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Diablo 2 Review
publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
developer: Blizzard Entertainment
P133, 16MB RAM, 4MB Video Card, 28MB HD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 29, 00 (released)
|» All About Diablo 2 on ActionTrip|
Nikola "Bunny" Zakic
One of the longest awaited sequels in the last three years finally arrived and caused frenzy in the shops: true fans of the first Diablo immediately rushed to get their own copy, and the rest just came to see and be seen. The only group that remained calm was those that actually never heard of Diablo, but they were too occupied with milking oats and teaching Friday how to pronounce "Popokatepetl" properly, anyway.
And, as my surroundings got severely infested wit Diablo II virus, I wasn't the one to stay immune. The three CDs and the brilliant introduction sequence arose the imagination once conceived by all those trailers, previews and commercials. I choose the Necromancer as the most interesting of the five characters, and after the sweet suspense of the "Loading" screen, I started feeling like a man sitting on a toilet seat, who just realized the last shitty git who shat there spent all the paper.
Now, all of you defiled out there (I'm talking about you who find breathing an unnecessary waist of time when you could be playing Diablo II), after reading an introduction like this I beg of you - halt! Don't start spitting me nor your screen, nor deleting actiontrip.com from your favorites folder, nor indeed killing the friend that recommended you actiontrip in the first place. My goal is far from harming Blizzard and preventing people from buying their products, I just want to give some constructive criticism. From a viewpoint of a man who calmly ignored the marketing campaign the game ins very good and contagious, but far from perfect and barely deserving of all the laurel leaves and praise it is getting.
To avoid the outburst of wrath, I'll start with the upsides of the game. The Action-RPG element revolutionized by the first Diablo has been fully implemented. The entire gameplay is concentrated on the most efficient ways to exterminate the enemy. Simple mouse controls will reduce movement and fighting to endless clicking on screen. The advanced shortcut system provides use of magic with ease and the fixed isometric view will rid you of the entire nuisance you have with moving the camera.
You can finish the game as one of the five hero classes: Barbarian, Paladin, Necromancer, Amazon and Sorceress. This will give you the possibility of developing five different tactics and approaches. The barbarian will always rush into fights, cutting and slashing, and the magic-bent characters will try to preserve integrity by keeping a safe distance (the Necromancer can summon skeletons and Golems to do the fighting for him).
The spell system has been enriched, so every class can now develop up to thirty special abilities. When you multiply that with five you get some 150 spells, which should make the game interesting for repeated play. The random generated maps introduced by the first part have also addressed replay value issue.
The four acts, each in its own special surroundings, specific flora and fauna and unique quests should provide interesting and inviting playgrounds. The dark and spooky atmosphere of the first Diablo has been enriched with out-door battles, and the length and spaciousness of the game is evident in each segment from huge maps to quests for whose solving you'll have to go on a loooong vacation.
A load of various equipment, weapons (some of which can be combined with jewels), and myriads of blood-thirsty creatures (each with their own characteristics, advantages and flaws) are the key to success of almost any game.
One of the good things is the continuous loading of the surrounding terrains - meaning that you won't have to wait for the annoying "Loading" screen to appear and disappear. Then, there is a way to see thing that have fallen to the ground more easily by holding the ALT key. The hero can also run. That makes him tired, but it's useful in order to pass the boring already-cleansed territories more quickly. The game also introduces weather effects, which add to the atmosphere. The nicest detail is that the characters always change depending on the equipment they use.
SGR (silicon graphic rendered) FMV sequences are not directly tied to the action, but they represent the most valuable part of the game, as well as a masterpiece of computer-generated animation. Their concept, direction, and performance are just perfect. The voice acting and moves add to their verisimilitude. I guess, that they'll make a movie using those techniques one day. Anyway, the movie sequences are what actually makes you finish the game and finding out how the story proceeds with Diablo, Mephisto and Baal.
I do have to point out the outstanding background music and sound effects - especially NPC voices.
IF I ended the review here, I'd be another one of the 95% of people mesmerized by Blizzard's art. Everyone would be happy. But, as we are a site that considers the only objective opinion to be the subjective opinion, I'll continue in a harsher note. For those of you fanatically tied to Diablo II, you can now switch to Cartoon Network and Grim brothers.
I cannot be silent about the patch that appeared at the same time as the game. In some places with poor roads, people had the patch before the game. Then, there's the difficulty with reading some disks, which could give us some more "Loading fun". Even when everything got patched up, the real disappointment started - the game graphics. The programmers made the best out of those 640×480 pixels (the only supported resolution) by adding support for 3D accelerator cards, which basically comes down to drawing spells and light effects, but it still looks quite "square" when you use a monitor with more than 15". The first Act was drawn several years ago, so it looks like a bad joke, but things do get a bit better after that. The only nagging question is: Why did they go for this solution when 3D accelerators became standard equipment a long time ago?
The gameplay hasn't changed since the first Diablo. I agree that there's no need changing a winning format, but the arduous mouse clicking (when you get surrounded by enemy hordes, the only thing that can save you is an indestructible mouse) reminds me of the Spot The Looney game (on Monty Python's Complete Waste Of Time CD). If this gets more popular we can soon expect mice with auto-fire feature. Solving quests (which are basically well conceived: they build the story up and connect it to the first part) comes down to breaking bones, clipping wings and pulling horns off of the creatures that wondered out of the designers' imagination.
The SAVE & EXIT option is a true killer for playability. The fact that you exit the game after saving it wouldn't be that much of a peril were it not for the fact that once you get back, you awake in the camp, and all the little devils you were killing the last few hours have been miraculously resurrected - halleluiah!
The huge terrains are both blessing and a curse because you'll get nowhere without the automap turned on, which actually covers everything else on screen.
Magic advancement is rather clumsy. You can only choose a direction in which your character will advance, and usually end up with a bunch of useless skills. So, you'll have to play the game twice at least to get a character you really want.
The much advertise feature of hiring NPCs to watch your back actually turned into hiring NPCs to watch their backs. Their AI is quite good, but they are usually low on power and seem too fragile, especially when compared to the beasts that can hardly wait to get a taste of them.
The multiplayer mode is y next target. Even though it was conceived as an equally important side of the game as the single player mode (it is now possible to transfer your single player character to multiplayer mode), the Battle.net was incapable to accept all the players who wanted to go on-line, and has been working quite poorly (if working at all) for some time. Playing on the net will also produce a noteworthy LAG, which kills the experience. This should be solved with upgrades and patches, but until then, I guess you'll just have to hack&slash on your own.
These flaws can no one deny, but they can be ignored. The game certainly has something about it and that something is mostly the FMV sequences and pure, logic ridden, action. Diablo I was the Prometheus of its genre, Diablo II most certainly isn't. Anyway it is sure to sell good and play a lot, so this game isn't meant for people who already play the game, nor fro those who plan on buying it ASAP, it's for the weird few who wander: Have I gone insane or has the rest of the world gone berserk after a couple of line of quite average computer code?
8.0 Very Good
Great FMV sequences. A lot of action;
Outdated graphics, having to buy a new mouse, a nagging "Wherefore?" in the back of your head.
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