By Dave Gilmore
7:30 AM PDT, May 24, 2012
Score: 3 out of 4
It's difficult not to expect perfection from a game after this long of a wait. A lot has happened for Blizzard since “Diablo II” came out in 2000 (a little thing called “World of Warcraft” comes to mind). It's also easy to forget that the original “Diablo” defined a genre way back in 1996, and that “Diablo III” is as direct as descendents get, even across a decade and half of technology.
Like the two previous entries in the series, “Diablo III” mostly just asks the player to turn on, tune in and click until it becomes physically painful. Comparing gamers to lab rats isn't exactly kind, but after a few consecutive hours with “Diablo III,” it's hard not to feel like the rodents in those ‘50s experiments, simply pressing a button to spark the brain's pleasure center.
Which is not to say that the rewards for the incessant clicking aren't enjoyable. “Diablo III” is as much about building up a character as it is the story of evil incarnate infiltrating the world. With endless possibilities for finding loot and gear, the player cannot help but set secondary goals for themselves, reaching a certain skill level or finding a particularly rare weapon.
The experience is also varied by the number of classes available, allowing the player to make a Chaucerian decision between embarking on the adventure as a Barbarian, a Monk, a Demon Hunter, a Witch Doctor or, of course, a Wizard. Each class provides a unique experience in gameplay, but ultimately the story and big picture remain unchanged.
“Diablo III” is based on a 16-year-old gameplay concept that has, up until now, stood the test of time. There is still something mind-numbingly satisfying about grinding through waves of demons and being awarded prizes. It's also a pretty game, with wonderful music and fantastic scenery that keeps the grind entertaining. A particular standout is the game's physics, with objects reacting to collisions and gravity in a stunningly real manner.
The major concerns with “Diablo III” are largely logistical. The player-vs-player online combat mode did not launch with the game, as well as the real-money auction house for items and weapons. Combine that with server overloads caused by needing an Internet connection to play by yourself, and you have a great game that isn't sure which decade it's in.
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