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Diablo III REVIEW – As Good as I Remember

by Joey Davidson | May 23, 2012May 23, 2012 3:30 pm PDT

Sanctuary needs you. The demons of hell have spewed forth once more, and the responsibility of repelling them from the mortal realm is yours again.

Diablo is back.

Diablo III is a well-polished, easily enjoyable, rewarding and intense experience. It will probably be one of the best PC games to launch for years to come, and I wager that its fan base will retain strength for a long time.

What gives it those wonderful claims? Blizzard has crafted a strong story with typically wonderful cutscenes. They’ve also built a title with an incredibly slick, simple user-interface and a brilliant social system that allows for great drop-in/drop-out cooperative play.

They haven’t given us any player vs. player content, but we’ve been assured that it’s on the way.

Diablo III is great; but it doesn’t hit that rating without making great strides, rehashing quality tactics or slipping into the realm of error.

This is the same game we all fell in love with before.

I’ll admit something plainly right now. My review won’t touch on every minor intricacy of Diablo III. This game is enormous. With that size comes plenty of space for nitpicking and fault finding. I intend to deliver a verdict here, not pull apart the minutiae of a big, big game.

I will, however, gloss over one major point that I think a lot of hardcore Diablo fans are having trouble with. For the most part, Diablo III is exceptionally similar to its predecessors. Randomized dungeons, satisfying boss fights, intense difficulty and rewarding loot drops are present and accounted for in just about every way possible.

Sure, diehard fans might sit back and say, “Man, why’d they have to keep X.” I did it a few times during my playthrough.

Then it hit me: Blizzard had to strive to keep Diablo III feeling like, well, Diablo. This game plays almost identically to the ones before it. It’s different for a ton of reasons, but, at its core, this is Diablo. This is the experience we fell in love with more than a decade ago (and once more before that). This is a Diablo game.

For everyone that complains that this game just isn’t the same, I challenge them. Blizzard captured the essence of Diablo and released it with more polish and a unique set of design choices.

The new skill system.

If you lived and breathed Diablo II, the one major change that you’ll likely be discussing was the decision to completely rework skills. Instead of selecting a skill from your tree in order to unlock a path of skills, skills are rewarded as you level up. Every level 50 barbarian has the same set of skills to choose from, and they can do so whenever they want.

How is that different? In previous games, players could only pick a skill once. So, if you got to level 60 and realized you wanted to use a different skill, you pretty much had to completely rebuild a character.

Here’s how opinions will split: some folks will argue that making skills infinitely successful ruins the replayability of the game. The argument is that once you have one high level wizard, you’ll never need another one.

As a simple point of fact, that’s true. However, the breadth of skills available in the game is enormous. You’ll earn new abilities and augmentations at a constant clip, and you’ll always try new combinations of said skills. Time will tell on this point, but I’d argue that Diablo III will let players play their own custom game.

The thing about games like Diablo? Hardcore stat enthusiasts are always going to come up with spreadsheets and develop the “right” way to make a character. While I recognize that this is a matter of opinion, I’ll say that I completely hate that method of gaming.

My hope is that Blizzard’s decision to rework skills will allow me to play the game the way I want to play it, rather than partying up with high level strangers in order be told that I’m an idiot for building my barbarian in a certain way.

DRM is the cruelest demon of them all.

You can tell me they did it for the game’s economy, you can tell me they did it to make sure playing was a social experience, you can tell me they wanted Diablo III to exist without mods, hacks and other potential problems.

You know what? I don’t care. The simple fact of the matter is that the always connected aspect of Diablo III (and any other game that employs it) completely sucks. Completely.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s the quick rundown. In order to play Diablo III in any capacity, you need to be connected to Blizzard’s servers. That means there’s no built-in LAN mode or single player.

The game can be played solo, I assure you. But you have to be connected to the Internet and Battle.net in order to do so. That means no laptop play when you’re away from home, and it also means that your single player campaign can fall victim to latency and server outages.

Blizzard’s performing maintenance on the servers on Monday at nine in the morning? Sorry, you can’t play the single player portion of the game you paid money for until they’re done.

I’m not reviewing the launch of Diablo III. If I were, it would get bad marks. I’m reviewing the full package. The full package requires an Internet connection, and that requirement has been a detriment to the single player experience within this game.

This comes down to piracy, I’m convinced. Blizzard can put whatever marketing spin they want on DRM, but it doesn’t matter. People who pay money for games and prefer to do so legally and consistently are being punished for the actions of complete jerks. It sucks, and it hurts the overall quality of this otherwise stellar product.

Should you buy Diablo III?

Plainly? Yes. If you have a machine that can run it (it doesn’t take much), you should probably buy this game. The thing about Diablo III, and this much is similar between it and its predecessors, is that it’s a game that keeps on giving. You’ll plow through four difficulties with five different classes, score tons of loot, take pleasure in hitting like a truck, deliver all sorts of justice and experience a great storyline.

And that’s before Blizzard launches the assuredly inevitable expansion in a year or so.

The DRM is a major problem, and there will be times when your desire to play will be hampered by the absence of an Internet connection or server problems on Blizzard’s part. This is a bummer, there’s not doubt about it.

Still, Diablo III is an astounding title that’s well worth the price of admission to experience it. PC gamers need to buy this game, it’s that simple.

Rating - Gaming - 9.0 - Editor's Choice

 


We purchased a copy of Diablo III with company funds. We completed the quest on normal with a few characters before starting this review. All told, we’ve logged roughly 30 hours in the game and will keep on trucking as time goes by.

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Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...

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