Real-time action in the depths of HELL
Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of Warcraft
II, has finally come to us with another game of great proportions: Diablo.
In this role-playing game “You enter a world where evil has corrupted the land
and shackled humanity into unholy slavery. Vengeance, power, intellect, and magic
— these are the tools you will need to battle the Lord of All Evil, Diablo. Embark,
if you dare, upon a dark and sinister quest that will pull you into the very depths
of hell itself…and beyond.”
You choose one of three possible
adventures to battle the dark forces beneath the seemingly tranquil town of
Tristram — The Warrior, the Rogue, or the Sorcerer. The Warriors are from the
land of Khanduras and all are well trained in the weapons of battle. After the
mysterious death of King Leoric, mercenaries and paladins have ventured to Tristram
to destroy the darkness within the bowels its Cathedral. Many of these brave
souls have entered the great labyrinth, never to be heard from again. The Warrior
is the strongest and toughest of the three classes, specializing in melee combat.
Because of their focus on arms, they are limited to only the fundamental understandings
of magic. But then again, who needs to hide in a corner casting fire-bolts at
the enemy when you can readily wield great, enchanted battle axes that cut through
flesh like a hot cleaver through butter. In addition to weapon mastery, Warriors
are the only class who can do on-the-spot repair work on their arsenal.
The Sisters of the Sightless Eye is a guild of highly skilled archers from the West. Known only as wandering Rogues, they are the unmatched masters of the bow. The strange occurrences have caught the attention of these wingless valkyries and now they venture to test their skills against the dark forces lurking in Tristram. Although not as apt to close combat as Warriors, Rogues are said to be able to send a stream of arrows at an enemy with careless precision. Some also believe that they are slightly more attuned to magic than the Warriors. Their ancient Eastern philosophies have helped them develop an “inner sight” allowing all Rogues to detect deadly traps and aid them in disarming them as well.
The veiled Brotherhood of the Vizjerei, one of the eldest and most dominant mage-clans of the East, has sent many of it’s acolytes to observe the dark events unfolding in Khanduras. The elders hope that their acolytes will learn the secrets of the dark evil growing in the West and can destroy it. The possibility of capturing numerous lost tomes of magical knowledge and staves of great power have spawned the interest of many wandering Sorcerers. These Eastern Sorcerers have developed a greater understanding of magic than the other available classes. Beginning with the simplest of spells, they quickly grow in power as they discover new and fantastic incantations. All Sorcerers possess the ability to recharge staves by drawing power from the surrounding area and channeling it through the staff.
Diablo is remarkably
easy to learn. Primarily mouse controlled, a beginner may easily learn how to
rid Tristran of the dark minions in just a few minutes. After choosing a character
to begin with, you type in their name and you’re off adventuring. The game screen
is divided into two sections; The Play Area and the Interface Bar. Simply click
your left mouse button on any spot on the Play Area and your character will
walk to that spot. Creatures and townsfolk are highlighted while the pointer
(the famous WCII gauntlet) is on them so you can easily choose which friend
or foe to interact with. Right clicking anywhere on the Play Area will activate
a ready spell or skill. Players have the option of viewing the Character Screen,
open the Quest Log, show the Automap, bring up the main Menu, bring up the Inventory
Screen, show their SpellBook, or use the SpeedBook. Although it may sound like
a lot to remember, it really isn’t. Players will quickly learn which buttons
to press and where useful information/statistics are located.
In addition to the above mentioned, the Interface Bar has a red Orb of Life and a blue Orb of Mana. These orbs empty as valuable life points are lost or spells are cast. In the center of the Interface Bar is the character Belt. Here is where your hero will keep up to eight small potions or scrolls. They can be quickly accesses by right-clicking on one or by pressing the appropriate # on the keyboard. Below the Belt(per-say) the Description Box(per-say) is located. Here players will receive a quick or full description on whatever is highlighted with the pointer.
The Character Screen contains the vital statistics of your hero including Magic Resistance, Armor Class, Experience Points, Level, To Hit % and Damage with current weapon. Also located here is your Strength, Magic, Dexterity, Vitality, Life, and Mana totals. Each statistic effects your character in some way. For example: Damage is determined by the current weapon in hand, your Strength, some of your Dexterity and any Magical Enchantments in effect. When you gain enough experience from your adventures, you will advance a level and will be granted points to distribute between your statistics. Therefore you can customize your character’s abilities to your liking.
To view any current objectives or goals, press the Quest Log Button. Click on the quest displayed and it will be narrated for you again as the writing scrolls off the screen. The Automap will display only the areas explored by your character. It is overlaid on top of the Play Area so you may continue to move or attack as you view. The Inventory Screen shows all the equipment you are currently carrying. Items in use are placed over a silhouette of your hero in the appropriate locations. The SpellBook displays the skills and spells currently available to your character. There will be a brief description of each containing your level of ability in that spell, mana cost, and damage values. The SpeedBook brings up all of the icons for your skills and spells, including the spells on scrolls and staves in hand. By placing the pointer on a desired icon, then pressing a key between F5 and F8 will assign that key to that spell. A very useful addition for those moments when you need a powerful spell or quick healing and don’t have time to picking through your SpellBook.
While actually playing Diablo, fans of the easy-interfaced WarCraft
II will notice the similarities. To attack the enemy, ready your favorite
utensil of death and left-click on that pesky monster. That’s it! Just keep
left-clicking until the sucker until it’s a pile of guts. Want to blow a zombie
away with a fireball? Right-click on the zombie (with the appropriate spell
selected) and he’s toast! Outside of the Cathedral is the tranquil town of Tristram
(say that 10 times). There you can sell unwanted equipment, get healing, buy
powerful artifacts, receive quests, get clues, gossip with the few remaining
townsfolk or just loligag about. The real charm behind Diablo is the
character options… Which spells work best on whom? What are the enemy weaknesses?
What bonuses or penalties do certain weapons have on creatures?
And speaking of creatures,
there are over 200 monsters to slay in completely random generated dungeons.
That’s right! All the levels of Diablo are randomly generated. The creatures
and items found in the depths of the Cathedral are also random, and the monsters
get more and more difficult depending on the dungeon level you’re currently
on. So every time you play, it’s different! You can’t beat Diablo
for unlimited game-play.
The visuals are a combination of wonderfully realistic, SVGA graphics, 3D modeling, and real-time lighting effects. You will be amazed at the “realism” of the game. The sound effects are also fantastic. Unearthly music and sounds of torture haunt the labyrinth below Tristram. Creatures moan, grunt, scream and scuttle through the darkness. Each item has it’s own sound as well. Potions bubbling, coins clinging, swords unsheathing, and even the scrolls sound like a thick roll of paper unrolling as they are being readied. Also the spells and newly slain vermin have unique sound effects and visuals. The opening movie is also completely rendered and looks GREAT! It’s really one of those “You have to see it to believe it” kind of games.
Diablo is absolutely a nominee for Game of the Year! (And its one of
the first games I’ve seen this year!) It’s easy enough for anyone to learn.
The hundreds of beautifully rendered monstrosities, items and labyrinths will
keep you on your toes for months. Blizzard is also one of the first software
companies to offer FREE MULTI-PLAYER GAMING. Similar to WarCraft
II, proud owners of Diablo can give all their friends (and enemies)
a “spawned” copy of the game. This allows them to play the first two levels
of the game by themselves as the Warrior, or join multi-player games against
other “spawned” copies or use Battle.net. Diablo also comes complete
with easy setup for modem play and the network play.
Blizzard is an upcoming, fast growing company who aims to please, and has
succeeded every time so far. They reek of pride and that’s a very good thing
in my eyes when you have something to be proud of. So, to sum up Diablo:
buy it! If you don’t trust me, try downloading the demo from our downloads
page. I could type all night trying to convince you to give it a shot, but
I’ll leave you with just one reminder: FREE MULTI-PLAYER GAMING…! The next
warrior you see on Battle.net just might be me.