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Thursday
Jun142012

Diablo 3 Review

Much like with Max Payne 3, Diablo 3 was a sequel to games that I'd never played but was, obviously, well aware of. In Max Payne 3 I found a mediocre storyline well told, nice graphics and pretty much poo everything else. In Diablo 3 I found a mediocre storyline poorly told, basic graphics and, well, a whole lot of magic.

If there's some way you don't know how a Diablo game works, it's rather simple: You view the game from a semi-top down perspective, you move and attack enemies by clicking your mouse and using buttons 1-4 to use specific attacks you've mapped to those buttons and you also have access to some passive skills. The story follows Deckard Cain (apparently a character from the older Diablo games) as a weird meteor falls from the sky. You play as a character in one of 5 classes who sees this meteor fall and is drawn to it and its obvious potential for adventure.

Wizard is the class to play as. Bar none!Each of the 5 classes, and each gender for that class, have their own voice actor and own dialogue, it's all very smartly done. I played as the female Wizard and as a character she's very full of herself. She seeks out the meteor because she's fed up with being the most talented magician in her entire country and wants a new challenge, she's always making sassy remarks and is voiced by the voice actor behind Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender! So in my book she was the perfect class for me. I embarked with my ex-firebending Wizard not really knowing what to expect. The combination of clicking to move, the perspective and the click-to-attack combat system immediately reminded me of my high school days playing Runescape (but obviously better looking) and I felt somewhat at home. The game is very inviting anyway, even without that niche nostalgia, by giving you powerful, fun, new ability after powerful, fun, new ability very early on. Within my first hour I was already doing Void Ray impressions (Starcraft references ran rampant in my playthrough) and mowing down zombies with my icy death beam. When you level up you're given new abilities and modifiiers for your existing abilities, in an almost unbelievable volume. Every new level showers you with new powers and it feels epic.

The flip side of this level-up power shower (I should trademark that) is that the game automatically levels your stats up, not letting you give any input. as a Wizard it would automatically dump the most stats into Intelligence, the wizard's main damage stat, with a bit into health and then next to nothing into the other stats. At first this annoyed me, your instinct when playing games is to want to customise yourself as much as possible, and the game's level-up mechanic feels like it's robbing you of that pleasure, but inactuality it's just allowing you to focus your customising energy on the bit that matters: Your abilities.

Laser Beam of death? Check.You get to choose your abilities from 4 main categories, each category assigned initially to one of the 1-4 keys. For example, as a Wizard my 4 categories were Defensive, Force, Conjuration and Mastery. Each of these categories contains multiple abilities, and each of those abilites has 5 Runes it can have assigned to them, which alter the initial ability in some way. As an example, one of the Wizard's basic attacks is called Magic Missile and is a basic projectile attack, but at level 13 you get a rune which lets you fire 3 at once, each for half damage. If you're firing into a group then you much more damage as a whole, but you can only land all 3 against larger enemies. I'm past level 50 now, so have gotten a few dozen runes by now, and the sheer variety and range of effects they can have on your powers keep things interesting and never fails to make levelling up an exciting process. For all you know, your next level will turn your beam attack into an AoE, or will make a nuke type attack into a DoT, such is the versatility of Runes. It's a jolly good job the rune system works as well as it does as well, because it's pretty much the only way to truly customise your character. Well, That and the loot. Oh, did I not mention the loot yet?

Motherfucking LOOT dude. Loot. Loot is crack. Whether you find it from breaking a barrel open, popping out of a dead enemy's corpse or yanking it out of a chest, the effect remains addictive after a good 40 hours of gameplay. Nothing quite compares to seeing a yellow item drop, picking it up, then having to identify it, watching your character cast a spell to unlock it's power then looking at the stats to see how epic it is. Sometimes it's a shitter, much less often it's a corker, but the threat of a corker is ever present and great fuel for pregression. As if crack wasn't enough for a game, the game's auction house also provides that most universally addictive of activities that we all love: Bargain hunting. Because the auction house is purely player controlled, there are always amazing items that people either undervalue or just want to sell desperately so underprice the hell out of them. While searching desperately for bargains is as satisfying as sex, it does tend to make the game a little easier than it's supposed to be, though of course that means you roll around the game as an unstoppable, badass, killing machine... Which is also enjoyable.

I've played the entire game in co-op which is, in my The only thing better than a Wizard? TWO!experience, the way it's meant to be played. In co-op the enemies were a little tougher but, more importantly, you get to show-the-fuck-off! Nothing quite compares to levelling up, getting a new ability and bragging about it to your mate, or finding some epic loot and showing him how massive it's stats are. It's a great feeling and adds so much to the experience. Going through the campaign entirely co-op was good not only for the above reason, but also because the campaign's story is fucking TERRIBLE! It's the most bullshitty, obvious story you could possibly imagine, and the "twists" would only be twists to either a feral child only recently rehabilitated into human society, or a boot polish from the early 1900s who has never experienced a real story before. There is a character in this game who does an over-the-top Dr. Evil laugh after literally every conversation you have with him... and it's supposed to be a twist when this guy turns evil?!?! you guys know how much I hate spoilers, but this is honestly so obvious it's not even a spoiler.

The presentation of the game is pretty good, effects look nice, characters show the loot they have equipped and look cool all geared up, the music is suitably epic and orchestral and animations are pretty good, with tonnes of variety between enemies, you can't really fault any of it's presentation. At all. Which is important with a game like this. It's graphics won't set the world on fire (though video that should run it fine have been encountering issues, including my own) but they're nice enough that you really like staring at it for 10 hours at a time. Which you will.

Seeing your character in your epic loot on the main menu is awesome!I had a major gripe with the game, for a few weeks, and that was that there was basically no point. I mean, we're all sat controlling block of computer generated polygons, so you could kind of make that argument about almost any game, but I feel Diablo more than most... or atleast, that was the case. It used to be that you were levelling up to beat that difficulty so you could get better loot and attempt the next difficulty... But that was it. Once you had beat the game on it's highest difficulty there was nothing to do after that, but recently they've added the Real Money Auction House, which changes everything. Now when you get to the higher points of the game you can start theoretically making money off it, which is crazy. For me, this definitely adds incentive, and makes me want to reach the upper reaches of the game to earn some money... Not much probably, but if you could earn enough through the game to have essentially gotten the game for free (just earn a cheeky £45, that's all!) then that's pretty amazing, and well worth striving for.

So by now you already know this, but I'm gonna tell you anyway: Diablo 3's pretty good guys. I don't know how it compares with the Diablos of old, but I know how it compares with the games of today, and it's up there with some of the best games I've played in recent years. a relic this aint, and though its absolutely horrendous story HAS to bring it's score down, as it really is shocking, it's defiitely more than worth the price of admission. A relic of games-gone-by the Diablo series may be, but it turns out it's as relevent now as it was 10 years ago, and just as good. Trust Blizzard, eh?

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Diablo 3 is out now for the PC.

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