After what seems like an ice age of waiting, developer Blizzard has finally managed to get the sequel to its hit RPG Diablo out of the door and onto the shelves. As ever when a game has a lengthy development time, the question is was it worth the wait?
Another question you could quite feasibly ask the Diablo II programmers is, what the Hell were you doing all that time? Perhaps that’s a little harsh, but it just doesn’t feel that much removed from the first game. Yes, the interface has been nicely tweaked and there’s a great new character system, with a smart skill tree which allows you to really customise the way your avatar develops.
And there are new character classes in the mix – you can now pick from a sorceress, barbarian, necromancer, amazon and paladin. Each has different strengths and, depending on the skills and stats you choose to use, your experience points can exaggerate these even more.
But aside from some nice new design concepts, it’s really all very familiar. The graphics are still in 640X480 – you can’t raise this resolution – and that just looks a little bit dated now. In terms of the plot, it’s all painfully linear too. The quests you’re charged with completing all involve being ordered to go off to some dark dungeon or forest and kill some nefarious beastie. There’s little imagination shown in this department.
When it comes down to it, Diablo II is a pretty simplistic game, although there is merit in that to an extent. It is quite fun, almost relaxingly easy to play, with a host of gameplay elements designed to minimise time spent farting around. For example, there are convenient ‘magic’ teleport pads to every location you visit, scrolls to whisk you back to town so you can quickly sell the spoils of adventuring and other shortcuts.
It’s designed to be a very easy-going RPG and it succeeds in that respect. But there’s no doubting that there are many people out there who expected a lot more from this sequel and it’s something of a disappointment in that regard.
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