(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 4.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 4.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 4 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 4 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Highly Recommended
- Street Date:
- September 3rd, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Mike Flacy
- Review Date:1
- September 9th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Blizzard Entertainment
- Blizzard Entertainment
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Following up on the success of the first two titles in the Diablo series, Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo III on the PC first approximately 14 months ago. While many PC players expressed unhappiness with the always-online DRM policies and in-game auction house, it still received positive praise from the press as well as the gaming community. Since that time, the development team has been hard at work at a version of the game for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.
If you are unfamiliar with the plot of the game, the narrative takes place twenty years after the events of Diablo II and kicks off with a bang when the events of a deadly prophecy start to come true. The player is something of an observer for the entire story, basically aiding the main characters in their attempt to save all of humanity in the world of Sanctuary. Molded around a handful of cutscenes, the majority of the story is told through spoken work and artist illustrations.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
For the most part, the core elements of the game remain untouched in the port. Players choose from one of five classes at the start of the game based on their play style. An melee player will likely prefer the Barbarian or Monk while someone that likes to attack from afar will enjoy the Demon Hunter or Wizard. As you progress through the game, you unlock powers and abilities that help you take on more dangerous enemies. You also earn armor and weapons that cane be used or traded in for gold. One nice aspect to character building is that you can swap out powers for others at any given time. It doesn't require a full respec of the character. In addition, you can outfit a NPC follower with higher quality gear in order to add value to the team.
Clearly, the biggest change from PC to console was adapting the extensive control scheme to the PS3 controller. Surprisingly, it feels as if the game was completely built for consoles originally. Rather than using a tedious point and click method, players can move freely using the controller as well as attack in any direction. Combat flows more freely since the player can make immediate decisions when attacking large groups of enemies. It really reminded me of the classic arcade games from my past and the frantic movements I would make slamming the joystick around on the bulky machine.
One caveat to this adaptation is that attacks and powers are assigned to specific buttons on the controller, thus choices are limited to what the player assigns to those buttons within the menu. This will likely draw ire from the PC crowd, mostly because it lacks strategic precision. That being said, Blizzard did a great job of balancing and distributing powers and attacks among those buttons. I can easily manage large groups of enemies with a pulling power, AOE attack, individual attack and dealing power assigned to the four main buttons on the controller. It's also extremely easy for my co-op buddies to do the same in order to create an effective team.
I didn't have any trouble navigating the player menus within the game, although there are a ton of them. You will probably spend half your time comparing different weapons or armor as well as scouring the inventory of the merchants in the game. If you love to explore every nook and cranny of a dungeon, you probably won't be hurting for gold. However, it was a bit annoying to keep traveling back to a merchant to sell off all my loot when the inventory limit is reached. Blizzard does do a solid job of adding enough teleport checkpoint areas to travel back to camp to see a merchant though.
I haven't enjoyed the crafting mechanic as much as the PC version though. It's partly due to being able to find higher quality weapons and armor in the field rather than building it myself. However, I do like the add-on system that allows me to slot my own gems into weapons and armor. It's a nice touch that allows me to play to my character's strengths.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Visually, the world of Sanctuary is absolutely gorgeous in high definition. While some of the dungeons start to become repetitive over time, the outside environment is varied and there's great depth in the scenery. Blizzard is quite good at tricking the player into thinking Sanctuary is a vast multi-level world when the reality is that the player is moving around a single plane. In any case, the character models are highly detailed, player animations are quite fluid, the frame rate is rock solid and the attack animations are varied as well as stunning. It's definitely an extremely colorful game and will really make the screen pop with explosive visuals.
Since this is a PC port, be aware that there's lots of text to read on the screen, both during conversations and within the menu. I tried it both on a 32-inch and 47-inch HDTV, larger screens are definitely going to be better based on the text size. Not to say that it's unplayable on smaller screens, you just have to sit a bit closer.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The voice acting is definitely top notch and Blizzard relies on the actors to push along the narrative. Each of the five player classes (both genders, so ten total) have a unique voice actor or actress. You may also notice that Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect 3, Bioshock Infinite) voices the Leah character. The sheer depth of recorded lines within Diablo III is impressive. Even the secondary NPC characters that mill around town have things to say. In addition, the music definitely fits the fantasy theme and the sound effects are incredibly varied.
While you probably aren't going to play through the game more than twice to reach the level cap unless you really just love tough difficulty, getting to that point when playing offline or online co-cop is definitely a blast. In fact, you should probably spend your time looking for co-op games rather than playing through the game alone.
The matching system is fairly accurate and allows the player to meet up during the same point in the quest where they left off. Some of the boss fights can become extremely intense with a four man team, but ultimately rewarding when defeating one of the major enemies in the game. All in all, it's pretty easy to spend 15 to 20 hours on the first play through on Normal difficulty and that time length only increases depending how much you want to hit the level cap.
If you picked Diablo III up for the PC sometime since the original release during March 2012, you likely aren't going to find value investing in another copy on the PlayStation 3. However, if PC gaming isn't your thing, Diablo III is extremely entertaining and a relatively unique gameplay experience among the massive library of games on the PS3. It's really tough to pull off the transition between PC to consoles when it come to dungeon crawlers, but Blizzard nailed it.
I would even argue that the game's pacing is improved over the PC version due to the real-time movement using the controller. Add in the offline mode and it's darn fun to play with a group of friends. It reminded somewhat of the N64 days when my group of friends would huddle around the television to play hours of Goldeneye. If you love get together with friends to play video games or simply want to dive into a quality dungeon crawler, don't hesitate to pick up Diablo III for the PS3.
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