When Diablo 3 released in May of 2012 it quickly became the fastest selling PC game ever, selling 3.5 million copies within the first 24 hours of its release on its way to 12 million copies by the end of 2012 and was generally met with positive reviews. Fans bemoaned Blizzard’s DRM which required them to remain connected online, even when playing the single player campaign as well as a controversial auction house allowing players to trade both virtual and real currency for in game items. It was a title I strongly considered purchasing a new PC for, recalling fond memories and countless hours with Diablo 2 but ultimately a lack of money and rumors of a console port pushed the title to the back of my mind until recently when the game was released on both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. This review is for the Playstation 3 version which contained some exclusive Sony-themed items available to your characters to equip.
I chose the Demon Hunter, one of four new classes for the game, along with the returning Barbarian. The Demon Hunter is a primarily ranged character who has access to a good arsenal of both offensive and defensive skills and for the first playthrough of the game on normal difficulty and I never felt overwhelmed or underpowered, which is something ranged characters typically struggle with in games such as this. A good reason for this is the game constantly provided me with a steady stream of both rare and legendary weapon types, something that was altered for the console release as the PC drop rate was lower due to the auction house, which has been removed for the console versions. It seemed like every time the enemies started to become a more serious threat, I would be rewarded with a significantly better crossbow, or a better piece of armor which made the journey through the four acts more manageable.
Most gamers know that the campaign just serves as a vessel for you to level your character to 60 and begin the ever addictive loot grind, in search of that next legendary piece or armor or weapon that keeps gamers coming back time and time again. As of writing, I've cleared the campaign once, reaching level 33 by the end of the game and have started the campaign over on Nightmare difficulty with the idea being that your increased level and gear should provide accurate balance and challenge for the next difficulty all the way up to Inferno. The end game content continues further with Paragon levels once you've hit level 60 and playing Inferno for the chance to obtain the best items in the game through the drops found on that difficulty. The campaign took around 15 hours the first time through watching all cutscenes and subsequent runs should come in even quicker as you attempt to level your character to 60 and beyond. Factor in the game has 5 different character types, all with different optimal builds and unique play styles and Diablo 3 is definitely a game you can expect to get your money’s worth out of.
While Diablo 3 is a pretty looking game, the graphics are inferior to those found on the PC version and I occasionally ran into frame rate stutters when playing online with friends with a lot of action was on the screen. While the drops in frame rate are noticeable, I've yet to run into anything game breaking and when the host unexpectedly quits the game automatically migrates it to a new one. Dropping in on a friends game is actually easier than accepting their invites as all you need to do is highlight their name which appears if they’re playing and select to join their party and you’re there instantly. Which brings me to another highlight of this game are the loading times. In games like this you’re constantly going into different areas and rarely have I encountered a load time of more than a handful of seconds which helps encourage exploration when you know you’re not going to be bogged down with long load times.
PC games that have made their way to consoles have usually suffered considerably due to gameplay and other system restrictions, but Diablo 3’s transition works surprisingly well. Your six skills and health potions are mapped to the controller’s buttons and movement and a newly added dodge move are handled by the analog sticks. Another nice feature is the ability to bring up your map and cycle through and drop recently picked up gear without having to enter the menu through the use of the d-pad. Blizzard has patched the PC version since its release, further tweaking and balancing the game and it’s clear to see they spent a considerable effort in bringing something more than a “serviceable” port to the consoles. The game also supports same screen co-op and hopefully the recently announced “Reaper of Souls” expansion makes it way to consoles as well. Blizzard set the standard for action role playing games over a decade ago with the release of Diablo and Diablo 2 and with blacksmithing, jewelling and the ongoing quest for ever better gear, Diablo 3 aims to keep gamers busy for years to come. Make no mistake about it, Diablo 3 is far from a cheap cash in and is a must own title that offers addictive loot-based gameplay from the series that has refined it to near perfection over the years.