Published on September 17th, 2013 | by Malcolm Spinedi3
Diablo III Review
Summary: While it stumbles graphically, Blizzard deserves a lot of credit for porting Diablo III to consoles. Diablo III was polished and crafted to work wonderfully, with a lot of the bad stuff taken out (Like the auction house and "always online") to deliver the Diablo experience we should have got in the first place. Diablo III on consoles is the version to play, and you will not mind starting over once you play.
Diablo III came out on PC May 15th, 2012, and was met with mostly positive reviews. Blizzard brought this world back to life, and did a fantastic job at that. New classes, weapons, armor, characters, and an original story that was expertly made. It gave Diablo III a nice resurrection.
However, Diablo III had more than a few problems. You had to always be online, perhaps the most quizzical addition to Diablo III. You could not play it, even if you just wanted to do a single player game, without being connected to the servers. This lead to a bad release for Diablo III, with many servers being down. On top of that, there was an Auction House. This feature allowed players to purchase (with Gold or real money) just about any item in Diablo III. Great on paper, but the addition killed the reason for looting, the heart of Diablo III. Why bother wasting hours playing the dungeons for a loot run, if you can get an extraordinary yellow weapon for $5 or less? There was little reason or reward for having gone out and taken the time to find these unique items when anyone could have just purchased them at any time. So in the end, despite it having looked and played great, the PC version lost a lot of the heart of why people loved Diablo.
So when Blizzard announced that Diablo III would come to the XBox 360 and PS3, it raised a lot of questions. Would anyone really want to restart after having spent a year and a half of time with the PC version? How well could Diablo III translate to a console? Was Blizzard going to actually work on this port or was this merely a cash grab?
The answer? Blizzard may have made the console version of Diablo III that you want to play.
Diablo III was set years after the events of Diablo II. A fallen star landed in a cathedral in New Tristram, based off the former town from the previous games. The star caused the dead to return to life and terrorize the town. Your character (Barbarian, Monk, Wizard, Witch Doctor, or Demon Hunter) went to investigate and erase the evil from the land once and for all. This mission spanned four lengthy acts in your quest to save the world of Sanctuary.
However, this was not the heart of the franchise, as I have said. The goal of Diablo III, and all before it, was to loot, loot, loot until you have gained the best items available. A system that Blizzard actually improved for the console versions, as they toned down the amount of loot you received in a run. This may sound like it would hurt the experience, but it really does not. You see, in the PC version you would get so many weapons and armor (usually regular white) that, in time, players just ignored a large chunk of loot drops entirely. The inherent problem was, if you made a loot based game where players tended to ignore the loot, it ruin the experience. With fewer weapons dropped, you appreciate anything you get, even the normal white weapons.
The campaign had plenty to do, as the experience was different each time you booted up Diablo III. See the map re-arranges itself each time you load a game, which meant that cave you were looking for maybe to the north this time, but if you left the game and returned again, it might be to the west. This sounds like it could be infuriating, but remember you were supposed to want to explore and kill things anyway. The fact that you were searching for a location was merely an excuse to get you to keep doing this. After having played enough of Diablo III, you may have found yourself running past the area to explore more of the new map. Keep in mind that in addition to the cave entrances, the map may have new shrines, chests, legendary creatures, and more this time that was not on your previous visit.
If the console version of Diablo III had an Achilles’ heel, it would have been the graphics. It should be pointed out that the graphics were not bad, per say, just not on par with it’s PC predecessor. The levels and environments were still a spectacle to behold, with a chunk of it being destructible. Characters looked fine, as did the menus and interface. The devil was in the details, though, as Diablo III lacked the sharpness many would get on the PC, due to the lack of power of the current generation of consoles. This was seen primarily when you zoom in on the characters models faces. While it did not damage the overall enjoyment of the game, it was worth a mention. Keep in mind, this is just true for the in-game graphics; the cinematic scenes still looked amazing.
The orchestral music for Diablo III was incredible, and added an amazing level of spectacle to some of the major fights. For instance, the music used in Act 3 (as well, as well the level design itself) made me feel like we were playing the Lord of the Ring: Two Towers. The sound effects also did a great job here too, as the voices do a great job of continuing the story. Whether it be the voices of other characters you stumble across, the voices of the monsters you fight, and especially the death gurgles of the monster you slay; the world came together wonderfully due to sound.
Other than the search for loot, a lot of fun came from how much of a badass Diablo III made you feel with each character class. There was a lot of joy to be had while you watch your Barbarian nail a Zombie so hard it flew across the screen, having watched the Demon Hunter mow down a hoard of enemies with Rapid Fire, or seeing the Witch Doctor’s minions annihilate a an enemy. By the time you made it to Diablo, you believed he had no chance against you, and that feeling was wonderful.
Blizzard must be commended on how they structured the classes in Diablo III. The classes all played so differently, that it was a different game each time. The strategies you used with your Wizard would not be the same one’s you used with your Monk. The skills of the Barbarian were drastically different from the Witch Doctor. The point being, if you restarted Diablo III after completing it with your Demon Hunter with a different class, don’t worry. It felt like a different game all together with every class.
Some wondered if this port was a cash grab. Well, stop worrying, because it was not. Blizzard actually did a lot of work to make Diablo III work properly on consoles. Keep in mind, this has been a game played primary with a mouse and keyboard, so there was a lot of room for error. However, everything works. Just about everything in Diablo III has been redone with the console controllers in mind. The menus incorporated the analog sticks very effective to replace the ability to point and click. They even added a few extra to help with gameplay, such as the addition of the defensive roll with the right along stick. Also when you pick up armor or weapons, it gave you a quick synopsis of if it was any improvement for you, and you could equip or drop it without even having used a menu.
While being online was no longer necessary, that doesn’t mean that multiplayer went away. In fact, it worked in a big way in Diablo III. The more players you had, the better the loot you received, so there were plenty of reasons to group up as much as possible. Online worked great; partnering up with friends was easy and the quick match function was very quick and painless. On top of this, you could have a group of up to 4 players play with you on one console. No worries about annoying splitscreens, as all of you would play on one screen (though you can separate too far from one another).
Diablo III is a title that you would want to play over and over and over. As you progress, you gain levels; and leveling up unlocks higher difficulty levels. The benefit to these higher difficulty levels was that they allowed for better loot drops, so you would be able to get better equipment for yourself. The bosses also became a lot stronger, with a lot of them getting new moves that made them all the more of a challenge. This makes the feeling of accomplishment all the more satisfying when you finally beat them. A feeling given even greater emphasis if you received a legendary item.
If the idea of level grinding and the constant search for better loot is not your idea of fun, then Diablo III is not for you. However, if it is, you need to get Diablo III. Not only does it give you all of this, but it also gives you a title with an impressive amount of story and lore behind it. Blizzard did an incredible job of making this the definitive version of Diablo III, although at the cost of graphics. Nevertheless, Diablo III is an awesome port, one for which you will not mind starting over for.
Editor’s Note: The version of Diablo III reviewed was for the PS3. A copy was not provided by PR.