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Diablo III

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online Only)
Genre: Action/ RPG/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

For the years leading up to its release, I was surrounded by gamers who expected Diablo III to be the alpha and omega of action role-playing games. I'm glad I didn't board that hype train, because while Diablo III is many things, revolutionary is not one of them. Make no mistake: if you love the franchise, you will most certainly enjoy this third installment. However, given the amount of time that has passed since Diablo II's release, one would hope for something a bit fresher. That being said, the level of refinement this formula has received for this third outing is truly remarkable.

Much like most of Blizzard's catalog, Diablo III doesn't have sinister designs on your hardware. It's not out to be Crysis 2 or The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Instead, it's going for a wide audience. So it's not a technical marvel. However, Blizzard is known for fantastic art direction, and Diablo III absolutely excels in that department. Environments are often dark, but dripping with atmosphere and little touches. There isn't really anything to say about level design, as we are dealing with randomized dungeons. Animations are a lot of fun to watch, particularly death animations. Monsters are mutilated, decapitated, launched, split open, and straight up destroyed in a number of different ways. When mobs swarm your position, each explosion of blood, bones, and guts adds to the satisfaction of the kills. When it gets hot and heavy, the carnage is exciting and chaotic. The only real disappointment here is the complete lack of character customization. All you have control over is your class and your gender. Granted, you won't really notice much unless you're zoomed in, and you probably won't be playing Diablo III with this viewpoint anyway. Rounding out the package is a healthy selection of nice-looking cutscenes.

Diablo III boasts great sound design from top to bottom. The soundtrack is appropriately ominous and epic at the same time. The voice acting is solid, though the storytelling and dialogue are often groan-worthy. Sound effects are the real stars here: each landed hit comes with a serious sense of impact, and when enemies are ripped to pieces, you hear it.


Diablo III, like its predecessors, deals with an impending invasion by the forces of darkness. Proceedings are kicked off when what is ostensibly a falling star crashes into the planet. Of course, nothing is as it seems, and you, an adventuring Nephalem hailing from one of five different backgrounds, are inevitably pulled into an ages-old struggle between good and evil. From the beginning of your adventure in New Tristram to the climactic final encounter atop High Heaven's Crystal Arch, Diablo III is as addictive as the time-tested killing and looting model gets.

Say what you want about Diablo III: just be sure not to mistake its fun factor for depth. In terms of sheer gameplay, not a whole lot has changed over the years. Most of the combat is a one-button affair, though the abilities and runes you acquire over the twenty-hour-or-so campaign lend some flexibility and diversity to the action.

Speaking of flexibility and diversity, you can (and should) enlist up to three friends to assist you in your dungeon crawling. You don't have to worry about ninja looters: everyone gets their own loot drops, and no item is bound to your character upon pickup or equip. The cooperative element makes Diablo III that much more tempting to return to even after you've finished it.


Provided you know what you're doing, your first playthrough of Diablo III should be a painless and frustration-free experience. This is true whether you're playing with friends or on your lonesome. Naturally, it's advisable to ensure that everyone in the game is appropriately leveled for the environment you're playing in. Still, Diablo III is easy and simple enough to tear through in a handful of sessions.

If you're always on the prowl for something different out of your gaming experiences, you may not want to return to Diablo III for a second playthrough; the experience remains much the same, despite the appeal of new loot, achievements, and abilities. If you can't get enough after toppling the titular demon, I recommend progressing to Nightmare mode. The challenge will be increased, but the rewards are that much sweeter.

Hardcore players will want to check out Hardcore mode eventually. This mode is ferocious from the start and makes your first death a permanent one, but the gold, loot, and experience are jacked up in terms of both quantity and quality.

Game Mechanics:

Can you left and right click your mouse? If so, you won't have much trouble getting into Diablo III, even if it's your first time playing a game like it. Most of the game will be spent holding down the Left Mouse, with sporadic taps of Right Mouse and number keys. You kill things, loot the stuff the things drop, and progress towards a pulsating point on your minimap.

When you run out of inventory space, you can use a convenient Town Portal to immediately jump back to a safe zone to sell or salvage vendor trash, repair your damaged gear, and indulge yourself in a bit of shopping. Once you're done, you can either jump right back into that portal or warp to your buddies by clicking on their banners. Everything in Diablo III facilitates speedy player progression.

So Diablo III plays just like its predecessors. What exactly is new? Well, let's go through the classes. There are a few new additions and a few mainstays that have different names this time around. The Barbarian's back, as is the Sorcerer/Sorceress (this time simply known as the Wizard). The new classes are a great deal of fun to play with, though. I am particularly fond of the Monk, whose powerful melee attacks and spirit-based abilities make him a force to be reckoned with. The Witch Doctor is also quite cool, though the novelty of throwing armies of exploding frogs wears thin after a while. Of course, there's special gear for each class, some of which contain sockets for gemstone slotting. It's a simple but proven formula for addictive gameplay.

Leveling up in Diablo III doesn't offer anything in the way of player-controlled character growth. Instead, each level automatically increases certain attributes and unlocks skills. At certain levels, you will unlock runes for each skill. These runes have notable effects on your abilities, and some of them even change them in fundamental ways. The rune system is neat because it takes you through each ability set a number of times. This helps you identify which abilities you want to stick with and which ones you want to avoid using.

If you've got history with the Diablo series (and it's positive), you should absolutely check out Diablo III. That being said, know what to expect. This sequel doesn't revolutionize the subgenre it popularized sixteen years ago, but it's still great entertainment.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista/7, DirectX 9.0c, Intel Pentium D 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Processor, NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT or ATI Radeon X1950 Pro or better, 12 GB available HD space, 1 GB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Persistent Broadband Internet Connection, 1024 X 768 minimum display resolution

Test System:

ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD space Windows 7

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