Blizzard's Diablo II is now available in software stores everywhere. The retail package includes a double-sized jewel case containing three CDs: an install disc, a play disc, and a cinematics disc. The package also includes a large, illustrated 80-plus page manual that has detailed background and story information on the game's five character classes, their skills, and much more. The Diablo II box even includes an attractive folded poster of Blizzard's next project, Warcraft III.
Diablo II requires over 600MB of hard-disk space for a minimum installation, but you'll need over 900MB of free space if you want to play the game over Blizzard's free online Battle.net service. This recommended install still requires you to swap in the cinematics disc each time you complete one of the game's four acts. Diablo II also offers a full installation feature that demands over 1.5GB of your hard drive. In any case, the game loads up data fairly quickly whenever you begin play and move between acts. But otherwise, Diablo II has no discernible loading times - you can seamlessly move from towns, into the wilderness, into the dark recesses of catacombs and dungeons, and back.
The game's single-player and multiplayer modes seem to have completely identical content. The game was stable and played quickly on Battle.net, even on a relatively low-end Pentium II with a 56K modem. Your multiplayer characters are stored on Blizzard's servers, which means Diablo II shouldn't suffer from the same sort of pervasive cheating problems that made the original Diablo notorious.
The GameSpot editors have managed to quickly pass through the game's first act and are now fighting their way through the game's second chapter. The second act's Middle Eastern setting generally looks much better than the first act, and some of the deadlier monsters and stranger catacombs in the game's second chapter provide a change of pace from the first chapter's dungeons. Take a look at these screenshots and see what the complete retail Diablo II looks like.