Review by Majin Zeroth

"Must. Finish. Just. One. More. Quest..."

With a 27 page back story included with the game I'm not even going to try and explain the whole plot behind Divine Divinity but suffice to say it contains enough demons, wizards and prophecies to keep the most demanding RPG fan happy. The bottom line is that it's up to you as a Survivor, Warrior or Mage to take on the forces of evil and save the world.
While just about every review about Divine Divinity mentions Diablo 2 to call this just another imitation would be very wrong. While the similarities are certainly plain to see Divine Divinity is far more than just another copy cat clone. What it did do is take all the best aspects of Diablo 2 and refined them offering a richer and more rewarding gameplay experience that in many ways actually surpasses the master. The action is still fast and frantic with enemies attacking from all sides but now once things become too much you can simply pause the action and plan your next move. Enemies are still disposed simply by clicking on them but instead of having to do so repeatedly thereby lessening the lifespan of your mouse considerably you only have to click on an enemy once and your character will hunt it down and kill it. If there's lots of enemies nearby holding down the ‘control' key will target the nearest one. Potions and skills can easily be assigned to hotkeys and switching weapons or casting spells during combat is a breeze. If you've ever played Diablo 2 you'll feel right at home with the interface but will be delighted by how streamlined and convenient everything is.

Graphically Divine Divinity is not going to win any awards. It has a similar look to Diablo 2 and seeing your character wearing that cool new armor or helmet is still a blast. There are some neat spell effects and the enemy designs are awesome but nothing here can really be called cutting edge. Still it's a huge game with a massive amount of terrain to explore and while I heard some complaints bout the game being too “green and brown” I can't fault any of the locations. Since almost everything is on one huge map (with convenient teleporters to cut down on travel time) the game is pretty non-linear and you decide where you want to go next. Wandering into the wrong areas while not experienced enough can still get you killed pretty quick but it's nice to have a choice and not be led around by the nose like certain RPG's.

The game also has a huge amount of side quest and most of these actually show some imagination. My mine gripe with Diablo 2 was the quests which usually amounted to fetch this kill that over and over again but Divine Divinity actually manages to come up with some interesting stuff. In fact I was so caught up in doing all the cool little sub quests I didn't get round to the main plot for ages because I was too busy exploring and doing other stuff. This is definitely one of those games that you can easily play for hours on end and not get bored because there's always something to do or somewhere to go. With some handy maps and a neat automapping feature not to mention those teleporters and teleportation stones traveling through the huge gameworld doesn't take hours.

While you pick a character class at the start of the game how you develop your character is actually up to you and when you level up you get to choose what stats to upgrade and what skills to learn. On every level up you get to pick a new skill and the cool thing is you can pick from any of the classes so a warrior is able to cast spells or a mage learn lockpicking. This coupled with the cool “charm” feature where you get to upgrade your weapons and armour with charms (think back to the socketed items in Diablo 2) means you have full control over your on screen alter ego's path in life. With skills from three different classes to choose from and multiple levels in each skill it takes some careful consideration what to pick next.

Another one of the things I like about this game is that it doesn't immediately throw all the cool weapons and armor at you right from the start. You might be walking around in rags with a wooden club bashing enemies at first but slowly you discover all the cool new stuff and by the end of the game you'll be a walking armory. Finding those elusive enchanted equipment or better yet ones that can be charmed is always a joyous occasion and sometimes it's heartbreaking having to choose between two equally cool items. I still wish it was possible to wear a ring on every finger instead of just one per hand.

While Diablo 2 was pretty serious and had lots of doom and gloom Divine Divinity takes a more humorous approach to things. While the plot is still quite heavy the game has plenty of lighter moments and some of the conversations are hilarious. You can actually talk to people and ask questions and your character has a reputation which can go up or down depending on your actions. The game also has plenty of speech and while some of the voices are a bit dodgy there are a few highlights. The music was very nice and even after hours of playing never worked on my nerves. There are loads of tunes ranging from some epic stuff right down to more “Enya” like songs for the quieter areas.

While Divine Divinity might sound like the perfect game there are some areas that are cause for concern. Apparently the game has quite a few bugs but I played it with the latest (10MB!) patch and things went pretty smoothly. I encountered only one fatal bug but luckily managed to find a workaround.

After hearing so many negative stuff about this game I was pleasantly surprises by how good it really is and I can honestly say I had a lot of fun playing it and can't wait for a sequel to come out. If like me you already wasted way too much time playing Diablo 2 over and over then give this game a try and see what a different experience it is.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/27/06

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