Diablo II was released amidst a cacophany of hype, and expectations were high. I picked up the Collector's Edition on the day it was released, and my first impression of the game was one of disappointment. It appeared at first glance to be nothing more than a tired remake of the original (which I have to admit, I was less than impressed with.) I played it for a day or two, and shelved it.
I couldn't have been more wrong!!
After loading the game a few weeks later and giving it an objective try, I was hooked!!! Diablo II is a wonderful little hack and slash game, with tons of improvements over the original. To begin with, the graphics are VERY nice. Seamless scrolling and crisp images make the confusion of battle a little easier to cope with, and make no mistake, the fighting is fast and furious! Enemies can number up to twenty five or more on the screen at a time (this is as high as I was able to count while playing the game). It takes a sharp eye and a quick mouse finger to keep up with the action.
The game has made quite a few character improvements over the original, beginning with five character types to play instead of three. Each type has strengths and weaknesses, as well as varied magical spells and skills that are earned and developed as the game progresses. Your character's experience is level based, with skill and ability points as reward for achieving the next level. Pretty standard stuff, though some of the skills and abilities are unique and a lot of fun to use!
The game takes a few liberties that I thought were redundant, for instance, once you kill Diablo and complete the game, it resets itself, allowing you to start the game over with your current character in order to further develop that character's stats. Now in the game's defense, the dungeons and maps reset as well, but to me the excitement of the game is the plot - what happens around the next corner. Having beaten the game once, my interest waned and I moved on to other things.
The on-line version is a lot of fun, mirroring the original pretty closely, though a significant change is the introduction of a 'true death' feature. Once you have defeated Diablo in the on-line version, you can choose this option, which will mean if your character dies in the game, it is once and for all. That character, in effect, is truly dead. Now, why anyone would spend the time to develop a character that far and then risk all that investment in time is beyond me, but hey, its there to be used or not, at the player's discretion.
Another thing I want to mention is the cinematics. They are truly amazing. An intricate story line mirrors the plot, but offers more than a little creative license in its interpretation. If you were fortunate enough to pick up the Collector's Edition, you will have received a DVD of the entire cinematic. If you haven't yet, watch this DVD. It is well worth the time.
This one claims to be a Role Playing Game, but I am here to tell you that, while there are a few elements of role playing in this game, for the most part it is too linear and the game play is too superficial to allow me to call this a true RPG.
It is certainly an adventure, and a VERY good one, but it is not an RPG. Don't let semantics turn you away from this one, though! In the context of the game itself, it is fun to play and watch, and you will not regret paying for this one!!