DIABLO III REVIEW
The Lord of Terror returns to consoles after 15 long years, but how does the king of the dungeon fare on a pad?
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Sep 26, 2013 15:02 (70 days ago)
Written by: Joe
The Devil Cometh ...:
The launch of "Diablo III" on PC was a highly anticipated event, with fans of the original two titles having waiting over a decade for a sequel they so desperately craved. Since 2000's Diablo II, however, many of these fans had moved to console gaming and were ill equipped when the third iteration finally landed in May of last year.
After another agonizing year though their devilish prayers have been answered in the form of Diablo III for PS3 and Xbox 360, boasting some fairly significant changes and fixes to some of the game's biggest gripes, but the question is - of course - does it play well on a pad?
Stay a while, and listen...
After the apocalyptic events of Diablo II, the world of Sanctuary is allowed twenty years of respite before a falling star crashes into Tristram's cathedral and begins spewing undead hellspawn from the bowels of the earth once more.
The story then takes off in a blur of locales, full of angels and demons, betrayals and sacrifices, and some genuinely surprising twists and turns. The Diablo series has always been known for its phenomenally rendered FMVs and classic, good vs. evil plots. Diablo III definitely does not disappoint in either of these areas, and whilst at times the narrative can get a bit too melodramatic or overwrought, there's nothing here a fan of the series won't thoroughly enjoy.
Familiar faces come and go and new ones prove even more memorable, and I honestly can't wait for next year's Reaper of Souls expansion pack to see where the writers go from here.
The pulsing, macabre heart of the Diablo series is it's ridiculously addictive gameplay; horrifying monsters to dispatch, endless loot to pick up and the oh-so-satisfying level-ups. The formula has been tinkered with - both for better and worse - with Diablo III, but for the most part it's just as engaging as you remember and equally hard to walk away from, even after sinking hours and hours into the lengthy campaign. Around thirty hours will see you to the credits, but with a massive amount of content and replayability over the numerous difficulties, Diablo III is a paragon of value, easily offering hundreds of hours of enjoyment.
For the uninitiated, players begin by choosing a hero to play as, picking from the five classes of Witch Doctor, Barbarian, Wizard, Monk and Demon Hunter - with additional classes promised for expansion packs. Each of these play wildly differently from the others, with the Witch Doctor raising undead allies to fight by their side, the Demon Hunter laying traps and taking out enemies from afar whilst the Barbarian, as you might have guessed, runs head first into any problem, armed with two ferocious weapons and screaming all the while.
As you make your way through the twisted worlds the game presents you with different missions - never much more than go here, kill this, collect this - and along the way you can explore the sprawling world maps, delve into sub-dungeons, initiate side quests and so on. When you kill the towering beasties that stand in your way they'll drop glittering loot - the drug you'll never quite be able to kick. It's these drops that keep you playing for 'just one more dungeon' long into the night. The loot has been improved from the PC version, with less loot dropping in general but none of the garbage you'd have clogging up your inventory otherwise. Now the Auction House is gone - perhaps Diablo IIIs biggest bugbear - better loot is given to everyone - not just for those willing to drop real cash on in-game purchases.
The only real problem I have with the game is that the wonderful level up system of Diablo II, where players would allocate stat points and choose from a myriad of skills to learn, is gone. Instead, stats and skills are distributed automatically and there is no customization involved whatsoever. Skill-altering runes are available as the game progresses but they too are unlocked at select levels and don't do too much to differ you from the herd. What once was a great system that allowed you to completely tailor your character to your play style has been replaced by one that means every character will be identical, save for the gear they are wearing.
What was a point-and-click hack & slash with a keyboard and mouse has made the transition to controller masterfully. It's a really tricky genre to get right on consoles and Blizzard have proven themselves here, delivering an experience that is actually preferable to its PC counterpart. Menus and shortcuts have been entirely reworked and the game feels tailored perfectly to its new home, rather than feeling like a shoddy port. Skills are easily selected and used, and the controller never feels like it doesn't have enough buttons.