Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Mano a Diablo

Let it never be said that I am not ahead of the curve and up with the times with my finger on the pulse. It only took me ten years to watch Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, for instance, and I managed to review The Force Unleashed on this blog at least two years after it came out.

Taking those posts into account, this one about Diablo 3 is practically a preview. I'm still three and a half months behind release but, crucially, only two weeks behind the release of version of the game that I'm playing.

Diablo 3: Starter Edition, is in the grand tradition of Blizzard giving you some of their electronic crack for free, then waving an oh it's not so big after all pricetag at you for all the content. A few days of Starcraft 2, 20 levels of World of Warcraft and, now, 13 levels and one Act of the new Diablo.

I've taken a Barbarian through the act twice, getting him to Level 11 with some neat gear, and also tried a Witch Hunter. Admittedly you only get five or six levels/dungeons/encounters in the Starter Edition, and it's fun, don't get me wrong, but it's all a little... samey.

It feels like a free game you'd find on the likes of Armorgames, Mousebreaker, etc., only with professional, high end graphics and sound. You run round in an old-school isometric view, hitting and/or shooting things. These things come in various types that attack differently and need dealing with only slightly differently. You pick up gold, weapons and armour, heal yourself and interact with some objects, get quests and then try your hand at crafting things only mildly better than what you can pick up in the world. And that's it.

But wait! You can do this with five different types of hero, who focus on melee, ranged, magic, fists, or whatever to run through the same sets of quests over and over again. Oh, wait, that's not that exciting? Oops.

It kinda feels like you're playing 80s arcade classic Gauntlet. And, before you ask, I'm not going to review that one as it's a good 27 years old.

Well OK maybe just this once (I told you I had my finger on the pulse, right?).

Selecting Warrior, Valkyrie, Wizard or Elf, you run around hitting, shooting and blasting things in a super-old school top-down view. These things come in various types that attack differently and need dealing with only slightly differently. You pick up points, heal yourself and interact with keys and potions as you get to the exit of each level. And that's it. I remember playing this at the local swimming pool (along with Pacman and some Helicopter assault type game) when I was a kid and hadn't bothered to dry my hair properly when leaving. Gauntlet reminds me of Nik Naks from vending machines, chlorine and that strange circular patterned rubbery non-slip flooring.

Good times.

Anyway, Diablo 3 reminds me of Gauntlet and online flash gaming. Except for the fact it costs £45. I'll stick to the limited free version, thanks. Allegedly it "the game includes interesting opportunities for experimentation and has great appeal for replaying over and over". Sorry, but I don't see it. Though it may be the fastest-selling PC (or Mac?) game of all time and one of the highest-selling PC games of all time, but simply on the boredom of replaying what amounts to the same thing over and over with the most mediocre of variations, Diablo 3 won't be taking my money, even though Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft have already done so in spades.

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