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Level Up! We Review Diablo III

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Level Up! We Review Diablo III

Blizzard commits a near-fatal error!

By Tim Janson     May 23, 2012

This week we have our review of Diablo III and while I gave it a middling B minus, I could have easily gone C Plus, that’s how much I really hate the DRM.  That said, what the Hell do I know!  More than 3.5 million copies of the game were sold in its first 24 hours of availability, according to Blizzard. In addition, Over 1.2 million people took advantage of the free digital versions handed out to those who signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass. That offer brought the total number of gamers with a copy of the game on launch day up to 4.7 million, good enough to make it the "biggest PC game launch in history." After the first week, that figure now sits at 6.3 million.  So maybe it’s only us critics who had a problem with it.
 
IN THE NEWS…
 
2K Games announces Borderlands 2 Limited and Collector's Editions
 
2K Games announced two tiers of special limited editions for the highly anticipated Borderlands 2 -the Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector’s Edition and Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition. Currently in development by Gearbox Software, Borderlands 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed four-player cooperative shooter-looter that combined intense first-person mayhem with role-playing gameplay. Both editions will reward fans with a number of collectible and in-game bonus items that will enhance the action-packed experience of Borderlands 2.
 
The Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector's Edition (MSRP $99.99) includes a copy of Borderlands 2; authentic Marcus Kincaid bobblehead; Inside the Vault: The Art & Design of Borderlands 2 hardbound book; collectable sticker set; map of Pandora; digital comic download code; and bonus downloadable in-game digital content. The Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition (MSRP $149.99) includes all of those items, plus a collectable scaled replica of the red loot chests found throughout Pandora in Borderlands 2; steel book case; Creatures of Pandora wide-format ID chart; lithograph postcard set; field notes from Sir Hammerlock; cloth map of Pandora; and a numbered certificate of authenticity. Both of the special editions will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
 
Gamers who pre-order the Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector's Edition, Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition or the standard edition of Borderlands 2 from participating retailers will also gain access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, allowing them to download the Gearbox Gun Pack, a Golden Key, the Vault Hunter’s Relic and an all-new fifth character class - the Mechromancer. The Gearbox Gun Pack is a collection of unique guns to help players begin their journey on Pandora. The Golden Key is used to unlock a rare in-game item in the mysterious Golden Sanctuary Loot Chest found in Borderlands 2. The Vault Hunter’s Relic is an in-game item that boosts players’ gear-hunting fortune while playing solo or teaming up with friends. The Mechromancer character class will be available following launch when development of the character is complete and is free to those who pre-order Borderlands 2, and will be available for purchase for those who do not. To pre-order all editions of Borderlands 2, please visit www.borderlands2.com/preorder.
 
Borderlands 2 will be available in North America on September 18, 2012.
 
Deep Silver Announces Dead Island Game of the Year Edition
 
Deep Silver today announced the upcoming release of the Game of the Year Edition for the award-winning game Dead Island.  Originally released in September of 2011,. Dead Island quickly became a fan favorite, topping the charts of #1 best-selling games worldwide during its launch and going on to delight over 3 million zombie lovers across the globe. This new edition gives players who are yet to experience the beautiful terror of Dead Island a version packed with content: including the Bloodbath Arena mode, the Ryder White’s Campaign single-player story arc and the blueprint for the highly-coveted Ripper weapon mod.
 
Offering a new unique perspective into the main story of Dead Island, the player will play as Ryder White, the main game’s antagonist.  Ryder White’s Campaign offers players the chance to learn more about his motivations and why, from his point of view, he did what he had to do, showing him both as a military man and a loving husband in a fresh take on the Dead Island story. The campaign includes a single player story arc with several hours of gameplay as well as two blueprints and weapons to further expand the already impressive arsenal of Dead Island.
 
In Bloodbath Arena four different arenas offer new challenges that can be played alone or in coop mode. It’s a desperate fight for survival where waves after waves of unrelenting zombies attack, one more gruesome than the next! What’s more, characters can loot experience points and items and bring them over to the campaign mode as well as compare their skills in zombie elimination in the arena’s leaderboards.
 
The Dead Island – Game of the Year Edition will be released for the PlayStation 3 system, the Xbox 360 and Windows PC on June 26th, 2012 for a suggested retail price of $29.99.
 
Moonraker in 007 Legends Game
 
Moonraker - the 11th movie in the Bond film franchise - is the first of the six classic Bond movie-inspired missions revealed in the recently announced 007™ Legends video game. Transporting aspiring secret agents to the well-known space port of billionaire industrialist, Hugo Drax, fans must rely on stealth and determine if they'll trust and align with questionable allies to infiltrate the orbiting evil lair and defeat one of the most iconic Bond henchmen - Jaws. The goal? Foil the enemy and destroy Drax's plans to poison the world. 
 
A first-of-its-kind Bond video game, 007 Legends features an original, overarching storyline featuring six classic Bond movies to offer the most diverse Bond gaming experience yet! As with the feature films, 007 Legends equips players with state-of-the-art spy gadgets, an arsenal of weapons, including Bond's signature Walther PPK, and sleek vehicles as they jet off to exotic locations and utilize Bond's quick wits, class and style to take down notorious villains and their brutal henchmen, perform impressive stunts, and of course...gorgeous Bond women.
 
New Game from Halo Creators
 
Bungie, creators of the Halo series have announced their next title.  codenamed "Destiny," is scheduled to hit store shelves next fall, and should be playable on both the Xbox 360 and Microsoft's still officially unannounced next-generation system.  Details of the game came out when a contract between Bungie and game publisher Activision was made public as part of the ongoing lawsuit between Activision and Call of Duty founders Jason West and Vince Zampella.
 
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
 
Resistance: Burning Skies (Sony) PSVita
 
Resistance: Burning Skies is a 2012 First-Person Shooter release in Sony Computer Entertainment's Resistance franchise. Designed exclusively for play on the PlayStation Vita handheld gaming console, Burning Skies continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the alien Chimeran horde in an alternate fictional Earth past. The game features an all-new hero, a story set in New York City, new weapons, a challenging campaign mode, a social networking feature and other PS Vita-specific functionality. 
 
As New Jersey fire fighter and National Guardsman Tom Riley, you're about to come face to face with the brutal Chimeran invasion force in this blistering shooter built from the ground up for PlayStation Vita system. The latest installment in the hugely successful franchise, Resistance: Burning Skies focuses on a new mission that parallels and complements the existing Resistance storyline. 

 

 

Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland (NIS America) Rated T  PS3

Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is the third and final Atelier game set within the Arland world, and it continues the series' emphasis on adventure and item synthesis. This latest installment is the direct sequel to Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland. 

Atelier Meruru adopts a mission-based game system wherein you must develop and enhance your kingdom within three years. There are a variety of quests, ranging from synthesizing and delivering items to taking on ferocious beasts, and how you accomplish these missions will contribute to the progress and storyline of the game. Completing quests will reward you with points that can be used to perform different tasks on a national level, such as creating new facilities and leveling up your kingdom, which in turn will allow you access to different areas to develop and explore.



 

Diablo III (Blizzard) PC


When is a single-player game not a single-player game? When it’s the exasperating Diablo III whose senselessly irritating, annoying, frustrating, infuriating, pull-your-hair-out Digital Rights Management control forces you to be online even in single-player mode. So instead of enjoying what is without a doubt the most story-driven chapter of Diablo yet, were stuck fighting with finicky servers that boot you without saving what loot you should have gained, and with lag issues from the damn thing constantly running and downloading in the background. What this means is you better have a robust internet connection to play the game. If you don’t, then don’t even waste your money. Servers were a major issue out of the gate and while things have been improved, this does not make Blizzard look good at all. So ok let me preface the rest of this review by saying I haven’t been big into computer games since the days of my old Commodore Amiga 500. I’d call myself moderately knowledgeable about computers and software and I truly despise dealing with PC game issues, unending patches, videocard settings, etc…But I did enjoy Diablo II and like many looked forward to the long-awaited third game in the series. 


To start there are five character classes of Diablo III: Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Barbarian, and Monk and the game takes place 20 years after the events in Diablo II. Whichever class you end up choosing, your adventure begins when a mysterious star falls from the heavens to the land of Sanctuary, striking a cathedral and separating the sorceress Leah from her uncle Deckard Cain. In pursuing the fallen star, you’ll unearth a treasure trove of secrets and loot, randomized dungeons, and scores of demons. 


Combat is simple but fun and addicting. Your mouse buttons perform standard and special attacks and your numerical keypad can also be used to house and perform other special abilities. Easy enough for your melee classes but when using a wizard it becomes somewhat more confusing as you have to shuttle around abilities into essentially slots not meant for them. Now a wizard may not need to often utilize melee or range weapons, especially at higher levels, but this is something you’re left to figure out on your own. When you level up you gain new abilities; consisting of offensive skills, defensive skills, passive skills, or modifiers to existing skills. Unlike previous games, in Diablo III players can’t adjust natural stats when leveling up, but abilities can always be changed. This does make for a bit more trial and error to knowing how to kill certain enemies and offers somewhat more realism (you know…realism for a fantasy RPG). The battle effects are exquisite, especially the magical effects which light up your screen and give you the sense of pure power being unleashed. 


What adventuring fiends will love is the random level generation in dungeons. If you play through the game in single-player, then play in co-op, the same dungeon will never be exactly the same. There will be some of the same key events but the level layouts and monsters will differ which offers a ton of replay value. The AI even adjusts to your level as well as the number of players in your party which again is quite cool. 


Crafting plays a key role in the game as the more gold you invest and the better items you find, the local Blacksmith can break these down at a component level and craft customize items. You’ll find literally a mountain of loot and fortunately you have plenty of storage room for all this stuff to either sell or make use of down the road. Despite all this…Diablo III cannot hold a candle to a game like Skyrim for example in its sheer mammoth size and number of items that you can find and utilize. It’s also nowhere close to equaling Skyrim’s length, even adding in replaying in co-op mode numerous times. It’s just not. 


Diablo III features some beautiful cinematic sequences that are steeped in drama giving it a grand feel. The combat and inventory systems are fantastic and I love the replayability. But after a 12 year waite one cannot help but ask the question, “Is that it?” Is this another Duke Nukem, stuck in develop Hell forever and building up unfair expectations? Diablo III is a hell of a lot better game than Duke, of course, but the stupid DRM takes what could have been at least an A minus game and drops it a full grade. And a rather short single-player campaign by many console RPG standards, leaves a lot to be desired. Grade B- 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
CyanideRush 5/24/2012 5:04:18 AM

Yeah Tim, I've grown out of PC gaming. I too tired of never ending upgrades. I don't even have a PC anymore, just a netbook used to transfer files to and from my iPad. I'm not plunking down hundreds of dollars to play DIablo 3. I'll wait until the inevitably console port (which is no so secretly in the works).

-Chuck

jppintar326 5/24/2012 5:14:14 AM

Love Moonraker.  One of my favorite Roger Moore Bond movies.  That and The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy.  Hope the game will be great.

dojen1 5/24/2012 5:20:22 AM

Playing D3 now (well, not RIGHT now). It's.....OK. Same S*** Better Graphics.

Kaziklu 5/24/2012 7:29:59 AM

 Ok did you just compare D3 to Skyrim? D3 is more of a hybrid between a button masher like God of War and a full featured CRPG. It has always been that way. It be like Comparing D2 to Buldar's Gate. 

And the game is so easy that you can with little difficult play through without dying. Heck with the Melee classes you can most likely get through to chapter bosses without even using a potion, because of the orb system. The game is clearly designed with a console port in mind, and because of that is seriously over simplified, and lacks customization, in that every skill is unlocked really, you just have to pick which ones to put on your bar. 

Over all the Blizzard that created Diablo 2, and World of Warcraft (vannila) is gone. 

tjanson 5/24/2012 8:13:09 AM

Kaziklu...."The game is clearly designed with a console port in mind, and because of that is seriously over simplified, and lacks customization" 

Really?  did you ever play Skyrim?  Skyrim is far larger, far deeper, with more to find, more to do, far more customization, and it takes far longer to complete.  Where are you getting Diablo III is simplified with a console port in mind? 

Sorry but Blizzard is flying on reputation here.  Diablo III is a decent game but its not the game fans deserved after a 12 year wait.

FerretJohn 5/24/2012 9:13:00 AM

I'm not that wild about the LRM either, but having a cable connection that's always on it's less of an issue for me, at least it's not like Half-Life 2 where you had to play through a damned Valve account and paying a monthly fee in addition to the game cost.  I'm already looking forward to the expansion (you know it'll be coming) and what it may bring.

And if you are reviewing Diablo 3 you should also note the Secret "Cow" Level.  Instead of large polearm-wielding bovines walking around going "moo.  moo-moo.  moo" you find yourself on a bright and colorful island with happy-face clouds and rainbows battling vicious My Pretty Pony unicorns and Teddy Bears.  They have so got to die!

Kaziklu 5/24/2012 12:05:09 PM

 @tjanson

I dunno if you just read what I wrote with the wrong tone, but I meant that Review was comparing Diablo III to games that aren't like it. The Skyrim and D3 aren't comparable on the depth chart because they are very different games. It's like saying an Apple isn't as oval as a Pineapple. 

I then state that Blizzard didn't produce as good a game as pervious blizzard games. 

goldeneyez 5/25/2012 8:03:13 AM

D3 is a good game.  I agree with Kaziklu's assessment that its really not fair to compare D3 to Skyrim... that would be like comparing Tic Tac Toe to Chess.  Their both bames but one is far more complicated and deep than the other. D3 is a simple dungeon hack and slash whereas Skyrim is an open world rpg with a WHOLE lot more depth to it.

I don't necessarily agree with him that it was designed with a console port in mind.  I don't think Blizzard really makes games with consoles in mind... yet.  I do agree it's dumbed down compared to previous versions, but I don't think this because of consoles.  It was just a design descision I think to make it more applicable to a wider audience.

That said, I think I am looking forward to Torchlight 2 more than I was for D3.  I'm enjoying D3, but the DRM stuff is really annoying & outside of fighting pirates, it really didn't have to be there for a single player experience.

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