Diablo 3

The Road to Hell… [06/06/2012 – 9:18 PM] – Necrophob

When Diablo first came out back on Dec 31, 1996, me, my brother, and a friend all went out and got a copy. We had played the demo to death, both in single player and co-op, and were eager to see what layed beyond the Butcher.

Fast forward to the summer of 2000. I had my first job, and after work rushed to the store to get my copy. So when Diablo 3 came out a few weeks back, there was really no doubt I’d be getting it. Even just for nostalgia’s sake, I had to have it. The real question was, is this really Diablo? After installing the game (and searching for my authenticator for an hour), I got my answer.

It seems Diablo has already won...
It seems Diablo has already won…
Like most people, I was hampered in my quest to exorcise the fell demons of Diablo 3 by Blizzard’s “always on” system. Even if all you want to do is play a single player game, you are essentially just playing in multiplayer mode by yourself. At any time you can invite friends in. And if you can’t access their servers, you’re shit out of luck.

In the first minute of play, my session screwed up. I could walk around, but could not damage anything. Logging out and jumping back in fixed it, but the servers were unstable for the first couple of days. After playing for a half hour the second day, I had to stop due to a server restart. You would have really thought Blizzard would have planned for the massive influx of eager adventurers, wouldn’t you?

But Other Than That, How Was the Play Mrs Lincoln?

I went into this game being prepared to be let down. However, while it’s not perfect, this is a worthy entry to the francise. This was a real worry, as the original team that did Diablo 1 & 2 had nothing to do with this game, and the bits and pieces coming out of the media was making this look like a watered down Diablo (with rainbows!).

All the key ingrediants that made me fall in love with the first games are here: gritty, dark, fleshed out world with interesting lore, memorable NPC characters, and clicking! Lots and lots of clicking. You’ll click your way through a plethora of beautiful environments, including forests, swamps, deserts,
and blasted hellscapes. There are tons of little side dungeons to satisfy your monster bashing desires while you continue on your path to the big red guy himself.

Just like in the original games, you’ll find plenty of barrels and tombs to destroy, spilling out loot. In Diablo 3, they went a step further and added some destructable scenery. Most of it is just for show, but there are a few traps you can trigger on monsters to get the upper hand. I loved running around as a barbarian, demolishing tables and toppling stone pillars. The only complaint I have is that the destructable scenery was not consistant. You’d destory a wagon in one scene, then a few screens later, encounter a another wagon that you couldn’t destroy, for no apparent reason.

The game is still a loot-fest, with random items dropping off every kill. Even swarms of blood sucking flies will drop a mace (which would explain the damage they were doing I guess). You’ll spend alot of time town portaling back to your base camp to unload a bunch of useless crap. Luckily the game makes this very easy, as you learn the town portal ability early on and can cast it at will.

I prefer to burn these behind me...it's the barbarian way
I prefer to burn these behind me…it’s the barbarian way
Blizzard decided to do away with the skill trees, instead opting for abilities you get automatically at certain levels. You then pick which ones you want to run with, and can “respec” at any time. It seems they’re really catering to the World of Warcraft crowd with this one, but I got over it quick. You end up sticking with a particular, comfortable spec for most of the game, and hardly deviate.

Perhaps my favorite addition to the game are the little books you find all the time, which set off little recorded dialogues chocked full of lore and flavoring.

Variety is the Spice of Life

One of the best things about this game is the constant, varied waves of monsters to wade through. You’ll fight zombies, skeletons, pygmy demons, more zombies (with a slightly different color), more skeletons (red ones, blue ones), buzzards, imps, goat men (baa a a a), and plenty of other reskinned zombies and/or skeletons. Every few steps, your AI controlled companion will helpfully point out that the monsters about to swarm over you are elites (they look like normal monsters, but have blue or yellow colored names).

Speaking of your NPC buddy, there are several to choose from, and they will chatter nonstop. I didn’t mind; it made me feel like I had help fighting the forces of hell (though they do next to no damage).
They each have several dialogue arcs that unfold as the game progresses, so it’s fun to try all of them out.

And speaking of the forces of hell again, wow is this game grim. There were several areas (like the cultist basements) that sort of creeped me out. The game never lets you go very long into the dark and disturbing without throwing some oddly jarring humor in now and again.

Who was their decorator, John Wayne Gacy?
Who was their decorator, John Wayne Gacy?

A Deal With the Devil

In conclusion, Diablo 3 is just as addictive as its predecessors. You’ll spend hours clicking on crap nonstop, and when you’re not playing it your index finger will twitch in anticipation of playing it again. Other than some slight WoWification and the annoying always on “feature”, this game is fun.

This is how I imagine ActiBlizzard board meetings look.
This is how I imagine ActiBlizzard board meetings look.

Blizzard continues to shine with beautiful music, amazing cinematics, and addictive gameplay. Several balancing patches have already gone out, so let’s hope this game has the legs that Diablo 2 had. Good luck adventurers. I’ll see you in hell!

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