Game review: 'Diablo III' lives up to high expectations
4.5 out of 5 stars
Video games are a pastime of escapism at their core, taking us away to lands we’ve only imagined, doing things we’ve only dreamed.
Blizzard Entertainment’s "Diablo" series always has revolved around the iconic evil we associate with hell. Its dark fantasy setting and almost folkloric story have made Diablo a staple for almost two decades.
Twelve years after the release of "Diablo II," the third in the series is upon us. With the hype almost reaching critical mass, the question on everyone’s’ minds is if the game can deliver. In short, yes.
Let’s dive right into the visual presentation of this game. The technology jump during the past 12 years is highly apparent. While they kept the isometric viewpoint of the first two games, they have added in 3-D models.
It worked out to give the game a great balance between the new and the old while never losing sight of the source material.
The color choice is dark and grotesque, with each of the areas having a notably different tone shown from the scenery and lighting down to the monsters. The character design is very detailed, making every character seem like an individual, something that has always been true of Diablo.
The interface is a nice mix between original Diablo style and "World of Warcraft," giving it a much more efficient and accessible feel.
Something that should be noted is that this game requires a pretty decent computer to run it. If you have a desktop made in the last two years, no worries; if you are working with a laptop of similar or greater age, I’d do some research before dropping your dollars.
Moving on from sights, let's talk about sounds. I really love the music in this game.
When you start installing the game, you are greeted with a remake of the original Tristram theme. If you played the first Diablo in any amount, you should be taken back pretty hard by the remake.
Besides that song, the other compositions that play at various opportune times throughout the game are great. They give a "Lord of the Rings" feel to all of the really tense battles.
When these songs are coupled with very realistic growls, snarls and weapon sounds, it makes for a very immersive experience. I recommend playing with a good pair of headphones.
Another thing about the sound I really enjoyed was that everything had voice acting; the banter between the adventurers as you play, the quest-givers moving the story forward and even the random towns people had a handful of different things to say.
It made the world really come alive for me many times, which is a testament for the game's story. It’s amazing.
Sure, it runs off your normal fantasy cliché of adventurer must save X by slaying Y, but it does what every great story does to set itself apart — it built the world around it. There are books everywhere in the game, and they trigger these stories (which also are fully voice acted) that tie the game back into the originals.
This kind of fan service can bring even seasoned nerds to their knees, not to mention with every new monster or demon you face, a similar story about their origin pops up. That is really what makes this game shine — it presents its story in such a way that you can make it as deep or as shallow as you’d like while never taking you out of the game.
If you want to just kill tons of stuff, cool: Just hit the X and be on your way. But if you want to hear more, stay a while and listen.
Last but not least, the gameplay. As with all the Diablo games, "Diablo III" is a click-fest, except it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Starting like all of the others, you pick your character and gender: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Witch Doctor and Monk. All of the classes have different functions, play styles and stories.
Other than the characters, there are a few changes that make "Diablo III" different. First off, everyone’s loot is dropped just for them. A big problem in playing "Diablo II" online was when a rare item dropped it was a race to grab it, causing some players of lesser moral fiber to ninja those items. That doesn’t happen anymore.
The next change of note is that you can have more than two abilities out at a time, and there are options to hot-key up to six different abilities.
A big change is how you can build a character. Stat increases no longer are decided by the player like they were in "Diablo II." Instead, the game uses a rune system that modifies abilities. I think this won’t be a big deal until everyone has made a max level of every character (read: a long time) because there will be no reason to make another of any character besides having them of both genders or a hardcore version (only lives once).
The last change I’d like to point out is the addition of an auction house, which will hopefully make the economy a bit more fair than "Diablo II." They have a feature to sell your items for real-world money on there as well, but it hasn’t been released as of right now, so I can’t comment on that.
To really sum up my feelings on "Diablo III," it’s great. The game is really everything it said it would be, which is another Diablo game. In that sense, it just took everything everyone liked about the old games and gave it a new coat of paint.
I only hold two complaints for the game, really. First, I can’t help but feel the game is a little dumbed down. Many of the aspects of the other games have been made easier and less involved. It doesn’t really take away from the fun, and that’s all that matters, right?
My second complaint is a little more pointed. The game cannot be played without an Internet connection.
This is a trend in recent gaming that I don’t agree with in the slightest. What if I move and I’m waiting for my Internet to come back on? I can’t play a game I bought. I understand why they do that for games like World of Warcraft, but it just seems unfair.
For me, the only thing that would make "Diablo III" better would be offline play.
Shawn Stafford is an international area studies and French senior.