Our Long War Ends Today, Imperius!
I wanted to play today’s game for a very long time. It was originally released in May of 2012 for the computer, but my computer was having far too many problems for me to even consider running a game more powerful than Angry Birds. A year later, I was finally able to build a computer capable of running it, but by that point I didn’t feel interested anymore. Thankfully, they were putting the game out on console a few months later. My interest was revived! And now I can finally bring you my review of Diablo III, developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, and including the voices of Athena Karkanis, Dorian Harewood, Anna Graves, Robin Atkin Downes, Rajia Baroudi, Jamieson Price, Erica Luttrell, Carl Lumbly, Grey DeLisle, Crispin Freeman, Alyson Reed, Michael Gough, Jonathan Adams, Jennifer Hale, Dominic Keating, Troy Baker, Sumalee Montano, Simon Templeman, and James Hong.
You play as one of five character types in one of two genders. You arrive in the town of Tristram following a mysterious star crashing to the ground and raising the dead in its wake. We meet with Leah (Jennifer Hale) who was in the Cathedral investigating the ominous prophecy that may lead to the resurrection of Diablo with her uncle Deckard Cain (Michael Gough). Upon investigation, we find that the star that crashed to the ground is actually an angel named Tyrael (Jonathan Adams), who tells us that the demon lords Belial and Azmodan are wreaking havoc through the world and that we have to stop them because … well, what else would we do?
I enjoyed this game just fine, but the story really had nothing to do with it. Mainly because there barely was one. It’s really not much more than, “Diablo is coming back and we have to stop him.” They have a couple smaller things they try to fit in (Deckard and Leah’s relationship, Leah and Aria’s relationship, the little boy emperor and his besieged kingdom, the demons war on the humans, the bickering angels), but it really boils down to a really long mission to beat one boss. They don’t really try to surprise you too much beyond that. There is a bit of a surprise involving Leah, and also a bit of a surprise involving our main character. I won’t spoil Leah’s, but I will spoil ours: we’re a Nephilim. I feel comfortable spoiling that because I’ve played through a great portion of the game five times and I have no recollection of the game actually informing of this. At a certain point, characters are just talking about that fact as if it were assumed knowledge by now. I feel like there was another thing that the intended to be a surprise, but if that’s the case they should feel embarrassed. We have to work with the ghost of a guy named Zoltun Kulle at one point until he betrays us. I could not wrap my mind around the idea that this could be a spoiler. The guy’s voice was brought to us by I Am Evil enterprises and every time he disappeared, he did so with the dictionary definition of a sinister laugh. The only way they could’ve surprised me with that guy was if he eventually left after helping us reach our goal to go and find his home world of rainbows and puppies. They did have lots of little journals you could pick up to get additional information, but most of them were either just unimportant things or just a characters feelings about the things going on in the unimpressive story. I did appreciate that those journals would not be hindered by leaving the area and would continue through the load screens. I would’ve hated having to stand inside Deckard’s room waiting for his journal to stop talking just so I could be underwhelmed by the information he was giving.
The game looks pretty good. It’s kind of hard to say as the camera is never that close to allow us to see the details, but that’s something they pretty much need to stick to because that’s the setup of a Diablo game. The improvements that can be seen are in the activity of the levels. The levels in the game are always alive with little movements, from creatures scurrying around on the floor to parts of the level crumbling off when you get too close. My favorite one was in a spider lair when a guy was dragged into a hole when I got too close. The attention to detail – even if we never really got close enough to see that much of it – was fantastic. Also, the cut scenes were great. The disparity in the graphical quality between the gameplay and the cut scenes reminded me of those trailers for The Old Republic that made the game look so much more awesome than the game seemed to deliver. I don’t mean that as a critique of Diablo, but as a compliment to the quality of the cut scenes.
I made it a specific point to dedicate a decent amount of time to each of the five character types before embarking on my review. What I decided early on is that I always seem to pick the character that is the least prepared for my antisocial style of gameplay. I generally don’t team up with people because people will hurt you. I’M TALKING TO YOU, CYNTHIA!! That being the case, you’d assume I’d be more prone to picking a tank character such as the Barbarian for my first go. But that’s never the case. In City of Heroes, I picked a Blaster. In World of Warcraft, I picked a rogue. And in Diablo III, I picked the Demon Hunter, or what is more commonly known as an archer. So running solo was a pretty bad idea for quite some time. The rapid fire ability helps, but I came to realize that your friends could be both assistance and hindrance. The fact that I got into this game a while after they did helped me out because they could just jump into my game and throw away the trash they would never use, which just so happened to be excellent equipment to my lower level character. The other side of that coin is the friends who attempt to rush you through your campaign so that you can join them in their higher difficulty campaigns. First off, when you get bored and abandon me right before the boss, it leaves me underpowered to face it. Second, I have a review to write! I feel like I missed most of the story! That’s why I had to go on my second playthrough, and I chose the wizard because I had not yet screwed myself over enough with my first character that shouldn’t play solo through missions. The saving grace for these two characters comes when you get one of the three followers you can use when playing solo: the Templar, the Scoundrel, and the Enchantress. The problem with these characters is I have no idea why you would ever use anyone but the Templar. He can heal directly, heal by increasing your regeneration, and he’s also a capable tank. Taking the other two is basically babysitting.
After those two characters, I finally got the message and went out as a Barbarian. It was kind of boring, but I didn’t die so that was a plus. I died a lot with the monk character, but only because he was talked up so much that I assumed I could easily waltz through one of the hardest difficulties with him. I could not. I haven’t yet gotten to the point with the Witch Doctor that he becomes truly badass. The higher you level, the more creatures you can spawn to do your fighting for you. It seems like that might get a little boring, but it would certainly be less frustrating. All I was able to spawn by the time I stopped playing was two zombie dogs. I named them Pongo and Perdita.
I’m sure a lot of people were worried that the controls of the game would suffer when porting from the computer to the console. I never played the computer version, but I found the controls very effective on the console. There are plenty enough buttons that you can map your powers to, and it got even better when my friend Hookah told me that there was a setting to change that would allow you to map any powers to any buttons and not just the five or so powers it had allocated to each button. After that the controls were pretty smooth sailing and the gameplay style would just depend on your character. One universal that I enjoyed was the traps that were spread throughout the levels, like hitting a chain to drop a chandelier on a group of enemies or shooting some boards that were holding up a wall to let it crumble onto the enemies. The problem with this was that I rarely saw the traps before I had already cleared the room because of how close the camera was. But that’s a minor gripe.
I haven’t yet gotten all of the achievements in the game, but the ones I saw didn’t seem insurmountable. Just time consuming. I’m sure by the time you had reached level 60 you’d probably have stumbled upon most of them. And probably would’ve had to have beaten the game on the harder settings to get to that level anyway. So if you’ve got the time, you’ve probably got 1,000 Gamerscore.
I wound up very satisfied with my time with Diablo III, and I’ll probably be returning to when I have the time. It had nothing to do with the story which is so completely forgettable that it’s not even worth mentioning. Thankfully, the things they concerned themselves with instead make the game worth playing. It’s lots of fun and has plenty of randomly occurring events to keep you grinding in the game well into being worth its price. Diablo III gets “Let your true self be revealed, Diablo!” out of “Even in the heart of Heaven, angels can still feel fear.”
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