Reviews: Diablo III
No control for the player. Disappointing.
Before saying anything, I will note that I am a member of the old guard. I have been a Blizzard fan since the release of games like 'Blackthorne', and of course I love the Diablo games. I got my copy of Diablo III from a friend who gave it to me as an early birthday gift. I will note that the online-only nature of the game is, for me, a minor point. But still... I don't find the fun in this. The leveling system has completely revoked the feeling of power and control I had when allocating stats and skills. Now the only, minimal point of customization is the runes you unlock when you level up, and gear. The risks and opportunity costs related to sockets and gems have been completely obviated. They don't matter anymore, because gems can be removed from socketed items and both the gems and the items are intact. The game itself is too short for my taste. I don't consider myself an awesome player. It took me a lot of restarted games and New Game Pluses to complete Diablo 1 and I had to play for a month's worth of time to complete Diablo 2 and its expansion in normal mode. Then I found myself going through normal mode of Diablo 3 like lightning. In 6 days worth of time, I was done with the entirety of normal mode, and I know that, if I had played with other friends who have the game, I would have been able to reach Inferno mode in around the same time. I wasn't expecting much from the story. I mean, it is Diablo! You don't play it for the story! But even there it fails to provide. The dark, despair-filled atmosphere of the first two games has been lost, its tropes have been reconstructed when there was no need for it, the characters are chatty and their voice acting is mediocre, specially in the Spanish dub, which I played. And then there is the auction houses. The less said of them, the better. I know that its intent was to ease item trade between players, but most people use it only to offer legendary items at prohibitive prices. It fails as item trading system, and the idea of having a version that uses real money strikes me as blatant hypocrisy, because in Diablo 2, real money trade was stated by Blizzard to be illegal, but now since Blizzard gets a cut it's suddenly okay. In short, Diablo III proves that popular =/= good. It's an oversimplified experience that has stripped the series of its magic. Not worth the 60 Euros it costs.
Good stuff some flaws.
Love the game. Ditto for the series. I even love the storyline (dunno why alot of people are so down on it. Maybe they're just jelly ;]). I found Diablo and Azmodan in this game to be rather hammy; not in itself a bad thing, but they took it up to a point that was not well-suited to the characters IMO. The followers are a bit less powerful than the Hirelings from Diablo 2, and they really cease to be of any real use in later difficulties, but as characters they each have their own charms. With Imperius, Archangel of Valor at the helm the High Heavens have not fared well, especially not once Diablo makes his return, but I love him all the same. Definitely my favorite. :) I'm kinda curious how the various player character classes fit into the whole shebang. With Diablo 1 we know that the Warrior was the one to canonically defeat Diablo, but what of 2 and 3? Haven't really looked into it, maybe I should... As I suppose it should be, Inferno is quite difficult if you aren't kitted out with the best equipment money can buy. And you will have to buy it because the best items only drop in the later parts of Acts 3 and 4, both of which feature swarms of monsters and elites that can casually curbstomp the unprepared (not that Acts 1 and 2 didn't, but 3/4 more so). As it's always been, the inter-player economy (or whatever you wanna call it) is completely screwed up, exemplified by the Auction House, where a few thousand copies of any given piece of Vendor Trash can be found for sale for millions if not billions of gold no matter how useless it may be. The worst thing about it is the entirely online nature of the game, meaning lots and lots of lag, the frequent interruptions of bots sending you messages and friend requests to advertise some site or other that sells equipment for a few gajillion real world dollars apiece. And the problem of the servers being down. But that's just the side stuff. Overall 7/10. Great game, save for the aforementioned problems.
The game is great; it's the other parts that are a problem
When I review a game, I try to draw a line between the things that are actually part of the game (which is to say, the parts of the product that you actually play), and the extraneous things that surround the game. Diablo 3 makes a case for why this is important. The GAME that's Diablo 3 is awesome. The combat is engaging and over the top, and, once you hit Nightmare, becomes a real challenge. In spite of early reservations, I like the fact that they replaced the skill tree with power/rune loadouts that can be configured on the fly. But where the game really shines is in the details. Little things like catching someone in the corner of your eye tossing corpses on to a pile, or some of the gorgeous artwork that you can't even see unless you zoom in. The complaints I have about D3 are not the game, it's everything else that they packaged around the game. The always-online nature of the game that puts your single-player experience at the mercy of server up time and internet connectivity. The plans for a money auction house. The way that the product constantly tries to get you to use its social networking features. All of these things are annoying, but I see them as coming out of the marketing departments of Blizzard and I hate to ding the game devs for decisions that they didn't have any control over. So, the game, as a game, gets 5 out of 5 from me, but all the rest drags a star off of the overall product rating, for no good reason that I can discern.
Almost Outrageously Fun
As someone who wasn't a particularly big fan of the previous two Diablo games, I was a little skeptical about this one. However, I received a digital copy for free from Blizzard via the World of Warcraft Annual Pass subscription. I had become interested in some of the pre-release teaser videos, but they could not possibly prepare me for the game I was about to play. After the initial launch day hiccups (bad form, Blizzard...) I fired up the game for the first time and was immediately hooked. Five hours passed without my notice. I hadn't experienced pure joy in a video game like this since I was fifteen years old. I've tried out a couple of the different classes, and it's incredible how much depth there is to this game. Every class plays differently, and there are at least three or four possible skill builds for each class, which you'll have plenty of fun toying around with due to a fine-grained system that unlocks your abilities gradually, and then unlocks skill runes that can be applied to each skill, some of them changing the base skill until it's almost unrecognizable. There are thousands of combinations, all at your fingertips and all changeable in seconds. People will ding the game for its always-online DRM. They'll ding it for the launch day shenanigans. They'll call it "dumbed down" or shallow or not as good as Diablo II. Some of those are good points, others aren't. The fact is that it just doesn't matter. Taken on its own merits, Diablo III is an intensely enjoyable experience that will keep you occupied for a very long time. I highly recommend it.