Review by KillerCrono599
"Now that I've beaten Inferno, I feel like I have something to say..."
Diablo III is not a great game. It's not a good game. In essence, it may look and feel like Diablo, but it's stripped apart to the point where it feels like something different; but not in a good way. Looking for loot isn't as fun, the story as well as the later Acts feel rushed and incomplete, and the overall menacing feeling of the game isn't there. This is only being exacerbated by the developing team as they seem to have no idea what made the former game fun.
I could describe the game like this for a while, but I want to go into greater detail.
In the beginning, it's up to you to find out why the dead are rising from New Tristam. This then leads to finding out why a star has fallen from the sky. This then leads you to finding out about Leah, finding Deckard Cain, beating the Skeleton King, etc. etc. until you eventually defeat Diablo. The way the story flows, you'd find typical in a ARPG. However, the way it's handled makes it feel less than spectacular.
For starters, new characters such as Leah never get enough spotlight to feel any compassion for them. Even after the major event that happens to her, I still could have cared less. Cain himself gets parts here and there, but is dealt with in the end by of all things a random villain. How can such a memorable character such as Cain die by a rather unimpressive attack in game? He doesn't even die in a cut-scene or anything, and they way he dies kind of foreshadows the rest of the game.
Sadly, the story only gets worse with the villains constantly smack-talking you; which never added to the tension as well as characters you won't remember past Act 1 keep getting introduced. Even Diablo himself loses this as he chatters while fighting you.
As PC games have a higher cap in graphics, this one isn't pushing many boundaries. They get the job done and the game overall looks much improved from Diablo II. However, due to the higher resolution graphics as well as looking closer one of their previous games, (WoW) it doesn't look nearly as Diablo-ish. It does do a good job animating and feels overly solid in this regard; but in that way it feels like a step back.
With the introduction music, you'd think that it would have gotten better in this regard. Sadly, that's literally the best music in the game. The town music is bleh, there's barely any action music, (and some of this repeats) and the boss music with the exception of Diablo's is unremarkable. For a triple A title, this has some of the most dull music I've ever listened to.
If you haven't played Diablo or Diablo II, then it is similar to most top-down Action RPG's. There are some major exceptions to this, and to be fair I will be making comparisons to the former game:
You have a Barbarian, a Wizard, a Demon Hunter, a Monk, and a Witch Doctor as playable classes. As you level them up you will get skills as well as gain attribute points that are automatically assigned. As skills are gained, you can pick a skill from a tree: (Example of a Barbarian Primary/Secondary/Defensive/Might/Tactics/Rage) After getting to level 10, you'll gain a passive skill that helps your character further and gain another at 20 and another at 30.
As an odd design choice, you're only allowed to choose from the same tree only once until you find out about Elective mode. With it off, your skill building is very limited until then. Why is this off from the get-go is beyond me; as it will be selected on for most who want to put any decent amount of time into the game.
Having attribute points assign themselves is another decision I don't find works very well, as now once you've made a character, that's it. That character outside of equips and skill selection will never be different from another character. With less variety comes less confusion, but overall less choices and less experimentation.
What really is troublesome is that Blizzard designed this game so that any build will work on any difficulty, including the difficulty that they were hyping for months: Inferno. Once you get here, you'll find that plan goes straight out the window just to survive. Most characters who reach this point will have very similar builds until you somehow actually get the loot good enough to try something different, which is another can of worms entirely.
Finding items in Diablo II also took large amounts of time, however, the loot was much better overall as well as more interesting. You had loot that could give you +all skills, extra abilities, or would overall improve the build of your character. The power of items also was vastly improved as items like uniques really felt...unique. The end game for Diablo III mainly seems to stem to look for your primary stat, vitality, and all resists and not much else unless you want to build for more damage overall.
Unfortunately, with the way loot collecting is handled, it feels like playing the lottery. This adjustment was made necessary due to Blizzard making their own Auction House (AH); where you can use gold and even real life money to get the items you want. Now, I have no problem with using something like this if it doesn't get into the way of having fun with the game. However, it does because it makes the limiting pool of items you want highly unlikely and increases your chances that you will end up using the AH.
It's not only the AH that Blizzard wants to have control over; but how you play the game as well. Even now they have plans to make Magic Find (a trait that makes rarer items drop more easily) less useful overall if you decide to change your gears to have more of it before killing a rare enemy. They don't want people fighting bosses for better gear simply because they would rather have you fight rare packs of enemies to get better drops. They don't want people breaking pots or farming chests/goblins simply because they don't want you doing so. There's a problem here.
It seems that Blizzard wants you to have their version of fun rather than your own. They have already implemented the previous changes and if they are to continue to do so, this game will become less and less like a Diablo and more like something else entirely...something worse.
It will take roughly 5-8 hours for a Normal playthrough, and then add the 3 extra difficulties and you would think you're looking at around 20-40 hours right? This is where Inferno kicks in. It's designed that you'll spend the majority of your characters life within it. It's actually normal to spend weeks, if not months within one Act in this difficulty, or at least it would be if not for the AH. Unfortunately, finding the same bland loot over and over again to have a glimmering hope of finding something you can use is more of a test of patience and sanity rather than actually having fun with the game at this point.
That being said, I've amassed around 180 hours, but the majority of that time wasn't the least bit fun.
Even on Normal, the game didn't really get my hopes up but somewhat grew on me; up until Inferno. After that the game is really more an exercise in frustration and how long you can put up with it. If Inferno was more skill based and less gear (and therefore AH) dependent, it wouldn't have been nearly as bad. As it is now, I honestly expect the game to get worse before it gets better; which is a shame. For those expecting the true sequel to Diablo II, you're better off looking elsewhere.
This definitely isn't it.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 06/27/12, Updated 06/28/12
Game Release: Diablo III (Collector's Edition) (US, 05/15/12)
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