Click, click, click, reward, click, click, click, reward, click, click...
It had that sticky just one more time feeling to it, and I loved how each game experience was different due to the game's built in random level generator.
Diablo had nearly the perfect game balance, and excellent graphics, sound and music. Not to mention the cool online game experience, which although somewhat limited, gave the game a lot of depth. And, it was so easy to play even my girlfriend at the time loved to play it together.
It's hard to match those fond memories, and Blizzard surely has taken their time to give it a shot. I didn't exactly hold my breath in the meantime, but it really seems like forever since the previous game was popular now.
So, how about the latest version? Well, first of all, unlike Diablo 2 and expansions, this is a full fledged new game experience. Everything is radically new. It is now in real 3D, however, I am honestly not sure if that really helped much since the game is played in a static isometric-ish view anyway.
I would say the most dramatic change is the online aspect. Diablo 3 is addicted to Internet, and it is almost like you are not even playing on your own machine anymore, but rather though some kind of custom Diablo browser.
Why? Well, first of all you have to log in to your account to be allowed to play. Not a big deal actually, except it is really not working well. So far I only managed to launch the game once. And only after a lot of fiddling around, and restarting, cleaning up this and that and performing all kinds of voodoo. The updater gets stuck. The launcher gets stuck. The title screen gets stuck. Gosh, Blizzard should give money to their players for all the kind of technical issues they have to work through before they get the game up and running.
Diablo 3 is like an old car, if you get it running, don't turn it off. Because next time you want to play, it might not be in the mood to start again.
I realize this is part of the launch issues to be expected because of the tremendous load on their servers due to the massive amount of players, but still, they have been doing beta testing for what seems like a year or more now, and also stress tests. Anyway, my main point is, the game is too independent on the Internet, and it is not working well enough. An offline mode might not have given Blizzard the business models they need, but it surely is no fun to try to play the game in single player mode and be tormented by all kinds of server problems and not to mention lag.
The lag issues are really serious, and breaks a lot of the visual fluidity in the game. I understand it might be lag issues when playing with other people, but, I was playing in single player mode and had all kinds of weird stuff happen because of lag. For example, I shoot a magic missile at a creature, and it takes one second before it fires. Then it soars through the creature, like it missed, only to suddenly teleport back and hit the creature after all. Looks completely retarded.
All these technical issues and heavily Internet dependent system ruins a lot of the experience. I felt like I was playing an HTML5 game with a fancy frontend.
Ok, technical problems aside, then how about the game?
Well, its clear Blizzard want to not fix what is not broken, and keep the same game mechanics. The game feels pretty much like before, except the graphics is somewhat more cartoonish and the atmosphere is much less gloomy. I would say the artists did a great job, and the levels are very detailed and varied. The 3D engine is a bit dated though, and it is clear Blizzard want to keep it simple to make sure old PCs can play it well. Even on max settings the 3D engine seems pretty basic, but is rescued by great art.
As for the gameplay, it is quite repetitive. Basically click on anything you want to destroy, over and over and over. Make sure your fingers are made for clicking 1.000.000 times or more, which is probably needed to win the game.
The variation comes from using different kinds of weapons, and upgrading your spells and equipment. The game designers try to make things interesting by adding small traps you can trigger here and there, like unleashing some light ornament so it falls on top of a group of enemies in the dungeons. but, mostly it is click, click, click, click...
It is quite addictive though, and the constant flow of rewards will keep you going. It's fun to continuously optimize your character, and you can also add party members played by the computer which you can give equipment and level up as well. Even townspeople can be leveled up by you, such as the smith. By paying for his education, he will level up so he can make cooler stuff for you. A good way to ensure it makes sense to keep making tons of money. It works well, and other RPGs has something to learn here, as too often making money is pretty useless in those kind of games.
All in all, an entertaining game, and I look forward to diving more into the multiplayer aspect later. I would have given it an 8.0 if it actually works. But, still giving Blizzard the benefit of doubt, only subtracting 0.5 and hope they can get the servers up to speed soon.