Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Diablo 3 review, one week in

The computer game Diablo 3 has been out for a week, and I've been playing it a bit since my awesome boyfriend got it for me as an early birthday gift, so I thought I'd offer up a bit of a review.
All screenshots beyond this point are my own. Diablo 3, Blizzard Entertainment, etc., are properties of their respective owners.
Once upon a time, I was about as skeptical that Diablo 3 would ever come out, as many other gamers doubted that Duke Nukem Forever would ever hit the market. Well, both games came out within the past year, and from all I've seen and heard, the fans of the fantasy role-playing computer game got the better deal.

Story: It feels like something from the Diablo universe, which is definitely a plus.  Twenty years have passed since the events of Diablo 2, and Deckard Cain is doing research in the old Tristram cathedral with his niece, Leah, when something falls from the sky and all heck breaks loose.  Once again, the player has to rescue the last of the Horadrim, and set out to defeat more of the Prime Evils.

Characters: First of all, I was very happy to hear the same old voice for our buddy Deckard Cain.  Michael Gough is back for another round of voicing the sage old man.  Even when he's not with your character, you'll hear his voice, such as in journal notes about the various monsters you encounter.  Horray.

Each class has the option of playing a male or female, and each offers a unique take on the story.  That's a neat touch.  It actually sounds like the haughty wizard has totally different reasons for being there than the curious witch doctor.  Also, the hero will make small talk with his or her follower.  My female barbarian gets compliments from her Templar follower about her fighting, and how it must reflect the purity of her heart.  It's little stuff like this, that gives the game a lot of its flavor.

Button mashing: It's a top-down RPG like its predecessors, with fairly similar mechanics.  There's a whole lot of mouse-clicking going on.  One change I'm not crazy about, though, is that you cannot choose which skills you want to assign to which buttons.  More importantly, you no longer have skill trees with which to customize your character.  That's probably one of the biggest flaws to the game.  If you also play D&D and don't like how there is a set "right" way to play a given class in 4th edition, this game may not be for you.  The only real customization you get is what armor and weapons you give your character.

Visual effects: Is this game shiny?  Oh yes, it is!  The landscaping is quite lovely.  Developers put a lot of time into this game, and I appreciate it.

Somewhere, over the rainbow ...
As for how the spells and effects look, I am very pleased.  My main character is a female barbarian, and she is good as smashing things.  Sometimes, she smashes everything, not just her opponents.  Nearby tables, carts, enemies' bodies, and anything else not tied down is likely to go flying all over the screen in a merry display of how ragdoll physics works in games like this.  The spells a wizard casts are also quite brilliant.

When not captured in a screenshot, it reminds me of bowling.  Monsters make satisfying pins.
All for one, and one for all: I knew for a few years leading up to this release that the game wasn't going to be available for multi-player fun over a LAN (local area network) with friends.  However, I don't think I was expecting to not be able to play single-player on my computer without a network connection.  The other massive flaw to the game - and it certainly trumps a lack of customization - is that you have to be online to play Diablo 3 at all times.  I have not had much trouble with connectivity since the first day, but here in the middle of nowhere, I still know people who don't have broadband internet.  Back in the good old days, they could play StarCraft, another Blizzard bestseller, over a 56k telephone modem, or hook computers up to a router and adventure in Diablo 2 with friends at a LAN party.

You must assimilate.

This leads to an excellent point brought to my attention by that great boyfriend of mine, who bought this game for me even though he has a love-hate relationship with Blizzard (for more on that, visit his blog): When Blizzard decides that it's made all the money it's going to on Diablo 3 and takes down the servers supporting the game, the game will no longer be playable.  Over a decade after its release, I can still play Diablo 2 since my computer is running a compatible version of Windows.  That might not be the case with D3.

That's a sobering thought.

I would like to end on an upbeat note, however.  So, in sum, Diablo 3 is a fun game that I am enjoying playing.  It's by no means perfect, but it overall gives me what I wanted from a game in this series.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see that you're still enjoying it, hon. :)