Everything You Need To Play Starcraft IIS

Starcraft is so damn big that many people who have never rushed a Zerg in their life will be keen to see what all the fuss is about next week. If that's you, here's what you need to know!

What the hell is Starcraft II?

Starcraft II is a real-time strategy game developed by Blizzard entertainment, otherwise known as the makers of World of Warcraft. It's the sequel to Starcraft, a game from 1998 that many regard as one of the greatest PC games ever released. Even now, over a decade on, it's still played regularly by people all over the world; in Korea, it's so popular that there are professional leagues dedicated solely to playing the game.

Starcraft II is set in the same science fiction universe as its predecessor, a universe in which three factions - the Terrans (humans), noble alien Protoss and evil insects the Zerg - battle (and sometimes team up) for control of the galaxy.

If I haven't played the first game, what have I missed?

You won't need to know what's happened to play Starcraft II, but if you'd like to know what's going on, you should check out this handy guide to the story of the Starcraft universe.

What kind of machine do I need to play this thing?

Starcraft II is coming out on the PC and Mac. You'll need one of those two to play it. It's not coming out on PS3, or Xbox 360, or the Wii, or the DS, or the PSP. Just the PC and the Mac.

Even if you've got a PC or a Mac (or both!), you're not out of the woods yet. You'll need to make sure your machine can run the game. Developers Blizzard are normally very good at making sure even relatively ancient machines can run their games, but just to be safe, check the specifications below to see if you make the grade:

Minimum System Requirements*:

PC: Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 (Latest Service Packs) with DirectX 9.0c
2.6 GHz Pentium IV or equivalent AMD Athlon processor
128 MB PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT or ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video card or better

Mac: Mac OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.2 or newer
Intel Processor
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or ATI Radeon X1600 or better

PC/Mac: 12 GB available HD space
1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista/Windows 7 users, 2 GB for Mac users)
DVD-ROM drive
Broadband Internet connection
1024X720 minimum display resolution

*Note: Due to potential programming changes, the Minimum System Requirements for this game may change over time.

Recommended Specifications:

PC: Windows Vista/Windows 7
Dual Core 2.4Ghz Processor
2 GB RAM
512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon HD 3870 or better

Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo processor
4 GB system RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT or ATI Radeon HD 4670 or better

Everything You Need To Play Starcraft IIS

OK, OK, I'm going to buy the game. But I've never played Starcraft before. How do I play this thing?

Good news: while the term "real time strategy" and all those buttons and strategies look complex, the fundamentals of Starcraft are pretty easy to get a handle on. The video below, by ShockemStarcraft, is a surprisingly handy guide for beginners, giving you a good introduction to the basics of the game.

Those are the first two videos; click here to watch parts three, four and five.

Everything You Need To Play Starcraft IIS

And finally, where/how can I buy it?

If you're reading Kotaku, there's a good chance you're included in the list of countries and regions in which Starcraft II is launching on July 27. If that's you, you have two purchasing options: you can buy the game from a store, or you can download it from the comfort of your own home.

If you're lazy (or don't want to waste all that plastic and cardboard!), you can actually download the game now; you just won't be able to play it until July 27.

Those preferring to buy a box from a store in the real world, there are a ton of retailers opening at midnight, some even featuring Blizzard developers who will be on-hand to meet fans and answer questions. For full details on these midnight openings, click here.