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Diablo 3 Review: Offline and on a Console?

September 7th, 2013 by Crowbar Comments

Diablo 3 is a game gamers were waiting for 12+ years since the second game graced PC Gamers with its dungeon crawling goodness, there were high hopes for Diablo 3. Unfortunately, the game was met with unfavorable reviews due to the controversial DRM policy that prevented the game from being played online. In addition to this, there was a rash of Errors, famously the Error 37 problem people experienced at least once when they booted up the game in that first game. Then, flurries of nerfs were added to the game, making it easier. This was naturally met with mixed reactions to casual Diablo players and hardcore. It has been well over a year since Diablo 3 has come out for the PC. Now it is time for the console to get a taste. Personally, I found Diablo 3 to be too short on the PC with a lack of content to qualify it for a worthy score. The experience is drastically different on the console in many forms. In this review, I will mention these and factor them into my final score.

Diablo 3 takes place 20 years after the events of Diablo 2. Diablo is back and it is up to the Nephelam to stop him. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are there to guide the hero to the gates of Hell to defeat Diablo who continues to ruin everyone’s day. A man falls from the sky, his origin is unknown but he survived the fall, so his survivability is clearly unique. Uncovering what Diablo’s plan is and thwarting it will be quite the task. The hero will make many new friends along the way and vanquish any demon that opposes him.

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I wanted to keep my synopsis spoiler free and be as vague as possible. In a way, that is how the first half of the game’s story tells itself anyway. So I guess I am in the right. The game does take a pretty grim turn after Act II and I wouldn’t say it has a really massive twist you don’t see coming (unless you don’t read foreshadowing well) but it is pretty well executed. The cutscenes do a great job of telling the story along with the characters in game when you continue talking to them in the town hub. There is a lot of lore in this game. It ranges from the books you find in dungeons to the NPC’s you rescue in side missions. The story is good. Not great, but it tells the fantasy adventure well. That is good enough.

Onto the nice parts of Diablo 3, luckily I have something to nice to say about the game. First off, this is a great couch RPG. This game is much more enjoyable playing with friends because everyone loves fighting about who gets what loot and the negotiations for trading. The second best part, is that you can play this game offline. Something Blizzard didn’t think of for the PC version is available on the console port. Nice right? I mean, sometimes your internet is unreliable or you don’t have the necessary bandwidth available. You can play the game offline by yourself of with LAN. It is quite something to be able to play games offline. Yes most of that was sarcasm, but I digress.

The controls are brilliant to say the least. I was reminded of the PS2 days when I would play hours of Champions of Norrath. Movement is controlled with the left analog stick and your attacks are mapped to the four face buttons as well as the shoulder buttons. You can be just as precise as if you were playing with a mouse/keyboard. The game’s combat transitioned very well and took me by surprise.

Now onto the part everyone REALLY wants to hear, the problems with the game. Despite the constant changes to the loot system, difficulty level, and character scaling, the game is still incredibly unbalanced. There isn’t any class exclusivity when it comes to equipment. Sure there are some class specific items like bows/quivers/voodoo masks etc that can’t be used by anyone. But what I am talking about is how every class will eventually rely on critical damage and almost nothing else. If you wish to be overly successful at Diablo 3 right into the hardest difficulty set up you will not win by stacking armor values. You will win by stacking crit values with gems and most equipment.

Back in the day you would save certain item for your specific characters. You pick up an axe that has great stats but you don’t save it for the barbarian, you use it for your Monk. While you do not HAVE to go with this, it is the idea and the presentation of this mechanic that really ruins the atmosphere of the game. You won’t find any weapons that have pros and cons. You will find a small set of item that really work and will outclass everything else, and then the weapons that look cool, but are useless, like every single Daibo or two handed crossbow. The loot is not centralized to build your character the way you want to it is just so focused on certain sets and builds for characters to only be successful but not necessarily fun.

The game is rather short and linear compared to the previous Diablo titles. While the maps are rather large you will always be progressing in the story unless you stop and grind in certain areas. The amount of sidequests is pretty pitiful compared to games like Adventures of Van Helsing and Torchlight. The game in some ways feels unfinished because of this large amount of linearity. However, the console version gets away with it somehow and that is how the experience is drastically different. The game’s short length and linearity is designed to have people to start a NG+ and play through on a harder difficulty. Which feels far too easy by Diablo standards.

The artwork is alright, but the focus seems too reliant on a bunch of dark places and depressing looking people. It almost seems too generic for its own good. The high res cutscenes are really cool though. Diablo 3 on the console suffers a severe problem with FPS drops. While it is mostly locked at 60 fps, you may find on more than one occasion the FPS drop so much, you have to stop moving and let the game catch up. This mostly happens when you fight more than one horde at once.

Here are some of the differences between the two versions. Loot dropped is less frequent but of higher quality when it comes to magic items; there is no auction house to spend your real money on items, and the visuals are obviously not has high of a quality on console compared to the PC. Other than these differences, the games are not too different in terms of gameplay and execution.

The final verdict on this game is really mixed. Diablo 3 is really fun, but it is highly recommended you play with friends or random people online. The loot system is an oversimplified mess that promotes almost no originality with characters build. The controls are great and the combat of the game plays very well. The FPS drops are very unappealing and the game feels too easy. Diablo 3 is a fun game, just this port does not feel thought out and polished. I give Diablo 3 (Console Version) a 6/10.

3/5 Nerds

Crowbar is an angry young man, but he knows his games. We all have our passions and his come alive when his digital self is hammering baddies, solving puzzles or flying. He also has a penchant for dressing like giant penguins, but we promised him we wouldn't mention it.