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Diablo III


Diablo III

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PC Games
Category: 3rd Person: Action, RPG

This has been a difficult journey. Not because of disconnects, or lag, or DRM (although those factored in). No, it's because I see other reviews, and I despair at getting across that Diablo 3 isn't all that great. Will it help that I played (and completed) Diablo 1 and 2? No. Will it help that I'll be avoiding mention of the DRM? No. But I'm still going to try and tell you, this is not really a great product.


Visually, I'm torn. On the one hand, it looks vaguely pretty. On the other, there are two zoom settings, one of which is almost useless, the view cannot be rotated, and if you played Diablo 2, you'll have a damn good idea of what to expect, visually, for at least the first half of the game. Oh, look, dark grey and green woodland and grey tombs in Act I, with the lighter green and gray of the highlands! Oh, marvel at the deserts and sewers of Act II, you know, exactly the same as Diablo 2 had...

There's some prettiness here, but there's nothing new or interesting. Just the same verse, looking slightly better than the last. We'll see this is a theme of the review.


The desolate soundtrack we all know and love has returned, with, again, only minor variation. It fits the theme of the game, but we've heard it all before. The combat sounds, while beefy, are also nothing new, while the voice acting comes in two flavours: Ham, and Cheese. The common folks are very common. The templar is an angry englishman. It's dripping wth stereotypes, and, while I personally enjoy that sort of thing, not many others will. That, and the aforementioned lack of innovation mark it down in the sound department.


So, you may have noticed the theme going in this review, the thing that's holding Diablo 3 back... What they've changed, they've screwed up, and what they've kept, they kept with a vengeance. Act I is in the Tristram area... y'know, same as last time. Act II... generic middle eastern area that's the Jewel of the East... same as last time. What few monsters they changed from the last incarnation, it's usually to fit a niche from another Diablo 2 monster they decided to take out. And the monsters they added? Come in two flavours, “Meh”, and “BULLSHIT!”.

It's kind of depressing, actually. One minute I'm fighting the Skeleton King (you know, from Diablo 1), next The Butcher (also Diablo 1... oh, wait, it's a different one, so that's alright then [sarcasm mode off]), then, in Act II, I met... I can't even remember his name, I was so pissed off. Essentially, he has two types of heavy attack... one where he attacks once, and gets stuck if he misses... and one where he does it twice, doesn't telegraph as much, and is almost guaranteed to kill you. And then it's back to poison explosion zombies (Not mummies this time, zombies) and Blood Hawks (now replacing the Vultures of Diablo 2 as “Annoying enemies who wait for you to fight someone else before pitching in”). Be prepared in your equipment, and these enemies fall like wheat beneath your weapons with nary a care in the world. Don't have enough DPS, or aren't using the right skills at the right time? Welcome to a world of hurt which will degrade your kit, and force you to replay the section.

The classes come in various varieties of whupass, with their own weaknesses that shishkebob you if you aren't prepared. The Barbarian, returned from Diablo 2, is still the dual wielding, yelling, leaping madman that he always was... The monk follows him in slightly more skilled melee, then there's the ranged Demon Hunter (trick bolts and traps ahoy!), the Wizard (crowd decimation a specialty, melee nonexistent), and the Witch Doctor (replacing the Necromancer in the “Poison and Summon” school of monster whalloping). But the classes, inevitably, need skills, and this is another point where Diablo 3 shows its flaws.

With my Barbarian, for example, the basic Bash, first ability you learn out of at least 20 or so (+Passives), served me well until Act II, where I switched to... the next ability up, Cleave. Why? Because skills unlock slowly, and runes unlock even slower. Anyone remember how, in Diablo II, you could unlock skills at certain points, then make them even more powerful one increment at a time? Well, you're not guaranteed that with the new system. Bash, for example, will have more variety in runes (that's skill modifying stuff, like adding more damage, or changing Knockback for Stun) than Cleave for all of Act I (in fact, Cleave isn't unlocked until late Act I or early Act II. Since damage is pretty static for most of the skills, I found no reason to change them until the situation demanded a different approach... y'know, between Acts. My Witch Hunter has more reason to use the multi-poison dart than his next attack right now, for example, and his Summon Dogs form an effective wall that Corpse Spiders (the next tier up) can't beat... I expect, when Act II rolls around, my dogs will die quickly, and I'll be forced to use something else, but until then... there's no reason to play with the skills. With Diablo 2, you could use any sort of build and muddle along. With Diablo 3, your earlier abilities remain powerful for much longer, and so there's little reason to experiment. I've been told it gets more challenging at higher difficulties, but so far, that's been things like “There are elite mobs in Hell difficulty (unlocked by getting to level umpty um, between 8 and god knows how many hours into the game) who are invincible except for one, kill him, you can't hurt the rest”. That's challenging, but again, not really my idea of fun.

I could go on, and on, about how the Auction House (soon to use REAL MONEY, woo [sarcasm mode, go away!]) doesn't really add anything, the multiplayer will probably be okay with friends (ya think?) but not really with randoms (difficulty does scale, so teamwork is important... either that, or being more powerful than the other meatshields), but again doesn't make the game interesting. I'm almost certain a lot of people could get addicted to this game, but I know that I've not been having fun with any of the characters so far.

Fans of Diablo 2 will immediately see the flaws and repetition, although some hardcore fans seem to enioy the higher difficulties, while new players may (almost certainly) get weary of the grind before anything interesting happens. I really can't recommend this beyond something to waste your time and a cracked mirror of a nostalgia trip. It's a pretty nostalgia trip, true, but it's definitely flawed.


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