(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 4.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 4 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 4 Stars
- Bonus Content
- 3 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Highly Recommended
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
- Street Date:
- August 19th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- August 31st, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Blizzard Entertainment
- Blizzard Entertainment
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Digital PS4 version reviewed.
There's no denying the size and scope of the 'Diablo' fan base. Legions of the faithful had to wait over decade for the third installment and flocked to get their hands on 'Diablo III' when it was first released for the PC in 2012. With millions of copies sold in just the first few hours, it was bound to become one of the best-selling games of that year. Although early criticisms of DRM and the in-game auction house may have tempered the fanaticism, ongoing customer feedback and repeated updates undoubtedly helped to keep the game alive; so much so that a console version was inevitably released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 a little over a year later. Now, nearly two years after its initial release, the developers at Blizzard Entertainment have set loose upon the world with 'Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition'. Promoted as the must-have, definitive console version of the game, it comes packed with the latest 'Reaper of Souls' expansion, as well as a veritable laundry list of updates, improvements, and add-ons. But is the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' the best 'Diablo' experience available, or a trend-following port to the newest console generation?
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Incorporating typical, routine fantasy tropes, 'Diablo III' continues the tale of Deckard Cain and Leah. A mysterious star has fallen from the sky and is the root cause of the evils now threatening the inhabitants of New Tristam. It's a tale of sorcery and black magic, angels and demons, good and evil; but let's face it, most fans of the series aren't generally interested in the lackluster and often predictable story of 'Diablo III', they're here to fight and loot. And that's exactly where the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' shines.
With six character classes to choose from, the options are fairly robust and newcomers to the franchise – such as myself – may initially feel overwhelmed when making a decision. With each class unique in and of itself, I found myself dwelling on these classes for longer than I had expected. The Witch Doctor terrifies with curses and creature summoning, while the Wizard expertly wields lightning, fire, and ice. The Monk focuses on his spirit and defense, and the Demon Hunter utilizes an accurate crossbow. If you're looking to lead the charge, the Barbarian can summon his fury and level crowds of the undead. Of course, my eventual choice had to be with the 'Reaper of Souls' expansion character, the Crusader. With a variety of combat skills at his disposal, he was the character that most resembled the Paladins I gave life to while playing endless hours of Dungeons & Dragons in my youth. I simply could not resist.
A few hours into the campaign it becomes clear that the developers at Blizzard Entertainment have continued to focus on and refine the social interactions of the 'Diablo' game system. Whether playing couch co-op with my teenage son, or having an online friend unexpectedly drop into our game, the experience was always seamless and uninterrupted. Adding to this, Apprentice mode levels the playing field while accommodating for the individual experience levels of each player, practically eliminating those uncomfortable spikes in difficulty. However, items and weapons dropped by higher level characters for others to pick up and use are locked until the appropriate levels have been reached. Not a game breaking experience by any means, it simply prompted a quick visit to the New Tristam storage for safe keeping and later use.
As of the writing of this review, I continue to be on the lookout for the 'Diablo III' Nemesis. The very idea of creatures entering your game from a friend's game - hunting you down and killing you, and then moving on to another friend's game - screams creative development and social interaction. It's a game mechanic that, on paper, sounds interesting and unique, and one that I look forward to eventually experiencing firsthand.
As impressive as of the online social aspects of 'Diablo III' are, it's difficult to compare them to the more enjoyable experience I get when playing the game in couch co-op. Tearing up the environment and its inhabitants with two or three others sitting right beside you harkens back to the early days of gaming, when the option for online interaction was non-existent. Whether playing the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' on the couch or online, playing the game co-operative is clearly the best way to experience the game. Coordinating your strategies or charging ahead, the level of destruction a few characters are capable of producing is extraordinary.
However, analysis paralysis can quickly slam the brakes on an otherwise fast paced game. When faced with the high level of loot and rapid advancement of your character's class, some players may be overwhelmed with the number of options and abilities to better equip their characters with. As a result, you'll often spend almost as much time in the menu system of 'Diablo III' as you do in its open world. I'm just as to blame as the rest of my team (you know who you are) and, in the end, it's mostly a good problem to have as it speaks to the level of detail that went into the development of the game.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The further into the world of 'Diablo III' I explored, the more impressive its visuals became. While generally a dark game, it also has the capacity to deliver an incredibly colorful and vibrant experience. The high variety of creatures you are faced with, in addition to the ever-expanding character abilities, results in some of the most chaotic, yet gorgeous, gaming experiences I've ever had. So much can happen on screen at any given time that it often approaches visual overload. Yet, the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' never stumbles or stutters.
Locked in at 60 frames per second on the PlayStation 4, I was consistently pleased with how smooth 'Diablo III' played. Battling through armies of the undead, with every ounce of magic and melee on full display, would have made any other game chug along to a veritable crawl. This smooth gameplay experience proved to me that, although not quite equal to the highest PC performance, this current console generation has made considerable advancements. And sometimes it's the smallest visual development efforts that impress the most.
Other games of this genre, involving massive on-screen action and multiple playable characters, I would often lose track of the character I was controlling. Eventual realization that I was focusing on another character would generally lead to embarrassment as I back my character out of the corner I moved into. The simple addition of a color-specific ring around each character (that also happens to match the color glowing from the respective DualShock 4 controller) was just enough of an identification to avoid any such embarrassment during my time with the 'Ultimate Evil Edition'.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Although the cast of voice actors in 'Diablo III' make an attempt to create strong and believable characters, the storytelling ultimately pales in comparison to the much grander gameplay. As was previously mentioned, most fans have already accepted the fact that story, and its delivery, often take a backseat to what made this franchise so consistently strong. Strong gameplay should have an equally strong audio representation, and the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' does not disappoint.
As chaotic as some of the combat can become, there was rarely ever a detail that was not optimally represented through my Denon 7.1 receiver. A few minor audio drops aside, 'Diablo III' does a more than admirable job of fully immersing the player into the action as every lightning bolt, explosion, creature's roar, and blood-curdling scream pop with dynamic audio surround sound.
Several hours into my play through of 'Diablo III' I accepted the fact that additional experiences of the 'Ultimate Evil Edition' would be inevitable. Besides satisfying my need to obtain any and all loot, playing as an entirely new character class is reason enough. While I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences playing as the Crusader, watching my son play as the Witch Doctor was incredibly inviting. With five other classes to choose from, each playing completely unique from the rest, it's a fair estimate that 'Diablo III' presents a high level of replay value.
Adventure mode, unlocked after completing the fifth act, allows the player to travel between the various acts of the game, essentially traveling anywhere and killing anything. Additionally, completing optional bounties will reward you with a variety of experience, treasure, and other, more unique, items. Finally, more difficult modes will be the ultimate test for only the most seasoned of veteran 'Diablo III' players.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
The developers of 'Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition' have teamed up with Sony to include content specific to the PlayStation 4. The Nephalem Rift, inspired by the creatures that inhabited the world of 'The Last of Us', as well as a larger-than-life acquired armor set based specifically on the ever popular 'Shadow of the Colossus' are a nice touch - but not altogether necessary - and warrant a nod to some of Sony's more beloved games, both new and old.
With a solid Internet connection you are able to 'Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition' via remote play on the PlayStation Vita. With your character's abilities appropriately mapped to the face buttons and left and right bumpers, controlling the game works quite well. However, as is the case with most remote play games requiring the use of either the L2 or R2 triggers, finding that sweet spot on the rear of the Vita's touchpad is usually hit or miss. What I wouldn't give for a Vita that has been designed to include these much-needed controls.
I've played my fair share of 'ultimate' or 'definitive' editions of games over the years. Some have warranted the title, presenting truly unique and inspiring updates, while others resulted in nothing more than a rehash of the same game with obligatory DLC thrown in for good measure. 'Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition' undeniably falls into the former of these categories. It's true, I have not played much 'Diablo III' before the 'Ultimate Evil Edition', but my research prior to its release, along with the time spent playing the game as a newcomer, has convinced me that it is much more than a simple port, and that it has been designed (in some cases from scratch) to take full advantage of the technology of the PlayStation 4. Playing alone is certainly an option, but playing together with friends is the preferred method and allows for multiple opportunities to do so. Blizzard Entertainment's continued focus on social integration shines, as does their ability to develop a game that runs amazingly smooth, delivers awe-inspiring visuals, and intuitively captures the imagination and enjoyment of those looking for a grand dungeon crawl, both new to the franchise and long-standing fans.
- Online Co-op
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