The latest instalment in an award-winning series, Diablo III was released this May after the prerequisite Blizzard Entertainment delay. Some may recall I wasn’t going to buy the action RPG, and, as my concerns have yet to be addressed, my opinion hasn’t changed. However, I did secure a legal copy for free, so the question becomes, is the game worth the zero dollars I paid for it?
Upon loading Diablo III, I got an immediate sense of familiarity. This was indeed the series I once knew and loved. Players are asked to choose between five character classes, each with different skills. After a short expository montage, it’s time to kill things. The gameplay proves very simple: click on a monster for your character to attack it with whatever skill you selected. The more enemies you slay, the more experience you get. The more experience you get, the more offensive and defensive abilities become available as you level up.
This simple approach has one drawback: the game eventually gets repetitive, which is to say mind-numbingly boring. Whether I’m electrocuting skeletons in the woods or imps in a crypt, I’m still casting the same spell and pushing the same buttons. Only the graphics vary. Some will say that the problem lies in my playing on the easier settings and that the new Inferno mode is where it’s at. That may be, but to unlock Inferno, I have to beat the game on Normal, Nightmare and Hell modes. I don’t have the patience to play through the same boring game three times before finally getting to have fun. I should be challenged from the start.
On the subject of challenging starts, Diablo III had one of the worst launches I ever witnessed, what with legions of subscribers unable to connect to battle.net and enjoy the game they paid for. I suspect the dreaded error 37 will become the stuff of legend amongst gamers. This is due to Blizzard Entertainment requiring its consumers to log in online, even for single-player quests. How could the company not foresee this would result in huge demands on the servers? I certainly did, but then I’m somewhat of a cynic.
What I didn’t expect, though, are all the headaches caused by players having to remain online for the duration of the game. Perfect, continuous Internet access is a myth, you see. As a result, Diablo fans are being disconnected in the middle of fights, and their characters are getting rubber-banded back to previous positions because of a few seconds’ lag. Hacking has also become a problem. With the impending addition of a real-money auction house, hackers have taken upon themselves to steal as much gear from other players as possible.
Still, these small problems pale in comparison to the baffling sense of stagnation that pervades Diablo III. The second instalment in the series proved such a radical improvement over the first, but here all we get is a weird mix of Diablo II and World of Warcraft with nothing groundbreaking or the least bit original thrown into the mix. Now I’m not suggesting every sequel needs to reinvent the wheel. After all, I’m a huge fan of the Mega Man games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and those are all practically the same. The difference, of course, is Capcom didn’t make us wait a decade between each entry in the franchise.
After twelve years of anticipation, my expectations were set pretty high, but I’m trying to be fair here, saving much of my venom for a more fan-centric article. All things considered, I didn’t pay for Diablo III, so I really shouldn’t complain too much. Then again, the purpose of this review is to let you know how one might feel about the game if he or she had paid the full retail price. Just imagine the same criticisms but with lots of curse words added for good measure.