Diablo 3 (360) Review
A classic role playing franchise comes to console with new features; a redesign, but with the same attitude.
It’s been some time since the launch of Diablo 3 on PC. Some hated the fact it was made more open to the masses and worked against some of the previous titles gameplay mechanics, others loved it because it was their first Diablo title. Now newly available to the console audience, Diablo 3 can be played by anyone… which is sure to annoy PC gamers even more.
First to the story, basing itself around the Christian religion, Diablo 3 has the player return to the town of Tristam where Diablo, as a gaming franchise, first made it’s mark. Set twenty years after the events of Diablo 2, Diablo 3 has the player investigate rumours of a fallen star, an omen that the End Times have begun. The narrative is shown in beautifully rendered cutscenes as anyone familiar with Blizzard Entertainment’s other franchises such as Starcraft would know. The story is broken into small bite size chaptered chunks each with a new cutscene, based on the character class the player selected and differing fitting the player’s chosen back history.
For those new to RPG games, the basic mechanics are as follows: create a character from one of several classes, watch a story cutscene and then the first gameplay area loads. After spending some time in the town talking to locals and discovering who buys what item it’s onto the next gameplay area, this time for combat. Starting from one corner of the map the objective is in most cases to walk from one side to the other with a team of three other characters either computer controlled or by other gamers fighting various types of enemies and bashing their brains in with swords, spells or other weapons. When the enemies die they drop items known commonly as ‘loot’.
This loot can be anything from simple coins to armour or more weapons. The loot is mainly used to upgrade the players character, so as the game progresses their killing power and defensive characteristics increase, making them able to fight bigger and tougher enemies. The loot can also be collected in the inventory then, after a quick trip back to the town, sold for more coins or combined with other items to make more unique items with more powerful stats. After clearing a path to the other side of the gameplay area (map) it’s load again and fight through the next screen to the new objective marker.
Being Diablo, calling it a dungeon crawler is not an insult but a compliment. Fighting through the hordes of enemies both natural and supernatural, from the dead and even those on fire is a joy. The landscape changes wildly in more ways than can be imaged, so it’s not just fighting in one stone corridor to the next (but these are here too!) -there are some nice battles in every practical vista conceivable and just as you’re getting tired of an enemy type or locale a new wildly different one appears.
For the console edition, the inventory system has been completely redesigned for a console controller and streamlined making it much easier to slip items in and out of slots compared to the PC counterpart. Not having to spend 15 minutes organizing stats is a nice change for anyone used to spending more of their game time in a menu than battling the enemy. The campaign is the same as can be found on the PC, for those who don’t know much about Diablo’s announcements, the recently revealed expansion pack content is not included here nor does the box come with a free download code of the expansion upon it’s release. It does come with a redeemable in-game item code so that softens the blow after you know a future needed purchase is incoming.
Owning the console version does come with one massive upside PC players don’t get though, and it’s the one reason anyone with a PC would want to buy the game again (and should really consider doing so) – single system co-op. Of the four open character slots it’s possible not just to play multiplayer online through the campaign over the internet, but also offline in what would normally be classed as split-screen multiplayer. Being able to play at home with a friend or family member on the same screen is an experience the internet can never match and for a game that has a short campaign brings a metric ton of replay value to a strict linear gameplay experience.
For what’s in the standard retail box, there is not much in the way of a unit types in the hardcopy instruction manual. Which for an RPG would’ve made a nice addition and a valuable one if it included the strengths and weaknesses of enemies, so it could be referred to as a handy guide while gaming. There is however, in the front of the included terms and conditions booklet, a nice visual showing the default control scheme. It doesn’t go into great detail, but for anyone new to playing an RPG any addition is a welcome one. That doesn’t include the before mentioned one time in-game item code giving a perk to those who buy the game new.
Diablo 3 on console may be hated by those serious gamers waving the PC flag but it shouldn’t be.
It allows more people to enjoy the game and with the entire campaign playable in single system co-op, makes the game less of a ‘play through the night in a dark room’ experience. Some will hate that, but anyone new to the game and without a gaming PC rig, or just wanting to not be forced to play alone at home, the console version is a welcome thing indeed and worth consideration.
We only hope console players also get the expansions release in the future and don’t get left behind.