Review: Diablo III
Diablo 3 is a full-on action role-playing game with a strong desire to work your index finger. It also focuses a lot on the action element and you'll see it clearly from the way you cut through the murderous riot on the screen, the amount of special skills you utilise to create the bloody mess on the ground and the sound of yourself furiously clicking on your mouse.
Much unlike its two predecessors, a few big leaps have been taken in Diablo III's direction. The game's role-playing elements have been stripped down, an internet connection is required to play and there's a new auction house that allows players to trade items for real money. Mix this with Diablo's tiered difficulty level of Normal, Nightmare and beyond, you get one title that seems to fit both casuals and those looking for a real challenge.
Linking these two communities of players can be a headache but Diablo III seems to have nailed it square on the head. Play the game awhile, and you'll experience the rush and thrill of simple arcade gaming. Point and click. That's all you need to do to get the satisfaction of demons dying. Play the game a lot and you'll see the amount of customisation, macroeconomics and MMO-like progression that eventually turns a simple idea of a game into the deep rabbit hole of a complicated game, only made easy by the basis of point and click.
The added difficulty levels of Nightmare, Hell and Inferno, will test your gamer skills. Are you willing to farm for hours just to get better equipment for your next monstrous encounter? Do you know enough not to stand on poison pools? Can you be quick to avoid fire? These things might not be lethal in Normal mode, but the rest of the modes tell a different story.
So what makes it fun? The quick sense of gratification. It appears Blizzard might have designed the game to make you feel good each time you slay a monster. The sound of it dying, the animation and even the extra experience points you get by just slaying a bunch. Also, the pinnacle of this gratification comes from loot drops.
At some point you'll realise Diablo III is all about the items you equip to give your character a boost and it's not as simple as looking for the best available item in the game. Blizzard has made it in a way where items give random stats(be it strength, dexterity or something as technical as "increased attack speed"). This makes it imperative that you kill as much as you can in hopes of getting the loot with the correct set stats to improve your character. I've come across an item that gave both Strength and Intelligence while playing a Barbarian and can only wish the Intelligence be changed to Vitality or something more useful. Unlucky me.
The game's social system is also one to commend and complain about. The game lets you join in your friends extremely easily and while doing so, increases the loot drop, experience and difficulty of the monsters. One of the hindsight of this system is how you can jinx your friend's game by having him fight a bunch of monsters and a boss mob, join his game midway through a fight, cause his monsters to get stronger and unintentionally kill him if he isn't ready for what is to come. Of course this is always a fun thing if you're doing it on purpose.
Another issue lies in the save game checkpoints. I've found it to be a great annoyance that whenever I join a friend's game, I have to give up some major part of my current quest, play with a friend who is probably ten or more quests behind, and be unable to resume back where I left off. I'll have to fight my way back again.
So lets talk about the different classes available in the game - Barbarian, Wizard, Monk, Witch Doctor and Demon Hunter. The Barbarian plays as your typical melee-meat shield and is ever more meat shield than melee damage dealer when you start on Nightmare mode. The Wizard is the spellcaster of the game and works like every other spellcaster the game has ever come up with. The three other new classes come in the form of the Monk who is a melee character that specialises in dealing cool combos to lay the smackdown on his enemies, the Witch Doctor, who is the defacto summoner class among the 5, and the Demon Hunter, who is the projectile ranged character and is much like the Amazon in Diablo II.
Each character comes equipped with 5 different skills that can be activated on the hotbar. This is on top of left-click and right-click skills available to you. These hotbar skills also behave according to the runes that set for it. For example, the Barbarian's Ground Stomp is an area stun ability. Set the Wrenching Stomp rune to it and it will be a stun ability that draws enemies nearer to him. These are all the same for the other classes and technically gives your a myriad of skills to mix and match according to your playstyle and its functional utility purpose.
The plot of Diablo III is predictable as ever, but is rescued the comical side stories and quirky characters you'll meet along the way. I've come across a poor farmer who was hiding in the cellar with his wife, only to realise that his wife is a skeleton sitting on a chair.
Speaking of characters you'll meet, the game gets you acquainted fast with three companions who will fight alongside you. You can't bring all three you and they'll head back off to base camp when you're accompanied by another human player. These companions come with skills of their own too and you'll be able to pick between two different skills once they attain the required levels.
For a game that's been 12 years in development, Diablo III is polished to a spit shine. The controls are tight, combat is fluid, there is hardly any bugs to cry about and the fun factor sticks on like an irremovable stain. Sometimes you sit back and think, "How does a game that only lets you click, click, click be so fun?" No wonder the girlfriends don't get it. However, what seems to undo its awesomeness lies in the inability to play offline, a messy launch filled with "Error 37s" and a plot that Blizzard had all the time in the world to refine.
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