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Video Game Review

Diablo 3 at Amazon.comDiablo 3 - Resurrecting a Forgotten Gaming Genre

by Nate DeRose
StageofLife.com Gaming Editor

Diablo III is an interesting game for several different reasons. First, it’s an attempted resurrection of a dying genre; next, it appeals to a strangely scattered, yet very specific demographic; and lastly, it has been mercilessly beaten and exceptionally praised.

Diablo III falls under a genre of gaming that was prevalent throughout the 90s but has since all but vanished. The game, available only on the computer, is an action role playing game set in a dark fantasy world, falling under a subgenre most frequently referred to as a “dungeon crawler.” After a brief character creation, the nature of the “dungeon crawler” genre becomes apparent.  Using primarily your mouse to control your character, in a standard point and click manner, you slowly work your way through various caves, fields, and dungeons fighting horde after horde of enemies. The game is centered on online cooperative play, encouraging you to team with up to three others in your journey. The game features its own economy, with an in-game currency, trade, and auction houses for in-game equipment.

The purpose of the game is to fight your way through four different acts. Each act is comprised of several unique locations, enemies, and lastly, a final boss. As you complete each act and kill hordes of enemies, your character levels up and gains new skills, weapons, armor, and abilities. Completing the four acts can be done in a relatively short time; however, completing them unlocks a harder difficulty level, allowing you to carry your same character through the content again, only with harder enemies and more powerful equipment. There are four difficulties in the game to be completed, with the final difficulty being excruciatingly challenging. Facing these challenges and constantly powering up your character leads to virtually endless amounts of "replay-ability," though those who wish to devout less time can still experience all of the game’s content and story in a much smaller time frame. 

The game’s fictional world, Sanctuary, follows all of the fantasy norms – knights in shining armor, mages and wizards, dark, battered villages, and a variety of demons and monsters. The game does have a story, but it is not the highlight of the game. While brief character dialogue and several short story related cut scenes are shown, the story is neither abundant nor emphasized. While it can be interesting at times, it is not a major draw to the series and acts merely as a transition for the game’s varying acts.
While many modern games opt for 3D graphics, Diablo III features a top down, isometric view of the game’s world. While this style of graphics is traditional for its genre, it can look outdated compared to more modern graphical styles. Despite this, it has become a refreshing and unique art style compared to the waves of first person perspective, 3D games we often see now. In these respects, the game has not strayed far from its predecessors.

It has been over a decade since Diablo II’s release in 2000, and nearly two since the series origins, with Diablo in 1996. Now, Diablo III garners a widespread demographic that appeals to two specific groups. Because of its time consuming, purely entertainment nature, and its abundant online community, the game appeals to a younger demographic, from late-teens to early twenties. However, due to time elapsed between Diablo III and its predecessor, the proclaimed Diablo II “veterans,” now in a much later stage of their life, have found appeal in this entry of the popular Diablo franchise. The clashing demographic has created a gap in the game’s reception.

The discrepancy comes from long term fans of the franchise, those who have waited almost twelve years for a follow up to the immensely popular Diablo II. Over the course of the twelve years between the two entries, the game’s developing company, Blizzard Entertainment, has seen a shift in their staff, which led to differing visions for the franchise from the original developers in the late 90s. While from a genre standpoint, the game is largely unchanged, the Diablo purists have been critical of the game’s mechanics, as in how it plays and functions. This has led the franchise veterans to band together against the third entry, even “review bombing” websites such as Amazon.com, which has seen over 1,500 one star reviews. Blizzard Entertainment has worked hard to appease the outcry, releasing nearly weekly updates for the game. Despite this negative reception, newcomers to the series and professional reviewers have praised the game, with Diablo III maintaining a positive score on review aggregator, GameRankings.  Diablo III has since become the fast selling PC game in history, with over 10 million players.

While diehard Diablo fans had their gripes, the game is still well worth playing. The game has a large appeal to the current generation of gamers as well as an older generation of gamers that had once played this style of game. The return of a genre that has been largely forgotten is a welcomed diversion from the first person shooters and sports titles that saturate the market now.

--Nate DeRose

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