Posted on May 20, 2012 AT 02:16pm
Twelve years since the release of Diablo II, Blizzard finally turned their eyes back to the demonic franchise, and set evil free upon the land once again. Twenty years has passed in the story, and the forces of demons, undead, and other creepers threaten to extinguish humanity once more. You take the roll of one of five classes: The armored barbarian, the deadly demon hunter, the focused monk, the spiritual witch doctor, or the studious wizard, and carve your own path through the lands in search to end evil’s reign and return light to the world.
Having played both Diablo I and II plus expansion, the excitement for Diablo III was there, but my nostalgia barely drew me into the world once again. Having played the demo, I had only hoped things would have improved upon release; things only kept going downhill from there. Blizzard was “not prepared” for the sheer amount of players trying to log in at midnight the day of the release, and effectively, the servers were down for a cumulative total for about fourteen hours the first day. Now why, you may ask, would the servers have failed so hard? The constant connection that is required to play Diablo III. In hopes to deter hackers and bootleg copies from sneaking into the system, Blizzard made it so that you had to have a constant connection to the servers in order to play. I’m sorry, I thought this was a single player game, not an MMO. Here’s a hint Blizz: Have everyone check in when they first log on, have the choice of going offline or online, offline characters only playable in offline and online characters only playable in online! Hey, you know what that sounds a lot like? Diablo II. So much for playing on vacation or when, I don’t know, the internet is out.
The game is pretty, I will give you that. I do find myself stopping every so often, after I’ve murdered a fleet of demons, and admiring the environments. You revisit a few sites from Diablo II and a few new ones, each crafted to give them their own feel and uniqueness. New Tristram is dreary, the people living in fear of the dead that constantly attack their tiny town while the sands of the oasis shift under your free with every step. The monsters feel like they fit in the world, no matter what it is, and some of the designs, along with the lore you receive with your first kill of said monster, can make those with a weak stomach cringe.
The gameplay, sadly, has been tarnished by the fact that the game servers are almost always in flux. Any attempt to play during the day, let alone peak hours, and you could find yourself facing a yellow bar at the bottom of your screen, or worse, the dreaded red bar. Don’t fret, don’t go kicking your router like a puppy, it’s probably not your fault that you’re lagging, and I’m serious about this. During the times where the servers were stable enough for me to continue to play uninhibited, I found myself enjoying my demon hunter’s abilities and actions. She moved across the battlefield effortlessly and dropped her enemies as if they were covered in tissue paper. Even the bosses seem to crumble at her feet, and that’s where the problem really seem to get to me. I never found myself worrying about bosses. They posed no real threat despite their abilities and large health pools, and I never sat there and farmed out levels or gear; I played right through, skipping over some of the extra little dungeons just to get through the game. The only one I ever found myself a problem with is the big baddie himself of the title. A quick trip to the auction house and 30,000 gold worth of gear later, and I rolled him over like a bloated kitten who ate too much. except I would have continued to pet the kitten instead of banishing it to nonexistence.
For sounds, there is a mixed feeling about it as a whole. One on hand, the music matches perfectly wherever you are. It never pushes itself upon you, except during times of major combat. It’s subtle enough that between fights, you’ll notice it, but while the combat rages, it’s not distracting. The other hand is not as pretty. The voice acting is sketchy; some lines seem forced while others flow just right. Your followers spout lines during combat and converse with you during your adventure, but the script is limited, so get ready to listen to whoever you’re with shout the same couple of dozen lines over and over again, especially in battle. I suffered through the Templar’s lines simply because he was amazing as a tank/support character with a quick heal and an even quicker save when I needed it.
Story. This is something I look for in every game, especially one that has a good deal of lore to it; the Diablo universe is no different and while you gain even more lore while playing, the story itself is severally lacking. All the plot twists are so thinly veiled that when the big mystery is revealed, you groan and shake your head, muttering, “I knew it…”. It’s not even a good “I knew it”, when all the pieces are there but you’re not quite sure if you’re right, where the excitement has you on edge. No, this is one of those times where you dread to be proven right, and actually hope you’re wrong. The only time I became anywhere excited is when, in the achievements, I saw something about The Butcher. Anyone who played Diablo I (and remembers), the Butcher was this minotaur boss with a massive meat cleaver that was kind scary. I thought, “He’s back?”. Nope, just some abomination with the name.
The single player truly feels lacking. I get the sense that the devs sat down and balanced the game heavily on multiplayer, and like a lightweight who can’t handle straight liquor, watered it down in an attempt to salvage the single player. Some people have even said, though they outlevel and outgear a fight, they’re still having horrible times clearing areas. Can anyone say Multiplayer Syndrome? If you’re familiar with my writing, you’ll know that I used this to describe Soul Calibur V in my review. To quote:
It’s where a perfectly good game that might have had some multiplayer gets overhauled to increase the “value” or content associated with it but the single player suffers.
The one thing I do have to mention is the auction house. This works just like the one in World of Warcraft. Grab an item, post an item, and wait or search for anything you want, adding in specific parameters if you need. It is quite handy if you’ve been lucky and had a good number of rare drops, or just need to fill out your gear at the last minute. The feature function of this auction house was that you were suppose to be able to buy and sell with real money but this is was not in place during the time of launch, so right now, only gold is used on the auction house. The real money option was, at first, stated to be ready the 22nd of the month, but seems to have been pushed back to the 29th. Let’s see if this whole thing actually happens.
Overall, while there aren’t too many flaws, their severity make it impossible to even try to fake a good score. The requirement of a constant connection kills gameplay if the servers are ever so slightly unstable, or your cat unplugs your router, and the story is just so dull and uneventful that, despite all my hoping and wishing, I have no real want to go back and play through. I will, of course, to see how all the classes handle, and possibly push through Nightmare mode. Is it worth the buy? Eh, not at the moment. Let Blizzard figure out their server problems and go play a few of the other games that are out there, or better yet, get that one friend/relative that owes you a favor and you don’t quite like as much as the rest, and tell them to get the game. If you don’t care about the story and don’t mind the latency issues, and really, REALLY, want to play, go grab it.
- THE GOOD: Entertaining combat, fun classes, and a decent variety of customization of abilities.
- THE BAD: Lack of story, sketchy voice acting, and watered down single player gameplay.
- THE UGLY: Unstable servers and constant connection required.
And the “Shit That We Waited Too Long For and Sucks” awards goes to: This game, only second to the latest Duke Nukem.
Spoilers from here on out! I’m serious!
If, and ONLY if, you are curious to how the fight against the big man himself is, go ahead and check out the video below. This is my personal video, and yes, it’s not the best kill I’ve had of the big guy. The talent set up for my demon hunter is in the video. Enjoy.
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