Deranged Midget

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DM's Peek of the Week: Diablo 3 Console Edition

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Hey folks, DM here! Hope you don't mind but I've gone about trying a new blog feature I like to call "Peek of the Week". While I would love to get back into reviewing on a constant basis, whether it be games, film or comics, I may be short-handed in regards to the time I have available to me. BUT, I definitely didn't want to come out empty handed for anyone who has enjoyed the nonsense I've written in the past so I've decided to at least once a week spotlight something of interest to me. It may be a popular video game I'm playing or a movie I just watched! Generally, if I write a comic review I'll toss it up as an official review but any general thoughts I have on this issue will be directed towards this blog feature...thing... So without further ado! DIABLO 3!

I'll start things off simple and what I think may address any thoughts regarding PC or recurring players. I have never played a Diablo game in my life so please forgive me if I sound like a complete fool over here trying to dissect this game. As a simple explanation for those unaware, Diablo 3 is an Action-Role playing game or "RPG" for short. It takes a top-down perspective but slightly more focused on the character in a similar vein to games like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. A main difference here for those who have played the PC version is the direct control of the character via the thumbstick as opposed to point and click control through mouse controls. As I've never played any of the previous games, I can't touch on the subject of comparisons and I feel it would be unwise and an ignorant act on my part as well.

In regards to RPG's, the gameplay and combat is relatively simplified and easy to jump into. The game offers the choice of five different classes to choose from: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Witch Doctor, Monk and Wizard. Most of the classes are self explanatory and are all relatively unique in terms of play style. The Barbarian is your standard melee class, rushing in with large, two handed weapons and shields as well as being damage soakers. Demon Hunters are your standard recon or hunter class, relying specifically on ranged weaponry such as bows and even single or dual handed crossbows. Witch Doctors and Wizards are basically two sides of the same coin. One relies on darker magic such as Necromancy and utilizing plagues to defeat their enemies while Wizards manipulate more traditional magics such as primal nature forces, arcane magic and time manipulation to their advantage. Monks are the spiritual warriors of the Light utilizing martial arts and Holy energy and weaponry to aid them.

As with every RPG, loot and gear drops are the most gratifying part of the experience. While you can purchase new armour or weapons from local store merchants, nothing ever beats the drops you get from epic dungeon crawls or defeating more powerful foes. Each class has their own unique gear and while you may pick up something you cannot equip, you can just as easily sell it to a merchant to rack up the gold and save for some better gear yourself. Alongside an epic loot system is a fine-tooled skill system. On the console versions, as you level up and unlock new skill trees, you can map a specific skill to a face button on the gamepad. The adaption from a more robust system on PC's onto consoles works brilliantly and is simplified but still deep enough to not seem like a tossed off experience. The skills are specified by categories or action slots: Primary, Secondary and 1 through 4( change dependant on the class you choose). Alongside a set of skills, you can unlock subset upgrades that help improve those skills as you utilize them more often to help you become more prominent with your character. An example may be a primary attack for my Demon Hunter is launching a barrage of rapid fire arrows and my subset skill allows me to recover Hatred(energy utilized for action attacks) at a larger rate per every kill. This extends differently to the different skills and classes of course and provides plenty of replay value and discovery.

Now as I've mentioned, I have never played a Diablo game prior the third so I have absolutely no idea what the main story is about or if it intertwines with previous games. With that said though, despite digging occasionally into past lore, it feels like a fresh start and an easy way for newcomers to jump on without feeling largely intimidated. From what I've played so far, the story largely focuses around an ancient power reawakening and summoning the undead and demons to plague the world of Sanctuary. At the beginning of the game, a mysterious blue star falls into a church, absolutely scorching everything around it and falling deep into the foundations. As the games hero, you show in up in the town of New Tristram and from there on try to discover the cause of the recent events. I would love to dive deeper into the story but I haven't played enough to properly assess the plot nor am I really knowledgeable with the franchise's lore.

A subject I'd really rather avoid but I guess I'll touch on slightly regardless of my thoughts that it carries very little importance is the visual and audio design. Artistically, the game is impressive with finely illustrated cutscenes that unfortunately don't appear too often and the game instead depends on casual in-game conversations from the standard gameplay view to detail minor events. Technically, the game seems to be on-par with current gen RPG's of a similar stature. The framerate is quite easily the most impressive part of the technical design. There is rarely, if ever, a hiccup in the frame rate and it remains smooth almost throughout my entire experience. The audio design on the other hand left more to be desired. The soundtrack really isn't anything impressive and you won't hear anyone boasting about a specific track anytime soon. The voice acting is acceptable but there really aren't any stand-out performances and honestly, the dialogue is the last thing you'll care about considering it's rather dull and so far, only remains to push the story and quests further along.

You won't really see yourself caring for any one character in particular but another interesting addition of Diablo 3 is the choice to ally yourself with a companion. So far, I've only two different characters that I could choose between to aid me on my quests. A templar and a thief. From what I've seen, you kind of just meet them along the main quests and have the option to ally yourself with them or send them back to the main town and switch between companions if you ever wish to. These allies will never permanently die in battle though. They may go down briefly but are reviewed after a short period of time after the fighting is over. You have the choice of customizing these characters weapons if you so choose to, but it is a limited process in comparison to your own character.

All in all, I'm enjoying Diablo 3 a lot more than I thought I would. Despite some troubles with the audio design and a lack of ambition on the story front, the gameplay is the stand-out as are the addictive dungeon crawls and plentiful weapon drops! If anyone is craving a rich combat experience, then I can't recommend Diablo 3 more! Give it a shot!