One of the most talked about sequels in the past decade (in junction with the plagued release of Duke Nukem Forever), Diablo 3 had high expectations. Luckily, unlike the former, Diablo 3 has lived up to the hype, for the most part. I stuck with the digital download directly through my battle.net account. It worked pretty seemlessly, with an average transfer rate of 2Mbits/sec on a 14Mb line. Loading the game was a piece a cake though I was hoping for more with character customization. I could choose the class and gender but that was about it.
That shortcoming was quickly brushed aside when I began playing. Not only did the graphics look great, but it was very smooth and the controls were easy to understand. The map illuminates areas you visited, and leaves new areas dark. This makes it much easier to figure out where you have and haven’t gone. I don’t have the best sense of direction so indirectly guiding me where to go left me in control but kept me from wasting time. Pressing M on your keyboard will blow the map up on the center of your screen so you can plan for your next destination.
The graphics engine is pretty efficient. Pressing CTRL + R will display your frames per second. Turning on vertical sync will cap the frame rate to your screen’s refresh rate. It’s more than enough for smooth game play, but it also helps to eliminate screen tearing which is common on certain video cards. The gaming rig I used had an AMD Phenom II 970 quad core @ 3.8Ghz, with an AMD Radeon 6870 1GB DDR5 graphics card. I was staying above 100 frames per second with everything set to high, Anti-Aliasing enabled, and running 1920×1200 resolution. Not too shabby. There was some screen tear though so I enabled V-sync and the problem went away. (Using Catalyst Driver 12.3, on Win7 x64)
Weapon and armor upgrades are extremely diverse, as is your skill set. I chose to be a male Barbarian. I have little experience playing Diablo so I thought a tough, melee fighting warrior would do the trick. It’s been great. This isn’t a long range class by any means, but smashing and bashing foes into a different world never gets old. Your skills and powers really make the gameplay unique, to a point where two Barbarians can fight very differently. As you can see in the video below, I added a couple perks to let me attack farther away, and then drop the hammer when they get close. The bottom of the screen provides your health level, and in my case, Fury level. As you left mouse click to attack, you build more Fury. Once it’s high enough you can right click, dealing a more powerful move that drains the Fury back down. Finding the right balance will devastate seemingly challenging situations. All of this is in addition to your powers assigned on your 1-4 keys. They have different strengths and weaknesses which can be changed to suit your style. Many more variants and skills are unlocked as you level up in the game. In this game you can also loot, talk, repair, customize, or just plain walk around for a while. Whatever your mood is, Diablo III has what it takes.
This video is intended to display the points I mentioned above. The game was run on an Alienware M14x (Nvidia GT555m) at 1600×900 resolution, with all settings on high and anti-aliasing enabled. I can pull over 60 frames per second on this setting.
No game is perfect (though Mass Effect 2 and 3 came pretty close to me). This game does have some shortcomings. Featuring the latest and greatest tool for DRM, Diablo 3! DRM or Digital Rights Management consists of protocols companies set in place to prevent pirating. It’s unfortunate because some hackers can still get past this, but the entire general public has to deal with the inconveniences set in place. The catch here? Always on internet connection is a requirement. Even when you play in offline mode, on a campaign all by yourself. Did you think you could play Diablo 3 on a plane or on a laptop away from a hotspot? Luckily for us, WiFi is almost everywhere now. Some airlines even offer WiFi now. The sign in process is painless, so it’s really not too bad. It’s more of a matter of principle. For now I will enjoy this amazing game and pray I never have a network outage, or their servers go offline.
If you have questions regarding this game, post below. I will happy to address them, as will many other subscribers.