Diablo III Xbox 360 Review
Unless you happen to only use your computer for browsing the internet, writing up documents, setting up spreadsheets, and working at IT help desks, you have probably heard of the Diablo series of computer games. The basic gist is this – on a world called Sanctuary, Heaven and Hell are far more active in their relationship with Earth. Hell constantly tries to invade so that they can use Earth as a bridge to attack Heaven, while Heaven honors humanity’s free will and does nothing until all Hell breaks loose. A demon Lord, Diablo, is constantly obsessed with this plan for conquest. Not once, but twice, his attempts at domination have been rebuffed. But demons are somewhat difficult to eliminate altogether – hence, in Diablo III you yet again play an individual tasked with defeating the armies of Hell – and anybody that happens to align with them.
The console version happens to be the same as buying the PC copy, at least from a content perspective. The game is divided in to four acts, with multiple quests contained in each act. The game is still a top-down action RPG, with levels that have cutaway walls and roofs for the times when a character goes too near them for the player character to be visible otherwise. Strangely, this is not the case for natural environmental details such as trees, rocks, and other natural formations. Part of this is to conceal some enemies from sight. Other times, it simply seems to happen for the sake of aesthetics. While the level design within the game seems well-planned, the fact of the matter is that the graphics are a product of their original milieu on a computer platform. Many games on said platforms sacrifice in certain points to be more easily accessible to multiple manufacturers as well as individuals that wish to assemble their own PCs. Thus we get real-time strategy games that use better physics engines and AIs, but which have looked fairly the same for years, save for some extra spit and polish, and RPGs that tailor to people using operating systems two generations out of date. While this works for computer gaming, on a system that is standardized across the board, it comes across as weak, especially in light of other games in the same genre that have much better graphics and a non-repetitive level design. However, the rendering is well-done, and although repetitious, the atmospherics and enemy design are at least well-done.
However, the game play system that they devised to replace a mouse and keyboard is definitely comfortable enough. The menus are easily accessible and controlled, with clearly-defined available actions. As far as controller function goes, each button has a different function. They are logically chosen in regard to how they act within the game, and how a player unlocks their use of the buttons in order to utilize more advanced skills. The actual actions available are change due to the class that the players choose. However, the manner in which an individual can use these skills is so varied that the character class design feels horribly unbalanced, giving some classes a style of game play that more easily lends itself to the combat style of the game. Even more than the nature of the game play on a base level, the actual combat is a frenzied mess of chaining that processes so quickly and stacks automatically to the point where it is impossible to do certain actions immediately when they are required due to that combat chain. The lack of ability to cancel a chain in the console version is a huge oversight. BioWare managed to figure out how to make it work without completely slowing down the process with Knights of the Old Republic, so an visible action chain here would not be impossible, and it is therefore a clear oversight. Another frustrating aspect of the game is that, no matter how many people are playing, the enemy count is for a party of four, leading to multiple deaths for solo players that are new to the series, which makes game play tedious. Although the controls are well-ported to the console, the actual game play is lacking.
The final area to discuss must be the actual story of the game. Whereas some trilogies continually introduce new elements of the plot to keep readers interested, others simply extrapolate from previous entries to make a new one. This latter is unfortunately the case with Diablo III. Once again, you start your journey in Tristram. However, the town is now “New Tristram” due to the dark history of the locale. After learning that a stranger that came down in a blazing fire is an angel that volunteered to be mortal, you discover that you are a descendant of angel and human – nephalem. With that knowledge in hand, you journey forth to destroy the invasion plan that the Lords of the Burning Hells have devised. Along the way, you encounter enemies and allies new and old, including a few that should have been long gone. None of this is particularly original or compelling, and thus advancing further in to the plot is done more out of habit than desire.
However, I must admit that the idea of the game is enough to make some people interested. The ability to play an action RPG with other players tends to be a rarity in gaming these days. You can craft weapons if you don’t like the ones you have. You can customize them if they’re the right weapons. Blizzard undertook a gargantuan task in moving a game that was solely for Windows-based computers and Macs and moving it to consoles. They provided interested gamers with a type of game that rarely finds itself on systems that do not require a majority of that game to be installed on the hard drive. They decided that since they made a game, everybody should be able to play it. The elimination of elitism gives the game a certain charm, even with all of the frustrations present because the game was not initially designed for console gaming. That the PC/Mac version is better than the console version is unsurprising, but just because the outcome was mediocre does not mean that the same can be said for the goals.
Ultimately, Diablo III is a game that is decent, but most console gamers have had far better experiences in similar genres. If you like the rest of the Diablo series and want to check it out, or just want to party with some friends like the commercials suggest, it is a worthwhile choice, but lone gamers should endeavor to get it on sale.