Blizzard Entertainment, www.diablo3.com
Great game mechanics; looks fantastic; encourages you to keep playing
Constant internet connection needed – even to play single player; much the same as Diablo II; storytelling is lacklustre
$89.95 (box); $79.95 (download)
I remember 2003; I was 13 and ran home from school with a copy of Diablo II I just borrowed from one of my friends. I remember mum saying, “Hey Callum, ho…“ but I had already run past her, down the hallway and straight to the computer, quickly putting the CD in the disk tray and starting the installation for what I was sure would be my new favourite game.
I was right. I played Diablo II for hours and hours that night, to the point in which my father pulled the power out of the socket to get me to go to bed.
Now let’s fast-forward. Almost a decade later, I received a package on my desk at around 4.30pm, I saw the Blizzard branding on the front and my eyes instantly lit up. I ran out the door, jumped straight on the train and sat impatiently for what felt like a lifetime. I finally made it home, put the Diablo III disk in the tray, waited the hour or so for the 15GB install and, finally, was able to hit the Play button.
“There is a temporary outage of the Battle.net service,” said the message on the screen. “Please try again later. (Error 75)”
I can’t tell you how many times I hit that Play button that night or how many times I refreshed the Blizzard server status page – or, most importantly, how upset I was with the fact I couldn’t play a single-player game on launch day because it requires a constant internet connection. Certainly off to a bad start.
After trying and giving up multiple times over the next few days I was finally able to play but, believe me, it had lost the lustre it once had.
For those who haven’t played or heard of the Diablo series before, it started in 1996 as a simple, successful role-playing game where you clicked on monsters to kill them until you made it to the end villain, Diablo. The sequel released in 2000 was more or less the same but added a skill system allowing players to significantly change how they played the game and each character.
With Diablo III it seems Blizzard was happy with the last formula and has done very little to change it. For some I can understand this is a disappointment but for me it meant I fell straight into the new iteration in the series.
The first thing I realised was how polished the game was. Everything was smooth and looked beautiful, and I was never confused as to where to go or what to do next. Killing the monsters was, quite simply, fun. Every time they fell I gained a little amount of gold, which made me feel like I was accomplishing a lot. I loved how every time I opened a chest it felt like winning the lottery; pretty colours, happy music and all the loot just flying out.
The game initially gives you four difficulty levels from Normal to Inferno. It’s designed to get you to play a character through at least twice by limiting access to the Inferno setting until you’ve ‘levelled up’ your character, but then allowing you to go for the most challenging, gear-filled levels aimed at the best of the best Diablo III players.
After playing for what I thought was 20 minutes but what was in actual fact four hours I found the game to have the same basic structure. You run out, grab all of your quests, kill everything you can, grab your loot, go back to town, sell/upgrade everything then rinse & repeat.
This was broken up by new skills I unlocked along the way but these just seemed to make it easier to kill the same monsters over and over.
The main thing I can remember from Diablo II was the fantastic storyline and lore associated with the game and I was pretty happy Diablo III picked right up where it left off. What I found, though, as I got further in was the non-playable characters’ (NPCs’) lines became unbelievably repetitive and the writing just wasn’t able to pull me in.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
Even after the massive server issues and the lacklustre story telling I still did have a lot of fun playing Diablo III, and will continue to do so for a while. But I cant help feeling I should have just skipped the experience altogether, installed Diablo II and pretended to be 13 again. Wait until it drops in price, then buy.