Earlier this week, three Starcraft 2 Custom Maps were released by Blizzard for beta testing. The games, consisting of Aiur Chef, StarJeweled, and Left 2 Die were all announced and playable at Blizzcon 2010. We got a chance to play through all of the new maps, and for the most part they are very fun. Check out our observations of the new customs after the break, including videos of all three.
Mode: Free For All
Players: Up to 8
A silly take on Food Network's Iron Chef, this custom map has you control one of eight Zealot Chefs (complete with chef's hat, spatula, and frying pan) trying to find ingredients in order to prepare meals that offer different rewards. The best part about the game, aside from its sheer hilarity, is the amount of strategy involved.
Should you make the food that will give you the most points, the best items, or the strongest abilities? Each way has its advantages and disadvantages, but in order to get any of these rewards, you must navigate your Zealot around the map to acquire ingredients. Ingredients are positioned such that the meals that require you to do the most running around generate the most points. Making the same meal too many times decreases its value though, forcing you to try other options after a while. I found getting the abilities was key to success in Aiur Chef.
At the end of three rounds, the person with the highest score wins the title of Executor Chef, culinary guru of the Koprulu Sector in StarCraft 2.
Mode: Solo vs. A.I., Co-op vs. A.I., Player vs. Player
Players: Up to 4 (1v1, 1v1 A.I., 1v2 A.I., 1v2, 2v2, 2v2 A.I., etc.)
StarJeweled is a very interesting take on, you guessed it, Bejeweled. For those that are familiar with another custom map called Nexus Wars, it's basically Nexus Wars combined with classic Bejeweled. On the right side of the screen is your classic Bejeweled style gems, which you must place in a row of three to get a match and gain energy. This is where the game gets interesting.
The more energy you gain, the stronger units you can send to attack your opponent's base. The ultimate goal of StarJeweled is to kill the other team's base, either by sending strong units, or by using abilities, at the cost of energy. However, if you are amazing at Bejeweled but don't have basic StarCraft 2 unit knowledge, it's pretty hard to win. Half of the game is your gem matching skills, while the other half is knowing which units to send to counter what your opponents are sending.
StarJeweled consists of five rounds, and whoever wins best of five is the champion.
RATING: StarCraft 2 Review
Left 2 Die
Category: Survival and Siege
Mode: Co-op, Endless Night
Players: Up to 2
If you've played the StarCraft 2 campaign level "Outbreak", then you've essentially already played Left 2 Die. The game uses a two phase system. In the first phase, night, you build a base and use units to defend that base. In the second phase, day, you take your units out into the field and try to destroy all of the infested buildings before it turns to night again. Once you've destroyed all the buildings, you win.
The game nods to various Infected from the Left 4 Dead series. For example, every so often a disgusting, bloated Kaboomer will come out and try to spew bile all over your units, just like a Boomer would in Left 4 Dead. The more zombies you kill, the more Biomass you will obtain. You can either spend Biomass at the Science Facility in order to get upgraded units, or not. It's completely up to you and your playstyle, which makes the game very interesting and fun.
The best part about the custom map is the Endless Night mode. It makes all of the infested buildings immune to damage, and really tests your turtling skills. How long will you be able to hold off the infested for?
Aside from these three custom maps, Blizzard also announced Blizzard DotA at Blizzcon. Right now, Blizzard DotA hasn't been released for beta testing, but these three should keep you busy for a while. Would you like to see more spotlights on your favorite custom maps? Let us know!