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Diablo 3 Review

publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
developer: Blizzard Entertainment
genre: RPG

ESRB rating: M

release date: May 15, 12
» All About Diablo 3 on ActionTrip

It seems hard to believe that we're sitting here and actually playing a game Blizzard worked on for over 11 years. Anybody who knows even a little bit about video games will tell you that Diablo is a huge franchise (Devilishly large? - Ed.). Diablo (1996) was an innovative and beautiful-looking hack'n'slash RPG that set a very important precedent. It sort of opened the door towards the RPG genre for those who haven't experienced it. We were also introduced to its (ground breaking) incredibly simple and yet amazingly addictive gameplay mechanics. Diablo and was a success and was followed by an even more successful sequel. Eager fans awaited a third installment, although Blizzard decided to put it on ice, because they had bigger plans, mostly related to their Warcraft franchise (but that's a different tale entirely).

In Diablo 3 you play a character known as the Nephalem, who arrives to a small town called New Tristram. You are one of the brave heroes marching out to fight against the oncoming armies of darkness, but perhaps more than that, you set out to learn what happened to the star, which fell out of the sky. The event was considered as an ill omen by many and yet here you are - a lone warrior, determined to discover what this event signifies. This is how your journey begins.

The world of Diablo is ripe with potential in terms of storytelling and characters, however the simplistic gameplay always compelled the writers to keep things, well, less complicated shall we say. And that's fine in our book. The armies of evil are coming and you seek to stop them. That's it. This time around though there's a more thorough explanation about the world, races, creatures, cities and, of course, each character class. The main story runs its course regardless of the character you choose. As far as the story goes, maybe a bit more effort could've gone into dialogue and the plot itself. Maybe a bit more twists; possibly something that would surprise us and such. Not that the story arch in Diablo 3 is lousy; far from it. But it just seems like they could've given us a bit more after such a long wait. In fact, Diablo 3's storyline does get a bit predictable at times, although in the end, I'm sure this is a matter of opinion. Besides there are aspects of the game that effectively compensate for that. Also, as soon as you dig into the gameplay, you won't be bothered with such story-related issues because you will be focused on slicing your way through endless hordes of some of Diablo's most vicious minions.

In Diablo 3 a lot depends on your choice of character class as their fighting techniques are unique and diverse. Some rely on pure brute force and melee combat skills (the Barbarian), while others tend to combine their skills with magic. Apart from the sturdy Barbarians, you can also select from four other classes: Monk, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter and Wizard.

There are two ways you can experience this game - single-player or multiplayer. My initial playthrough was single-player all the way. The game does have an easy-to-use drop in drop out coop mode, which makes the campaign even more enjoyable. Yes, the single-player was terrific fun from start to end. In Diablo 3 there's an amazing flow throughout the entire story mode, which makes you devoted to your character and the story, feeling almost no need to end your session. Another good reason for staying is that once you log out of a game, the levels reset and a completely new area map is generated and all enemies will respawn, so that means you have to clear out each section all over again, and complete all the secondary tasks once more. From a certain point of view, this can be a bit annoying. Particularly if you really, really just need to log out of a game in order to, you know, go and eat something or actually talk to real people in real life (Pffft! Nourishment and human contact? That's for the weak! - Ed.). Thankfully, the game saves your level, achievements and inventory, hence you get a chance to improve your character and gather more experience.

The questionable art direction for Diablo 3 worried us from the moment we saw the very first gameplay footage back in 2008. Our worries were fueled with the simple notion that Blizzard was clearly moving away from the series' traditional dark Gothic art style, in favor of cartoonish WoW-flavored art direction. When we finally got the full retail version in our hands and started playing the game, all of the initial worries evaporated instantly. And so the diligent work of Blizzard's artists and animators continually surprises us, as much as their incredible devotion to detail. Stunning environments, brilliantly animated character and creature models, breathtaking cinematics and an altogether enthralling atmosphere are the most powerful bullet points of this product. By the same token, the development team worked hard to create a fittingly rich array of top-notch sound effects and awesome music themes. There isn't a hack'n'slash game out there that looks and sounds better than this.

Now, we finally come to the technical aspect of this game. Diablo 3 didn't have a bright start. Upon launch, millions of gamers worldwide have tried to log into the game simultaneously, thus wreaking havoc on Blizzard's servers. Since part of the company's DRM scheme was to incorporate a constant Internet connection requirement, this didn't quite bring favorable results on launch day. People who have been waiting years to play the game, couldn't even log in to try out the single-player, even though they paid proper money for their product. The massive ocean of disgruntled fans began to flood the Web and Blizzard's official forums with complaints. For a company, with games like World of Warcraft under its belt, such problems seem inexcusable. However, we eventually caved in, forgiving Blizzard Entertainment for the numerous server issues that made the game unplayable for so many people (particularly in the US). Sorry, what can we say? The quality of the game itself outshines all these problems.

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9.6   Classic

Blizzard's time-honored knack for delivering an incredible atmosphere is shown in this game perhaps more than in anything they've done before, the astounding art, captivating cinematics, cool music, great voice acting and, most important of all, utterly addictive gameplay;

Initial server issues were a major downer, a few annoying in-game bugs, the story could've had more twists and more surprising elements to it, certainly the fact that there's an ending to this game... that's something we don't like.


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