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Diablo III is demonically delightful

Diablo-III

A screenshot of Diablo III.

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Sanctuary is a world not too different from our own. Sure they still use swords and spears and you'd be hard pressed to find a wizard walking the streets of Toledo but in at least one way we are almost identical. We fear the end. We fear the time when all the forces of evil will rise from the bottomless pit to seek vengeance on the sons of man. The big difference is that we are still waiting for our end to come and the people of Sanctuary have seen their fears materialize.

Diablo III is a PC exclusive from the developers at Blizzard Entertainment and it follows events of a make-believe world of angels, demons, monsters, warlocks, and more magic than you can shake a wand at. The Prime Evils, a sort of council of darkness, were banished from Sanctuary and they have returned. Diablo III starts with a falling star that lands in the middle of a cathedral and has the fantastical result of bringing the dead back to life. Of course the reanimated dead are more like zombies than any semblance of their former selves but this omen forebodes a much greater darkness to come.

The plot, as it were, comes directly from the pages of the Bible. With names like the Nephilim, Mephisto, Baal, and Diablo you will likely find some familiar faces and agendas. The scenery is loaded with pentagrams, horned figures, and dark ancient ruins. Every creature draws from our collective memory of devils, demons, or mythological monstrosities.

DIABLO III

Score: ****

System: PC/MAC

Genre: Role playing

No. Players: 1

ESRB Rating: M for mature

Diablo is a role-playing-game in a similar fashion to Dungeons & Dragons. You can choose to play as one of five classes of warrior, barbarian, demon hunter, monk, witch-doctor, or wizard. You can also choose your gender and a unique name but that's where the customization ends. Any upgrades beyond that will have to be built throughout the campaign. By leveling up you can add abilities and special attacks, making your hero as powerful as you would like.

Diablo has long been a powerhouse among RPGs as a result of its simple playing style, engrossing combat, and tons and tons of loot. Players can use a high-end gaming mouse or a PC gamepad but the default controls utilizing four number keys and a simple two-button mouse is more than sufficient. The left mouse button works a light attack while the right brings on a heavy attack. The numbers 1-4 keys hold special attacks, moves, or spells. Whether you are a PC rookie or a Diablo veteran, the learning curve is almost non-existent.

Combat is one of the most impressive available in a pure RPG. The monsters and demons increase in power and difficulty as the game progresses, but you never feel overwhelmed even when the odds are obviously not in your favor. You will likely be out-manned and out-muscled quite frequently. Fortunately if you saunter into a gang of monsters and are unable to finish them off, you will respawn at the last checkpoint and any bad guys you have killed will stay dead.

The feature that kept me from being able to turn the game off is the amount of booty lying around. Barrels and clay jars abound around every corner and nearly every monster and demon coughs up a handful or two of gold coins as they taste your blade. You'll also collect plenty of equipment such as weapons and potions that you can use during your quests or trade to a merchant for other items.

One of the most notable differences I noticed from the first time I played Diablo is the impressive quality of the graphics. Dark, musty caves and dungeons crawl with spiders, imps, and electric bats. The level-ending animations used to further the story line are nearly flawless.

The voice acting is above average but lacks a little diversity. I like how the characters sound but I'd like to hear them say something different once in a while. For example, one Templar who joined my band would ask me how he should train after we finished every gang fight. Yelling at the screen and telling him to keep quiet seemed to accomplish very little.

Diablo III is another mega-hit for RPG fans and non-fans alike. It's simple and immersive enough to offer something to the casual gamer while still challenging enough for battle-hardened veterans and Diablo fans. Even though it is only available for the PC or MAC, let's try to remember, it's not the end of the world.

Contact Tom Fisher at tfisher@theblade.com

 

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