Review by astroisawesome
"A sign of things to come: the downfall of gaming"
I will try to explain in detail what I can of why Diablo III is not worth your time or money. But the gist of it is that the game is just not fun.
I don't usually judge a game much by its graphics but in this case the graphics are the first place you are going to notice the quality of this game. Outside of a few short cut scenes, the graphics in this game are pretty outdated and uninspiring. There's plenty of detail in the character's design but little in the way of any realistic feel. The main characters are like Lego people you place various pieces of armor onto that change their appearances slightly. But in reality this changes are usually so minor that you can't actually tell during actual game play because your view of them is so small. NPC's move like robots repeating the same gestures over and over again. Overall the graphics would have been great had this game come out about 10 years ago but there is nowhere near enough polish to make these graphics hold up to today's standards.
There's music in this game (sorta)... most of the time it's a mix of ambient strumming and strange sounds. Nothing too exciting but it tends to fit with the area you're in at the time. The voice acting in this game is pretty good except that the dialogue has been written pretty terribly and often time made me wince at its silly-ness. The sound effects like the clashing of swords and bow strumming sound great and appropriate. Putting on a set of headphones isn't going to improve your experience playing this game because the game isn't immersive at all. Overall the sounds in this game are pretty good but not enough to save this game from its shortcomings.
I played the original Diablo back when it first came out but I've never played the second one. When playing the original back in the day, it felt like you were going deeper and deeper into this labyrinth that you knew would lead to hell. There was actually a sense of darkness, loneliness and foreboding in the world design itself. In the world created for Diablo III, Blizzard tries to create this expanded and more populated world to try and make the game seem more epic. But it cuts the world into pieces throughout the game instead making each larger section seem disconnected from the others (literally in that you can't go back to a past town area/section once you move on). Each larger ACT in the game's story center around a safe town/area with some labyrinths/areas branching off the sides. Some of the areas are just big open fields/desert/etc. that are occupied by random trees/boxes/etc. and enemies who stand around waiting for you to come and attack them. Some enemies even spawn at certain placed spots like they might have in a game made 10 or more years ago. If that sounds familiar to you... good because it should; its been done many times before. A color scheme change, change the random objects that appear and change the enemies and you've got the next area but with the same boring, unimaginative feel.
Speaking of random, just like every other Diablo game the mazes/areas are randomized in their appearance on each play through. This means you shouldn't see the same exact area layout (outside of the towns which stay the same) each time you play through the game. This might sound exciting except that it also means the areas basically have no uniqueness or real life to them at all. They are like a big board or maze that's randomly filled with a couple spots that enemies are likely to sit. It feels like Blizzard took the human touch out of making an area and instead put some probabilities into a computer and let it design the area for them. It wouldn't matter either way if the areas were different or the same on upon different play through because the areas themselves are so unremarkable or memorable that you won't notice the difference between one play and the next. It fails to inspire any feeling of replay-ability as it is supposed to.
A real let down here. The story is terrible, I don't know how else to say it. They try to make the game seem larger than life and more epic by adding a back-story that's supposed to have taken place before the game's time-line ever began but it isn't continued effectively in the actual game. There's no character development, your main character is a one dimensional being that is emotionless. The other main NPC's are also one dimensional and predictable. Nothing happens in this story that you haven't seen before. And when the big "surprise" happens... it's more like a predictable sputter and then it feels like "who cares what happens in the rest of the game, just beat the bad guy and his bad stuff." Luckily Blizzard had the forethought to let you skip through all dialogue and story with the push of a button. Honestly there is nothing in this story that will make you want to keep playing so you better hope you enjoy the game play. With the original Diablo, Blizzard was able to create a game with more feeling and originality than this game... and they did it with almost no fancy cut-scenes or lengthy talking.
This is the most important aspect of a game like this and it fails. And it all starts with one of the worst decisions I've ever seen a company make for a game like this. Instead of allowing the players to choose their own difficulty at the beginning of the game, you are forced to start on baby mode (normal is what they call it). It's so easy that I don't think I ever died in this mode unless the connection to the server was lagging... I'm not sure why this decision was made, maybe to make the game more "accessible" to players who've never played a video game in their life. But to continue, you must beat the game on baby mode to make it to what might be considered normal mode (still pretty easy) and then so on for more harder modes (I got so bored of the game on the second playthrough, I decided I couldn't take it anymore). The enemies get more HP, attack power and abilities with each play through but not enough to make you do anything other than hack and slash your way through without much need for thought or strategy.
Why does it get so boring? There's not enough depth to the gameplay. Since the story isn't any good and the game is way too easy, the hope that it somewhat redeems itself rests on the carrots it dangles for you to keep going. There are two carrots. The first is that you learn abilities by leveling up. The game is so easy there's no point to grinding to get leveled up. So if you go at a normal pace, you will end up beating the game a few times before you are totally leveled up with all your abilities. The game isn't particularly short meaning you can spend tons and tons of hours playing without ever getting the later abilities (some of which I found weren't even worth it). If the abilities aren't any good, the carrot loses its attraction. If you spent any kind of time on your first play through exploring, you aren't going to want to waste your time doing it again on any other play through so the game starts losing its appeal immediately after beating it the first time. The other carrot is the junk you pick up. There are treasures randomly dropped by enemies and chests each with a certain probability. The better the items are, the less likely you are to find them but you can increase your chances through some of the items you already have. Most of the time you are just going to find worthless junk. Occasionally an overpowered item will pop up and the degree of difficulty will drop again. The result is you have a bad looping premise to keep people interested: go loot and find treasure but if you find something too good, the game is going to be way too easy again and you won't have any fun.
Another terrible decision for this game is that you have to be constantly connected to battle.net to play. Meaning you could be going along then suddenly something starts downloading or your connection to the internet slows for whatever reason and now you are screwed. Occasionally the lag would get bad enough that I would have to quit the game. Why, when I am playing a game by myself with a computer overpowered for this game, am I dealing with lag? That should not be an issue when playing a game by yourself.
One decision Blizzard made which I'm on the fence about whether its good or not is the fact that you can teleport back to the town at anytime (for free) and empty your loot for money, buy more stuff, etc. It would be a huge pain if you had to walk back through all the boring landscapes each time so the addition is a nice way to save time on a game already way too long. On the other hand, there's no sense of danger walking into any place too far from the town. All of the ambience, all of the anticipation and nervousness is lost. You can go back quickly at anytime and you are suddenly safe and can heal for free.
I'm not going to talk about the auction house because I decided not to waste any time or money with it.
Despite what the big gaming reviews might say, Diablo III is terrible. I wish I hadn't bought it. Blizzard has lost touch with what made their first few games so great. Instead of trying to create an experience worth having that's FUN, you are forced to play through the game multiple times making the game artificially longer just to get to a point where there is any challenge. It's a serious time commitment to get through the game and get to a point where it's actually challenging... for just one character. When did it become ok for a game to expect hundreds of hours out of its players? That's not for hardcore gamers, that's for gamers who can afford to have no life outside of that game. There isn't even enough depth in this game to support that much playing... there's more characters but you have to start on baby mode again. To do that you'd have to actually enjoy the game to want to do it again with another character. I'm sure there's some reason for making players have to torture themselves just to get to a point where the game is challenging and fun... As I played, more and more I got the feeling that very reason is this: Blizzard knows the more time you spend playing the more likely you are to use their auction house and waste money. But there lies the problem... Blizzard created an expensive game that is long and sure to make them money but does not even attempt to create something that's fun or worthwhile to play.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/12
Game Release: Diablo III (US, 05/15/12)
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