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Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction Review
publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
developer: Blizzard North
PII 233, 64MB RAM, 8MB Video Card, 800MBHD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 27, 01 (released)
|» All About Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction on ActionTrip|
Branislav "Bane" Babovic
Lord of Destruction takes the story where Diablo left off. As we all know, Diablo was destroyed and his hordes were scattered. Unfortunately, his older brother Baal is still alive and kicking. He sets off to wreak his revenge after he took his own Soul-stone from Marius. He advances towards the barbarian highlands that hide the World-stone, a strange artifact that separates World of Sanctuary from heaven and hell. If he manages to damage or destroy the World-stone, Baal will be able to summon the demons from hell and take control of the mortal realms. The expansion starts with the fifth chapter. Here you will see that Baal reached the highland foothills. The fifth chapter won't give you the time to slowly accommodate to the game; you will have to fight as soon as the game starts. You enter the scene during the siege of the Harrogath castle, and have no other option than to help defend the stronghold and then go after Baal.
The technical improvements are quite obvious: you will finally be able to play the game in 800x600 with real lighting effects, which make the game look much better. On the other hand, there are some frame-rate glitches if you play the game in 800x600 in the last chapter in Narrogath.
Act five has a far better design than the first four. The terrain is crowded with siege engines, and catapults that will try to hit you and your companions. A lot of barbarian NPCs will join you in your fight against evil. If you play the game as a barbarian, you can expect to be treated as a subject at the Harrogath court. The six new quests are a bit more complicated than the simple goals in the first chapters, but the players who are after action only, can still skip the story and go for the goals. The expansion contains a lot of new creatures, altogether fifteen new models and their sub-classes, some of which have quite specific attacks and tactics rendering this chapter harder than the rest of the game. The animation is very good, and I especially liked the Overseer death animation: his flesh melts 'till there is no more than a skeleton standing, and it later falls to the ground. Various types of Demon Imps will teleport around and cast fireballs at you, and mind you, they are dangerous as they are always trying to swarm you. Moon Lord is one of the versions of demonic Minotaur wielding two axes. My only remark here is that Baal has poorly been designed and balanced as he is easier to kill than some of his minions.
There are numerous gameplay improvements. Frankly, I always hated Diablo II for its boring and monotonous click-click-click + hack'n'slash way of playing, as I was more keen of Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale gameplay. Blizzard seems to have added some elements that finally made Diablo II what it should have been from the very start. First, the stash is twice as big as it used to be. You will be able to use the benefits of numerous charms you collect directly from your inventory. There are new weapon-upgrade systems using runes instead of jewels. The Horadrim cube got a lot of new recipes, and apart from the new unique class-specific items, there are now also sets of unique items which grant you special bonuses (set of a helmet, sword, armor and boots of some famous mythical hero). There are also some unique items which make Diablo II worth finishing on the Nightmare level as this is where the characters' true power shows. Another convenient thing is that you can set two combinations of weapons in your inventory and then switch them through inventory tabs as needed. It would be ideal to make a defensive combination with a large shield and an offensive one with some powerful weapon.
The sidekick NPCs that can be hired in towns - Hirelings finally show what they're worth. You can equip them with a magical weapon or armor, and this functions practically the same as with the main character, apart from their lack of inventory. They will gain experience and levels, and you will also be able to heal them (simply by dropping a health potion on their picture). They are not too good in confronting champions, heroes, and end level bosses, but they present excellent support when they reach higher levels, which was their primary goal.
8.4 Very Good
An interesting expansion pack that truly enriched the original Diablo II;
Strange frame-rate issues in 800x600.