Review by MrRem
"A perfect D2 Sequel... only there was that D2 expansion"
Before I start in let's just say that the general feeling of Diablo 3(D3) for Diablo 2(D2) fans is bad... like somethings missing or been stolen from their childhood. Now for those who never touched D2, D3 seems like some sort of joyous experience(this review's probably not for you but they made the other game so this should reflect the positives shouldn't it?)
Down below I'll list a general list of the good and bad of any and all changes that were made between what was and what now is the Diablo series.
To get a general view of what this series was before D3... or should I say what they had to build off of as of the D2 Expansion... this will take a lengthy but worthwhile paragraph or two. But before I jump in on the overview and review of D2 and D3 respectively let me say this. Diablo III is the nearly perfect sequel to Diablo II but Diablo II had an expansion that makes it hard to look at Diablo III in such a pure light.
Elements that drove D2 to the spotlight and fame have in a lot of ways been lost or simplified to the point where anyone can do it. First D2 had a skill tree that wasn't just a sit down and get free skills by working your way through story lines and killing things. You had to work at it. Learn where to spend points and where to not spend them. Which took a lot of time or a sweet friend to show you how to properly build a character. That aside the game also offered sweet loot drops that ranged from stat points to special skills even possibly getting skills that you couldn't with your character type by leveling up and adding a skill point or stat point to something. (For example: your Barbarian could acquire through items the ability to have Lycanthropy, aka Werewolf) Combine these two elements and you alone could go join a friends game and show off how much more bad ass your character has become than theirs. That element alone gave many players something to strive for. On top of that you also found your character becoming more elite than any enemies around making your ability to loot hunt that much more fun and better.
Now what else did D2 bring to the table. Freedom... you could go on play by yourself or go onto the "OPEN" servers and have a HACK of a time. Yes you were open and aloud to hack and make your own items or unlock everything and still go play with other people. Or you could just go on and play by yourself whenever you wanted as long as your computer had power. There were also runes and gems that if specially combined offered special ability or if you got the right ones could transmute them and upgrade them for their one time use making them as valuable if not more so than a lot of weapons. The storyline while no one really cared about it once you saw it was unique and well written... mostly told to you via cut scenes and the in act story lines. Not that the in act story lines were worth paying attention to. There were multiple hidden levels... some only a seasoned VET could honestly hope to see and the Cow Level that anyone could go to although surviving in it might not be as easy. Also there was a thing called 8 characters to a room. (or your choice of players in the room creation settings) And a top playing with a friend you could get a Mercenary and not lose him just because a friend wanted to join you.
Now lets look at what they've done with those elements. First off... The Skill Tree: Gone... Now you're ability to level much in the same way as WOW is the only thing stopping you from getting the next cool ability. The plus side: games easier to jump into for the commoner. The down side, well there's no way besides loot hunting endlessly to out craft your friend... Also there's no reason to remake that lovely character you made because it will just be like the other one. It won't specialize in ICE, FIRE, LIGHTNING ability, or one special thing over the other. Giving you the fun of trying them all out and picking one. (Now down fall in D2 was if you didn't hack your way through it took forever to get all that experience but at $50 you were getting your times worth. They could have also easily done it up like this and gave you the ability to just respec your character giving you a chance to try them all out as many other games have started finding unique ways to show you what your character will be like at say level 20 or so) Half the fun of D2 was learning and earning the respect of fellow diablo players... or just so you could go to Hell mode and feel like you belong not that you're in Kindergarten and are getting a participation reward.
The loot system... It feels very very very dated... we released the Diablo II expansion for the better didn't we? Are we really going to have to wait for Blizzard to release theirs to get the LOOT SYSTEM that made people drool as they got into the mid to high levels of D2? I played Diablo II after having played the expansion version... it feels very much like playing Diablo III after having played Diablo II with the Expansion. Gives it a limited and dull feeling... While a game like Badlands II is about to come out and has so many different weapons you'll be lucky to ever see the same one twice. You've had how long to create weapons and have a decent opening day loot system? You could have hired one guy to just think up things for a month or two and had a robust loot experience waiting around the corner. Although I suppose they probably did hire someone to make weapons that are kick ass and awesome... but you'll have to pay separate cash from the game you already bought to acquire those... GREED much anyone? This isn't fan service it's self service to Blizzard's wallets.
The FREEDOM up above is obviously gone. Now your trapped in a monitored version, full of limitations. The only fan service that Blizzard really offered in this game is the continuity of the D2 story line (the least of most's concerns.) And they kept you from having to pay a monthly fee on top of paying for the game. Although who knows how long that will last. They already tied your hands to the server if things start looking bleak they might just try tying your wallet to it too.
GEMS/RUNES Runes: now they're basically auto entwined with the skill aka attack type you've chosen to use. And gems are collectable but lack all trade value and such that they once did. Your item crafting ability has basically been minimized although they offer you the townie to craft for you... it's a bit of give and take...
Hidden levels... with more expansions there will probably be more of these and they'll be more enjoyable. Might even be one or two I'm unaware of still in this. Normally good for a good laugh or strong challenge if you find them. Especially needed since they make you seem over powered in comparison to anything that's not Yellow or a boss in this game.
Now a trade secret in Diablo II was the Mercenary from Act two being used to boost your Defense to super strengths and you could have them alone or not alone. It payed off huge dividends knowing and having them at your side for the Aura boost. In this one you can kiss your Mercenary goodbye if you have any friends near by who want to stop in for 3 seconds or an hour. Not a huge deal in the lower end but when you're soloing and need that extra help in Hell mode or something your buddy stops by for 3 seconds and weakens you forcing you home to reacquire him it could grow very annoying.
The great news is... While you're being spoon fed the Stat/Skills and even items to an extent... The game play is nearly the same maybe even better and more fun. As you level similar to WOW your stats and skill go up or become unlocked. But you basically feel awesome and powerful but in comparison to your lame friend who has more time to level there's no way to read up or get an edge. Just comes down to brash grinding and fun killing monsters. It's easy to forget and forgive most the disappointments when the game play starts filling that dull void the 12 years since D2's last and only expansion left.
But while all this is said there's plenty of room for worry as they've bloodied the series that was working on all cylinders and heading in the right direction with this game... Level cap of 60 just makes it seem like they're going to try to milk this title like they've tried and lost a lot of fans in WOW. One can only hope they don't do mini expansion after mini expansion like they tried so horribly to do with WOW 10 level cap levels at a time and that they'll come out with something more full fledged. Yet it's hard to imagine they'd step off the WOW similarities as WOW made them billions in revenue for so long and is still bringing in some decent enough money now to continue making expansions. And thusly one can see the 5 points came from game play alone but makes it a hard sell when you can bet Blizzard tries to milk this game like WOW with over priced added game play content.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 05/22/12
Game Release: Diablo III (US, 05/15/12)
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