Blizzard has launched the long overdue and highly anticipated StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty beta, though only a handful of lucky gamers will initially get their hands on a copy. Thousands have been invited to participate in the first phase (closed beta), and there's no word on when it might open to the public. It's great news nevertheless, and brings us all one step closer to the finished product.

Those fortunate enough to test drive the game will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the multiplayer balance. They'll also get a first look at the revamped, which supposedly brings a competitive ladder and marketplace, and will debut alongside StarCraft II. If you weren't chosen for the first wave of testing, it might cheer you up to know that the game should run fine on relatively old hardware.

The beta's official minimum requirements are listed as Windows XP SP3 or higher, a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent AMD processor, 1GB to 1.5GB of RAM depending on your OS, a 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600GT or ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, a minimum display resolution of 1024x768, 4GB of free storage, and broadband Internet.

Regardless of whether you've been graced with an invitation, we would love to hear your thoughts on both StarCraft II and the new