What’s there to say about a game that’s been around for close to two decades?
Diablo, the original game, first came out in 1996. I remember having it and playing it incessantly until my eyes bugged out of my head. Then Diablo II came out in 2000, once again introducing me to countless sleepless nights, with my hand on my computer mouse, twitching and clicking with frenzied abandon, dispatching hordes of demons, monsters and the undead.
Then, nothing for more than a decade, until rumors began to fly that they were making another sequel. Then the rumors slowly became fact, and fans began to salivate at the prospect of more dungeon crawling, this time in the 21st century, with all its technological developments. Betas went online and people fought to get on them. A few weeks ago, a server stressing test open to the public went online for a weekend. I couldn’t get it to work for some reason, but I downloaded the beta and spent that weekend staring at the logon screen.
Then at long last, after a hiatus of 12 years, Diablo III finally got released yesterday, worldwide, and is probably the most pre-ordered game of all time.
I went to the local game store yesterday morning along with many others, only to be told that the game was to be released sometime later that afternoon (a local forum had said they’d release it at 3PM, but that was pure speculation). So I killed time and went to a coffee shop, and came back after lunch to check. There was a line at the cashier already and I discovered that they apparently had released it already, earlier than 3PM, and there were lines all over the city eagerly waiting for the game.
When it was my turn at the cashier, they asked me if I wanted Global or Southeast Asian. I went, huh?
Apparently the Global version enabled you to log on to any server in the world, while the Southeast Asian version only allowed you to access the Asian servers. Plus, there were some discounts, and a voucher to get another (different) game at P200 off, and of course I said gimme the Global. The game cost went down from P3150 to P2750, and I hurried home with my purchase.
As is customary with Blizzard, the game developer, it’s made to install on both Macs and PCs from the same box. Installing it on my iMac turned out to be a pain. After an hour it was just at 69%, and it got stuck at that point for a half hour until I decided to restart it. But it turned out that it was still installing underneath that stuck progress bar, and it actually finished. (Maybe it was an isolated incident; when I installed it on my MacBook Air, it went along swimmingly.) When I tried to start it, it went on, and thus began my new episode of bleary, sleepless nights of dungeon crawling.
Here’s what’s fundamentally different with this version. You have to be online the whole time you’re playing, which was a departure from the solitary games of the past. Maybe the social aspect of it is one of the new developments of the game, and the new Auction House (something I have yet to try) has something to do with it, that and the Public Games feature where you can join and play with other people online. Getting online took some doing (I can imagine the stress the servers must have been under, being the first open day of public gaming) but I finally got on.
I’ve only played it for several hours at this point. I vaguely remember those early days of feverishly playing Diablo I and Diablo II (and maybe the stroke I had a couple of years ago dimmed the memory somewhat, I don’t really know), but now there are several new classes you can play as. What used to be just Warrior, Sorcerer and Rogue (and later, Monk) have now morphed into Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor or Wizard, all of which you can make male or female.
The dozen years that have elapsed since Diablo II hasn’t changed the gameplay much. It’s still the same isometric gameplay as before, albeit with a lot of graphical pizazz now. Wisps of fog envelop your character as you walk along the dungeons, and the hordes of demons and monsters have graduated to nastier, more complicated forms. You just click on where you want to go, and click on the monsters you want to do battle with. And that’s it. Click click click click. You converse and interact with NPCs (Non Player Characters) to bring the story forward as you descend deeper and deeper into the dungeons to do battle. Familiar and comforting.
I’m pausing from playing the game to write this short review, and I’m getting to know it a bit better now, but this is just a first look at one of the biggest video game releases for the PC and the Mac. More later.
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