Diablo III Review (PS3 and Xbox 360)
For 10 years, dungeon crawler fanatics have awaited the return of the lauded champion of the genre, Diablo. Their wait came to a glorious end in May of 2012. Though critically acclaimed and economically successful, fans of the series found the world they remembered from their youth radically changed. They saw just how much the face of gaming had evolved in the decade between dungeon crawls.
Yes, the PC version of Diablo III played well (after an unfair amount of patch updates). Yes, it looked great when run with a proper PC build. Yes, it was Diablo, BUT there were so many unwanted features attached to the successes (always online requirements, sparse legendary loot drops, the inclusion of a rather greedy online auction) that the latter quickly faded from view. As of September 3, 2013, gamers discovered an inalienable truth: Diablo was made for a console.
Truth be told, there has never been much to the Diablo story. Sure, the characters have names of biblical proportions and are rendered with that scope in mind, but the plot follows a template set down in the oldest of fairy tales. There is good and there is evil, and they shall forever struggle to defeat each other while our heroes get caught in the middle. Nothing truly revolutionary to be had there, but I believe that may be the point.
Diablo III is not a "one and done" game. It is meant to be play through numerous times. If the story was superb, and I was thoroughly wrapped up in it, I would leave it as it is for a good, long while.
One need not worry about intricate storytelling in Diablo III. This game is about slaying and looting on Normal difficulty, and then bumping it up as soon as your conquest is complete so as to reach the level cap with your chosen character. Diablo III is about perfecting all five classes, their respective play styles, and the massive skill sets that come with each. Diablo III is about the spectacle of slay, pure and simple.
There has been much poo-pooing about the console version of Diablo III in terms of its graphical display versus a high-end PC. I am continually amazed by this. Of course the gamer who built a $3,000 PC is going to be able to render a better resolution than you! Your console cost a few hundred dollars and was manufactured by the lowest bidder. One does not play a console for superior graphics, young padawan. One plays a console for intermediate graphics and superior control (that's right PC gamers, the keyboard and mouse are inferior).
That being said, I rather enjoy the artistic stylings of Diablo III. The team for Blizzard did such a fantastic job crafting the numerous environments in the game that the sub-par rendering capabilities of the current console generation are still able to brilliantly show the beauty of Sancutary, in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way (they still have those, right?).
In the end, the PC purist's ravings on dimmed-down console graphics should not stand in the way of someone experiencing the excellence that is Diablo III on console.
Though Diablo III is no Skyrim in terms of the depth and intricacy in which the audio plays into the whole, the sound work feels appropriate. The voice acting is more fun than it is talent, especially when the bravado voices are spouting one-liners directly from the cheesiest of action movies.
The best parts of the audio are not to be found in the soundtrack, but in effects generated by your character's skills. I sat down to quest with a friend on my second night with the game, and we spent far too much time marveling at the sounds of his Demon Hunter's crossbow. Each time he mowed down a horde of enemies with his rapid-fire skill, we were giggling like little boys who just discovered Nerf.
I also found the peripheral noises during dungeon crawls to be delightfully creepy. There is one high scream that happens on occasion that always catches my attention. For me, that is success.
Diablo III should fall prey to its own repetition, but it doesn't. I should feel bored after the numerous hours I have put in, but I don't. There is something sickeningly sweet about experimenting with the skills your chosen character possesses and then decimating entire hordes with said skill set.
The fact that there are five character classes and massively varying levels of difficulty, each with increasingly better loot, continues to drive me forward in Diablo III. I want my characters to walk through the game on Inferno, laughing while they bathe the grounds of Sanctuary with the innards of enemy hordes. Not only that, but I want my Barbarian to be the ultimate Barbarian, and I am not willing to accept that one of my friends may be more powerful.
It is in this light that Diablo III truly finds itself. I may be able to push myself through the campaign, but after playing with friends online and with my wife right next to me rockin' a Mage, the thought doesn't even cross my mind. Jumping into games is extremely easy, and playing with a group adds an adventurous feel to the game that just isn't present when alone. There is no better feeling then when you and a friend come up with a strategy to take down a horde and it comes off without a hitch. There are screams of exultation. There are tears shed. Ice cream cones for all involved!
I had zero expectations heading into Diablo III. After playing Borderlands 2 for far too long, I just didn't think I was up for more grind and loot. I was wrong. Diablo is back good people, and it has finally come home. Enjoy!