The Average Gamer

Diablo 3 Review (360)

Diablo 3 Console - Corridor
Diablo 3 is the Dairy Milk of RPGs. Immensely popular, very enjoyable and great when you’re looking for a snack. However, eat too much in one go and you’re left with a sickly aftertaste.

You see, Diablo 3 is about loot. All of the loot. There’s not a whole of role-playing going on, except for your desired stats on loot. The entire driving force of the game is to get bigger, better loot in order to kill bigger better monsters. Sure, there’s a story in there. A big bad monster is rising and therefore you need to kill it to save the world. But there’s isn’t really a world to save. At least, not one that you ever see.

Every level is a series of dungeons with some pretty background wibbling away in the distance. At one point you’re allegedly in a city. In another, a palace. They both look just like the dungeons however, and have pretty much the same level of complexity. Hell, you can even smash up the palace vases in the hopes of finding cash. Next time you visit they’ll have been replaced and there’s no one to comment on your terribly anti-social behaviour because [spoiler warning] everyone was a demon anyway. Well, except for the shopkeepers, your mercenaries and the occasional NPC.

What I’m saying is that the plot and the environments are essentially wrappers for the loot and loot is all I care about. It’s all there is to care about. After every encounter Nick and I both stop the action for 10 minutes just to check our inventory and either upgrade or scrap our loot. It’s not a cosmetic thing, though your gear is reflected in your tiny on-screen avatar. We just want those higher numbers.

We don’t even need the higher numbers. Virtually every encounter on Normal difficulty goes as follows:

  • I draw the enemies in towards me with one of my monk powers
  • Nick freezes them with one of his wizard powers
  • We both hammer our ‘damage’ buttons
  • [Optional] Maybe we press some of the other buttons for novelty value during skill cooldowns
  • Repeat as required

This even applies to the boss battles. It was the end of Act 3 before we met an enemy who was immune to Nick’s freezing power and even then, we just ran around out of his reach. Nick hit him from a range while I took care of the adds and then he died and a bunch of loot fell out. We cheered.

Diablo 3 Console - Boss FightPlaying the game solo is a bit more nuanced. You actually have to pay attention in a fight though your AI companions do come in useful, once you unlock one that suits your playstyle.

I’m not sure Diablo 3 is really worth playing solo though, because there sure as hell isn’t much motivation to reach the end unless you’re in it for Nightmare mode bragging rights. If that’s the case, why force players to sit through all that terrible plot twice to get a real challenge? Ugh.

All of this isn’t to say that Diablo 3 is bad. It’s very polished. The controller-driven menus make it easy to compare loot A with loot b. Marking loot as junk while in the field makes it easy to sell the crap you don’t want once you get back to base. There’s no auction house in this console version of the game, real money or otherwise, so there no point in stashing it for later.

Despite my description above, the combat has plenty of variety to make you feel like you’re interestingly and successfully combining attacks for massive damage. Your stats menu gives you all the detail you could want over what damage/health/gold finding boosts you get from your gear and the details on the dungeons is simply breath-taking. At times, you’ll wish you had control over the camera, just to admire the pathos of the chained-up behemoths or the huge battle raging just below your ramparts.

Diablo 3 Console - Loot ComparisonThe audio guys in particular deserve praise because the smashing sound effects are simply wonderful. Very clattery and satisfying, and you do spent a lot of the game smashing things. Their work on VO could be better though; most of the voice acting sounds like perfectly good actors run through an amateur effects house. Deckard Cain in particular sounds like Patrick Stewart channelling Sean Connery on his deathbed, which is a shame because Michael Gough is a pretty good voice actor.

[Fun fact: Gough is credited as “male Nords” on Skyrim. He used to be an adventurer like you, until he took an arrow in the knee.]

Earning loot in Diablo 3 is fun and yet it all goes on a little too long. We spent the first two acts exploring every inch of every map, popping into every dungeon and killing every enemy. By Act 3, we were sick of the samey rooms full of generic enemies and just wanted to get through the damn thing. Instead we were walked around and around and around a few too many circular maps, sighing at the terrible puns of Cydaea, the Maiden of Lust as she desperately tried to sound sexy, despite being a giant 6-legged crab-spider.

Diablo 3 is the Dairy Milk of RPGs. Dairy Milk is great and all. There are many good reasons why people love it but I’m a Ferrero Rondnoir woman, myself.

Diablo III is out now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Oh yeah. I have a 3D TV and Diablo 3 supports 3D. Don’t even bother. The HUD elements are all over the place, it’s dim and there’s no real benefit to seeing your characters sticking out of the screen.

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