Angels, demons, and adventure in Diablo III

Angels, demons, and adventure in <i>Diablo III</i>

Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Angels, demons, and adventure in Diablo III

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

NWCN.com

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 27 at 9:19 AM

Click, click, click, click. Just a second.  Click, click, dang it.  Click, click, click, click, click.  OK um.... click, click, click, yeah I'm reviewing Diablo III.  Click, click, click, uh can you just go ahead without me?  Click, click,....I'll catch up.

Story

Diablo III is set roughly twenty years after the events of Diablo II.  You, the player, arrive in the small village of New Tristram.  A falling star has drawn you to New Tristram where crashed cathedral.  Then the undead have risen and been attacking the village.   You help the local militia repel an undead assault.  After the battle you are introduced to Leah, the niece of Diablo series regular Deckard Cain.

Leah informs you that she and Deckard were in the cathedral when the star hit and that Deckard had fallen into the crater it had created.  She asks you to rescue Cain.  You fight your way down through the crypts and find Cain, who is surprisingly no worse for wear after the fall.  You also find that it was not a star that crashed into the cathedral, but a man who has no memory.  All he can remember is that he had a sword and it broke into three parts

And so begins a long adventure across four acts.  You fight demons alongside angels, eventually facing the game's namesake, Diablo.

Controls and Gameplay

Diablo III, like the rest in the series, is an action role playing game.  If players choose to, practically all controls could be done with just the mouse, but that would be impractical.  Keyboard shortcuts are available for almost everything; from using skills to drinking potions, to opening inventory or maps.  While developer Blizzard has updated and streamlined many things from the previous games (such as automatically picking up gold as you walk over it instead of having to click on it) surprisingly they still have not added keyboard controls for movement.
 
The action orientated game play is very fluid (with the exception of those first few days of release) and the game responds quickly.  Diablo III requires a constant internet connection, in part for Blizzard's Digital Rights Management (DRM) policy to help combat piracy, partially to allow for drop in/drop out multiplayer co-op of up to four players and partially  for the social elements built into Diablo III.  The game's engine has been optimized enough that even on my three year old laptop it runs smoothly, even in co-op mode.  I have twice seen minor gameplay hiccups where the game semi-froze, but those quickly passed.

There is a lot that Diablo III offers and trying to talk about all of it would take up pages.  Like the randomly generated levels that add that lovely spice of variety.  The five different classes of Demon Hunter (my personal choice), Monk, Barbarian, Witch Doctor and Wizard.  Each has a different play style that also let you tailor the game to the way you want play, up close in the action or standing back from it.  So much more to talk about, suffice to say, it is very fun.

Graphics and Sound

Diablo III keeps the isometric look of the previous games, yet uses a custom 3D engine that allows for more detail and destructible environments.  The look is realistic and gives the player the view as if they are floating above the scene.  The cut scenes are gorgeous and start to dip into that "uncanny valley" of realism.  Like the gameplay freezes I did see a couple minor hiccups in the graphics, but they too were gone instantly.

The voice acting in the game is well done.  I didn't hear a dead line at all.  All the actors voice their parts convincingly well.  Although the voice actor for Deckard Cain sounds odd to me.  I know they wanted him to sound old and wise, and the actor does, but it borders on comically old and wise.  A minor gripe.

Overall

Click, click, click,...ok enough of that.  It's been 12 years since the last Diablo game and the game is still a "click-fest."  So much so my hand and wrist are sore from it.  With all the upgrades and streamlining they have done with the game you would think they would have added "WASD" movement by now.  I understand they have kept it "as is" for "tradition," but if it was for "tradition" why bother with all the other upgrades and streamlining?

That said Diablo III is still a blast to play.  My hand and wrist are sore because I would lose track of time and play for hours.  In the co-op mode even more so.  Yet for all the time I have put into it, there is still a lot to play through.  Not to mention achievements to get and other modes to try (such as "Hardcore" mode, where when your character dies, there is no resurrecting them, they are dead for good).

I can't let this review go without mentioning the debacle that was the game's launch.  How Blizzard managed to mishandle it is truly a question for the ages.  For a company that, for the most part, has nothing but a catalog of online games, to release such a highly anticipated title and not have the server resources completely in place is just shameful.  I spent 3 days unable to get past the log-in screen and became intimately familiar with "Error 37."  Since that time Blizzard has gotten almost everything back on track.  As it stands now the only thing not working is the real-money auction house and that is on hold until they can guarantee its stability.  Considering it will be real money changing hands this is understandable.

Launch aside, Diablo III proves that even after 12 years it really hasn't lost a step.  Diablo III has some minor gripes, but provides hours of fun, I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Diablo III is rated M for Mature for Blood, Gore, and Violence by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).  Diablo III is available now for Windows PC and Apple Macintosh.

For more information see the Diablo III website.
 
 

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