It's been on the "most waited for game" list for months and months. Ads from several other software companies made fun of its delay or tried to lure away those waiting for its release. After all of the countless promises and retractions, Diablo 2 is finally on the shelves. Was it worth the wait?
The answer is - yes and no. Obviously the months (shall we say years) of development time shows in several areas. While the install itself is one of the most boring installs I have ever seen in my entire life (and takes up a massive 1.5 GIG of disk space), the opening movie is quite, quite impressive. The dust motes sparkling in the shaft of sunlight, the flames flickering (always a tough thing to get just right), and other touches show the incredibly amount of effort they put into this.
The character selection screen shows the five new classes you can choose from - two female, three male. You can be an Amazon, a Barbarian, a Necromancer, a Paladin, or a Sorceress. Choose the individual standing before you, and he or she will approach the screen and wait for a name. Then, suddenly, you're in ... Diablo.
Yes, Nostalgia is a powerful force, and it is neat to hear that familiar music, see the graphics, chat with the various people. However, much time has passed since Diablo was out and thrilled us with these aspects of the game. Since then we've had Baldur's Gate, Nox, Planescape Torment, and several other games of this same style. The graphics in all have improved steadily, as have the interfaces and sound. To look at Diablo 2, it seems ... well ... old.
Take the screen itself. Sure, at one time this was an adequate resolution, but nowadays we expect a bit more going on in one window. When you talk to individuals the text scrolls by at a snail's pace, inviting you to run off for a snack and come back later to continue. Selections are not always consistant - sometimes you have to click a person height's below an object to select it.
You'd have thought after all this time that they'd bring us up to a new level, not simply slightly improve the existing one!
Yes, some things do stand out as being interesting. The quest graphics, with each quest individually represented, is a neat idea. When you're down in the den, the system kindly informs you that there are still 3 monsters left, so you best go and find them. When you complete the quest, sunlight streams into the den, the evil eradicated ... at least for now.
The atmospheric effects are good. I love the rain falling on the stream in little ripples, and the delayed effect of the thunder after the lightning. Was that really worth leaving us with the most hideous auto-map known to mankind? I'd have taken slightly less realistic rain if they could have made that map a bit more usable.
The game is definitely a "Mature" rating. Go ahead, hack those zombies clear in half. Try killing off some of the higher level monsters and see how much blood and gore spills from them. It's almost hard to be afraid of them though, with the objects being as pixilly as they are. Oh, look. A square of monster fell over to the left.
The skills systems are interesting, letting you customize how your character progresses through the levels. Another fun aspect of the game is the new socket approach to weapons and armor. Get a sword, stick a ruby into it, one thing happens. Stick the ruby into your helmet, another thing does. The mix-and-match is intriguing, but again I would gladly give back the Geranimal approach to combat in return for a game that actually looks like it was made this year, instead of years ago.
Sure, I got it sent to me the day it came out. Sure, I'll play it, but I'm also sure that several other games on my CD shelf will see far more game time than this one will.
Diablo 2 Walkthrough