Review by Rampart77
"The $64 question..."
...is Diablo 3 worth the price of admission?
The long awaited sequel to Diablo 2, Blizzard finally released it behemoth to a very mixed reception. To begin with, I should point out that I am not that much of a fan of Diablo 2; it was an entertaining game, but it was very...grindy. You did the same thing over and over again in very ugly landscapes, often allocating skill and attribute points in a predetermined manner in order to create a certain type of character. In the first Diablo character class did make a difference, but any character could do just about anything, including learning magic. In Diablo 2 all of that was taken away as each character was pigeonholed into fulfilling a specific role, and the only magic they could learn to use was based on their class's unique skills. Simply put, this type of game has become outdated; if other games can offer you the freedom to make the character YOU WANT rather than some archetype that the developers think you should be using, then why hasn't Blizzard tried to do something similar?
This game fails to allow any meaningful customization of the characters that you play; sure, you can choose from a decently sized list of skills that you gain automatically when you level up, but you only have a total of 6 hotkeys (counting the left and right mouse buttons). You are also restricted as to what type of skills you can attach to these hotkeys unless you disable that feature in the game's options. So by default you are severely limited as to how you are even allowed to play the game with you character. Oh, and I almost forgot; you gain access to four of the hotkeys by leveling up. So that means that from the start of the game fully two thirds of the very limited number of hotkeys that are needed to use skills and abilities aren't even available to you. The speed with which you unlock said hotkeys is irrelevant; after a (very) few character levels you will always have more skills than ways to use them. This wouldn't be so bad if there was a way to quickly switch between "builds", but if there is a way to do so I haven't found it.
In Diablo 3 you are now able to enhance your skills by adding runes to them; these runes (unlocked as you level up) add special advantages to the skill they are attached to. It's a nice addition, to be sure, but in the end all it does is provide the illusion of customization while you are now even more limited in what you can do with your character.
None of this is new information; it's all out there on the web, and chances are that if you are reading this then you are already aware of these features. So rather than continuing to describe each new feature and explain why it isn't the bucket of awesome that Blizzard insists that it is, I'm going to summarize all of the changes right now:
All customization in this game is an illusion. You are given very few meaningful options and almost zero control over how your character develops. The only true variable is the gear you are equipped with. I'm sorry, but I don't play games just to grind for decent gear..so I can play on a harder difficulty and grind for better gear...so I can play on an even harder difficulty and find even better gear...see where this is going? Look, some people can switch off their brain and just cruise through a game like this and think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In some ways I envy those people, as I really wish that it didn't frustrate me that in every iteration of this series the depth and strategy of the game has been dumbed down, and now it's truly lobotomized. Development of Diablo 2 was done by people who were NOT affiliated with Blizzard North, the team who made the first Diablo, and I genuinely believe that as a result the game's design was flawed. Now we have Diablo 3, not even developed by the same team who did Diablo 2, and it is little more than a shadow of the other two games. Updated graphics, shiny new cutscenes, a boring story that plays out like mediocre fan fiction, zero meaningful character development, a character class ripped off from Torchlight (compare the demon hunter to the vanquisher, they even look similar), boring and repetitive game play, boss monsters imported from the first Diablo (running out of ideas guys?)...I could go on, but I won't.
The bottom line is that this game is a huge failure on many levels, but it's not completely worthless. Some people will enjoy this game, and I wish them well. If you are the kind of person who enjoys mindless and repetitive game play and killing the same bosses over and over again, hey, have fun and god bless. But if you are like me and expected some real progress in this series, if you expected something new and innovative...look elsewhere. Torchlight 2 should be here in a couple of months, and I hear that you can actually change your character's body type/face/whatever.
....Explain to me again why we couldn't do this in Diablo 3?
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/24/12
Game Release: Diablo III (US, 05/15/12)
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