Diablo III has finally been released from its crypt, and I’m going to take a look and see if it lives up to the hype, or sends you straight to the depths of hell in despair.

Core Component:

  • Wield the Might of a thousand powers:  
  • Shake the earth, blast your enemies with fire and ice, summon otherworldly minions and much more as you wield the powers of your heroic birthright.
  • Conquer an infinite battlefield
  • Lay waste to legions of evil throughout randomized, 3D environments. Face innumerable demonic villains, uncover quests in new locations, and claim different loot every time you play. No two games    are ever the same.
  • Trade the Spoils of War
  • Use the Real Money Auction House to buy and sell items for real world currency. Then draw on your earnings to buy ever more powerful items or cash out your trades, take the money, and run. The choice is yours. Real Money Auction House coming soon. 
  • Dare Sanctuary’s dark world
  • From the fabled spires of Caldeum to the besieged walls of Bastion’s Keep, the mortal world has fallen under the corrupting influence of infernal powers. Aid in Sanctuary’s defense as it teeters on the brink of demonic annihilation.
Price: $59.99

System Requirements

WINDOWS

MAC
Windows® XP/Vista/7 (latest service packs) with DX 9.0c Mac® OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.x or later
Intel Pentium® D 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 4400+ Intel® Core 2 Duo
NVIDIA® GeForce® 7800 GT or ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro or better NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 or better
1 GB RAM (XP), 1.5 GB (Vista/7) 2 GB RAM
12 GB available HD space 12 GB available HD space
DVD-ROM (required for retail disc versions only) DVD-ROM (required for retail disc versions only)
Broadband** Internet connection Broadband** Internet connection
1024×768 minimum resolution 1024×768 minimum resolution

Recommended System Requirements

WINDOWS MAC
Windows® Vista/7 (latest service packs) Mac® OS X 10.7.x or later
Intel® Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo
2 GB RAM 2 GB RAM
NVIDIA® GeForce® 260 or ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 or better NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M or ATI Radeon™ HD 4670 or better


Things to focus on:

We’re going to start with the story, which starts with an individual cinematic based on your class/sex combination, and brings you straight to New Tristam, the first quest hub in the game. After some brief combat, you’re introduced to Leah, the niece of Deckard Cain and a pivotal player in the story.

Your travel will take you through the game’s four acts, visiting serene pastures taken over by the walking dead, the abrasive sands of the desert outside of Caldeum, a warring castle under siege, to the depths of hell, and more.

Without giving away too much of the story, I can tell you that the fallen star was my favorite character, that his struggles ripped my heart from my chest, and that I just may have cried at the end of Act I.

The world itself is a sight to behold. The art direction that Blizzard has taken definitely has a lighter tone than I remember from the previous Diablo games, but I loved it.

From the swaying foliage as you travel through an area, to the steaming lava pits of hell, I was hooked on the world from my first few steps. My favorite area was the Skycrown Battlement which was also one of my favorite parts of the game action-wise. It truly felt like a castle under siege, and I was just the hero to save it.

The NPC dialog, both when in the “central hub” where vendors and companions are located, and in the world at large, was colorful and interesting, adding an air of authenticity to the world. While I always find it difficult to connect to the characters in the isometric view that is the staple of dungeon running games, I didn’t have any issues connecting to the world of Diablo III. It drew me in and left me wanting more.

You’d think that combat in the dungeon running genre would have been perfected by this point, but somehow Blizzard manages to take it and throw a few small curves at you to keep you clicking your way through the multiple levels of Difficulty. You start with Normal, then repeat the game in Nightmare, Hell and the most difficult, Inferno.

As with most dungeon running games, you’ll find yourself madly clicking on mobs as they present themselves to you in the game world, madly clicking to move, madly clicking to loot, madly clicking to do just about anything. Your left and right mouse buttons are your primary attacks, and your 1-6 keys triggering special abilities and buffs.

The traditional “skill tree” concept you may have gotten used to in other games doesn’t really exist in Diablo III. Instead, you have a series of upgradeable abilities. As you grow in power, you gain access to new abilities, and new “runes” to put on the abilities that you already have, making them stronger and a little different. For example, by adding the Sweeping Armada rune to my Lashing Tail Kick, I could increase the knockback distance of the kick and slow the movement speed of enemies that I hit.

As my monk wades through combat, it’s amazing to see the blood and limbs flying. He is a true whirlwind of death, destroying all those around him. My favorite ability is Sweeping Wind, which gives me a bonus to damage for a short amount of time. This ability can stack up to three times (going up one stack each time I get a critical hit) and is on a timer. The kicker? Hitting something restarts the timer, so as a monk, I’m encouraged to launch myself headlong into battle without thinking, just so that I can keep my damage buff. It makes for some exciting combat, that’s for sure!

The followers that you gain as your progress through the game are also a lot of fun. I mostly used the Templar, and we fought back to back through the hordes of undead that came our way. Companions have a simplified character sheet, with only a few slots to worry about, and an even simpler skill tree. By the time you max out, they will have access to all eight skills that they can use. To start though, you pick 1 skill every five levels, and then once you hit level 20, you can pick any skill that you haven’t chosen yet to fill out their abilities.

It’s incredibly simple to join a multiplayer game in Diablo III. You can either choose one of the people on your friends list who is online and join them, or you can select a quest and join others already queueing for it. It is, however, relient on the Battle.net “Battletags” that you are given when you register the game and create your account. If you use the Battletag, then you are only linking to your friends in Diablo III. If you use their RealID info though, you’re linking across the entire spectrum of Blizzard games, as you do when you link RealID in WoW or Starcraft.

While you’re in game, each member of the group makes mobs 75% stronger, which actually makes gameplay a little easier with a group, as the more people in the group, the more the percentages are in your favor. A full group will be 300% more powerful than an individual, but will be facing mobs that are only 225% more powerful.

The best part of multiplayer is that the loot is still individual. You don’t have to worry about stealing someone else’s loot, because if you can see it, it’s meant for you!

The interesting thing about about logging into Diablo III is that it looks and feels just like logging into WoW. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? But hold on. This is supposed to be a single player game, with a multiplayer component. Why the hell do I have to log on with an INternet connection just to play the single player portion of the game.

This frustrates me to this day. Not only do I have to stay connected to Blizzard’s servers, but if they have any issues (like they did the first few days after launch, and several other nights since launch) I won’t be able to play the game at all. This frustration is further compounded by the continual loss of connection that happens while I play the game. Almost every play session, and sometimes several times a session, I’ll be dumped from the game onto the log-in screen. This is amazingly frustrating, especially as I tackle Nightmare and Hardcore modes.

There are many parts of the game that support the clickity-clickity goodness of the dungeon running, and the first is the crafting. Very early in the game, you’ll help the friendly town blacksmith, who will become your first crafter, and by the time you’re mid-way through Act II, you will have picked up a jeweler as well. The blacksmith allows you to make armor and weapons, while the jeweler allows you to upgrade gems to slot into the armor that begins to enter the game in the second Act.

I found myself constantly frustrated with the blacksmith. There was very little that he could make that was better than what I had picked up in the world, and even when he could make something better, it had a level requirement higher than my level. I’ve found that by the time I can actually wear what he can make, I’ve already found something better. The jeweler, however, is much more useful, combining smaller gems into larger more powerful ones that increase my god like power ever more.

The auction house in Diablo III is fairly simple and straight forward. I’ve used it a few times, but this early in the game, prices are all over the place, and I rarely found myself needing a piece of equipment. I would prefer to continue to search in the world for what I need. There’s also a 10 item limit in the auction house, so you won’t find yourself running the “many auctions for small profit” game on your way to fame and fortune. It’s also a little frustrating that you can’t cancel an auction at any time. If you make a mistake when posting an item, you have to wait until the auction runs out or the item sells.

As of the recording/printing of this review, the Real Money Transaction Auction House has yet to make an appearance, so I won’t be able to comment on it until I’ve had a chance to try it out.

Conclusion:

The game itself is an amazing amount of fun. The combat is intuitive, yet challenging to perfect, and the game world screams with atmosphere. The character advancement and crafting lack connection, and thus added more frustration than fun to the game for me. The most glaring problem for me overall was the constant server disconnect issue that kept me from enjoying the single player game at my convenience.

Rating:

3/4 – Hit

Our ratings:

1 out of 4 – Miss: Disappointing, just like rolling a 1 to hit

2 out of 4 – Glancing Blow: A good attempt that doesn’t quite connect

3 out of 4 – Hit: Solid, but falls short of greatness

4 out of 4 – Critical Hit: So awesome it makes us want to /dance