The lights are on
Score: 8.75 / 10
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: May 15th, 2012
are if you had a computer with an internet connection back in 2000 you
were crawling through dungeons in Diablo 2. Its simple, but satisfying gameplay was easy to pick up and hard to put down. The major success sparked outcry for a sequel, which has been
nothing short of dangled in front of the teeming masses for a long time. After plenty of slideshow presentations, delays, and cinematic
teasers; Diablo 3 finally graces the gaming world with its presence. The
third title in franchise delivers the classic experience that fans have
come to adore, and has plenty of content to last for another decade.
Stay a While and Listen
Twenty years after the events of
Diablo 2, Deckard Cain is investigating ancient records and text when
he disappears after a mysterious falling star engulfs the cathedral. The
star not only draws the attention of the local town, but brings the
dead back to life. The player arrives to investigate the falling star,
and after meeting Deckard Cain's niece, sets out on a series of events that unveils something much bigger than anyone had hoped . The story chains
together the typical themes of sacrifice, betrayal, and greed amongst all the bloodshed. While most of the "sudden twists" are pretty well expected, the
various journal entries and extensive lore are enough to provide an interesting tale.
Visually, Diablo 3 holds up well enough. Cinematic sequences are
stunning in detail and quality, and entice you to keep playing to see
the rest. Some of the more vivid backdrops like the blue hue of the fallen star
crater or full-scale war help in bringing the world around you to life,
but the jagged character models pale in comparison
to the top notch cinematic interludes. It's almost like you are playing a modern title one minute, and a dated one the next.
These small nuances in visuals are made up for with quality sound design. Every swing
of your sword or conjuration of a spell is audibly pleasing, and makes
taking out multiple foes as appealing to hear as it is to see. Voice actors are
spot on in their roles, giving welcome personality to not only the story
based NPCs, but your three quirky companions in single player. Soft, yet haunting
background music give every world and dungeon a personality of its own,
and emphasize that feeling of a foreboding danger around every corner.
Diablo is simple to get the hang of, but complex enough to warrant
some preparation at the later difficulties. Practically all of the gameplay
mechanics such as movement or attacking are done with the click of the
mouse, with the exception of hotbar skills you acquire at later levels.
Want to move? Click there. Want to attack that guy? Click him. Want to
open that treasure chest? Well...you guessed it. The trouble with this arises when there are foes that take up half of the screen, and can block your attempt to flee.
Quests are given out in local towns, and from there you can set off
into the vast fields and deserts to complete the specified objective. While there are a multitude of quests, most of these simply involve you
going from point A to point B, fighting through hordes of enemies to an eventual boss.
Along this path are plenty of opportunities to stray away and locate
hidden items, discover chests, and battle elite foes. Looking in
unexplored areas of the map or diving into a cave that is not part of
the objective usually pay off in the end, and begin the addictive cycle
of hunting every last corner of a dungeon for the most loot you can
The biggest appeal of all this is that every dungeon you enter is
completely randomized. Playing through the same area twice can yield
not only new pathways, but new opportunities for loot, and new elite
monsters to encounter. Where one event was closed with the first character you create, the next could stumble upon an entire two level dungeon. It furthers the unexpected feel of the game, and offers plenty of replay value
for your multiple runs through the Acts.
A Hero all My Own
You begin the game by choosing one of five classes; Barbarian, Demon
Hunter, Witch Doctor, Monk, or Wizard. Each has its own specialty, with classes like the Barbarian excelling at melee combat and witch doctors utilizing pets to gain the upper hand. Regardless of your choice, Diablo 3 excels in letting you customize your character as you see fit.
Each character will eventually unlock a move to complete their
hotbar, but have the ability to join a "rune" to that specific attack for the payoff effect. You can customize a tank to have certain attacks boost his health or a two-hander DPS can have each critical hits do bonus damage. This level of
customization ensures that when you run into an identical class on a
server, you will have different play styles to match your preference, and opens up hybrid classes like a melee mage or ranged barbarian.
The most satisfying aspect of Diablo is equipping your character with loot, and there is plenty to go around in this title. Uncommon drops are plentiful, and rare drops usually accompany the defeat of a much tougher adversary. The best part is that your loot is your own, so you do not have to worry about any stranger taking your rare drops. There are always new pieces that are better than your current equipment, and the multiple gem slots and materials can assist in crafting an optimal set for the tougher difficulties.
Enemies start off
simple enough, but soon become much more menacing. The standard trash
mobs range from lowly peons, to heavy hitting brutes, to ranged casters. Boss
battles will occur at the end of most dungeons, and while a few vary,
the most strategy you can use is "stay out of the bad stuff" and "run when that big move comes".
elite mobs will also block your path, and their abilities fluctuate per
your difficulty. These range from single power Normal mode elites like
Jailers that can root you in place, to Nightmare mode dual power elites
like arcane nightmares that can drop lasers and fear you into additional
mobs. These can prove especially challenging on the latter difficulties,
bordering that line between legitimate and incredibly annoying as
fights occasionally evolve into a game of tag just to survive. Though death is easily rectified, that repair bill can add up...
Friends with Benefits
taking the solo path is enjoyable, the multiplayer for the game is the
best way to play. With every hero that joins your group, the minions of
hell grow stronger. With a group of four, the boss fights and elites
require a bit of coordination, and makes their defeat even more
when you have a big group the wide radius of spells and explosions can
make deciphering friend from foe difficult. There are a total of four
difficulties that you will want to bring some friends along for as the
friendly AI lacks any real impact, even if they are fully equipped in rare items.
Coupled with the base game is an online auction house. Functioning like that of previous Blizzard games, all items are up for grabs, and you have the ability to both bid or auction off rare items that are of no use to you. There is an even a real-money auction house that is in the works, allowing Diablo 3 to help payoff a bit in the end.
Diablo 3 features plenty of difficulties to keep you coming back for more. After completing the game on normal you can replay the game through three other difficulties; Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno. In these difficulties, enemies hit harder, and the random elites you encounter have more than one power to halt your progress. The tougher the difficulty, the bigger the payout; as the higher tier items will only drop in these difficulties. Despite what you may initially think, you can technically progress by yourself through all three of these difficulties.
Diablo 3 sticks close to its roots in terms of gameplay, but holds up well enough. The simple combat and
varying difficulties ensure that both casuals and hardcore crowd have
plenty to explore. While it would have been nice to have seen some of the promised features like a player vs player arena and
mystic artisan crafting, their addition in a later patch can only
improve the content offered. With minimal server lag after the rocky
first week, Diablo 3 is an addictive and entertaining experience that
offers twelve more years of hack and slash goodness.