Diablo III Review

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Hell hath no fury like a demon spawned


Hailed as a genre-defining triumph on its released back in 2000, Diablo II remains for many the epitome of the hack-and-slash dungeon crawler, the merry jingling of loot jumping out of demons' corpses causing a Pavlovian reponse from gamers to click on the swag, and click on it quick.

12 years on, its long-awaited sequel treads that ever-difficult path between pleasing die-hard Diabloans (our term) and creating a game that's exciting enough to get those who've never even heard of Baal, Mephisto and the fabled 'cow level' off their consoles and back on their desktops.

Fortunately for everyone who's been waiting eagerly to return to the troubled town of Tristram - now 'New Tristram' after the events of Diablo II gave it 20 years respite from demon spawn - the game, in of itself, is immensely enjoyable and just as addictive as its forbears.

The discovery of ultra-rare yellow items still gives jolts of joy, choosing armour to yield bigger coin drops, more magic items and better melee resistance swiftly becomes a joyful addiction and the constant carnage well worth the possible finger-clicking strain endured hours after a long session.

As for the classes, the wizard caters for magic lovers, the demon hunter for rogue enthusiasts, the barbarian for tanks and so on. Only the summoner of the group, the witch doctor, may take a bit of getting used to - his bouncy yet lumbering gait alone may put you off - but every class has hundreds of ways of playing (and replaying) it.

This is possible thanks to dozens of specific power moves, each with six possible runes to improve them with - and this and the game's relatively behind the scenes approach to stats management, players can get going as soon as they log on.

And there, if there is a one, is the rub. The fly in the game's extra large health potion has nothing to do with the actual gameplay, design or (admittedly largely ignorable) plotline.

To play even a single-player game requires a constant connection to Battle.net. Unsurprisingly, this decision resulted in Blizzard's World Of Warcraft-sized servers melting almost immediately and has since brought about infrequent patches of downtime and even the occasional bit of lag.

For a one man RPG to expect this of its users, even with its new real-cash-money auction house system and immensely entertaining cooperative gameplay, is bound to stick in the teeth a touch, no matter how good the game actually is.

Looking past the teething problems, its glorious graphics update, epic Wagnerian score and 'kill everything, steal everything' attitude remains uncountable hours of bloodthirsty fun. But, until the connectivity kinks are ironed out, while this is undeniably a five star game, it's less than a five star experience.