Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PS4
Release Date: September 3, 2013 (Xbox 360, PS3) TBD (PS4)
Price: $59.99 – Xbox 360; PS3
*This review includes pre-order items: Infernal Helm & Angelic Wings*
Allow me to offer a simple fact before starting this review. The console version DOES NOT incorporate any form of the auction house and DOES NOT allow character transfer from PC to console. Those that whine that Diablo 3 is completely ruined due to the AH/RMAH can stay their tongues on this rendition. And for those that wanted to transfer characters, what real purpose would that serve? (and they would bring over their auction stuffs – not cool) Now that the party-poopers have been dealt with let’s get to discussing a game that perhaps is worth investing your time.
For those that wished the storyline to be altered, sorry, that did not happen. Even so the story embodied emotional qualities in a plethora of instances that will have you jumping out of your seat in jubilation or readying your blades to vault back into the fray. Characters tend to hold more surprises than what they may appear, so speaking with them on a regular occurrence may increase your overall Diablo lore.
I can safely assume that port to console has made Diablo 3 less story driven and more checkpoint to checkpoint with the addition of 4 player co-op offline play. In fact the story will turn into background directions as players skim through dialogue just to grab loot and head to the next monster mosh pit. But that isn’t a bad thing! You can have completely un-knowledgeable cohorts and still have an exciting hack-n-slash adventure. Have at least one geek in the group that knows some Sanctuary lore – it tends to help with strategy in boss fights.
At the game’s core the foundation remains the same, but the transition to the console has brought upon changes that greatly affect the style and environment which a PC player is use to. Let us first discuss how the user input has been altered. Instead of having a keyboard and mouse combo at your disposal, Blizzard needed to come up with an ingenious way to instill the same amount of controls with less available buttons. Button “A” allows players to utilize the their first innate ability while also being the primary interactive component for initiating dialogue or interface selections. For movement the left analog stick receives directional input while the right analog stick delivers an evasive maneuver in the user destined direction. (i.e. a player can move right with the left analog and evade backwards with the right analog) Eventually spells begin to fill the right side of the controller with learned skills being applied to the right trigger, right bumper, “Y”, “X”, and “B”. Note that once you are dead, you may revive yourself at your current grave with “Y” or respawn back at the town with “X”.
Beyond the simple mapping of controls, the title offers a new user interface for a character’s screen that includes inventory, skill sets, quests, and more. By touching the back key “<|” players are able to jump into this new menu system and begin altering their gear/abilities. Instead of the normal bag inventory, a radial dial has been instantiated to provide direct links to a character’s specific armor and weapon options. Selecting the helmet on the dial will present the player with all the helmet options available unless no helmet has been acquired. Sections with zero items will not be accessible. New players will generally have the main hand, off-hand, and accessory options open. Depending on controller sensibilities the dial may be hard to control when looking through armor or checking skills. Those that have used an Xbox 360 controller regularly may not even notice this.
What else has changed? Combat itself has been altered to better suit the hack-n-slash needs of the four person co-op. I never thought I would see the day that my wife would be able to pick up a controller and play an instant classic like Diablo 3 with me on the coach. And it happened with the help of auto-targeting enemies. The game was developed with couch play in mind, so it cannot just seclude itself to the RPG fanatics that boast on precise sequential attacks. (there’s Inferno mode for a reason) Some players need a little push in the right direction, and auto-target helps with that – unless you are bound and determined to attack that corpse! I know its strangely tempting, but a corpse is a corpse unless it’s walking…
Loot is no longer specified towards individual players. The game has just begun! Get ready to play grab bag as the final millimeters of life run out on that latest boss battle. You can be sure that each couch potato will be mashing the “A” button like crazy when loot begins to fly. There will always be one person that decides that he needs to run the show for holding the most loot. My friends and I hold a special place in our hearts for this person and call him “nugget”. I also may or may not be this person on occasion.
Shifting perspectives from PC to console, the view has changed from an alternating close-up/bird’s eye view (PC) to a fixed screen (console). The fixed screen was instilled to provide sufficient enough room for four characters to romp on while presenting each character with enough fleshy details. I also noticed that the painted art is more visible in this rendition and offers a colorful blend to the characters and environments. Clearly the higher quality can be viewed on the PC, but with the amount of enemies that are thrown at you – how long are you going to be staring at a wooden stump? And don’t worry, the cinematic videos look as good as they did before.
And we cannot mention visuals without including the Infernal Helm or Angelic Wings! While the Infernal Helm is a low level item that can be placed on your head as soon as you enter the game, it holds a great bonus to increase experience earned by 25%. Keep that baby on to level your starting characters up fast. The Angelic Wings are purely for cosmetic looks, and they sure do look cool. Nothing screams blasphemy like dawning angel wings with a dripping dagger and voodoo head.
In my previous review of Diablo 3 for PC, I have spoken towards the voice acting and how the nostalgia of previous works come flooding back. Deckard Cain being the forerunner of this truly brings the back memories of one that was dying to identify your items – though he does not get to do that this time around as greater things are in store. Classic dying sounds made famous by skeletons and imps alike provide timeless blood gushing amounts of fun.
This is how Diablo is suppose to be played. The time has finally come to put that rear back on the couch and pass a round of drinks to your three lucky cohorts in hopes to bash in Diablo’s skull. And I have to give a major thanks to Blizzard for creating a game that can be enjoyed by my best friend and partner. This truly is the “Champions of Sanctuary“.
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