On Monday May 14th, I waited in a long line outside of my local GameStop for the release of a game that my  fiancée was determined to pay off the weekend before. Diablo III, one of the most anticipated PC video games to be released from Blizzard Entertainment, was finally here after 12 long years. I personally had fond memories of Diablo I & II because I watched my Uncle play it when I was young. It really made me nostalgic for the 90’s. I never played Diablo myself until about two weeks ago, when I bought and started Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. When tackling an iconic and complex game like the Diablo series, you have to look at its past to truly define the strides it has made to differentiate itself from the preceding title.

The comparisons between Diablo III and II showcase Blizzard Entertainment’s care and attention to detail, that went into planning Diablo III. The obvious changes made to the game include: the visual graphics update, retooling of the skill bar system, diversity of character selection, and much more that gives little to complain about. Yet complain we will , there were certain aspects of the game that were not enjoyable, but did showcase how the company managed in a semi-crisis situation.

So me and the C.C Bros. tackled the game non-stop for a week, I from the past and they from the present, to show how Diablo III stands up against the scrutiny of loyal fans and newcomers to the series.

Diablo III’s storyline continues where Diablo II left off. The war between Heaven and Hell rages on, and the fate of humanity falls into the hands of the player. The story, and cut scenes follow Deckard Cain, and his niece Leah. While you may not see your chosen character involved in the cut scenes, Leah and her interaction with others is central to the stories plot just as Deckard Cain was in the previous games.  The player may choose to play as one of five different hero types; the Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Witch Doctor or Monk. Every hero follows the same storyline, but their interaction with other characters changes due to their unique personality as part of their class and back story. The fact that each class type, male or female, narrates their own journey gives each class a flare and personality that wasn’t seen in previous games.

Another change that the online gaming community has been waiting for since the release of the expansion set for Diablo II, is a graphics update. The art and graphics went from flat images on a moving background to three dimensional images in a three dimensional environment. Also, the cut-scenes between major plot points from Act I and onward is up to par with what’s been seen in Square Enix and other game company’s, that is visually stunning. Of course characters are still viewed from a third-person, top-view camera perspective, but they are easier to distinguish from enemies and onscreen objects. The animations for character and enemy abilities continue to be a visual feast for the eyes. The blizzard team has consistently produced detailed graphics and does not disappoint especially with the wealth of armor styles, weapon types, enemy variations and a multitude of set pieces that cause every scene to be a visual explosion.

Now Diablo II introduced a crafting and equipment customization system that kept people playing all the way to the present day, but  Diablo III takes it to a whole new-level and makes the previous customization look like a 5th grade rough draft paper. Players who like to customize and retool their equipment for maximum damage output have a tool set in Diablo III that should keep them busy for the next ten years tricking out their weapons. The tool bar in Diablo III is set up reminiscent of what one would find in any modern day Massive Multiplayer Online game. Buttons and hot keys are displayed along the bottom of the players screen and are affected by the way you play.

Also another key change that makes me very very happy is the ‘loot management system’, it may sound weird, but I disliked the ‘loot system’ for Diablo II. At a certain point in gaming, you had too many items for the amount of space you were given. It makes you feel like a hoarder.  Thankfully, the guilt is expelled in Diablo III, more inventory space can be opened with in-game gold, and you can unlock three pages worth of loot. Plus, if you have another character you can save certain items in your ‘loot system’ and it transfers between games. That means that if you find a certain item while playing as a ‘Witch Doctor’, but it can be used by your ‘Demon Hunter’ you can just place it in the inventory, save the game, and then wham-bam you can equip it to your ‘Demon Hunter’.

OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Error 37. With the addition of mandatory online play, that has players using Blizzard servers during solo play, it has lead to ridiculous lag problems. Not only that, but when the server went online at 12 a.m., or for me at 2 a.m., millions of gamers were met with what would be jokingly referred to as “Error 37: Diablo’s Last Stand”. The lag with the mandatory online-gaming made it difficult for our first 3 days into gaming very difficult. I don’t enjoy the difference between playing on your own computer, and playing connected to a server. I’ll get used to it, but the lag due to playing with an online server has been one of those bittersweet changes. It is a very good thing that Blizzard delayed the release of the PvP, and so far the patch is rumored to be released a month or so after the games release.

Long story short the game gets 5 Tacos (out of 5), and so far we’ve gotten to ACT III out of V. It is a good game to buy if you have the time to spare this summer, and if you feel like too much of a noob you can pick up the strategy guide at any local book/video game store. Thanks,once again, goes out to the C.C Bros. (Cagle & Carroll) for help with getting through the game and providing valuable insight and help with the article.

Category: Featured, reviews, Videogames

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