GAME REVIEW: Diablo III (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Sixteen months. That’s how long it took Blizzard to do a console version of their hack & slash action game, Diablo III. Which may be small potatoes when you consider it took them twelve years to make this sequel to 2000’s Diablo II in the first place, but still, taking sixteen months to do bring a PC game to consoles — where, it could be argued, it should’ve been all along — that’s a long time to wait.

But now that it’s finally available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a PS4 edition due out next year, it’s hard not to think that if there was any sequel worth waiting sixteen months for, let alone a dozen years, this would be it.

Diablo III cover

Set twenty years after the events of Diablo II, you travel to the town of New Tristam to investigate a fallen star, only to get sucked into a mysterious prophecy that could end the world as we know it. Well, unless you kill everyone within a five mile radius, apparently.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Diablo is a top-down, hack & slash, action role-playing game that’s the natural evolution of the old arcade game Gauntlet. Whether you attack with melee weapons, ranged ones, or magic spells, you’ll spend most of your time running from one battle to the next, most of which will find you outnumbered and possibly outgunned.

Diablo III 01

While Diablo III is fairly faithful to its genre, it does have some interesting wrinkles. For instance, you can now interact with parts of the dungeons and other areas you explore, knocking away support beams to drop a wall on someone, or breaking a chain that’s holding up a chandelier to send it crashing down on someone’s head.

Similarly, while most games like this have you spending points when you picking a special skill or attack skill, only letting you change when you have more points, Diablo III lets you chose whatever you want when you want (assuming, of course, you’ve unlocked them already). Unless you’re in the middle of a fight, you can not only decide what attack each button will do, but also which of the modifiers for each attack you’d like as well. Which means you can try out different attacks and their modifiers to see which works best.

Diablo III skill menu

The 360 and PS3 editions (and presumably the PS4) of Diablo III have also been slightly streamlined, though only to remove things that didn’t go over well in the PC version. Gone is the online auction house, which let you buy and sell stuff for real money, and the requirement that the game be played on a system connected to the Internet, an anti-piracy move that annoyed people with spotty web connections or who wanted to play the game on their laptop while on a plane (and, well, people who wanted to pirate the game).

Similarly, the game’s controls have also been simplified to accommodate the fact that the 360 and PS3 controllers have less buttons than a keyboard. But while some PC games brought to consoles try to ape the keyboard, or even use a virtual one, Diablo III completely reworks things to make this feel native to a controller, both during combat and in the menus. As a result, this button-mashy game works a lot better when played with actual buttons (funny how that works).

Diablo III 02

But the most useful thing added to the console versions of Diablo III is the ability to jump out of the way. Typically, these kinds of games on consoles have you use the right thumbstick to control the camera, either to move it closer or farther away, or to reorient your view when something’s blocking it or if you’d like a different vantage point.

Diablo III, however, has a fixed camera, so the right thumbstick is instead used to make your character dodge like Kratos does in the God Of War games. This comes in really handy, especially when you’re surrounded and need a moment to get your wits about you. Though it also helps that the game does a good job of compensating for the lack of camera control. Still, if you’ve played a lot of similar games before, this switch does take some time to get used to.

Diablo III 03

Admittedly, if you’ve already played Diablo III on PC, the changes they’ve made to the 360 and PS3 editions (and, presumably, the upcoming PS4 version) aren’t enough to make this worth the double dip. But if you missed it before — say because you knew this kind of game would work better on a big TV and with a controller — this was totally worth the wait.

SCORE: 9.0

What do you think of this game (or my review of it)? Please let me know in the comments below.

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