For those that take a look at society, one thing they will notice is that people love to acquire things. Sometimes these things are precious items (Classic video games or good music) other times its frivolous things that make you question why people buy it (Pet Rock). Some people even take this need to acquire stuff to a whole new level. For example, a kleptomaniac will steal things just because they can, but these people get away with it because its a mental disorder. Other times, people will steal things because their desire for an item is so great that they will do anything to have it. So, you might be thinking, “Why is he writing about societies need for things in a game review?” Well, I am here to tell you that this is one of the driving focuses of Blizzard’s Diablo 2, and its expansion, Lord of Destruction.
For starters, Blizzard hands down one of my personal favorite gaming developers as well as one of the most popular. They are the creators of 4 hit game series. Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. All the games in these series have been runaway financial and critical successes. However, its worth noting that they are known for some of the longest development times in the history of gaming. It usually takes years for them to release any new games. For example, the wait between Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 was 4 years. But the wait between 2 and three was a whopping 12 years.
Anyway, back to the game at hand. After the runaway success of the first Diablo, people may have wondered, “How can they improve on a game that is dang near perfect?” Well, they did and they did so in epic fashion. Diablo 2 is an awesome experience.
Firstly, lets begin with the story, its really basic, Diablo has never been about story anyway. All you need to know is that Diablo, his brothers Mephisto and Baal, along with hordes of hells minions are wrecking havoc across the land of Sanctuary and you must stop them. From here, you select your hero. In the main game there are 5 of them, the Amazon, Barbarian, Necromancer, Paladin and Sorceress. Each of these characters provides unique play mechanics. The Amazon is a weapon specialist with an emphasis on spears and archery. The Barbarian charges headlong into battle, absorbing damage and killing enemies with ease. The Necromancer uses a combination of summoning magic and poison/bone and curse spells. The paladin is a solid fighter with lots of holy magic, most of which is useful when with a team. Finally the sorceress is terrible in melee combat and relies almost exclusively on magic.
Once you have made your choice, its time to give the minions of hell a taste of their own medicine. Well, not quite yet, you start in a town with some basic equipment. After some talking you will be tasked with some mission objectives. Now its time for the one thing you will do a whole lot of in Diablo 2, fight stuff. Combat is handled nicely. To attack an enemy, simply click on it then hold down your mouse button. Or, like many do, you can click as fast as you possibly can because it makes you feel like you are fighting faster than you actually are. But it isnt just about left mouse clicking, the right mouse can be used to attack as well, or be used for special attacks. The nice thing about this is that you can easily set a specific ability to each of the mouse buttons or use the keyboard to quickly switch between skills and abilities. However, no matter how many abilities you use and how powerful you are, you are going to need health and mana potions. These can be set in your belt and can be used by either clicking on the icon on the screen or by pressing the number assigned to it. Trust me, you will need to memorize the potion buttons as you will use them constantly.
After you hack your way through a horde of enemies you will be rewarded with loot. For the uninitiated, loot refers to the items that enemies drop when you destroy them. For many, this is the best part of Diablo 2. You never know what kind of items you will receive. Many times, they are worthless and broken swords or pieces of armor. However, sometimes you get magical items that need to be identified. This can be done by using an identify scroll that you can find or buy in town. Later, you meet someone who identifies stuff for you, which is nice. Once identified, you can either sell the item or use it on your character. Its this loot system that makes the game extremely addicting as you will want to keep playing just to see what loot you will get.
But there is more to the game than just killing and looting. You will be constantly earning experience points that you can use to level your character. Every level, you can put some new points into your character stats and 1 point into your skill tree. Personally, I really like this part of the game, there are tons of possibilities and you can tailor your character to your own personal play style. Its really fun to play around with. However, I have to say, I hate how you cannot take your decisions back once they are made. Say for example, you have a skill that you hate, well you have to deal with it. They eventually dealt with this but its only possible at one spot in the game.
For the most part, that’s all there is to it. Its a fun formula that can get dull at times as some of the missions are really long and you are required to chop through tons and tons of enemies, most of which you will see a lot of. But, thankfully, the game throws in boss fights and sub boss fights. Its really common to run into one of the numerous sub bosses just wandering around. Also, in every game, the map layout is different. That is right, there is no set map world, there are certain areas that are the same mainly due to story reasons but the rest of the map is randomly generated. This does add some freshness to a very repetitive game. Its nice to see that they thought of this.
Next, its time to talk about the multiplayer. Its one of those games where the multiplayer is just as fun as the single player. Its neat because the game becomes more difficult depending on how many players are in a single multiplayer game. So if you want to play with four friends, then more teamwork is required in order to face your foes. The loot system also becomes interesting as everyone scrambles to pick up that piece of loot before that useless teammate of yours does. Its almost comedic to watch as everyone will fight over who gets the new items. However, if you are a good teammate, you will give your weapons to the people that need them. But most people tend to forgo the team and feed their greedy little souls.
All in all, this game is seriously fun, and helps feed ones greedy nature, but Blizzard didn’t stop there!!
A year after Diablo 2, Blizzard unleashed its expansion pack. Lord of Destruction adds a 5th act to play through, in which the player faces off against Baal. I can firmly say that it is my favorite chapter. Its scale is epic but it isn’t frustrating like the long act 2. It also provides closure to the story as well, you finally kill all three prime evils.
It also gave some gameplay tweaks as well. I find that it upped the single and multiplayer difficulty a bit, which is welcome because I found D2 a bit too easy at times. But the additions don’t stop there, two new classes are playable. The assassin who sets traps and uses stealth tactics to defeat her enemies whereas the Druid calls upon the forces of nature to fight. Both of these classes are fun to play as, in their own way and add some interesting dimensions to the game overall. Finally, we have more items as well as class specific items. Yes, there are special weapons that provide huge bonuses to certain classes. For example, the Barbarian has special helmets that he can wear that boost his skills. But they are only wearable by the Barbarian.
All in all, Diablo 2 is an awesome game and Lord of Destruction just makes it even better. Sure its repetitive and has some sections that I just dont like, act 2 is way to long for its own good. But the loot system, random mapping, fun boss fights, awesome character progression and wonderful multiplayer make it all worth it.
Diablo 2 8.8/10
D2 with Lord of Destrction 9.5/10