The lights are on
I will admit it. I am a n00b, novice, beginner, etc. at StarCraft. I never played any of the first game or subsequent expansions. So I was understandably slow to jump on board the StarCraft II wagon. However, I began to hear some very good things about it. Having been an RTS junkie since my teenage beginnings, my interest was piqued (mostly Age of Empires, Red Alert, Battle for Middle Earth, etc). So I decided to give StarCraft the fair shake I had been denying the last ten years, and what better way to shake than by playing StarCraft II? So I hopped off to the store and picked it up. Many hours of combat later I can safely say that I am a convert to StarCraft.
Is it worth the hype? YES. It is as close to a perfect game as you can get. It plays like a well cared for piano. If strategy is your thing, you will love this game. If you enjoy a good science fiction story, you will enjoy the main campaign. The story of the game is well written and animated.
Graphics: If you are running this game on full, then this game is one of the best looking, if not THE best looking, RTS games on the market at the moment. If your computer can handle it, that is. If your poor compy can't handle it, fear not, the graphics can be drastically scaled down to fit almost any configuration.
Gameplay: One of the main question to ask with any game is: is it fun to play? Yes StarCraft II is fun to play and it does a great job at allowing itself to be fun. Unit pathfinding is reliable and the game is pretty well balanced between the three playable races.
Sound: The sounds are great, the orchestration is even better. Music is finely crafted and appropriately epic in scope and proportion. All units are voiced, and all the character voice actors and actresses do a superb job at being convincing.
Accessibility: Very accessible, if you are familiar with the RTS genre. If not, then you might have a slight learning curve, which should be cleared up relatively quickly. One of the more difficult elements of the game is when you get to the point where clicking is not good enough anymore. That is when you might have to attempt to learn some hot keys. Learning these can take time and effort, but for the casual player, there is no need to worry about them.
Online: This is another area where the game shows it's worth. Online is easy to navigate, fun, free of cheaters, great for all skill levels, and fast.
The Final Word: Go. Buy. It. Now.
A friend of mine has been a Starcraft fan for quite some time and just re-bought the original game which he plans on showing me. Neither of us can afford the sequel so we're going to have to wait for a price drop. Trust me when I say that I want to play it.
I find it interesting that you had the same RTS experience I had. I grew up on AoE, AoE II, and the C&C series. The next RTS I got was Battle for Middle Earth which completely blew me away when I saw my cavalry run over infantry! I highly recommend Relic's RTS games to you (Homeworld, Dawn of War series, Company of Heroes). Each game is excellently crafted and outright beautiful. World in Conflict is also a magnificent strategy game with a new take on camera control, multiplayer, and economy (or lack of).
This is an excellent review (with written English!). Keep up the good stuff!