More Reviews
REVIEWS Slender: The Arrival Review
Few games can offer genuine scares in the horror genre. Can Slender: The Arrival prove otherwise and it can offer more?

Pillars of Eternity Review
Obsidian Entertainment creates a retro Infinity Engine RPG funded by Kickstarter. Is it as good as previous Infinity Engine games, or does the novelty quickly wear off?
More Previews
PREVIEWS Dirty Bomb Preview
Looking for a more competitive, challenging online FPS multiplayer game? Splash Damage is introducing just that by dropping a Dirty Bomb on the free-to-play game market.

LATEST FEATURES 6 Helpful Tips for Pillars of Eternity
Simply put, Pillars of Eternity can become maddening if players aren't careful.

Top 10 Active Video Game Kickstarter Campaigns
There are lots of indie projects going on right now, so we did the dirty work for you and found the best.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Top 50 Pokémon of All Time
Can you believe there are now six generations of Pokémon? Six!! That's a crazy amount of different creatures to collect. But which are the cream of the crop? Don't worry, Magikarp isn't actually one of them.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP shandog137
The perils of the Hype Train…
By shandog137
Posted on 03/09/15
The recent release of Evolve and The Order 1886 really got me to thinking about the disparity between the perspective of sales-driven publishers and the quality-driven purchases of consumers. The “Hype Train” is nothing new, but the way it is utilized has been creating far more...

Diablo 2 Preview

Johnny_B By:
Johnny_B
01/07/04
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action/RPG 
PLAYERS  
PUBLISHER Blizzard Entertainment 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE Out Now

Inexplicable endings. The law of sequels. Squelching demons. Again?


Alright, so you kill Diablo. You pig-stick the oversized pot roast and discover that he is actually some little kid with a big, curved, sharp gem implanted in his forehead. Being the brilliant, burly adventurer that you are, you rip out the gem and dispose of it.

But how? Do you bury it? Burn it? Crack it up into a thousand, evil-charged pieces? Nah. You take the friggin' thing and smash it directly into your forehead. Yep, you just played an entire game, supposedly to remove this bloody thing from someone's forehead, only to jam it right into yours.

Of course, this doesn't kill you, displace any brain matter, or cause uncomfortable itching. You believe your ordeal will give you the power to contain Diablo...as if whacking 10,000 bleeding he-mutants and at least 5,000 half naked succubae is somehow going to give you enough prowess to help you contain unlimited evil...in your forehead.

Naturally, you fail. You turn into the next evening's under-cooked pot roast and set off on a path through the world, leaving evil things in your wake. Gosh. I suppose someone else is going to have to whack those things and come after you. Fun?

Folks, this isn't speculation, celluloid, or a press release. This is the Diablo II Beta... or rather, a preview of Diablo II based on it.

Funny story. 138,000 people signed up for a drawing, the prize being one of a few choice spots in the Diablo II Battle.net beta test. One day, a copy showed up at the Game Revolution compound and it was awarded to my care. I didn't have to sign up for anything. I love this job. Suckers!

The first Diablo was successful thanks to an extremely sleek, addictive blend of action and role-playing that safely classified it in neither camp. It was seamless, low maintenance fun that never taxed your brain or your twitch skills too much, but rather drew you in with a terrific sense of brooding, gothic atmosphere.

That was back in 1996. Since then, Blizzard North has been hard at work on a sequel. Diablo II, just now in beta, is a much larger game than its predecessor. The beta, which only includes the first (and smallest) of the planned four acts, is easily as large as the entire original. Given its extraordinary length, Diablo II features a great deal more of everything than before.

For instance, the press materials claim that the beta lacks three acts, many skills, and "hundreds of thousands of weapons." While such a statement would seem to be hyperbole, after a few days with the game, it seems that Blizzard might have been conservative with that estimate.

There are also more character classes: the Paladin (knight), Sorceress (wizard), Amazon (Rogue from Diablo), Necromancer (like the Conjurer from NOX), and Barbarian (Arnold Schwartzenegger in CONAN). Each class is distinctive and yet supremely balanced. A great deal of this comes from the new skill system, which links magical abilities to levels rather than whether or not you happened upon a book somewhere.

Gameplay is still viewed from the familiar isometric perspective and takes place not only in dungeons, but in vast landscapes as well. Typically, reaching a quest objective might involve crossing over a few marshes, fields, and such. Fortunately, there is an included waypoint/teleporter system that nicely avoids the problem of having to re-cross completed terrain.

A key deficiency in Diablo was the easily 'hackable' characters. This led to widespread cheating across Battle.net. This time around, Battle.net play (which is essentially a cooperative multi-player version of the single player game, but without saved games) is secure thanks to all gameplay data (including your avatar) being stored on Blizzard's servers, much like Ultima Online or Everquest.

Graphically, Blizzard decided to play an interesting mix. Through the use of 3D acceleration in a 2D game, Diablo II comes to life in semi-3D. Paralaxing effects provide an illusion of objects changing visual relationships to one another based upon angle of sight. Move 'up' and see what was under the backside of that rock, or what was next to that fence. Advanced lighting and bilinear filtering effects are also included. Art is consistently top-rate throughout, with spell and death animations being especially impressive.

One potential caveat, however, is the extremely limited resolution (locked at 640 x 480) which makes the game look more blocky than it should. Hopefully, Blizzard will see it in their wisdom (they do have a proven track record) to include the option of higher resolutions, even if that only means using the same artwork and shrinking everything down. After all, it worked fine in NOX...

It is difficult to tell exactly how good the final Diablo II will be from the limited beta. But based on what we've seen thus far, this should be yet another winner for Blizzard. The first act, which seems to be the least exotic of the four, is engrossing and extremely entertaining. The gamplay is still chock full of that old Diablo excitement and most of the new changes to the gameplay dynamic balance things out. While the graphics might not demonstrate it, this looks to be a very polished product and obsession material all over again.

Barbarians rejoice! Diablo II is due out sometime before the next Ice Age for the PC.


Click on the following screenshots to enlarge!



More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about Diablo 2


More On GameRevolution