The flagship franchise of the hack-n-slash RPG genre is back, bigger and better with its second installment
The basic gameplay is quite simple. Fight wave after wave of hell's minions, gain experience points, level up and develop your character. Combat forms the major part, rather all of the game. Though this in itself may seem to lack variety, it prevents you from getting sidetracked, thereby allowing you to concentrate on the main game.
You start out by choosing a character class, a la every other RPG. You can choose from 5 classes: Amazon, Barbarian, Paladin, Necromancer and Sorceress. Each class has its own unique set of skills, which again are categorized under 3 disciplines, and they differ in their starting attributes. The classes are distinctly different from each other though all items can be used by any class. The difference lies in the skills and each class has 30 unique skills. Two characters of the same class can also be entirely different depending upon the skills they have learnt.
Character development is given much emphasis, though it is kept relatively simple. There are four character attributes, among which you distribute the 5 attribute points you get for each level up. The Strength attribute denotes the damage you can deal to the enemy for each strike. Dexterity governs the rate of success of striking an enemy as well as blocking an enemy attack. It also governs the rate and power of ranged attacks. Vitality is a measure of your Health, which are your character's hit points. Energy governs stamina, the capacity for the character to keep running at a stretch, as well as Mana, the character's spiritual essence. Most skills require mana if you want to use them. These stats may also be enhanced using certain magically imbued items.
The game spans across four acts, each set in a different location in the Sanctuary, which is the name of the Diablo game world. You play as one of the characters and seek out the Diablo, the Lord of Destruction, who is attempting to releasing his brothers, Mephisto and Baal. The three together form the Prime Evils of the Demon kind.
You accomplish six missions in each act to move on to the next Act. The missions are quite linear and there are no side-missions or secondary objectives, thereby lacking variety and depth. These missions, though varying in their ultimate objectives, will effectively have you ploughing through hordes of monsters. Once again there is a lack of variety of what you do, as you keep killing monster after monster in pretty much the same way each time, and there is no need for a strategy in most cases.
However this lack of variety is compensated by a randomly generated map for each game and randomly generated monsters each time you open an already saved game. You get to fight a large variety of monsters throughout the game. Most of the time when you kill a monster, they drop an item, and this is also randomly generated.
Items form an integral part of the game. You will have to use to use a lot of items through the course of them game. They range from various potions to armor and weapons. The weapons and armor are of several different types, each having its own set of attributes, like damage dealt, durability, elemental damage, etc. Several items are magically imbued to grant the character enhancement in stats or adding elemental damage to the weapon's attack. You can buy items from traders or pick them up from monsters who drop them, when they are killed. You can sell off extra items or store them in your stash in the center of town.
There three levels of difficulty - Normal, Nightmare and Hell, each progressively tougher than the previous. However you must finish the game at a certain level of difficulty to unlock the next level. The experience rewarded for killing a monster are greater progressively through the difficulty levels. but the number of times you can die in-game is reduced. Normally, if you die in-game you will be spawned near your stash, but will lose a part of your money and experience.
Graphics, however disappoint. The game uses a rather outdated graphic engine. This is a place Blizzard could have put in some work. The game allows a low resolution of 640x480. The game's cut-scenes form a bridge between the Acts and are well crafted
The background score fits the bill, with its dark ,eerie-sounding music. The in-game sounds, are quite well done too. No complaints here.
As I have mentioned earlier repetitive combat and the graphics are a letdown. The games is too linear, and it could have done with a few optional side-quests.
It may be old game, but it stands tall in the action RPG genre. The addictive combat more than compensates for the poor graphics, though it may get monotonous at times. Surely a must-buy for the RPG gamer.