Review by zitro1987
"Among the most addictive videogames I've played."
Diablo II: LOD is the masterpiece of simple RPG gaming.
Despite it having countless different weapons, items, skills, etc, I consider this a simple game due to the very easy learning curve and fast-paced playing, as opposed to slower, more complicated/strategic RPGs like the famous Baldur's Gate or other Dungeon and Dragons inspired video games.
Following the previous game, the character who defeated the superior demon (Diablo) grabbed the slain monster's soul stone and impaled himself on the forehead with it. This character has been affected by this stone and pretty much transformed into Diablo once again, stronger than ever. You not only have to face him, but also his brothers of evil: Mephisto and Baal.
The story is rather simple, but I gave a high score because not only is this game supposed to focus on gameplay, but also how much you can interact and learn from the townspeople. I really enjoyed interacting with them and loved seeing the occasional movie that gives you updates on what's happening within the game.
Gameplay is pretty fantastic. They really outdid themselves here. You have seven different characters to choose from, each very different from each other, giving you a different style of gameplay. Barbarian is generally brute force combined with high resistance, Paladin is not as strong but you can switch around enchantments to boost you in a particular way, Assassin is a complex character but mostly focuses on short-range combat, Amazon is a long-range fighter with bows/javalins. Sorceress is the vurnerable, but very powerful mage-caster. Necromancer is another vurnerable character that casts magic, curses, and summons creatures to do the dirty work. Finally, Druid combines the brute force and durability of the Barbarian, summoning of Necromancer, and magic powers of the sorceress.
Once you choose one, you're in a town where you can buy and sell many kinds of items, including potions (which are quite cheap), scrolls to teleport to your town instantly, among other things. You go outside and fight random monsters (some have different colors and are much stronger), earning experience and money. When you gain enough experience, you can improve the statistics of your character in the way you want, and either add or improve a skill. This is the most strategic element of the game as you are responsible on making a fearsome character. Without good strategy, he/she might end up often.
Talking about dying, once you die, you return on the town with no money on your pockets and no equipment. You have to run and find your body, facing the enemies that killed you, in order to get the equipment. This is a unique and fun idea and you cannot load the game, so be careful when you buy an expensive item.
When playing, you have some quests with nice rewards, some involving difficult fights. The end of the episode always deals with a boss. They can be quite entertaining and challenging fights, especially episodes 2, 4, and 5.
The beginning of the game is probably the most rewarding as you change equipment often, level up quickly and start develop your character from nothingness to a formidable warrior in a couple of hours. Later in the game, it becomes a bit more challenging and you reach the episode where you fight Diablo which can be difficult if your character is not properly developed. Not only is Diablo a very tough boss, but the monsters in the later stages of that episode are very dangerous. Episode 5 has fluctuating difficulty, but the later stages are quite difficult as well, even though the final boss can be easily defeated with some characters.
When you win, you can play the game again with your character. All monsters are much stronger and you get stronger items as well: it is like having episodes after the fifth. While you don't develop your character as quickly in the 2nd game, the challenge shows itself and you can have a great time. Unfortunately, the 3rd try becomes way too difficult and the monsters are too hard to kill, slowing down the pace and being less enjoyable. I beat it with a perfectly-developed Sorceress, but barely tried with the Barbarian.
Compared to Diablo II, this version has a complete new episode, 2 new interesting characters, various new items and weapons, many different kinds of items, 800X600 resolution, stronger side-kicks, and many new features.
Despite how perfect the game seems, I can't give its gameplay a 10 because it seems to lack a "satisfaction" when you beat it. This may be due to the simplicity and the lack of brains when playing, as it's simple and involves clicking with a mouse and healing with the keyboard.
Difficulty: Moderately easy - Moderately hard - Extremely hard: The difficulty depends on how far in the game you are. The first time you beat it with your new character, it's not too difficult. It becomes harder in the 2nd game, and is too hard for my enjoyment in the 3rd.
Balance/Statistics: (8.5/10): The characters generally seem quite balanced throughout most of the game. There is the minor issue that some skills are not very effective or even rather useless. While it is a shame, you can ignore them and focus on the skills that work. The power of the items based on how far you are into the game, the value of items, and the difficulty curve seem to have been carefully planned.
What is unbalanced is when you play the game for the third time. Your characters that focus on physical damage are seriously disadvantaged as all monsters become 50% resistant to physical damage and their damage potential don't grow as quickly as the mages. The sorceress, as the character with most damaging spells, seems to be the easiest to play with if you learn to get out of harm's way (she's so weak and the game is so hard that it's possible that she may die in 2 hits, sometimes even 1!).
While the 800X600 resolution was sorely needed in the original Diablo II, the graphics are not that special: they are not even three-dimensional. However, this helps make the game playable in second-rate computers. In addition, while the quality of the graphics aren't great, they made sure to work with the limitations well and create a cool atmosphere in each world. Sadly, hell is not done well and you might find the flames straining your vision.
This game, just like its predecessor, had very superior audio to its competitors. The sound of battle is intense and dynamic, the sound of the environments are very realistic, the voice acting is generally excellent, and the music is a highlight in videogame music. I personally prefer the music of the Original Diablo a bit, but the music still works extremely well in Diablo II. Even better, the "Tristam Song" appears briefly in one stage of the game. This is probably the best videogame song I have ever heard: a calm yet unsettling, experimental masterpiece.
Replay Value: (10/10)
With a game taking over 15 hours to beat, while being able to play it three time (each one longer than the previous), and having seven distinct characters to choose from, you'll play this for a long, long time, considering how fun and addictive this game can be.
Therefore, I highly recommend this game, as long as you keep your life schedule under control and not let this game take too much of your time: it is that addictive.
_Endless replay value
_Many new features: makes Diablo II obsolete.
_Simple point&click gameplay that makes it very easy to pick up.
_Strategy behind building up your character
_Fun and addictive
_Gets too difficult in the 3rd difficulty for warrior characters.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/30/09
Game Release: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (US, 06/27/01)
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