A fallen star has struck the Cathedral of Tristam and soon after the undead roam this backwater town. Diablo III’s plot summary can only be told with appropriate backup choir and symphonic music. Choose from five character classes: barbarian, demon hunter, monk, witch doctor or wizard (the DLC adds crusader). Arm yourself, equip yourself and start bashing, cutting, hacking, slashing, mashing, cleaving, chopping, slicing anything that moves or doesn’t (including objects). Save the village from the undead and unravel a far more intricate evil plot to take over the world of Sanctuary.
Playability: Hack, slash, mash
Diablo III takes action role playing to new levels of user friendliness and accessibility. Gameplay, including inventory management, upgrades and skills, has been streamlined to the point where only the occasional tip is necessary. There is plenty of loot around to quickly fill your character’s inventory, requiring frequent trips back to town to sell off sweet hoard. But there are plenty of way points, way gates and other clever shortcuts to avoid backtracking. The inventory system quickly shows what items can be equipped and what their immediate effects are: choosing the best gear is a breeze. There is a bit of wandering around dungeons looking for level bosses and quest objectives, but the general direction is often quite obvious (down to the next level!). The game mechanics is rather simplistic: frenetically mash your mouse buttons to hack down enemies and pick up loot.
Annoyance: Empty barrels, empty vases, empty urns… empty plot
Even if you’re playing on your own, you’ll have to be online. Forget about playing alone off line, somebody will always be watching and keeping track. Forget about using the internet connection while visiting your grandparents, Diablo III requires a good connection to play. You’ll probably need a new mouse after you’ve completed Diablo III (if not before). Not only do you have to fight your way through throngs of monsters, but you also need to smash open, break open, and reduce to smithereens all manners of objects where loot is hidden. Diablo III has an inordinately high amount of empty barrels and empty containers to destroy. Characters do get a speed bonus if they work themselves into an object smashing frenzy… Fortunately the meandering storytelling doesn’t have to be read as it is voiced over in audio podcasts scattered throughout the maps. Keep on mashing while dialogues and lore provide convenient background noise.
Beauty: Good looking from afar
For a game that essentially requires mouse mashing skills, Diablo III takes itself a little too seriously. The forced gravitas, even in mundane conversations with an innkeeper, is eerily out of phase if not pompously ridiculous. Can’t heroes just order ale at the local pub without uttering some emotionally charged nonsense? Even the imps lack a sense of humour. Diablo III has good looking graphics, but the perspective is limited to a bird’s eye view of the field without any possibility of zooming or rotating the camera. While the gorgeous cutscenes are far and few among countless hours of slash and mash, they merely act as smoke and mirrors in a relatively uninspired plot.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Big affair without flair 6/10
Diablo III is a lengthy narrative, but rather unpoetic and lacking in epic myth forging heroic deeds. The convoluted storyline meanders between sleepiness and dullness, with the occasional symphonic bright spot. Diablo III is a technically pretty game with a user friendly interface, but it is more akin to yet another season of a never ending pompous ponderous soap opera, rather than a poem of cultural epic proportions.