The Ultimate Evil edition of Blizzard’s latest action/RPG clickfest comes to consoles with an excellent translation.
Depending on your preferences, you may have already played this game. Diablo III came out originally on the PC where, famously, it had a bit of a rocky launch. The game was online only right out of the box and I personally know more than a few gamers who found that to be a somewhat odd choice, especially since D3 is mostly a single-player (and therefore decidedly offline) experience.
To be fair, D3 had plenty of online elements, the auction house (where you could grab gear for in-game or real-world cash (now cancelled and offline for good) and four player multiplayer, in which four adventurers could take on the adventure as a party. Still though, Diablo as a series made it’s name in single-player play and that’s just the way most people seem to like to remember it.
Personally, while I had only a passing interest in the original Diablo, I loved Diablo II to death (Necromancer FTW), so I was more than a little excited to dive into D3. Not even laggy play (in single player, oy) on my then crappy home internet could dissuade me from plumbing the depths of the dark gothic world that developer Blizzard had created. And then something got between me and my dungeon-crawling – my account got unceremoniously hacked and I was locked out. For their part Blizz promised to work with me and get me reinstated, it never worked out for one reason or another (mainly because I don’t have much time for games that I’m not reviewing) and here we are today with the Xbox One edition of the game.
I love the idea of Diablo III on consoles. Flat-out love it. Though I played the second game in the series like crazy on the PC, I eventually hunted down the original on PSOne, and ever since then these kinds of games just feel more at home to me on a console, being played with a controller. And in every way and respect, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition makes that statement all that much more true for me, and generally hits one out of the park.
The story is a surprisingly deep one for the Diablo series, so lets start there in case you’re not up to speed on it. Starting out in New Tristram, a mysterious falling star hits the old cathedral and signals the rise of the dead, as well as the return of a series of horrors that fans should know well by now. Not an RPG in the traditional sense, Diablo III nonetheless does have a number of towns you’ll visit and plenty of NPCs for you to talk to and trade with, and even some to assist in side-quests here and there. You’ll also travel across landscapes swampy, desert, and frosty in your quest.
Don’t expect too many twists and turns here however, as although this tale is a lengthy one, it’s also pretty straightforward. Even so, it’s plenty satisfying as you’ll take on demonic nasties aplenty as well as some lesser villains, and eventually Death himself in the expansion pack. On that- sold as an add-on for the PC edition of the base game, the Reaper of Souls expansion serves as a fifth ‘Act’ in the Ultimate Evil Edition, lengthening the game a decent amount, though somewhat making the conclusion of Act IV kind of, well anticlimactic.
It’s not an overly huge campaign either, so if you’ve played through Diabo III in one form or another already, then you’ve already played most of what this package has to offer. That’s not to say that Reaper of Souls isn’t fun, or well-done (because it is and the city of Westmarch where it takes place is super-cool looking), but it’s probably not going to hold your attention all that long if it’s the only reason you’re looking to pick this ‘box set’ up.
If not though, and you’ve never played Diablo III before, or are just looking to play through it again, which you can definitely do with all the character classes, what you’ll find here is one pretty amazing action/RPG. And I mean that in just about every way possible.
Graphically, D3 is about as good-looking of a game of this type as I’ve ever seen. The player-characters (who change in appearance as you outfit and arm them) and enemies are beautifully detailed, but pale in comparison to the absolutely stunning backdrops that you fight through. Seeing D3 in motion if you’ve only seen it in still shots (and even in trailer videos) is like a night and day difference.
The levels in Diablo III have an almost painted feel to them that real shines while you;re playing. There’s been a lot made of the 1080p/60fps framerate drop on the Xbox One as well, but I have to mention here that I really didn’t notice anything in my play through. I’m sure there were moments where the rate dropped, since we know for a fact that it does, but I really wasn’t paying enough attention to the technical quibble to even notice.
Much like the visuals, the audio is excellent too. The entire voice cast does a great job here and the music, while not a huge presence, is nicely atmospheric and sets the tone nicely. If there’s one element that I found lacking and that I have to mention, it’s the sound effects. I wasn’t a huge fan and generally thought weapons could have had a heavier and more satisfying feel to them. They felt a little too ‘light’ overall for my tastes.
Another thing that I had no problem with though, were the controls. This is as perfect a control scheme as you can get for a console action/RPG. Seriously, if other companies want to develop stuff like D3 they should just look at what Blizzard has done here and copy it as well as they can. Diablo III plays flawlessly and maps a ton of PC controls onto a gamepad with simplicity and ease, and the menus are all easy to navigate and use. I had no issues whatsoever upgrading my character, assigning special abilities, or equipping weaponry and armor (which changes the look of your in-game avatar nicely by the way).
Simply put, this is a gem.
If you missed the PC edition for whatever reason (as I did) and haven’t played the last-gen version, then you’d be hard pressed to find a reason to skip it now. The graphics, sound (mostly), play control, and story are all top notch, and the multitude of character classes mean that you’ll find a pretty different play experience on each trip through the campaign(s).
Don’t miss it.