Top critical review
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Entertaining, but mired in its 1990's origins.
on 16 September 2013
I fondly recall playing Diablo and Diablo II upon their release many years ago, and so was eagerly awaiting this latest instalment in the series. I'm glad to say that the game succeeds due to its faithful adherence to the style of the series - sadly the game fails for the exact same reasons...
Diablo III has a distinctive feel of yesteryear. Its pretty and smooth and massive in scale with a huge range of enemies, abilities, weapons and armour, but its essentially similar to the other games in the series and pretty much every other hack n slash game out there.
There is a decent number of character types to choose from (Barbarian, Demon hunter, Wizard, Monk and witch Doctor), and you get to choose the gender of your character.
As is a stapel of the genre, each character has numerous slots where they can equip weapons and armour (headwear, shoulders, gloves, chest, legs, boots, wrists, necklace, rings, off hand weapon and main hand weapon) and equipment is graded using a colour-coded system very similar to that seen in Borderlands where the colour of the item dictates its power. Items may come with buffs such as additional damage, special damage type, attribute increase etc.
The amount of equipment availible is impressive with literally dozens of weapon and armour items and almost infinate variations on each item type depending upon which boosts they provide. The stype of weapons and equipment availible to each character are restricted by their class - the Demon Hunter for example cannot equip melee weapons.
Each character also has numerous abilities or powers availible to them which can be allocated to the various buttons on the control pad. You will start with only one power but additional powers will be unlocked as you gain experience (any one from a choice of four powers can be attributed to each button) and each power can also unlock a variety of boosts (such as increasing its duration, power, penetration etc). Powers fall into the same broad catagories they always do in this genre, such as long range attack, area effect, or the ability to provide armour or a boost to your character.
Throughout your journeys you can recruit a number of different followers to assist you with each follower offering a variety of abilities or boosts and able to be equipped with weapons and items of their own.
There is also the facility to forge your own equipment from componants purchased from shops or obtained from weapons you have broken down, but for the most part I found this facility superfluous as the equipment i found or had availible for purchase was more than up to the task meaning I saw little point in wasting time trying to forge my own in a system that is as much trial and error as anything and will produce a load of stuff you cant use before it produces you something thats actually practical.
Graphically the game is smooth and attractive without ever breaking new ground, although I should add that the animations and cut scenes between chapters are beautiful. The sound meanwhile is distinctively Diablo, with many of the sound effects (such as that made when books are opened or coins collected) reminiscant of the earlier games. There isnt anything stand-out about the in game graphics or sound though and nothing that will blow you away or impress you to any real extent.
The story is pretty bog standard all in all, consisting of the usual world-threatening menace that can only be prevented by trawling various dungeons, villages, castles and fields for lost artifacts whilst fending off hordes of stupid low level beasts with the occasional sub-boss or big-boss who can only be defeated by identifying the set pattern they will repeatedly use to attack you and countering it effectively.
In short its a very, very repetitive game - and the truth of the matter is that its best enjoyed in short instalments due to the fact that its so repetitive and so massive that it can quickly become tedious, and playing as the same character type for any real length of time also leads to bordom and dissatisfaction with that character and creates an itch to start the game again with a different one.
In addition, whilst the game has a great deal of nostalgic value for fans of the series or the genre in general, its a very light-RPG experience that in this world of Skyrim and its massive amount of detail and endless options is difficult to view as anything other than superficial.
So overall its an entertaining, brainless pick-up-and-play piece of gaming thats charming inoffensiv and simple, but not dreadfully exciting, impressive, revolutionary or attention grabbing.