasons though despite its matchmaking features to help new people fight new people, I never bothered with it yet.
While I wanted to use a "gateway drug" reference which would be a pun not really intended (as it is a protoss building) Starcraft 2: WoL is exactly that: a great introduction for those who aren't accustomed or adept at this style of game. With a campaign that eases you through the proceedings to tutorials and helpful guides plus all the depth you could want out of the multiplayer and online suites, this game has you covered.