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Here is the conclusion of our in-depth look at Diablo III!
Those who have been following the game for any length of time know that the art style has been the subject of unending controversy. The designers went for a ‘painterly’ style, and a vociferous group of fans claimed that it was too cartoony and colorful. While it is true that Diablo III looks different from its predecessors, the new style works. The scenery in this game is some of the best I have ever seen. It is true that there is a lot of color, but you need color to make the areas distinct and interesting. Wandering through four acts of darkness and gloom would get old very quickly. The autumnal areas of Act I and the luminous halls of Act IV deserve special mention for their superior execution.
Diablo III also features a stunning array of monsters. Each act has a diverse bestiary, with few overlaps. The monsters also deploy an equally diverse arsenal of attacks. The Dune Dervishes of Act II spin wildly, deflecting projectiles in the process, while the Morlu Casters of Act II can call down meteors from the sky to cause your character a world of pain. Champion and Elite monsters also receive special modifiers, such as ‘Vortex’ (which allows them to pull you into melee range) and ‘Waller’ (where they cause walls of stone to rise up and block your path). In Normal mode, Champions and Elites get one modifier, but in subsequent difficulty levels they get an additional one, which means they can have up to four in Inferno. Running into a pack of foes that are Wallers/Jailers/Arcane Enchanted/Invulnerable Minions is enough to give even the hardiest adventurer pause.
One area where the game fell flat was the story. For the past four years, the developers have been bragging that Diablo III would have the best story of all the games. But while it had some really cool moments, it also had some glaring plot holes. The random lore books that you find scattered throughout the world are really well done though. One also has to wonder why they felt the need to bring back no fewer than three minibosses from earlier games. Nostalgia is all well and good, but in this case it felt a bit forced. Blizzard also needs to realize that having villains explain their plans in a gloating fashion is the worst kind of cliché.
There are also times when the game feels… incomplete. Acts III and IV feel rushed, though the designers have maintained that this was a deliberate design decision to heighten the feeling of suspense by rushing the player toward the climax. But it is not just a question of pacing: those two acts seem to have fewer random areas and events than the two previous acts. It is also regrettable that the final act does not feature its own ‘town’ like the other three acts did. Given the final act’s spectacular setting, it would have been cool if we had had the chance to interact with more NPCs. In Act IV, you encounter a hostile NPC and it looks like you are going to have to fight him, but then he suddenly falls over (well, it is a bit more complicated than that, but I do not want to spoil it for those of you who have not seen it yet). It seems obvious that Blizzard had to cut the fight for some reason (perhaps to save it for an expansion pack?), but the change seems quite bizarre.
But do not let these quibbles dissuade you: Diablo III is still a fantastic game and a worthy addition to the series. It is every bit as addictive as its predecessors, and chances are you will find yourself staying up until all hours of the night as you try to clear out one more area or get one more skill. The little pockets of randomness that are sprinkled throughout the world make the game seem fresh, even on the tenth playthrough. All in all, it is an excellent piece of game design, and it is well worth the insanely long wait.