Before I get started on the review, I would just like to state that I am a fan of Blizzard games. I think they are very stylishly done, and whilst they may have monopolised the MMO market with World of Warcraft for many years now, with too many MMO’s trying to replicate that success, Blizzard get a lot of things right with their games.
I had, of course, played through the original Diablo game and indeed Diablo II and loved them both equally. I am a big fan of dungeon crawlers and loot.
However, when Diablo III came to PC, I wasn’t terribly excited. It was one of those games that I kept telling friends that I would “get at a later date”. I felt as though I probably should pick it up, but there were a bunch of problems at launch with the servers, and a lot of negative feedback when it came to the game itself. So, I never bothered to pick it up.
And then came the announcement that Diablo III was coming to consoles. This caught my attention, and indeed excited me.
For those who don’t already know, Dibalo III is an action RPG set in the dark fantasy world of Sanctuary twenty years after the titular demon, Diablo, was defeated. Sanctuary was having a time of peace, but that was not to last. (When does it ever?) Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts regarding an ominous prophecy. A mysterious star falling from the sky strikes the Cathedral, creating a deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears.
And that’s where you come in. You get to choose from five character classes: The Witch Doctor, The Barbarian, The Wizard, The Monk and The Demon Hunter. Each class comes with their own talents and abilities, which grow during the course of the game. I naturally, as with all RPG’s that I play, chose The Wizard.
The first thing that I am going to talk about is the control system. I was initially skeptical with regards to how a game that is designed to work with a keyboard and mouse. Thankfully, within the first couple of my playing it, my skepticism was completely unfounded. Blizzard have obviously gone to a lot of trouble with mapping things to work on a controller, and it sincerely does work. There are a few times where it has been a tiny bit fiddly with aiming accurately, however it does overall work very well on a controller. There’s even a groovy new move with the right thumbstick whereby you can roll and evade enemy attacks, and I can tell you that has gotten me out of a couple of tight spots in the game. So far, so good.
The next thing is the graphics. There are always going to be obvious graphical sacrifices when a game meant for PC is ported to consoles, particularly when the hardware has been around for nearly eight years. However, the world of Sanctuary looks fittingly dark and moody, and I haven’t come across any significant frame rate issues when being swarmed by enemies on screen. The art style obviously has Blizzard’s trademark flourishes and colour palletes, and overall it is a good looking world that suits its purpose very well. In fact the art style, to my eyes, looks a little bit similar to the land of Nosgoth in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, which is no bad thing.
And now, for the gameplay. This is absolutely the best part. I find this game very addictive. I have played it for ten hours now, and I just want to keep going. Fighting through hordes of undead, demonic entities, skeletons, picking up loot along the way … It’s all just so much fun. The difficulty level can be adjusted from Easy to Inferno difficulty levels, and the more difficult you go, the higher the rewards and loot you get.
The real fun begins when you team up with people and go multiplayer. This is, of course, how Diablo III should be played. If you are going to be descending into hell, it is good to have someone at your side to help take on said legions of hell, and multiplayer is where it really comes into its own. I generally like doing things solo, but there are times, in game, where you can feel a tad overwhelmed by enemies, and so it would be good to have a friend fighting right along side you, and the system allows for up to four co-op players on screen at once.
There have been a few gameplay changes from the PC version, most notable is the absence of an Auction House. This only serves to make the game better, in my opinion, as I don’t think that most console players would take too kindly on spending real money on in game items. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s just my general feeling.
Overall Blizzard have made this a very good experience on consoles. There has been a distinct lack of late of good RPG’s on consoles, and indeed a lack of a good dungeon crawler and Blizzard have happily filled that void.
I urge those who are fans of the genre to join me in taking up arms against the legions of hell, delve into Sanctuary, and wonder what took Blizzard so long to come back to consoles. I sincerely hope we will be seeing them doing more for them in the future.