The important question is, does it work on console? In a reference from Blizzard, “Oh hell yeah!”
The game does not feel like a port, the UI working well with a controller, like it was designed for it. As for the game itself, well, it’s pure class in this genre. All the RPG elements were spectacularly well designed, and the gameplay is as addictive as any in the genre.
Publisher: Activision Blizzard
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans: Action-RPG’s, the series, fantasy theme.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PC, Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.0/10
What I liked
- Local co-op mecca of a game
- Sub-menu designed
- Addictive gameplay
- Works well with controller
- Class design
Not so much
- A few, slight frame-rate issues
- Where did the last week of my life go?
Gameplay and Features
Having not played the PC version, I was worried that the console Diablo III was going to be another blotch job, a forced project ported from a defining PC series. After all, my previous experience with an RPG that was clearly made for PC (Risen) was terrible. I am happy to dispel any concerns with the console version. Blizzard pulled it off. It feels like it was designed for consoles, with nothing suggesting otherwise.
Diablo III is a simple game in theory, offering in theory, exactly what other titles in the genre offer. Gameplay surrounding dungeon-crawling for loot, main and side-quests, leveling up your player, classes and speech-trees unraveling bits and pieces of a huge narrative. Blizzard however, are defining developers in the genre, and so Diablo III does just about everything… better. I can’t think of an RPG with a better radial menu, which I assume this being the console version, it was created in a streamlined manner for pick up and play ability. The entire sub-menu system, where all your character’s inventory and spec is displayed, was so well designed and an easy to come to grips with. The HUD is effortless to manage too as are the speech-trees to navigate – even the font is spot on.
The outstanding design continues with the controller mechanics, which was a concern for me prior to playing, knowing that it is a traditional mouse and keyboard game. The control mechanics are well mapped out. Players start with two basic attacks, mapped to the A and RT. Soon enough the third face button attack opens up, while the remaining two attacks only unlock some time into the game. The basic attacks are levelled up, and secondary attacks are added to each as you progress. You can quickly pull up the radial menu and change the face-button attacks when need be. The attacks vary according to the class you are playing with, from basic local shooting or weapon-yielding attacks, to more visceral eye-candy attacks as you progress. The only mechanic that was not instantly comfortable for me was the right thumb-stick. The right thumb-stick does not move the camera, it is used to dodge or evade attacks, depending on which direction you move it to. Thankfully the auto-camera works exceptionally well, so it never became an issue that I could not control it.
Players can choose between five classes: Barbarian, Monk, Demon-Hunter, Witch-doctor and Wizard. Each obviously has their strengths from magic, to attacking or healing dexterity’s etc. etc. The classes are pretty different but do overlap somewhat. Playing as the Wizard, a few hours into it and I was already imagining what the other classes might be like.
The huge advantage, arguably, with the console version is that an online connection is not required. You can play offline co-op or multiplayer online. Obviously if you can plan this out with regular partners, using different classes advantageously. If you go it alone, you will be joined by some AI characters. Let me be clear though – in my opinion, local co-op is king here. I mean the loot is shared and players are forced to stick together, to keep the camera steady instead of using a dodgy split-screen. Online, it’s every man for themselves with the looting and so communication is key.
Overall the gameplay offers the exact amount of simplicity for playability for me. It is also deep enough in terms of the progressive system, constantly rewarding or gratifying, and ultimately keeping me absolutely hooked.
Sound and Visuals
As I touched upon, the presentation is absolutely stunning – from menus to font, everything looks good and works well. I was actually surprised with the graphical quality in general. The world looks pretty damn good for an RPG, more so than most I’ve seen that use such a large gaming world. I mean the world is simple really, unlike dynamic worlds of smaller action titles, but generally everything looks good and inviting. The frame-rate is solid too and aside from a very few jagged textures, I really am surprised with the graphical quality.
The audio quality is also very good, authentic to the fantasy theme. You know what to expect: a mystically themed score, old-English and so forth. Everything was well put together and even the triggered dialogue, depending on where you go with the speech-trees, is smooth in transition. The narrative’s dialogue was well written and easy enough to follow as it u folds within the massive narrative.
If you do not own a gaming PC, and if you are a fan of RPG (action) games, then you won’t find a more compelling game out there. The joys of Diablo III are simple really – hours and hours of killing monsters, leveling up and rummaging around for loot. Like all games in the genre then, but the Diablo series is clearly a forerunner in the genre. With Diablo III, everything was just done right. The looting is great, the classes were superbly designed, the UI is spot-on and gratification is constant. Couple that with an immensely interesting narrative and superb co-op modes, and you have Diablo III.
Read about our ratings here.