Diablo III Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Diablo III
Reviewed by
Edwin Millheim
Diablo III PC Preview. Though very linear in most respects and repetitive in its battle controls there are enough tweaks in this mostly the same game as Diablo II to make the experience oddly addictive.

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 8.0
Sound 8.0
Value 7.5
Review Date: May 2012
Edwin Millheim


PC & Download

Rejoice! Diablo III is here! Ok After staying up all night in the throes of adventure to get this write up done, I find the long development time was well spent indeed. Unfortunately Diablo III as with any release of such magnitude and someone’s brilliant idea to make even the single player experience a must be signed onto the Battle.net servers to play…things of course had a glitch and at least for a short time Blizzard had to scramble to get things up and running. I will say they have performed admirably under heavy stressful conditions, though I still shutter at the must always be able to log in to play your game you spent hard earned money on. Part of the grand strategy there one can speculate is that Blizzard will eventually make more money this way. Perhaps they are getting a cut from the auction house that has been implemented and eventually will be able to use real money.

So before I get into the main review and my thoughts on the game, let me go over into a true life horror story for our Australian readers, and how Blizzard came in as a white knight to sets things right, even though it was not their responsibility…they took care of their fans.

Australian customers where pretty much slapped in the face with an unpleasant surprise, if they pre ordered the game from the sales company GAME. GAME is a major electronic entertainment retailer in the territory. GAME had announced that not only had they had to go into administration (which is like bankruptcy in the United States.) but they won’t be carrying copies of Diablo III. PLUS the real shock to the system, if you pre ordered with GAME, they could not do a refund.

Blizzard stepped in and offered to give the consumers that had pre ordered with GAME a free digital copy of Diablo III via the Blizzard Store. Purchase the game through the Diablo III website, and then submit a GAME Australia receipt by June 30, proving that they paid down their pre-order before May 15. Blizzard will then issue a credit for the amount paid to GAME Australia. So good on you Blizzard!

Now let’s get to the game shall we? I have played the game for several days now, and toyed with several options in the game. Letting the initial annoyance of down time of the servers for the time it was down and the whole held hostage feeling of having to be signed on to Battle.net to even play the single player experience leave me before writing up my thoughts on this game.

Diablo III development is said to have started back in 2001, and not announced till 2008. So it has had what some may consider some huge development time. It shows it, with both single player and multiplayer blurring the lines of the experience. Interaction with friends and fellow adventurers can be shared in game and through message boards and the auction house.

The game adventure for Diablo III takes place in a place called Sanctuary. It’s been many years since un-known heroes quested to defeat the dark forces and save the realms. It all seems to start with a falling star, or at least that’s what it looked like at first. Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be a humanoid being, which has lost their memory and also a sword that was shattered into three parts. Can the addle brained stranger and this sword hold the key to defeating the dark forces that once again rise to cause havoc on the lands? Well gee; you will have to play the game to find that out. I am only here to review the game; I can say that the game was well worth the wait, and the controversy that hangs over it.

Character classes this time around are a lot more even when it comes to the sex of the character. Before in Diablo and Diablo II, you would have been stuck with whatever sex that character class happened to be in the games. This time around you can not only choose the character class, but whether they are male or female. This alone is a welcome thing indeed. Blizzard did not just port over all the classes, this time around there is a mix of character classes, some new ones that can be considered a consolidation or dual classed. The game does not call them dual classed, but any old school gamer will give a knowing nod. So here is how the character classes break down. Most of the characters that use any kind of magic has these magical abilities powered by Mana, which is depleted with each casting. Most spells need what’s called a cool off period before that spell can be cast again.
One of the new ones and most interesting ones is The Witch Doctor. With some skills that may remind some of the Necromancer class in some ways. Dealing with magic that can cast curses, summon zombies and use poisons and explosive magic, The Witch Doctor is no slouch in a fight. Though there is some talk that if there are any expansions that the Necromancer class may make an appearance.

Blizzard had reported that this next class. The Barbarian was one of the most widely used by players. So it’s no wonder this walking tank of fighters is present in the game. With skills in battle that can cut a swath through most crowds of enemy, The Barbarian is a ferocious fighter. With skills such as ground stomp, leaping and coming down to crush enemy, cleave and rend and other powerful barbaric moves this fighter class has it all covered. Barbarians use Fury which is generated when enemy attack, or attacking enemy. Fury depletes over time much like Mana for lack of better terms.

The Demon Hunter is a mix of the Assassin and Amazon classes from Diablo II. With wicked skills with a crossbow, they supplement their attack abilities with explosives. With a mix of hatred and discipline fueling their abilities The Demon Hinter is an interesting character class. Discipline is used for defensive abilities and spells and is slow to regenerate. Hatred is used for offensive abilities and spells and is fast regenerating.

Then there is The Monk. A fighter that uses melee attacks with her or his special brand of martial skills to put the beat down on the enemy. They can resist damage, have explosive concentrated blows, and deflect incoming projectile weapons, kind of an amalgamation of the other games Paladin and an Assassin. The Monk’s abilities are fueled by fighting spirit, which they generate appropriately by fighting.
The Wizard is a new mix of the Sorcerer and Sorceress from the older games from the franchise. The wizard class can do all the ultra-cool spells that are from the tons of story books and film we all grew up with. From electrifyingly devastating lighting attacks, to fire and ice based attacks and the nifty teleportation abilities in the middle of a fight make The Wizard a crafty spell smith of the arcane arts. It’s like the magic of David Copperfield really ticked off.

Game play is once again the tried and true point and click kind of movement of which your hero follows towards the last place you clicked on screen. Combat can be achieved simply enough by clicking over an enemy target. Using just the click method for attack you can soon find your character wading forward, not good if you want to try to keep it to ranged attacks. So just hold down the SHIFT key while attacking and you can keep it ranged. Further in the game as you go, there are chances to use the environment to cause damage and stun enemy. Dropping things on them, or knock a stall of burning embers on them. The destructible and using the environments in the attacks are a cool thing used to much advantage on many a dungeon crawl during this review process.

Like most other dungeon crawlers of the same ilk, your character levels up as the game progresses. Gaining skill points as you go. The leveling and skill systems have been narrowed down considerably, some may argue to the point of lack of full customizability. Each class unlocks only a small number and same exact type of skills as they progress. The skills are individualistic per that certain class, but it all comes down to less customization. Eventually as the character levels up and has access to all the abilities of that class, during combat you can change what skill or spell you are using on the fly. Diablo III is less complex than its previous incarnations of the franchise. The spells and abilities can be enhanced by the use of Skill Runes, (Also unlocked as the character progresses) these also can be swapped out and placed on a spell/skill to enhance the effect or benefit in some way.

Playing the single player experience, gamers do not have to go it alone. There are Followers that, well… follow you during your adventure. Happily enough they seem for the most part simplistically competent. The main strategy for the Followers is attempt to kill anything that is a threat.

You can choose skills for them that affect their behavior in combat. Followers that are not chosen for your quest remain in camp waiting for you. Players can head back to town or camp and swap out one Follower for another. As your characters grown in strength and experience, so too does The Followers, they unlock skills every five levels. For best results in combat do not forget to give them the benefit of good equipment. After all it only helps you on your quest to equip them out to best effect against whatever forces you are fighting.

Another NPC style character that your character can invest in to gain better swag is The Artisans. By giving them gold to train up and gain new higher levels of Artisan skills, they are able to create higher grade weapons, armor and other items for you.

Then of course there are the multiplayer experiences in Diablo III, Donna and I met and eventually got married thanks to gaming and in fact in a game very much like this one 25 years ago. So multiplayer is a blast. Single player is fun enough, but there is just something about fighting through the dark unforgiving places with friends and family that just makes it even more fun.

The multiplayer community is further enhanced with community message boards and other interactive points for a community feel to the game. Such as the auction house, at this time bidding and purchases for items is only using in game gold. There are plans for use of real currency eventually for purchasing, of which the company gets a cut from sales and also cash out fee. (Pimp much?) Though how secure that is going to be is anyone’s guess, as some of the gaming community’s confidence in Battle.net and Blizzard has been shaken with alleged Battle.net account hacks. Some players have been reporting that they are kicked out of the game, sign back in and find that all of their characters items are gone. Gold, weapons, clothing armor, everything. If these reports are true it begs to question, how safe is your real money, when your virtual items are taken so easily? Again, it is unknown if this is a wide spread thing, or some have alleged that it may be protests and not as many if any hacks as reported. Just like some sites like metacritic got a large amount of user reviews with very low scores to protest the servers being down and the always online, in even single player.

Blizzard does take things like this very seriously and are at this time investigating further on how these have been happening. I know one thing, I have never had a Battle.net account for several years, and yet for years I would every month get some obviously fake email allegedly from Blizzard and Battle.net about issues with my account and to click on the link to go to my account. The point here is twofold. I know the spoof and phishing emails happen, I did not even have an account but I was getting the fake emails anyway. While at this time as noted Blizzard is investigating, to see how these alleged hacks have happened… do not make it easier for hackers by clicking blindly on email links. I know so many gamers are more computer savvy than that, so if these reports are true it will be interesting to see IF Blizzard reports how it happened and also how soon they can do something about it.

Game sounds and music are thumping enough and lend well to the atmosphere. With a surround sound system players are going to find the sounds of battle ringing load and clear. Graphics are dark and foreboding, with depth to the world, including multi-tiered dungeons.

As you game through this one, it is soon evident that leveling up is the name of the game. Leveling up means more powerful character and in turn, maybe an easier time against larger bosses. This is when Donna’s style of play comes in handy. Exploring every possible point on a level and area she possibly can. Picking up items, gaining experience, clearing a dungeon out, spreads out the gaming experience and may end up finding out a few things you would not have by just fighting from A to B without checking out all there is to offer in a level. With the games enhanced quest system which does random level generating and encounters along with many of the static levels, it makes some of the game become more interesting to explore even further.

Though very linear in most respects and repetitive in its battle controls there are enough tweaks in this mostly the same game as Diablo II to make the experience oddly addictive. Even with the bitter taste of having the single player experience being a hostage to always being online to play Diablo III, it is a fun experience. Diablo III Is a solid sword and sorcery dungeon crawling adventure. Just click here and attack….how simple and fun.

Have fun, play games
Edwin Millheim

BUY Diablo III here!


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