Electric Ferret -

Diablo III: Final Word

There he is, my Diablo 3 alter-ego freshly returned from popping the minions of Hell  like misfit loot pinatas and taking their stuff.

Ah Diablo… how I’ve missed you.  I couldn’t tell you how many hours worth of days I spent with Diablo 2.  There is just something about smashing demons and taking their stuff that just never seems to get old for me.

Diablo 2 is a game that kept thousands of players coming back for nine years at least.  There are not many games that can make that kind of boast.  With one full expansion and several content patches, Blizzard Entertainment kept people playing Diablo 2 into the present day.  That is going to be a pretty tough act for a sequel to follow.

When I played Diablo 2 it was strictly in Hardcore Mode where death was permanent and the end of your character.  In Hardcore there is no resurrection, no second chance – just create a new character and start leveling again.  Diablo 3 sports a Hardcore Mode as well but I am not prepared to venture there yet.  In Diablo 3 the never-ending waves of Demons, Monsters and undead are brutal and unpredictable in a way that they were not in Diablo 2.  Accidentally pulling more monsters than you can handle in a dungeon is a quick way to get dead and the Act finishing bosses are also quite lethal this time around as well.

The game play in Diablo 3 is simply superb.  It is a fluid dream of motion, action and treasure gathering which improves upon Diablo 2′s already well oiled mechanics.  In fact, it does not feel like they improved upon Diablo 2′s mechanics so much as stripped them down to their best features and rebuilt them using warp engines and pixie dust. Combat and movement are a simple and intuitive ballet of death.   The new loot system is a joy where every player in the game gets their own loot only they can see – no cause for stressing about who got what in multi-player.

The high definition graphics are amazing (although often gory and dark as expected).  It is a modern game which recaptures the game play of old skool Diablo and imbues it with streamlined modern sensibilities.  Trashing the hordes of hell by the roomful for hours on end has never been so entertaining.  And the stuff… always collecting the stuff and looking for upgrades.

The story is meh – it gets you from point A to point B.  The cut scenes, however, are some of the finest I’ve seen.  From a re-playability standpoint I figure that the story is there to get in your way as little as possible so you can go back to gleefully mowing down bad guys with lighting bolts, arrows, big sticks … whatever your bag is.

Diablo 3 has three difficulty levels “Normal”, “Nightmare” and “Hell”.  My guldies who are in Nightmare level tell me it’s like hitting a brick wall.  That’s where you will need to ensure you have on the best gear there is to be had in order to survive.  To that end, Diablo 3 adds an Auction House where you can sell the stuff you find and buy the stuff other players find.  It is a useful resource, especially if you are unlucky with the drops.

Another new addition to Diablo 3 is a crafting system whereby armor and weapon upgrades can be made.  It is simple to use, but also random – as with monster drops, crafting can yield an amazing uber item or something which is not an upgrade.  Of course, it is this very randomness that will keep you smashing and looting monsters.  There is no sure thing in Diablo 3  and you never know what monster will drop your next upgrade.

The variety of monsters, demons and other enemies is staggering and it keeps things visually interesting along with the different scenery.  The artwork on this game is tops.  The sound effects and music are also well done.  The voice acting is so-so but there is no need to spend much time listening to peoples tales so not a big issue.

All in all, as a long time Diablo 2 player I’d have to say I’m very happy with Diablo 3.  I will be very interested to see what kind of expansion or patches Blizzard puts out for it.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are minions of Hell that need smashing.  A Barbarian’s work is never done.

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