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Diablo III review

diabloiii-1Diablo III is not a videogame. It’s an obsession, an addiction that’s more or less impossible to shake once it takes hold. For every incredible pair of pants you find that boost your stats to stratospheric levels, the fact that there might, just might, be an even better pair of pants in the next chest or on the corpse of your next victim means you simply can’t stop playing. You want those perfect pants. You need those perfect pants. But the cruel truth is that even if you played it for the rest of your life, you’d probably still never find those elusive Perfect Pants. Not that anything like logic is going to stop you trying, mind.

What Blizzard has created is effectively a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat loot buffet And you, little piggy, are going to snuffle it all down until you’re fit to burst. There’s loot everywhere – on dead bodies, on bookshelves, in pots, buried underground and of course in the possession of the game’s biggest, baddest beasties. If an enemy has its own name rather than a generic class/species title, chances are it’s holding something good. This would never do. Smash it to bits and claim your prize. It’ll likely be worthless to you – such is the way when there’s so much gear going round – but even pointless loot isn’t pointless. You can sell it on in town to turn a tidy profit, store it in the communal chest for use on one of the other character classes when you inevitably start over with someone new, pass it on to a friend in need or even break it down to its core components and have the blacksmith reforge it as something more useful. All loot has a purpose, and this makes it incredibly hard to leave even a single pot unsmashed.

Unlike many RPGs, there aren’t that many types of gear that are exclusive to a specific character class, either. While thematic equipment is likely to serve you better than cosplaying as another class, there’s nothing to stop you hooking the Witch Doctor up with a dirty great hammer and a bulky set of mail armour, or giving your Barbarian some fancy gloves and a little shiv. Gear cycles incredibly quickly, as the earlier Perfect Pants reference suggests and, although the newly-added greed/red arrows for at-a-glance comparison are a handy way of getting a rough idea what’s worth using, anyone looking to really turn their character into a monster will need to look beyond this simple visual clue – the arrows don’t take into account many of the additional effects on weapons and armour, and the best gear will usually have loads. So while a new sword might be worse than your current one according to those cheeky little arrows, a quick trip into the inventory might tell a different story if it turns out to be dripping with life-stealing, attack-buffing, lightning-chaining extra perks. It pays to pay attention, or you’ll end up selling something incredible on the recommendation of a red arrow or two.

diabloiii-6As much variety as there is in the crap that you’ll find literally everywhere, there’s even more in the characters themselves and how you can build them. Five starter classes all play entirely differently and are fuelled by different resources – the Witch Doctor, for instance, is a pet-heavy ranged character that uses constantly regenerating Mana to fuel more potent abilities, while the Barbarian focuses purely on melee, with powers based around quickly getting into the fray (or bringing it to you) fuelled by Rage that accumulates as battle goes on and decays while nothing is dying. Even within these five totally different play styles, there’s room to further customise and tweak your build. Only five abilities can be set as active at once from a pool of around triple that, with each sporting five runes that completely change how that power looks and behaves. These runes unlock as you level, and you’ll want to try them all out as soon as they’re available to see which best suit your play style. Just as your armour will be constantly changing, so too is your arsenal of flashy, overpowered abilities.

While Diablo III might not be the best-looking game on PS3 (especially with the action sandwiched between some of the best CG cutscenes we’ve ever seen), the slight visual hit means that it is able to hold down a slick, steady framerate no matter how much mayhem is going on. In a game like this, that’s a sacrifice we’re more than willing to accept – dropped frames or slowdown could leave you splattered by an AOE blast that kills your character outright, and when there’s a Hardcore mode where death is permanent, that’s just out of the question. Just like Ironman mode in XCOM, Hardcore is both hugely stressful and immensely rewarding. We can only recommend it to those confident in their skills and game knowledge, though, so it’s probably an idea to do at least one run where a cheap death won’t erase your character before you attempt this sadistic mode.

Once Diablo III sinks its fangs into you – be it a particularly enjoyable co-op run, stumbling upon an amazing character build or just finding some crazy rare loot – there’s no hope of salvation. You’ll be cursed to live out the rest of your days searching for the Perfect Pants. And guess what? You’re never going to find them.

80%




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