Diablo 3 Review: A must buy for hardcore fans(?), but for casual players that is up for discussion!
Now before I start the review I want to say some things. As I previously have stated in other reviews, I am not a big fan of RPG games. Also I haven't played the PC version of Diablo 3 so I cannot make a comparison between the two versions. I am going to talk about the game, what I liked and what I didn't and in the end I will give it a score. Now this score or better this review comes from someone who is not a hardcore Diablo or RPG of this like games, but from a casual gamer that was given a copy of Diablo 3 for PS3 for review. Long story short, I am a "noob" when it comes to Diablo. So if you are a hardcore Diablo player, please don't bash what I am about to say in the comments. Thank you, now onto the review!
Diablo III is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the third installment in the series that first came out for PC on May 2012, but it also came on consoles like two weeks ago, September 3rd. As I said, I didn't play the PC version of Diablo 3. The only Diablo game I have ever played on a PC is the first one back in 1998. Yep my older brother got it and we started playing it. I was, like 5 years old at the time, and I remember being really really scared while playing or watching the game. I remember a level that we couldn't beat, a level set in some catacombs where we had to kill the Butcher. I remember spending hours upon hours trying to beat him, but we just couldn't so we stopped playing it and uninstalled the game. Now what I want to say with this little story is that once Diablo was a very dark, scary, tense and super difficult game, all things that I didn't really see in Diablo 3 (apart the last one).
In terms of story, I don't really know what happened on Diablo 2, how it ended so I am going to quote what is written inside the box art of Diablo 3. It goes like this: "Twenty years have passed since the Prime Evils were defeated and banished from the world of Sanctuary. Now, you must return to where it all began - the town of Tristram - and investigate rumors of a fallen star, for this is an omen that the End of Times have begun". So there it is, a little background story of what happened and a prediction of what will happen in the future. Now to say the truth the story of Diablo 3 or its premise is very cool. Heaven and hell, demons vs angels, an epic war, the end of times etc. it all sounds amazing and total badass, but how it is delivered or presented to the player suck for the most part. There are four acts total in the game and between them, there are these fantastic CG cut-scenes.
Now what I am going to say might not make any sense (cause I may be totally wrong), but this is what I "understood" while watching the cut-scenes. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts regarding an ominous prophecy. A mysterious star falling from the sky strikes the Cathedral, creating a deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears. We or our chosen hero, arrives in the town of New Tristram to investigate the falling star which struck the cathedral, which is now emanating risen dead; the same cathedral that was the setting of Diablo. We accompany Leah to the cathedral and after mowing down a million creatures we manage to rescue Cain. Then we learn about the fallen star and we find out that it wasn't actually a star per se, but a fallen angel who choose to become a mortal in order to offer humanity a chance of survival...maybe? I don't know, it was very confusing and as I said, how it's delivered sucks. The CG cut-scenes were cool and I kinda know what is happening in the big picture, but the little details and the most important ones of why, how, when are delivered during in-game dialogue which is totally undermined by the OST and sound effects that are being played in the background. They are so loud that you can barely understand what the characters are saying. Also the minuscule text box that appears above a character's head is useless most of the time.
So, without spoiling anything, somehow after a few interesting twists and turns in the story, Diablo is resurrected and heads to heaven with the desire to bring it down. There he fights with the archangel(?) Imperius and totally trashes him. And as in every video game, you as the "hero" are tasked of kicking Diablo's ass out of Heaven and restoring peace and order to the world. I am going to say it again, the premise of the story is fricking cool and the cut-scenes are fantastic to look at, but the delivery sucks. I was really expecting the clash against Diablo to be something of epic proportions, I mean he whooped the archangel's(?) ass in an instant, but he didn't stand a chance against my lvl 29 skinny crossbow dude. Lame...
But enough about the story, since I feel it isn't the main reason why people play Diablo, let's talk about the gameplay and if it works on consoles. For years people thought that a game like Diablo, mainly a PC game with a mouse and keyboard as the only inputs, could never work on consoles. But they were proven wrong when a game very similar to Diablo, both premise and controls, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing came to Xbox 360 and it worked like a charm. I have played TIAoVH on PC, so I know how Diablo 3 controls on PC point and click and all of that. Well, I have to say that I am glad I played the console port (haters gonna hate). It works perfectly using a controller. You now have direct control over your character meaning that you control his movement with the left analog stick. The right analog stick is utilized for an evade roll much like the one in God of War. As I said I haven't played the PC version, but I felt that the direct control over your character and the evade roll made the game more personal and more fun to play.
Attacking, using potions and magic/skills is mapped to all of the other buttons. Each button is a skill/magic/attack and the best part is that you can totally customize which is which. That gives you freedom to do what you want and play as you want. Slaying down hordes of monsters earns you experience. Earn enough exp and you level up.
Leveling up increases your stats and unlocks new active and passive skills. After the skill is unlocked, with each level up you unlock new runes that modify the existing skill. And the best part of this system is that you can change the skills and runes at anytime without paying anything. So you want slowing shots followed by a barrage of exploding shots mixed with poison? You can have that and a virtually limitless number of cool combinations like that. For my first playthrough on medium difficulty, I choose the Demon Hunter which uses crossbows as the main weapon and can also throw small bombs at enemies, set up traps, place turrets or summon creatures to help on battle. It's a long range class and it is one out of the five available on the game. The other classes are: The Witch Doctor (long range), The Barbarian (close range), The Wizard (long range) and The Monk (close range). Each character is unique, in looks and feels, weapons and equipment, skills and powers. And setting up or customizing your own character is very easy. For the console version they modified the UI to better suit the controller. I have seen in videos that the PC version has a drag&drop mechanic where you drag your equipment to their specific place and drop to equip it. In the console version they switched it for a convenient wheel which allows you to scroll around all of your available equipment slots and see what appropriate items in your inventory are available to use. It is fast, easy to understand and use and no mouse is needed.
You have a lot of ways to obliterate the countless enemies. Wave after wave you will mow down demons, spiders, zombies etc. With each kill you earn XP, gold and sometimes health orbs. But let's address to the elephant in the room, LOOT. Yep, Diablo and all Diablo like games have always been about getting the best loot possible and Diablo 3 is no exception to that. The thrill of that unidentified object is super satisfying and that is the main force that will drive you to explore every inch of Diablo 3 levels. Chests, bone piles, dirt piles, barrels etc. might contain a legendary item that will serve you and transform your character into a total badass.
As I said, I was only level 29 when I whooped Diablo's ass, but I was rocking a legendary item in every possible place. Legendary weapon and secondary, armor, shoulders, bracers, amulet, rings, pants; nothing could stop me. But this kinda "ruined" the game for me in a way. By, lets say, half way in the game, I had in almost every slot a legendary item. I also found a perfect combination for my skill set which I really liked and made my character an unstoppable force of nature. So the problem was that, I didn't feel the need to experiment much with my items and skills and that made the game very repetitive and very very boring. Now, as I said, I am not a big fan of RPGs and Diablo games, so I can be totally wrong, but I guess that if you are reading this review this late you are probably like me, a casual player who just stumbled on a Diablo 3 copy. To me it became very old very quickly! Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed slaying and mowing down enemies till half way in the story, but then the fun stopped and it turned into more of a boring chore... Sure I guess if I start replaying the game again with a different character in the hardest difficulty, I might enjoy it even more and dive even deeper into the item stats and skills, but, frankly, after finishing it once, I don't want to play it again, at least for a while.
Maybe after a few months I will return to Diablo 3 and maybe I will get some friends to get it and play with me online, but right now no one, at least on my PSN friends list, isn't playing Diablo 3 (I think we all know what everyone is playing right now!). I will say it, playing online with up to three other players was fun, but it had a also a problem. If players join your game or if you join theirs, the difficulty increases, meaning that the enemies will be a little stronger and have more HP, but you get bonus gold and EXP for your effort. This is the cool and fun part, but playing with total strangers who might have finished the game a gazillion times and have seen every possible bit of dialogue, will skip everything to get right into combat. That for someone who is playing the story for the first time can ruin the experience and I was that guy. Once I started talking to Leah or Tyrael, the other players started skipping it. That is wrong and it forced me to play offline for the rest of the game. But you can also play LAN, couch co-op, and that is cooler than playing with strangers, but it also had its problems. The camera is pretty much fixed and for you to move forward, the other player(s) should follow you along. If they don't move you can't progress through...that is annoying. Also if someone would want to change equipment or skills, the game pauses for everyone...that is also annoying. I know that this might not be a problem since, I imagine, there is not other possible way to do it, but I felt I should point it out. There is a way to "eliminate" these problems and that is by playing solo with a follower following you. During the story you will find and rescue different characters with different skills, which you can "hire" to come along in your adventures. You can customize them, giving them better armor, weapons, skills etc. I fully decked out The Templar with the best equipment and he became a total badass...fun.
What else... oh yeah Auction House is not present in the console version. Some people liked it, some thought it ruined the game, I don't have an opinion around it. I would have loved for it to be present in the console version, so I could sell some of my legendary items so real money, but whatever...
Now presentation wise, the game looks really good? If you compare it to the PC version, I don't know it may look like crap, but I really liked what I saw. The textures might have been a little better, but overall it looked great. The artstyle is amazing, the environments, the monsters and demons, the playable characters, the equipments, the animations everything looked great. Remember the cut-scenes I was talking about? Well, they are possibly the best CG cut-scenes ever in a video game...stunning. The music, soundtrack and VA are amazing too. All of the elements plus the amazing steady as hell frame rate, immerse you and make you part of this amazing universe.
So bottom line, if you are a hardcore Diablo fan, this game or better, this console version is for you. It has everything the PC offers, the controls are more streamlined, the UI is easy to use and it's fun to play solo or online. But if you are reading this review right now, I guess you are much of a fan of Diablo or the genre, you are like me. A casual player with some money on his/her pocket and you want to buy a PS3 or Xbox 360 game. Well, this is not for you. The story will not make any sense, it will get repetitive really fast and that, by today's standarts, is not that much fun. So before I give it a score know that for hardcore fans this might is a plus (or minus if you are disappointed for an apparent reason) one, but for the casual player this is the true score(?). Buy at your own risk!
Thanks for reading!
Diablo 3 was reviewed on a PS3 using a review copy provided by Activision Blizzard. Diablo 3 is now available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.