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Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

One of the first things you should do in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, once you've got it installed, is to play with the graphical settings. If you have a system that's high enough above the minimum requirements, set the game to 800x600. The new resolution level of the game improves the experience greatly--it no longer feels quite as 1995 as the original release of Diablo II did; the 'zoom back' means that the various beasts and your characters don't look as chunky on-screen, and along with the reduced size of the interface and the larger viewport the game feels a lot more spacious. Of course, the characters are still rather pixelated in their prerendered ways, but it's a definite improvement.

Knocking Blizzard's FMV is like knocking Square's--people will point and laugh at you if you do. It's good stuff.

And following in the tradition of the previous Diablo outings, Lord of Destruction has very solid sounds. The voice actors are convincing in their roles, the enemy yelps and grunts and death screams are all very memorable, the 'ting!' and 'ching!' of dropping items is ingrained in our memories forever, and the music is suitably mysterious or haunting or downright evil, depending on the occasion.


And the gameplay is just as solid. While Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is simply an expansion pack for the original Diablo II, it crams a large amount of stuff into the box, enough to make most D2 players willing to shell out the dough for the added features. It is just an expansion, though, so most of the game will be relatively unchanged.

I won't rehash what the original Diablo II was about or did--if you need to, you can read the original review, but if you're reading this you undoubtedly have already played the game. So I'm going to try to cover most of the game changes that have been implemented in Lord of Destruction.

Besides the increased resolution of the game, Lord of Destruction sports two new character classes. The Assassin is, in my opinion, the lesser of the two, although she's still quite an interesting role. Quick and deadly, the Assassin uses hand-blades and 'claws' to deal major damage while pulling off martial arts moves. Her Skill Tree generally centres around this, along with the use of a number of different 'traps' that you can set for your unwary opponents. There's also a number of Shadow Arts, which are high-powered abilities increasing the Assassin's strengths of speed and accuracy.

Much more up my alley is the Druid. While the Druids start off using basic weaponry, they soon gain the ability to cast some devestating elemental magics (fiery death, whirlwinds, and the like) and the ability to shapeshift into both werewolf and werebear forms. They can also summon creatures to help them, such as bears and wolves. Shapeshifting is extremely cool; your stats all get boosted and running around as a wolf is very exhilirating. The Druid is definitely my favourite class out of the seven total now available.

Along with the new characters, a new Act has been added to the game. Set after the fourth Act, the fifth Act has you chasing after Diablo's cohort in crime, Baal, who is planning on unleashing even more evil nasties onto the earth. Of course, it's up to you to stop him, and the Act takes place in the snowy highlands of the North. It's a big world, with extremely tough enemies and a lot of things to do; you'll be spending plenty of hours beating it. If you have characters who have beaten the original D2 you can convert them and start them off here; if you want to play as one of the new character classes, you'll have to play through the game again.

There are a lot of other tweaks. Perhaps the most major 'tweak' is the transformation of hirelings from useless to key parts of your strategy. They now have experience, can be equipped, and even resurrected if you lose a favourite one. They follow you throughout the game, and can be a great help to you on your adventure as they gain strength alongside you. You can even heal them with your potions.

Assorted other tweaks: larger stash, new item and weapon attributes, new things to 'socket' into your items, charms that give you bonuses by being in your inventory, recipes for the Cube, weapon swapping, and so on. There's a lot of new stuff here crammed into the box. If you want to play online with converted characters, you have to play against people who've bought Lord of Destruction, but that shouldn't be much of a problem, and you can always create non-expansion characters if you need to.


The new Act is hellishly hard, but it's also a lot of fun. The addition of truly useful hirelings can make it worth starting over and getting one of them up to high levels through adventuring, but it's definitely doable with a converted Fourth Act character as well. As always, playing is more fun when you have more than one character running around, so hopping onto Battle.net and finding people to play with is always a wise decision. The additional difficulty levels are definitely more difficult, so be forewarned.

Game Mechanics:

Click. Click click click. Click click click click. I'm not sure what else to say here. The new stuff works like a charm--hotkeys for everything that's been added, such as the hireling inventory screen and new minimap. The new graphics worked like a charm on my system, although I hear they chug a bit on lower-end machines. I had a bug where my Stash didn't appear once, but I'm sure that was just some weird transient thing. Like in Diablo II, you'll be doing a hell of a lot of clicking as you play.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is a solid expansion pack. If you liked the original game, chances are good that you'll like the changes that Lord of Destruction adds to the game. Yes, the pricetag is non-trivial, but there's enough packed into here to add many hours to your clocked Diablo II playtime. People who didn't like Diablo II won't find anything to change their mind here, though; this is very much an evolutionary progression.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win 9x/Me/NT/2K/XP, P233, 64MB RAM, 800MB HD Space, 4x CD-ROM, video card, sound card, mouse

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Desperados: Wanted Dead Or Alive Windows Echelon

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated