Any game appearing in stores around the same time as Grand Theft Auto V needs to be excellent to stand out. Not only that, the company releasing it need, ahem, balls the size of a house. Enter Diablo III and Blizzard – the dungeon-crawler genres shining light and the company at the forefront of it. How good is Diablo III and just how big are Blizzards balls? The answers are within.
PC gamers won’t be surprised with how good Diablo III is – even after the numerous launch problems, they’ve had the good fortune of enjoying it for over a year. There’s a good chance many of them played it too, it sold over 12 million copies in its first year. What MAY surprise them, though, is just how good the console version is. In fact, some have labelled the Xbox 360 and PS3 version as the definitive Diablo III experience. A bold claim, but one we can believe. Diablo simply oozes quality from every pore.
Let’s talk about the controller. Those used to using a keyboard and mouse for Diablo my rightly scoff at the mere suggestion of using a humble console controller and actually having fun with the game. In this genre, it’s tough to make a control scheme work – many have tried before to varying success (Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Dungeon Siege 3 being the best of a mixed to average bunch) but, somehow, Blizzard have done it. The pad feels comfortable in your hands and, importantly, makes sense in your head. Every command is intelligently laid out – you don’t feel overwhelmed but the dizzying amount of choice and input available.
Which is important as the game is incredibly deep. In fact, it was only on our second playthrough (after and admittedly excellent and fun initial run) that we felt like we’d scratched the surface. There are systems upon systems of data at play here as you fight through abandoned churches to sun-seared deserts but you never realise it. Instead, you’re immersed in the craft of the game – the loot moreish loot, the immediate action and the well-told story.
It’s no harm that the game is simply stunning to look at either. It’s still astonishing what developers are capable of wrangling out of our 8-year-old machines and, at times, Diablo III is pretty much the best of example of a developer at the top of their game. From the beautifully rendered worlds to the exquisitely animated characters on-screen, Diablo is a sight for sore eyes. Better yet is just how smooth everything is – the game clips along at a fair pace with no performance difficulties, even when a friend drops in on co-op. Everything is as polished as you’d expect from Blizzard.
Unfortunately, it’s not all a bed of roses. The narrative, while enjoyable, can be a challenge to keep up with for newcomers to the series. Characters, place and events are name-dropped and referenced left, right and centre and, in the end, you’ll forget just what it is you’re currently doing. There is a multitude of world lore and information at your command, but your mileage will vary on this. Additionally, although the game is, for the most part, supremely balanced; you don’t really feel your characters levelling up progress until you hit the level 20 mark. A small issue as, after a few run throughs that you’ll WANT to do, you’ll be a level 60 badass.
Diablo III then. On a console. They said it could never work. They were wrong. Stick it in your console of choice and you’ll not want to stop playing – solo or co-op. The co-op deserves a special mention – most games are more fun when you’re playing with friends but, in Diablo’s case, co-op lends it a more tactical edge without loosing that fun-factor. If you’re a fan of Diablo – give the third entry a try. Newcomer to the genre? This is the perfect (and best) place to start.
Diablo 3 is available on PC, Steam, PS3 and Xbox 360 right now.
– Dave Green. He’s on Twitter @davidpgreen83
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