In June 2008, Blizzard Entertainment announced their third installment of the Diablo series. It has been twelve years since the release of Diablo 2 and four years of anticipation, but finally, Diablo 3 has been released. The battle between the high heavens and the burning hells rages forward. However, can it live up to the mass amount of hype the game has been given, or does it fall flat and become another generic isometric hack-n-slash RPG title? Well, after many hours logged, here’s the good and bad of Blizzard Entertainment‘s Diablo 3.
To get a greater understanding of the overall story, you should read either Diablo: The Book Of Cain or Diablo: The Order. These books really help flesh out the story and give plenty of insight to those interested in getting caught up in the series. It does a good job clearing up the unknowns after playing Diablo 3. For those that don’t want to read the books, we provided you with a summary. Be careful: there are spoilers in the summary.
Act 1 begins by introducing you to the areas surrounding New Tristram. While traveling through the area, you’re introduced to Leah Cain, niece of Deckard Cain, who asks you to look for her missing uncle. Locating him isn’t the problem; its once you find him that everything starts to get crazy. While dungeon crawling, you come across a man within a crater whose identity seems to be missing, and through Act 1, you eventually find out that the stranger is Tyrael, the angel of justice, now turned mortal after giving up his immortality. However, by the time you and Tyrael find that out, Deckard Cain has been killed by Mahgda, a servant of Beliel. Beliel and Azmodan are on the move. Leah, still in disbelief, seeks vengeance for the death of her uncle.
Act 2 takes place around the deserts and oases of Caldeum. Right after you avenge Deckard Cain’s death, you realize that something is amiss in Caldeum. After visiting the boy emperor, you realize that Beliel, Lord of Lies, has the empire in his claws. Not only that, he also has Leah’s mother, Adria. After her rescue, she informs Tyrael and yourself that the only way to defeat Beliel and Azmodan is the black soulstone, and the only person aware of its location is Zoltan Kulle. After locating the head of Zoltan, he offers a deal to give you the black soulstone if you bring him back to life. Well, you know right away how well that goes as he maniacally laughs as you slowly put him back together, and he doesn’t hit like humpty-dumpty. After re-killing Zoltan and claiming the black soulstone, you make a push towards “rescuing” the boy emperor and the kingdom of Caldeum. Does the boy need rescuing? Nope. He’s actually Beliel and has been playing you the whole time; does the title “Lord of Lies” not mean anything??? After killing him and retrieving his soul, there’s only one more left to get, which leads into Act 3.
Act 3 begins on the top of Bastion’s Keep, where the soldiers of the keep and Azmodan’s armies are in the heat of battle. Your role is to find out where exactly Azmodan is and take him out before any more damage is done. You have to fight through his generals (Gluttony and Lust) in order to get to him. Once you do, you get to take him out, and that’s the end of the…Wait a minute, what’s all this blood doing here??? You have got to be kidding me… It turns out Adria’s been playing you, Leah, and Tyrael the entire time, and, drum roll please…Leah is the daughter of Diablo. After Adria does her witch thing, sacrifices her daughter, and now all seven souls of the prime and lesser evils of the burning hells are in Leah, now known as Diablo. His/Her/Its goal now is to tear the high heavens asunder, which leads into Act 4
Act 4 goes fairly quickly. You have to journey with Tyrael through the high heavens, defeat all the demons you come across, defeat Diablo, and save the day. After that whole ordeal, Diablo is once again dead (or is he?), Tyrael is welcomed back to the angelic council, and he keeps his mortality while taking on the role of Angel of Wisdom.
The direction of the story and the creativity expressed is close to brilliant. The voice acting is very well done and the story plot is deep. While some people think the ending is weak, it does leave things open for future expansions. This should meet any gamer’s expectations or standards of great storytelling. However, when you take into consideration the fact that the team at Blizzard are masters of storytelling, a weak ending hurts the overall presentation. If this game was released by anyone other than Blizzard, the ending would have been more forgivable.
Diablo 3 is an isometric hack-n-slash RPG. You’re mainly using your mouse to attack while using your keyboard to use skills and potions that you can switch out anytime you want (with the penalty of a 30 second cool down, so no quick switching). The character attack movements feel fluid, and your attacks are executed flawlessly, without any input lag whatsoever. Graphically, it’s not eye candy, but it’s not meant to be, since this is what the Diablo franchise traditionally looks like. The enemy mechanics don’t really become a problem until the later difficulty modes. The strength of enemies depends on the difficulty chosen, so on higher settings can very easily kill you if you’re not careful. Overall, the design team did a great job putting everything together to make it a painless experience (until you hit hell difficulty, but that’s another story).
Diablo 3 has tons of features and is one of the most feature-rich games in the franchise. While the game can be played strictly single-player, you can also play with friends in multiplayer. This game gives players the ability to jump in and out of games via the public game system. The game also supplies you with an auction house that allows you to buy and sell items you need or want to sell. Blizzard plans to release their “Real Money Auction House” next week, so all those Diablo millionaires will have to wait for now. Remember difficulty/reward systems? Well, as you go through the game and beat it, you unlock difficulty settings that let you replay the game to continue your leveling process and get better loot. Difficulty levels include normal, nightmare, hell, and inferno. Another little addition is banner customization, which allows you to make your own coat-of-arms to plant on the corpse of your enemies or gloat to your friends of how awesome your banner looks. All this in a single game is exactly what’s deserving of a perfect score.
Fun Factor- 2.5/2.5
Having fun with a game that takes a while to become challenging is something some people may find difficult. However, there is such a solid game structure that this should be seen as something that must be conquered. There is a certain level of satisfaction when you beat an enemy on a high level of difficulty, and if you don’t give the game a chance to give that to you, you are definitely missing out. You are always rewarded for your efforts with rare items, but some items are class specific, which is another point of frustration. Even with the odd pairing of rare items on occasion, playing this game with a friend and taking on the dungeons is a feeling that few games can evoke.
Overall Verdict- 9.5/10
Though it may seem that Diablo 3 deserves a perfect score, there was no way the ending would justify it. Even with the weakness of the ending, it’s an elite game that should be experienced by all. With more content coming down the line (like PvP Arenas, Expansions, and more), you can be sure that this isn’t the end of Diablo 3. It’s just the beginning.
This review is based off a retail copy of the PC version of Diablo III by Blizzard Entertainment