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Diablo 2 - Review

By: Mistress Nightshadow


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 5
   Plot 6
   Replay Value 10
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium-Extremely Difficult
   Time to Complete

25-666 hours

 
Overall
9
Criteria

Diablo 2
 

   It's Diablo, and he's back with his entire armies of hell, and he's waiting to storm your hard drive with the rest of the world! Well, the Lord of Terror's definitely going to try anyway, if you're not going to try stopping him.

   The funny thing which separates this RPG from many [if not all] other RPGs out there is that it isn't really an RPG, certainly not from a console point of view. It isn't the turn based systems that we associate with many RPGs, nor does it have a command based system. In fact, it's very simple to play, it's a basically a point at an enemy, or where you'd like to move and click with a mouse button.

   Sounds too simple doesn't it? Well, it is. Very much so... but it allows a player to jump in, getting into the action with almost little or no fuss... Just set a skill or spell for the buttons you got on your mouse, set another to attack, and venture forth.

   But even with this simplicity, customisation is very easy to carry out. With the ability to set hotkeys to switch spells in an instant, or even the ability to set a mouse scroller to select commands, a belt which responds to the keyboard to carry out last minute first aid, the ability to set any action on either button when clicking on an enemy [such as those who like alternating with spells] and several other handy and useful features, the interface is custom made for efficiency and speed.

   Which you will need a lot of, I should add. The battles within Diablo 2 can pick up from awfully quiet one moment as you walk down a dark deserted corridor... then you find you let hell loose when you suddenly walk down a set of stairs or open a door and you have at least twenty or thirty monsters barring their teeth at you, eager to give a welcoming party... with you as the main course.

   Music and sound wise, it's pretty much just above average, although those who have played the original Diablo may recognise a couple of the tracks. You'll hear war cries when the enemy sights you... you'll hear them all grunt and scream when the melee gets underway, you'll hear them die. Tracks are fairly good, but they're not really memorable unless you recognise them from the original. Nothing to get excited about, but then again, chances are you probably won't notice most of the time because some monsters are breathing down your neck.

   The cut scenes in between every act are very well done, are great to watch and give a nice feel to the game, but after seeing them for the first time, you'd rather get swinging back into the action, not because of the standard, but because of the game itself. The in-game graphics are also well done, no glitches, but don't truly stand out...

   What also separates this from a 'normal' console RPG is that not a lot of emphasis is placed on the plot. Although it doesn't have gaping holes in it, it really just gives an excuse for the character to go out there and kick some hellspawn butt. Nothing really memorable, nothing really to pay attention to.

   Which brings up a good point, the characters. You happen to have five to pick from, from the noble Paladin, with his unyielding faith to the light, the master of war and survival, the savage Barbarian, the lightning fast Amazon, the queen of the jungle, the mystic Sorceress, queen of the elements, or even as the Necromancer, king of Death.

   What makes them so interesting? Well, it's the fact that you can make the character class you pick develop in three separate disciplines, and also allocate how your character grows. However you wish. You can place skill points which are allocated to you by completing quests or by levelling up into specific skills as long as you are capable of learning or increasing the ability of the skill by allocating points to it.

   This allows for a character to be moderately skilled within all of the disciplines, or you can specialise, creating strength in those disciplines, and the particular skills within, but lacking skills in others. This way, one can easily have a Amazon specialising in fire archery, burning anyone getting within sight, a Necromancer who can call forth armies of the dead to overrun his opponents, a paladin who will smite any and every opponent around him with his sheer will, a barbarian who can best most anyone within a duel with swords.... or any other combinations of specialised characters.

   Also you can allocate a certain amount of points to your primary stats, in whatever fashion you wish, making a very strong barbarian, a paladin with high Mana, a Amazon who can dodge and defend very well, or any number of combinations of characters as you wish.


Amazon: Master of ranged attacks
Amazon: Master of ranged attacks  

   This is definitely a good thing, because this is one of only a few RPGs where you can bring over your beloved character and go double-team with up to six of our friends [be it over a network, the internet, or even Blizzard's battle.net anti-cheating servers] to go stop Hell from overrunning the lands which you stand, where specialisation in one field can cover another's weakness. But be warned, Hell isn't going to let you stop them so easily. As your party increase in number, so do the amount and the strength of Hell itself...

   And since the layout of every dungeon, of every special creature is changed each time you play a new game, keeps the game interesting. Just because you have to go get that hammer off a boss, doesn't mean the location or the reception's going to be the same...

   Although within combat situations, it doesn't play very much like an RPG, it retains some concepts of one. You still do need to go keep your equipment in repair and upgrade your weapons and armour with the local blacksmith in the town you are in, you still do need to stock up on potions, but this is all minor. Combat and gameplay are this game's big points.


The Sorceress's Inferno
The Sorceress's Inferno  

   Although I mentioned that combat is very simple, it is also very much a smooth and easy to manage system. Even the poor death of your character doesn't mean that much... you can just pick up back at the nearest town, and go try get your equipment back from the monsters which managed to nail you. And be a little more careful this time.

   As for the difficulty? Well, beating it once doesn't have to mean that your character can retire. There are three separate difficulty levels for you to conquer, and it can get incredibly difficult... and playing in a party of six doesn't necessarily mean the ride gets any easier...

   For those who are daring, and think they're really up to proving that they are the best of the best, there's the hardcore mode. Meaning? You get just one life. You die, that's it, game over, back to square one. After you play Diablo 2 before you are allowed to create a character in this mode, you'll wonder some days how it could be possible to finish the game, particularly on the harder levels, without dying once, or twice... or maybe even twenty or thirty times.

   Well, Diablo 2 isn't the ultimate RPG that I could recommend to everyone. For some, it's just a point and click game that can get awfully repetitive at times. It doesn't have the storyline, the music or the battle system of most console RPGs. It's not even very original, if you compared that to Diablo.


The Paladin launches holy energy at zombies
The Paladin launches holy energy at zombies  

   All it promises is a simple but somewhat entertaining gameplay, customisation to the hilt, and a lot of replayablity, a lot of good playing time, and a lot of... I guess you would call it addiction. It has a feel that will drive you to play more, to tweak that character a little stronger, to get that little further along in the game, to bash that monster with your party of five.

   You just might find yourself just saying, "I'll stop playing for tonight when I kill this next boss and complete this quest.", and the next thing you know, you will see the sun rise the next morning stained with the blood of hell.

   Be warned. When Diablo 2 invades your hard drive, you may never, never, ever get that game off it for a very long time. And the Lord of Terror will scare away what remains of your free time...





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