Company: Blizzard Entertainment
Estimated Price: $49.99
Back in January, I wrote a review of Myth: The Fallen Lords http://www.bungie.com. In that review, I wrote that “I want to come right out and say that Myth: The Fallen Lords is the game of the year. However, Starcraft is only weeks away from release, so I will hold my judgement until after I have tried it. Diablo is also looming on the horizon, though with all the PC players online getting tired of it, good competition will be a little harder to find.”
Here I am, seven months later. Diablo has been available for the Mac now for over two months, and while there are not an overabundance of PC players online worth playing, there are enough to make game play fun. And in those two months, and the seven months since I wrote the above review, much has changed. Including, I have to say, my opinion on “Game of the Year” While the verdict is still out on Starcraft, a game out for many months for the PC platform but unexcusably late for the Mac, I’m happy to say that Blizzard Entertainment has finally released Diablo (only a year or so later than the PC version, thank you very much). Diablo is a winner in every aspect.
In Diablo, you become a Warrior, a Sorcerer, or a Rogue. The Warrior is your typical “Conan meets the Nights of the RoundTable” character, and the one I tend to play more of. The Sorcerer is a magic user, not very tough in hand-to-hand combat, but once he acquires some magic, he is lethal as all get out. And the Rogue is a female character who is more an archer than anything else.
The game play has a very low learning curve. When I first sat down and started playing it, I had no problems at all figuring out what to do, how to kill bad guys, pick something up, and talk to other players online. The yard stick of a really great game, in my opinion, is how simple it is to play. There are those players who enjoy using the entire keyboard as well as a joystick to play a game, such as Wing Commander 4, and that’s great. There’s a place for games like those. But I enjoy games that keep it simple. Click the mouse to move, attack, pick something up, bring up a menu, etc. Diablo falls into this category perfectly. Although you can use keyboard shortcuts to make game play faster, it’s not a requirement. After a week of nonstop game play, I did find myself using the keyboard shortcuts much more. It does help when you need to do something fast, such as activating new spells or checking your inventory.
The graphics are great. When your character is not moving, he will shuffle from side to side, like he is bored. The terrain is rendered in nice 3D, making game play feel that much more realistic.
Likewise, the sound in Diablo is very well done. It is all in stereo, so for those with nice multimedia speakers your game play is just that much more fun. But not to worry. If your only sound output in your Mac is the tiny speaker inside the computer, you’ll still enjoy the sounds of both the music and the fighting sounds. If you’re a serious game player, be it Diablo, Myth, Warcraft 2, or any of the other great games out there, you would be wise to invest a little cash in some decent speakers. You’ll benefit not only in the game arena, but in using programs such as Real Audio.
The object of Diablo is to kill Diablo, whom you will find on the last level (16) of the game. You start in town, where you can buy new weapons, healing potions, etc… Once you have mastered who does what in the town (which will only take a few minutes), you’ll be ready to venture into the Dungeon. It is in the Dungeon that you will find and battle the hoards of evil. And as you progress from level one on down, the bad guys become more and more challenging to combat.
Getting by the meaner and tougher bad guys require you to gain experience points, which you receive by killing bad guys, as well as collecting money (gold) while in the dungeon so that you can upgrade your armor, buy a new sword or bow, buy some new magic, recharge your magic staffs and mana (Mana is your spell casting power, and lowers every time you use magic) and much more. You can also buy magic scrolls which will do a number of things from healing you to opening a portal to town. (In case you are almost dead and surrounded by bad guys!)
There are some things I would have changed in the game to make it a wee bit more fun. For instance, you cannot kill or battle anything in town. I am sure most people do not have a problem with this feature, but I would still like the option of attacking other players in town, or killing some non-player characters. Yes, I know if I kill the Blacksmith I will not be able to upgrade my swords and armor, but still I think it would be fun to just go on a rampage and slaughter everything. A little too bloodthirsty on my part? Well, sure, but it’s either get all my aggression out while playing a harmless computer game, or taking out all the idiots who wait for me to get into my car and then follow me around wherever I happen to be driving, waiting to try to make that left turn from the right lane.
Another “feature” of Diablo I dislike, and I have heard the same complaint from countless people online, is that when you do finally kill Diablo (which I have done a number of times) the game ends. A neat short movie of the event plays, you get some evil stone from the dead body of Diablo, and it sets up the possibility of a sequel, but that’s it. You don’t get a ton of experience points for killing Diablo. You don’t receive any special weapons for when you play again. You get nothing besides the satisfaction of winning.
If Warcraft, you can create or download special maps and have custom adventures. Not so in Diablo. What would be great is if you could buy an expansion pack, letting you play all new levels with all new bad guys. That’s not yet an option, though I have heard some company is creating just that for the PC version. Whichever that ‘some’ company is better enjoy making money, because I guarantee a Mac version would be a huge seller.
Besides some nitpicking on my part, I must say Blizzard Entertainment has created a really great game. But better than Myth? Well, in some ways, yes. I guess I enjoy both games pretty much equally, but for different reasons.
Diablo is addictive fun. Once you start playing, you won’t want to stop. Your character is saved after each game, so you can take your time to build up a really tough guy. Unfortunately, you can’t get real tough on your own and use that character online. You must create a new character online rather than the one you use offline. With luck, the next version of Diablo will correct this obvious oversight.
If you like addictive games, great graphics, superb music and sound effects, an easy learning curve, and awesome game play, Diablo is for you. It’s violent, with an eerie sound track that builds up to a climatic crescendo during battles or when you are lost and know there is a really hard-to-kill bad guy close by, this is not a game for young children. My daughter Raechel is four years old now, and she watched me play one day. It really did scare her, so keep that in mind. I would recommend this game for ages ten and older only.
100 MHz Power PC only. System 7.5 or higher. 5Mb hard drive space. 16Mb or higher RAM. 32Mb of RAM for online Multiplayer game play.
MacMice Rating: 5