Review: Diablo III

by on May 22, 2012 >> PCReviews

The RPG genre can offer so much and in so many different ways that it’s hard to actually say there is an “RPG Genre” at all. Diablo is proof of that as you are playing a role in a game but the game is not about you or your role. In fact at most you are a tool to help dozens of other people solve their problems because of lack of ability. It’s almost as if you’re a super powered gofer who has no agenda of their own, nor could you. The goal is to be good, stop evil, and occasionally get things for other people in order to make their lives slightly better… and when you look at like that, it’s mystique starts to wear off and you realize that it’s entire charm is it’s ability to tease you with the next magical item that will make you feel bad ass.

The evil demons are back and once again it’s up to a stranger to stop evil, save the tiny town Tristrim and the world in the process. Really the entire story, and the bulk of it lies in other characters. Your entire goal at the start is to find out where this falling star has landed, which has caused the dead to rise from the grave, find it and stop it. Turns out the falling star isn’t everything you thought it was and in fact it’s not evil at all. From there you’re given the quest of finding a black soul stone that can contain the remaining evils of the world in the form of two demons and vanquish them. Not everything goes according to plan and Diablo III has a pretty amazing last act that shows you a giant battle between good and evil that is worth the 20 or so hours that it takes to get to.

At it’s heart Diablo III is all about getting new items by any means necessary and using them to destroy everything that comes around. It’s hard to get attached to any one weapon because sooner or later you’ll be ditching it for something better, more imposing and powerful with better stats. There’s also crafting of items which becomes more complex as you play through the game. The gameplay itself involves clicking on enemies you want to die, using special attacks to trap or slow them, moving out of the way of big attacks and dealing as much damage as you can. While the formula hasn’t changed much in the twelve years fans have waited for it, Diablo III is simple and offers a bit of customization for each of it’s five classes.

Players can choose to be a Barbarian, Wizard, Witch Doctor, Monk or Demon Hunter, each with their own special attacks, more than 24 per character, six of which can be equipped at a time and altered with different runes that mix them up and change them for new and interesting abilities. Even when playing with four of the same class you’ll find that your friends are playing them different from you and without even planning to.

The game consists of four big acts which will take you to several different environments, many of which are randomly generated offering a large replay factor since you’ll always have to keep on your toes. You’ll be able to play with three friends at a time, making a party of four, which seems odd since there are 5 classes, but it may get a little too chaotic with five people dealing huge attacks across such a small section of screen at once.

Linking up with friends couldn’t be easier as every player is given a simple Battletag, allowing players to team up and drop right into each other’s matches. Lack of any kind of voice communication is a big of a drag, but with skype being so easy to use anyway it doesn’t really hurt the game at all.

I was able to run through Diablo III with a lot of back tracking into friend’s games and quite a bit of soloing in under 24 hours of play. But as soon as I was finished I jumped back into the next difficulty with the character that I beat it with, carrying over all my items, abilities and gear and the game adapted right away making the first act of the game more difficult than the last. I couldn’t wait to go through more and take out the demon hell spawn all over again.

With four levels of difficulty, one of which you can’t even start until you’ve reached the max character level, there’s a ton of replayability, especially since the game also alters it’s difficulty for how many people are playing. With two people it gets a bit more challenging, but with four it really becomes a team effort where you all have to stay on your toes in order to take out the giant bosses, but when you do the loot and feeling of triumph are worth it.

Diablo III is shallow when it comes to character. You’ll never feel as though you truly know anything about your character as they don’t really make any decisions and their dialog is more about what’s going on in the moment. You will pick up comrades along the way who offer a bit of insight into each other but even that is incredibly shallow, never changes and you can never upset them. The real meat and potatoes comes from the gameplay which is inviting, fun and offers something new continually as you play, through it’s leveling, crafting and trading systems. It’s auction house is also really nice, allowing players who don’t want to craft to trade in game gold (and soon real world money) for the items that will help them in the future.

Visually Diablo III is hit and miss but gets the job done. With so much chaos going on at once it’s amazing to see but at times character models just look down right ugly and there’s a lot of repetition in some enemies. The character designs themselves are great and the cut scenes are what you’d expect from Blizzard, giant CGI set pieces on par with the latest PIXAR film if not better. Level design works and it’s randomly generated mazes are never confusing and fun to explore.

Bottom line is that Diablo III is worth your investment. You’ll be playing it a lot trying to get to that next level, starting that new character, sweeping through the auction house and becoming the ultimate bad ass, but you’ll never be wowed or amazed by the story which didn’t shock me once as every twist I called hours before they came.

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