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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Highly-anticipated “Diablo III” is a hell of a game

    Courtesy of IGN
    Courtesy of IGN

    The Prime Evils of hell stir once more, and another hero must rise up from obscurity to become the savior mankind needs. No pressure, though, you’re just the only thing between the apocalypse and the future of humanity. That’s a pretty standard game plot, but none pull it off quite as convincingly as Blizzard Entertainment’s highly-anticipated “Diablo III.”

    That’s the most striking thing about the game – how overwhelming the forces of hell are, and just how much of an uphill battle it is to defeat them. Every area of the game is just teeming with enemies, and you’ll run into a lot of them — unless your luck is impeccable thanks to the game’s randomizing map generation. Nothing is in exactly the same place twice, incorporating new content with each new exploration.

    While that can be frustrating when you just want to get to the next quest, it helps that each location is unique and beautifully designed. Whether it’s the ancient cemetery of New Tristram or the mouth of hell itself, everything really stands out. What’s more, the cinematics are visually eye-popping and bad ass at the same time.

    The gameplay is a blast, which is also a plus. On the surface, it seems like simple mouse-clicking with a few buttons thrown in. Underneath though, the dynamics are extremely complex.

    Of the five diverse classes, each has at least six different skill slots to fill with one of three or four abilities. Of those abilities, each one has a multitude of “runes,” which are used to add different effects and customize the attacks themselves. On top of that, there are passive abilities and thousands of pieces of equipment, each with different statistics. Basically, what that means is the characters are highly customizable.

    Unfortunately, there is another side to the coin. As with any statistic-based video game, there are optimizations, and when those optimizations hit the Internet, everyone has the same cookie-cutter build. Some strive to be different, but many are content to stay at status quo. Thankfully, since the game can be played in a vacuum, the range of people willing to experiment and just have fun with it is much wider. There’s much less power-playing.

    Story-wise, things are pretty solid. “Diablo III” brings back some familiar faces and has a very likable new protagonist in Leah. It’s hard not to find the plot a little straightforward, at least on a grand scale. The lords of hell want to destroy mankind and the heavens — shocker, right? But the journey there is pretty unique. There are lots of old artifacts and objects of ancient power there to help you along the way.

    Where things tend to falter, sadly, is when the Prime Evils themselves come into play. The three that make appearances in the game, Belial, Azmodan and the titular Diablo, all get the short stick and are much less interesting than their underlings.

    The problems? Belial, the Lord of Lies, is utterly transparent, with schemes so easy to see through anyone can do so — except the characters in the game itself, which is immensely frustrating. Then there’s the ultimate war strategist, Azmodan, whose master plan is to throw a lot of demons at you, use artillery and reveal almost his entire plan under the thin veil of psychological intimidation. It’s not as bad as Belial’s problem, but it’s unfortunate that both of them were so straightforward.

    Diablo’s case is a bit different, as his character and motivation are great. It’s just that the final fight is a bit lacking. For someone who absorbed six other evil beings as powerful as himself, he’s no more difficult or exciting as any other boss fight.

    These issues aren’t game-breakers, however, as gameplay comes first: that’s Blizzard’s philosophy.

    It decided to include an auction house for the items players find, which is a good way for players to find the exact gear they need instead of having to grind endlessly for hours on end.

    While most items are bought with in-game gold, players can also use real money. And yes, that does mean that the players who put the items up for real money get to keep what they sell. It’s much harder to make big bucks than it sounds, but a few dollars here and there doesn’t hurt either.

    There’s only one thing left to talk about, and unfortunately it’s quite an infuriating one. Blizzard, in an attempt to keep their game from being pirated and to keep cheaters in check, required a constant Internet connection to play “Diablo III.”

    That doesn’t sound bad, at first, but think about how easy it is to lose a connection during a high-traffic game like “Diablo III.” If the servers are overloaded, too bad, you’re kicked from the game. If your Internet drops for a second, you’re kicked from the game. Again, that doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize that the game only saves at certain, semi-frequent checkpoints.

    When combined with the fact that the game generates a new map every time it loads, 10 minutes of searching for the next destination can be completely pointless if you’re kicked from the game, because next time you load it up, everywhere you searched was pointless. Imagine that happening five times in a row.

    Even that doesn’t break the game, but it definitely adds an annoyance factor. If there was one thing I could change about the game it would be the constant Internet connection. Otherwise, “Diablo III” is a must-buy, and will probably be the best game released this summer.

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