Diablo III Review

Sections

Pros

  • Addictive slay, loot and upgrade gameplay
  • High level of polish
  • Excellent co-op multiplayer
  • Good, well-balanced range of classes

Cons

  • Not a huge advance on previous games
  • Connection issues

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £39.99

Available on PC (version reviewed) and Mac
We should know by now that Blizzard doesn’t believe in a revolutionary
approach to games design. Just as the main moan about StartCraft II was
that it was, actually, a lot like StarCraft, so you can guarantee that
some people will be saying that Diablo III is a lot like Diablo II,
which was itself a lot like Diablo. Forget any ideas you might have
about new combat systems, cutting-edge 3D graphics, freeform
exploration, rich player choice or deep character interaction. Diablo
III is, like its predecessors, primarily a game of clicking the left
mouse button several times a second while staring fairly mindlessly at
the screen.

Diablo III

But then if there’s something Blizzard does do well,
its creating a very polished, almost seamless experience. Everyone knows
that what Diablo is all about isn’t the story or the tactical challenge
or the spectacle, but about that classic vicious cycle of addiction
where you slay hordes of monsters in impressive style to gather gold,
weapons, accessories and armour so that you can slay larger hordes of
more powerful monsters in an even more impressive style to gather gold,
weapons, accessories and armour…. Well, you probably get the point.

In
this respect, Diablo III is the gaming equivalent of one of those
Vegas casinos that doles out cheap beer and sandwiches and live entertainment
so that you’ll keep on spending money and not stop to wonder if you’re
throwing it all down the drain. Diablo III effectively does the same
thing, constantly plying you with new toys, funnelling you in the right
direction and smoothing out any obstacle that might make you pause, only here the currency isn’t money but time. While
Blizzard’s games have rarely achieved the kind of review scores that,
say, Valve nearly take for granted, it’s created some of the most
popular and long-running time-sinks in gaming history. Diablo III is another one to add to the list.

Diablo III

Xhead: Shooting stars and smashing heads
Want a storyline? Well, Diablo III does have one. Your
hero, on the trail of a mysterious falling star, arrives in the
environs of the original Diablo town of Tristram, and finds themselves
battling an undead scourge and the evil cult behind it. Behind this, you
won’t be surprised to hear, are the remaining Lords of Hell, and as the
game progresses you’ll find yourself exploring new locations and taking
the fight to increasingly demonic foes.

This doesn’t really do justice
to a game with a surprisingly intricate back-story, told through found
journals, books and ghostly apparitions, but then a back-story is really all it is. Diablo III doesn’t try to out-do the likes of The Witcher
II or Mass Effect with complex plotlines, moral questions and the rest; in the end, it’s all about bashing heads.

Diablo III

How this works will depend on what character class you adopt. The Barbarian is your classic Diablo warrior, big, heavy, able to wield and wear the heaviest weapons and armour, and really quite simple to play. The Wizard, meanwhile, is your classic magic user: a bit weak at first, then hugely powerful at a distance but more vulnerable close-up.

The new Witch Doctor is a hoot, initially a weakling with limited melee skills and a poor missile attack, but a great, flexible choice with undead minions to summon, some thoroughly nasty spells and a range of voodoo powers that are great for constraining opponents while you tackle them from a safe range.
 
The Demon Hunter is a ranged weapons specialist, with dual-crossbow capabilities and a selection of vicious traps. Finally, our own current favourite, the Monk, provides a great balance between devastating, high-speed melee attacks and useful defensive and healing magic.

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