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Review: Despite its Launch Day Issues Diablo 3 Still Won This Console Gamer Over

Diablo 3 has become one of the fastest selling PC games of all-time, and after spending the last two weeks with it I fully understand why.  I’m came to the party as a n00b having never played the previous two Diablo games, so some aspects of D3 such as the story didn’t hold much meaning to me.  That mattered not though, because this game is still a blast to play even if you have never touched this top-down looter franchise before.  The simple gameplay and beautiful design that can run on most computers is what makes Diablo 3 such an engaging experience, and an enjoyable one at that.  Outside of the launch day debacle I’ve found nothing but joy while spending time with this franchise, and I can recommend it to both PC gamers, and non-PC gamers alike.  Please continue on to read our full review of one of the hottest games in the current video game landscape.

 

Diablo 3 – Mac Version

EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: Pick up and play gameplay, Brilliant cinematics, Ability to run on non-gaming centric computers

The Not so Awesome: Lack of offline gaming option, Horrendous checkpoint system, Uninspired story

 

The Awesome

Pick up and play gameplay

Considering that I’m as green as it gets when it comes to gaming on a PC, I was extremely impressed with how simple, yet engaging the gameplay of Diablo 3 really is.  If you can use a mouse, you can play Diablo 3 with the best of them.  In fact, you can play the entire game with only a mouse.  If you really wanted to Diablo 3 could also be played with a touchpad, that is how simple its gameplay truly is.  If you want to get a little crazy you can use a few keyboard keys to help speed up some of your inputs, but its nothing like other PC games, which could have hundreds of hotkey inputs that are almost required to be a competent player of said game.

If you can click a mouse you can play Diablo 3

I truly appreciated the fact that someone like me who has never really played computer games could just walk blindly into Diablo 3, and then be able to master its gameplay within a few short minutes.  If you like simplicity in your gaming then you’ll love Diablo 3.  This doesn’t mean it’s a dumb downed game for cavemen, but it also doesn’t mean that you have to be a PC gaming whiz to master it.

Brilliant cinematics

I’m not going to tell you that I found Diablo 3’s story to be very rewarding, because for someone like me it was not.  A large part of this dissatisfaction is probably related to the fact that I’ve never played a Diablo game before, so I had no perspective on the tale of Diablo 3.  Luckily for n00bs like me Blizzard did a masterful job on creating some beautiful looking cinematics to help make the mysterious tale as interesting as possible.  I was astounded with how crisp and life like the visuals of these cutscenes looked.  Mind you I did not play this game on a monster sized gaming rig.  I played it with my 2011 MacBook Pro that was never intentionally designed to be a gaming computer, but it handled the luscious visuals of Diablo 3’s cinematics perfectly.

The level of detail in the D3 cinematics is very impressive

How could a geek not respect this achievement in game design?  I just wish there were more than a few minutes of these cinematics, because they are a sight to see.  Let’s just say that I would pay to go watch a mini-movie based on the animation style used in Diablo 3’s cutscenes.  They’re that impressive looking, and they definitely delivered the most engaging aspect of Diablo 3’s story component.

Ability to run on non-gaming centric computers

I highly doubt that you’ve read about Diablo 3’s ability to be played on a variety of computers that can range from mega-rigs, to regular computers, in the myriad of reviews out for this game.  I’m just beyond impressed with the fact that this game can be played in a cross platform style on Macs and Windows computers alike.  We all know that Macs aren’t necessarily designed to be gaming computers, but that didn’t stop Blizzard from making it happen.  I was able to play this game on its default video and audio settings without a hitch, and I’m only using a Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM, a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, and the built in Intel HD Graphics card with 512 MB of memory.

Cutscenes and in-game scenes both look crisp on my modest MacBook Pro

Those stats aren’t impressive by a gaming rig’s standards, so the fact that I could run Diablo 3 on its default settings really impressed upon me the fact that the geeks at Blizzard are computer gaming Jedis.  Diablo 3 made me realize that it is a possibility to be a computer gamer without the need for a beefed up gaming setup.  I appreciate this fact immensely, and it may undoubtedly lead me to play a few more Blizzard games on my modest MBP.

 

The Not so Awesome

Lack of offline gaming option

One of the main reasons that Diablo 3 suffered on its launch day is the fact that Blizzard implemented an “Always-on” DRM model, which requires you to always be connected to the Internet to play this game.  This also means that even if you just want to play it solo you have to be able to connect to the Diablo 3 servers.  This may not sound like a major problem, but ask the 3 million or so gamers who eagerly waited a decade to play this game how they felt when they couldn’t even play it reliably for the first two days after its release.

I’m all about developers getting paid for their work, but the “Always-on” DRM model is not the answer.  It would be fantastic if this game could be played without an Internet connection, but I’m afraid that this will never be a reality.  See what happens when people “borrow” software from the Internet?  This practice has forced companies like Blizzard to take drastic measures to protect their IP, and we are left to deal with the consequences.  In the case of Diablo 3 this meant that no one really got to play the game for close to 48 hours after its release.  Not cool, not cool at all.

Horrendous checkpoint system

You better have a strategy in order while you’re questing in Diablo 3, because if you die there’s a good chance you’ll be retreading a large chunk of the dungeon that you are currently looting.  The checkpoint system in this game is atrocious to say the least.  Oddly enough you don’t lose any progress after dying, but for some reason it always felt like I had to run a mini-marathon to get back to the location I was at when I died.  I would have liked to have seen more checkpoints in place to cut down some of this monotonous ground travel.

If you see these horrible words on your screen you may have a long journey back to your death site

In fact, I would have liked to save my game period.  Not having the ability to save on the fly forces you to play for longer than you’d like, which makes Diablo 3 feel like a chore sometimes.  I don’t know about how you game, but when I’m ready to stop playing a particular video game, I’m ready to stop playing.  I don’t want to have to trudge on for even 5 more minutes when I’ve had my fill of Diablo 3, but its odd method of saving progress forces you to do so more often than not.

Uninspired story

If you’re like me and have never played a Diablo game before then don’t expect to be wowed Diablo 3’s story.  Outside of the brilliant cinematics most of the story driven material is represented by cheap animated scroll-like cutscenes that hardly kept my attention.  There’s also interactions with in-game NPCs that help to drive the tale, but again I found myself hastily clicking the “X” button to speed these uninspired voiced dialogue scenes along.  By the time I clicked my last mouse button to put down the final boss I still didn’t have a great idea as to why I fought through the 15+ hour campaign.  I had a blast doing so, but it would’ve been nice to actually feel something for the in-game characters, but I did not.

Unfortunately most of Diablo 3’s story is told through moving storyboards like this

 

The Final Verdict

Now that the server woes that plagued Diablo 3’s launch have subsided I can fully recommend this game to both PC and non-PC gamers alike.  It’s pick up and play gameplay allows anyone who has two hands the ability to play it confidently.  The fact that you don’t need a super duper gaming rig to play it is also something that should be admired by all gamers.  Outside of the “Always-on” DRM model I can’t really pick on this game too much.  It has beautiful looking cinematics that anyone who has gamed in this generation will appreciate even if the story is less than engaging.  For this I give Diablo 3 an EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas.

If you’ve been needing a break from your console I highly suggest picking Diablo 3 up.  It’s a very addictive gaming experience that will keep you playing for hours on end, and it’ll work on most of today’s reliable computers.  You’ve been needing to give the computer gaming landscape a try…

Diablo III Beta Gameplay Trailer HD

 

 

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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.