Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Terror Rises (Again)

Good Wednesday everyone!

Yes it was only a matter of time until my article on Diablo3. I knew it, and you knew it.

Before hand however, let me take you back to 1996, sixteen years! I was then only twelve years old and my father had picked up a game for me to play on our PC. The PC would have been pretty new at the time, a Gateway2000 complete with cow-print mouse pad, 4Gigs of HDD space, 16mb of RAM, a P200 processor and on built 8mb Intel graphics chip. Believe it or not, at the time it was the shit!

So I loaded up this game, which was of course the original Diablo and made my first venture into Tristram and the hell below it.

I remember all the characters like they were real people, the town drunk, the bar woman, Cain, Wort the peg legged boy etc

I also remember how difficult the game was. Sure I was only 12, but it was difficult on a scale I've never come across again. Each level down to hell getting progressively more difficult with some truly memorable moments.

Who can forget the room filled with bloody bodies strung up on meat hooks? Opening the door to said room to the bellowing call FRESH MEAT! And then being chased by a rather bloody and horned fat dude called The Butcher.
- what's funny, despite all the times I died to him, and the ridiculous tactics my wife and I adopted to defeat this guy (more on that later) the thing I remember the most was his movement. It seemed he didn't have any knees when he walked, or should I say waddled. This gave him a very unthreatening appearance. If you can imagine an obese dude with horns duck-shuffling over to you at the speed of someone running, that's the image that we were presented with.

A number of years later Blizzard went on to release Diablo2, but unfortunately it was released at the same time as Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, another top down, point and click game set in White Wolf's World of Darkness. A few years later I would pick up D2, and while I did enjoy it, I was glad I bought Vampire instead, and the game itself didn't really live up to the first Diablo for me.

So as you can see, with Blizz since releasing a number of near perfect games since and a mission statement to stay faithful to the franchise while also not recreating the Blizzard North work I had mixed feelings about how this game could go.

By now I'm sure you've all heard about the MMO style of DRM (requires a constant, always on Inet connection to play) and the launch week bugs (Error 75 and 37).

I'm not hear to talk about that. Most people (other than my father living in the backwater part of Wales) have a stable Internet connection that the DRM isn't such an issue and the errors and bugs have since been ironed out by the Blizz support team.

No instead I'm here to talk about the game itself.

So far I have made 3 characters, a barbarian, a demon hunter and as of last night, a warrior monk.

Out of these I would say that the demon hunter is by far my favourite. In Diablo I played the rogue (ranged, bow user) and this fills very nicely into that roll, the monk is also very fun, teleporting around, stun-punching demons while healing the damage dealt to me.

So far I have yet to progress far past the first proper boss, the Skeleton King (a boss from D1) and I have read that The Butcher makes a return later. This makes me happy! Currently this game is less a direct move forward, but instead a revisit to what made the first two games fun and unique, all the while doing away with annoying mechanics such as the scroll of town portal, and replacing it with an always available spell.

At this point I don't know if The Butcher will be as tough as he was in D1 (being about to kill you in two hits if he got into Melee with you) but I'm just glad to know he's back.

Of course no game is perfect. And D3 is no exception. I mentioned earlier about a curious tactic my wife and I had for the Butcher? Well when we played the game co-op about 8 years ago we found that neither of us could stand toe to toe with him and 'tank' him. And that the room he was in was always a stand alone room with lots of running room around the outside.

It was with this in mind that we both grabbed our bows, one of us would open the door and then run away in circles around the outside of his room while the other would run behind him shooting him. After he had taken enough damage he would then turn on the shooter, who would then turn around and run circles outside his room, all the while the previous runner would follow behind and shoot him. Repeat this for about 15 mins and that was how we defeated him.

Was this fun? Not particularly, it was tense however and the sense of accomplish when we downed him was immense!

The problem, while I've yet to complete Act1, I've yet to encounter any situation which actually requires teamwork like this.

Is this a major issue? Not really, and I'm still majorly enjoying this game.

And so we draw to a close with my final verdict:

Should you play this game? Hells yeah!

Why wouldn't you want to? You get to return to Tristram Cathedral and kill the Skeleton King!

And on that note, take care and happy hunting

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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