Diablo II Review
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM (32 MB RAM for multiplayer), 4x CD-ROM
Diablo II is pure action. Pure monster-killing, item-dropping, fireball-chucking entertainment. The game does not offer sophisticated plot, extensively scripted dialogue, or complicated puzzle solving. The highly intuitive interface allows a novice to begin slaying minions of evil by the handful as soon as the opening cinematic is completed. For the many players who wanted something more out of the original Diablo than just a better sword and shield, Diablo II has added a skill system that has addictive potential for players with motivations beyond loot. Each character class has thirty skills available that allow a player to really excel at point-and-click monster bashing. While single player mode is playable and fun, this is a game intended to be played on Battle.net, Blizzard's free, on-line service. The five character classes' skills complement each other, and create near infinite combinations of cooperative party play.
Rob de los Reyes
In between replacements of the I.V. bag I keep next to my computer in order to provide me with nutrients I need to live, I ask myself why I'm still playing. I have been playing for roughly nine months now. Hi, my name is Wrathful, and I can't stop playing Diablo II.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sort of bored with it now, but I still can't stop playing. Knowingly or not, Blizzard took a lesson from the Magic: The Gathering phenomenon. In Magic, you bought a pack of cards knowing that you'd find a bunch of dreck but also that elusive great card. Any given deck could contain just the card you needed to crush your foes. D2 works much the same way, but takes it a step further. Killing monsters for items drops is as much gambling as, well, the gambling screen. By endowing items with a semi-random series of affixes and suffixes, no matter what item you find, you know it could be just a little bit better – and you cannot sleep until you find it. The skill system offers the same sort of gambling/addiction feeling. Each character class has 30 skills, some, practically speaking, mutually exclusive, but most work in combination. Assuming you have a job and don't have all day to play, Diablo II perpetually holds out the possibility that if you maximize skill x and skill y, you'll have a playable character. So I spent the early days putting together the really powerful characters. Now, I'm out for weird, but playable.
Moreover, Diablo II is easy to play in small bites. At this point, I know exactly where I have to go and what to do. Until your character reaches fairly high experience levels, you don't need a massive time commitment in order to advance. Moreover, there's a style of play for every available time slot. Got 20 minutes? Grab a character and get that next waypoint. Got an hour? Clear out Act 4 and level up. In the end, this is why I'm still playing. The game is so undemanding, there's just no point in quitting.
The main frustration of this game is well known to anyone who plays the mulitplayer version on Battle.net – lag. There are way too many people on way too few servers cramming way too much info down way too small pipes. Obviously, the issues are more complicated than that, but that's how you'll experience it as a gamer. Blizzard has already added a second Asia realm for multiplayer gaming, and they claim more are on the way. I hope it's enough; as it stands, peak gaming times (evenings and weekends) are frequently nigh unplayable. Then again, Batlle.net is free – there's just no point quitting.
Still, it's definitely time for the expansion pack, Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. I have the distinct feeling I'll be calling in sick to work when it comes out. Current estimates put that some time around the end of June. Wait, I can feel it now... cough... hack... wheeze. Oh, yeah, I'm sick for sure.
With great music, good sound, attractive scenery within the bounds of the graphic engine, and intuitive game play, Diablo II is worth the price of admission. Stuck in 640x480 resolution, the graphics seemed obscenely pixilated on a big monitor. Even so, Diablo II is perfect for anyone who wants to boot up the computer and rapidly left-click their way to the complete obliteration of all things evil. The skill system rewards extreme specialization in a combination of a few skills, such that any given character class has considerable replay value. At high levels, skills can only be enhanced gradually through considerable play, so the temptation is strong to play 'just a little longer' to get 'just one more skill point' or another rare magical helm.
You may find yourself slipping the play disc into the CD-ROM months after other purchases are gathering dust on the shelves. As far as I'm concerned, Diablo II is the hardcore gamers' version of FreeCell Solitaire. I keep playing even though I don't understand why. When you have a few minutes on your hands, and don't want to get deeply involved in something else, it's just so easy to log onto Battle.net and grab another waypoint or kill a dozen flayers just to hear the death gurgle.