Hellfire is the only "authorized" expansion pack for one of the best games of last year, Blizzard's Diablo. Since this review focuses specifically on Hellfire, you may want to read our review of Diablo to learn more about the original game. Hellfire offers Diablo fans two new areas, the Nest and the Crypt (each comprised of four levels), a new character class (the Monk), as well as numerous new spells, weapons, quests, and monsters.
The story centers around the demon Na-Krul, one of Diablo's cronies who is tired of being an underling and wants to branch out into his own brand of tyranny over the poor besieged town of Tristram. Your ultimate quest in this expansion is to relieve the world of Na-Krul, though you can satisfy your sense of adventure via many other new quests in this add-on.
Hellfire requires Diablo to be installed on your system and really amounts to a "superpatch" of sorts. The main thing you should know before buying it is that none of the new monsters, spells, weapons, quests, levels, etc. are available in multiplayer games, not on Battle.net or anywhere. So view Hellfire as an expansion of the single-player game and you won't be disappointed. For me, who had finished Diablo several times in both single and multiplayer modes, Hellfire was a nice little re-introduction into a world I fell in love with last February. Everything new in Hellfire retains Diablo's level of excellence: the graphics of the new areas and monsters are equally as stunning, the new spells and weapons are so fitting that you'll miss them if you ever go back to unenhanced Diablo, and the new quests exhibit every bit of the adventure and (importantly) the sense of humor of Diablo.
I won't go into an exhaustive list of the new elements Hellfire introduces (visit Sierra for a more detailed rundown), but I will give you a feel for the two new game areas: the Crypt and the Nest. The Crypt is what you might imagine. In the graveyard next to the church in town, there is an open gravesite that leads down to this new area. The Crypt is home to many of the new creatures, including the Gravediggers, Liches (these are nasty), and the Devilkin (which were actually coded into Diablo but are only accessible via cheat). On the fourth level of the Crypt you will find Na-Krul. There are two ways to release him, and you'd better choose the right one!
The Nest is an alien infestation that has grown over the fields of Farmer Lester, one of the new non-player characters. In the Nest levels, you'll find all kinds of squishy, crawly, acid-spewing beasties, including the Lashworms, the Hork Demon (who spawns little bouncing demons out of his (its?) chest, and the Defiler, who is the "Queen Bee" if you will. After you clear the nest from the farmer's fields, he will give you a nice little prize that comes in handy later on.
The new character class, the Monk, is sort of a mix between the three existing classes. It has a search skill that allows you to see objects on a level from a distance, but other than that, I didn't think it was a great addition to the game. In Diablo, it's better to have a character that specializes in either magic or weaponry than to have one that's a little of everything. This is not to say that building a Warrior-Mage is not a good idea, just that you want to start out as one or the other and work towards balance.
The graphics for the new levels and monsters are as spectacular as were the original Diablo graphics. The Crypt is dressed mostly in a charcoal, stone and lava motif, whereas the Nest is a Technicolor version of something you'd expect from a movie in the Aliens series. The monster animations are up to expectations, with all manner of beasts sloshing, twirling, stomping, and floating about in the new environments.
I loved the new music in Hellfire, particularly the Crypt music. It was masterfully orchestrated and recorded. I'm not an easy critic to please in this regard, having a degree in Musical Composition, but I must say that as good as the original music for Diablo was, the new music and sound effects are even better.
Being an add-on pack, not much was expected in this regard, but Sierra did include a nice background on the Monk character and the demon Na-Krul. I would have also liked a list of all the new weapons, etc., but Sierra does explain the new spells, which saves you from "testing" them at an inopportune moment.
Required: P-60, 16 MB RAM, Diablo CD, 150 MB hard drive space, DirectX 3 or greater, Windows 95, SVGA-capable graphics card/monitor, 2X CD-ROM drive, Windows compatible sound card with DAC, mouse
Reviewed on: Pentium 120, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video card
Hellfire is a great expansion pack for the Diablo single player experience. Unfortunately, at this time, you cannot use the new weapons, etc. in multiplayer games without using a user-produced patch, like the one here. (GameFabrique takes no responsibility if you decide to use them). But if you can get past the lack of multiplayer support, you'll find a lot of value here. Hellfire earns a 75 for being a solid expansion to a great game but at the same time failing to deliver any multiplayer compatibility.