The PC version of Diablo 3 was released all the way back in May this year, and now finally the console version has made its appearance. In the game, you once again take on the Lords of Hell in an effort to bring some measure of peace to the world. I don my adventuring gear, take up my sword, my bow, and MY AXE to see what it took to slay evil once and for all.
I never got a chance to play the PC version of the game, so I’m afraid we can’t play “compare the pixels” in this review. However, we’ll pick it up from the point of view of someone who’s not played a Diablo game before (my last outing with Diablo was the first game way back in 1997), so let’s see what the game holds for us.
In Diablo 3, you take the role of a hero whose sole aim in life seems to be keeping the peace killing zombies, and in this way, your character finds their way into the town of New Tristram. A young lady called Leah asks you to head into a massive crater left by a meteor, and help rescue her adoptive father, Deckard Cain. After doing so, it soon becomes apparent that the reason for the recent upheaval in the world is, to nobody’s big surprise, due to the imminent arrival to the world of a couple of demon lords: Belial, Lord of Lies, and Asmodan, Lord of Sin. Naturally, the very heavens are in danger, and it’s up to your hero to put those things back where they came from. It’s fairly epic as far as plots go, and if you’ve not been following the prior games, you will feel a little lost, but nothing that a quick session on Wikipedia won’t fix.
The game itself is an “action role playing adventure”, although you might more closely call it a “dungeon crawling hack n’ slash”. You can select from one of five character classes to adventure as: a barbarian, a witch doctor, a monk, a demon hunter (read: rogue), or a wizard. As per prior games, the entire landscape is generated anew every time you start a new game, so replayability is high. As with many of these dungeon crawl games, the fun is to be had in co-op multipayer, going head-to-head with hell’s finest with a small party of faithful companions. If you’re playing alone, you’ll find the occasional AI companion to play with to alleviate the feelings of “just you vs hell”, but as good as the AI can be, it doesn’t stand against another human player. If you prefer to play against other players instead of with them, then you’ll be happy to know that the PvP area that was added as a patch to the PC version exists in the console version by default.
While the PC version used the mouse to control the character, it ultimately feels more satisfying to use a controller, and I speak from some measure of experience here. I’ve played Torchlight and its sequel, both games similar to Diablo in that they’re isometric dungeon crawlers. While great fun, I feel that the console controller makes a far superior experience. The inventory system has also been retooled to make better use of the controller, and the feel is both simple and intuitive.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. Blizzard built their own custom game engine for Diablo 3 and the effects here are extremely pretty. The cutscenes too, are the kinds of graphics that give Square Enix a run for their money, they’re that good. The dark mood of the game, however, is juxtaposed by the strangely witty conversations between the characters. I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. It reminded me a lot of some of the conversations between the characters in Dragon Age.
As a single player experience, it’s a great game, but the troubles start coming through during multiplayer. The biggest issue is that a single button controls both primary attack, open chests, pick up stuff, talk to people, bypass conversations, open doors, drink from a healing well, and indeed, any action that isn’t bound to any of the other buttons. All fine a well during a nice, bloodily messy fight, but the second one person wants to stop and talk to someone, and the other wants to put stuff in a chest, then both actions happen at once with a single button press. Or if you want to break something near a transition between two areas, odds are you’ll go through the doorway or portal instead of breaking whatever it was you wanted to break. It’s a minor issue, but it does make for minor frustrations to be sure.
Another strange problem occurs when you have two characters of vastly different levels in the same game. The game tends to throw a bizarre mix of monsters at the party, meaning that you essentially have to try to figure out which monsters are for you and which are for the other person, be they higher or lower in rank.
Overall, however, Diablo 3 is a heck of a lot of fun on console, and seemingly unplagued by the problems that people ran into on the PC version. From what I heard about the PC version of the game, I’m going to say that the console version offers a superior, less frustrating experience. Plus there’s the added bonus of easy to set-up local multiplayer. I’d say that if you haven’t yet gotten Diablo 3, now’s DEFINITELY the time to get your hands dirty and slay some demons.
Final Score: 8.5 demon-slaying prawns out of 10
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PS3 (Reviewed), XBox360
Age Rating: 15