|a game by||Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, and Climax|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation, PSX|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 6 reviews, 12 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||7.5/10 - 16 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Isometric Games, Retro Games, Top Down Games, Local Multiplayer Games, Diablo Series, Games Like Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance|
It's Surprising that this five-year-old game has only just gone down to a fiver. Nevertheless Diablo is still an isometric classic. Its repetitive gameplay may be frowned upon by those who didn't get just how addictive it really was, and still is in fact, since its sequel Diablo II is one of the biggest non-fee-based online RPGs around.
On a personal note, I loved the first Diablo. Even with its three characters and four levels, it was so eminently replayable - coursework was left unfinished, boyfriends left flaccid and unsatisfied all so I could kill demons long into the night. (That's too personal - Ed.) Diablo's value now is arguable, especially since you can get the Diablo II: Battlechest for a very reasonable price these days. It's still a lot of fun, but it doesn't have the long-time lure of its successor, nor the multiplayer community. Those who are likely to buy it now probably won't have played it before, or they'll be fans of the sequel who fancy a little retro action. To them I say, go place your greasy five pound note on the counter, invest in a caffeine drip and bathe in its hack 'n' slash glory.
Okay, Okay. Not Being One To break with tradition, I'll switch into rpg mode... And, lo, it didst come to pass that the mighty Grunthos the Flatulent (erstwhile poet, now warrior prince of the land of Bazzxzxon'khaaz) didst stareth into the lair of the demon and didst strike his sword through the beast cleaving its mighty arse in twain." See what I mean? Bollocks, isn't it? rpgs have been responsible for inspiring some of the most embarrassing lines of prose ever to grace... well, pretty much anything really. So there you go - I'm not going to do it. Diablo is a true C90s' rpg, so this a C90s' review.
Produced by the same developers who knocked out WarCraft II, it's pretty safe to say that the development of Diablo has been accompanied by a certain amount of excitement. There hasn't really been a Cproper' rpg that deals with Ctrue' rpg issues (demons, monsties, blokes with swords, magic etc, etc) for a while now, so if nothing else Diablo serves as a good example of what can be done now that we're in the age of the Pentium. I don't know about you, but I can't really think of a decent game of this type since Origin's Ultima VIII: Pagan about three years ago. And that, let's face it, was a little bit of a disappointment compared to the previous Ultima titles... so much so that we only gave it 78 per cent.
Hack 'n' slack
At the heart of it all Diablo is fairly simple to describe as it's an svga, isometric, scrolling, combat-based, quest-driven, real-time, role-playing game. You play one of three character styles (outlined elsewhere) and begin the game dumped in the centre of town without any idea of what it is you have to do. After a bit of exploring you meet the townsfolk - a blacksmith, innkeeper, healer, all of the usual stuff - and before you know it you're faced with your first quest. A terrible demon called the Butcher lives in the catacombs underneath the nearby monastery and the townsfolk would be terribly grateful if you wouldn't mind buggering off and killing him, thank you very much. After equipping yourself with rudimentary weapons and revitalising potions from the appropriate establishments you venture cautiously underground.
It's at this point that one of the major features of Diablo makes itself glaringly apparent. The Cbusiness' bit takes place in the layers upon layers of catacombs that lie underground, all of which are generated randomly by the game engine. Once you've begun your adventure they remain the same -but if you go back to the beginning and use another character you'll find that everything's different. Once you descend to the first layer of the labyrinth you're immediately thrust into the gameplay proper: you wander around opening up rooms by simply pointing and clicking and then fighting with the seemingly endless hordes by highlighting them with your mouse pointer and left-clicking in order to use whatever weapon you happen to be holding. As you progress you'll find magical items, spells, weapons and armour, and as your level of experience increases your character will become gradually more and more powerful. As you grow you take on more and more difficult quests (which are nearly all based on either finding a specific object or killing a certain character) as well as increasingly nasty bad guys. Once you have worked your way through the catacombs and the caverns beneath you eventually have to face Diablo himself.
To be honest, it has to be said that there's nothing in Diablo that we haven't seen before. There are virtually no new ideas here at all; I played the thing solidly for days and at no point did it really throw up any great surprises. What it does do though -and what makes it so damn good - is nick all the best bits from everyone else's games and then refine them to the point of near perfection.
For a start, the player interface is so simple it's a dream to use. Things can be moved around your inventory, spells can be set up and weapons changed with the greatest of ease, and despite the fact that this is a real-time rpg you'll find that the interface is so straightforward you won't even have any trouble doing things in the heat of battle.
On top of this, the presentation of the game is absolutely gorgeous - the SVGA visuals are crisp and well drawn and everything is light-sourced in realtime to give the catacombs a menacing and foreboding feel. Along with this the gameplay is accompanied by some truly fantastic context-sensitive music. As you wander the towns you're treated to some beautifully simple classical guitar while underground there are dramatic orchestral washes accompanied by thumping and oppressive rhythms.
My only complaint has to be that as Blizzard have attempted to provide us with the perfect blend of everyone's favourite rpgs, the end result is a bit watered down. After working your way through the first five or six quests it soon becomes apparent that all the gameplay involves is exploring and twatting things. If you're a warrior you twat them with something sharp and heavy, if you're a rogue you shoot things at them, and if you're a sorcerer you zap them with magic. There are loads and loads of different monsties for you to kill and they all look really ace - but nothing and no-one you come across really exudes any kind of 'character'. If anything, you could say that Diablo has as much in common with something like Origin's Crusader: No Remorse as it does with any rpg you'd care to mention.
The people in the village are fairly boring stereotypes who speak with either a Scottish or Welsh accent (the village elder does an appalling Sean Connery impression), and when you reach the catacombs there are no characters to speak of whatsoever -apart from the baddies. Part of the beauty of the Ultima games was that .there were other 'people' knocking around who had a bit of personality about them. Not so here: everyone just stands around. They have plenty to say, but never seem to Cdo' anything. This aside, though, it has to be said that Diablo is a very high quality game. I'm in two minds as to whether or not it should be a Classic, but it has to be said that it's an enjoyable hack 'n' slash game that's brilliantly put together.
It wouldn't be the same without an over-the-top story
As with all games of this type, the background storyline is suitably OTT, and as a special treat for the yellow fingernail brigade it's presented in the manual in truly pompous style.
Basically, the whole thing revolves around a big inter-dimensional punch-up called CThe Great Conflict' which is pretty much your typical scrap between the forces of good and evil. On one side you have the Cangels' who have names like Arch-Angel Tyrael and Izual Bearer of the Angelic Runeblade Azurewrath, whereas on the other you have a group of seven demons ranked in order of nastiness with Duriel Lord of Pain at the bottom and Diablo Lord of Terror at the top. Apparently, history tells of how the battle raged until eventually the good guys, assisted by a bunch of warrior-monk types from the order of Horadrim (pledged to the forces of light) managed to imprison Diablo (and his brothers) in mystical soulstones before burying them deep within the Earth. Apparently, before the historic punch-up, the denizens of hell had fallen out and the lower-ranking four demons had rebelled against the three top dogs and done much of the good guys' work for them.
In order to protect the world and to ensure against soulstones falling into the wrong hands, the Horadrim built a monastery above the site, under which they constructed level upon level of catacombs into which they could bury the honoured dead (who would in turn protect the world - somehow. Not quite sure how, seeing as they're dead but they do).
Unfortunatel,y though, after many years, the order of the Horadrim died off and left the monastery completely empty. By now no one was watching over the evil beneath the Earth and, to cut a long story short, some weird stuff started happening.
Numerous villages were built around the monastery, and as time passed the spirit of Diablo managed to sneak out and start wreaking havoc. The peak of his achievements was to lure King Leoric into the darkness and influence him to break open the soulstone, thus setting him free. After this the King gradually decayed from your typical righteous, just and generally fab guy into a monarch soon to be dubbed the CBlack King'.
The ensuing mayhem caused many to die and before anyone knew what was going on Diablo's reign of terrror gradually crept back onto Earth. Your job - as you'd expect - is to go in and eventually try to sort out the big bad guy. Surprise surprise. But you know it makes sense. Sort of.
Take your pick
As you'd expect, this being a traditional RPG, Diablo gives you a choice of three different character styles with which to embark on your quest.
Big, muscled, hairy, undoubtedly smelly bloke who's a bit handy with swords, clubs and pretty much anything with spikes through it... but who's a bit limited when it comes to the intricacies of magic. Despite being a bit light on the old grey matter, which means he can't use spells, the warrior is a good character to have your first go with, though, as he's the hardest and therefore most resilient character.
The Sisters of the Sightless Eye are a loosely organised guild of athletic chicks with plunging cleavages and thigh-length boots - a sort of fantasy Spice Girls, but with less attitude. Although not as hard as the warriors, these girls are a bit handy with a bow and arrow and, like most women, pretty good at throwing things when involved in a bit of a scrap. As a result they're pretty good at avoiding close-up scraps.
Big blokes in dresses... and if this picture is anything to go by, they seem to have a penchant for piercing their feet. Eugh. Anyway, these guys are pretty shit-hot in the magic department of course, but completely and utterly arse when it comes to getting in a fight. What they really need is a kind of Debbie McGee side-kick who's into kick-boxing and DIY pyrotechnics. Maybe they'll put this in the sequel.
Experienced players are bound to have discovered this first tip, but new users need to get to grips with it very quickly. Basically, just remember that only one stupid monstie can ever move through a doorway at one time, so all you have to do is attract the attention of a load of bad guys, and as they move towards you, run towards a doorway. Once there, stand on one side so that you can whack them all without being hit yourself.
Standing still to hit stuff
This is especially useful for the above 'Killing Monsters' tip. It's worth remembering that you're fighting with swords and axes and stuff, so you need to keep your back covered - if you can't get in a clear doorway, back yourself into a corner. To make sure that your hero doesn't move as he hacks and slashes, hold down the shift key to keep him fixed to the spot.
Fun with spells
Although it is most important to get to grips with spells if you are a mage, all three character classes need to get to grips with magic use. At low levels you need to develop one offensive spell to a high level - the best ones for this are either the firewall, fireball, or lightning. The firewall is the most efficient spell you can have and is certainly the one to go for if you are a warrior. A few well-placed firewalls can obliterate a whole room of monsties if you place them well enough.
As a mage you're going to need to start spreading your skills by about level six or seven - if you haven't learned lightning by this point, you're in deep shit. Beyond level seven or eight you're going to find that the fireballs are less effective against some of the tougher monsties.
As you progress you'll find that both the guardian and stone curse spells are pretty important (although they use a lot of mana), and for mages at the higher echelons (level 20+), you'll find that the teleport spell is a godsend. If you use this one right, you should never lose a fight.
The real 'piece de resistance' spell-wise, though, is the elemental spell. All mages from about level 15 onwards are going to need to make use of this, so try and get your hands on a staff! With this beauty up your sleeve you can open a door, lob in a deluge of elementals, and anything that was in the room will be toast before they get anywhere near you.
Mage: Obviously mages are the best magic users, but unfortunately they're a bit on the weedy side. Each time you go up a character level it's worth pumping virtually everything into magic rather than fannying about with strength. No one wants a tough wizard who can't cast spells for toffee. You should always make sure that you're using the right spell for the monstie you're attacking. Certain creatures are either resistant to fire or lightning - it's a good idea to keep spells of both types on the function keys, so you can easily swap between them.
Make sure you have a sword and shield in your inventory at all times... the mage may completely suck when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, but there are some characters in the deeper levels who are immune to magic.
QUICKIE HOTKEYS: Fire spell, lightning spell, heal, teleport and either stone curse or golem.
Warrior: The big tough guy and definitely the character to go for if it's your first time. Pile loads of experience points into strength and dexterity at the beginning, and then as time progresses, treat yourself to a bit of magic. Later on in the game you're going to need to use a few spells and the firewall is without a doubt the best bet for a warrior.
Get yourself a box (yes, I know they initially seem a bit crap), because later on you're going to need a ranged weapon that can be used quicker than a weedy little warrior spell.
Never gel surrounded... use the tips outlined elsewhere with doorways, and try to keep your back against the wall in a fight. Pick off the bad guys one by one and alternate blows between two chosen enemies.
QUICKIE HOTKEYS: Health, mana, firewall spell.
Rogue: The best character for longdistance damage. You don't need to get a unique bow - just make sure you get one with some serious damage points.
As far as tactics go, before entering a room fire a couple of arrows through the open door to activate a few of the monsties inside - this will give you an idea of what's going on in there. If a whole horde of bad guys come tearing towards you, you need to make sure you have some choice spell at your disposal to keep things under control. The stone curse spell is more useful for the rogue than any other character class. The golem spell is also extremely handy for wiping out big gangs.
Note: the 'standing still' attack, using the shift key outlined elsewhere, makes the rogue less accurate.
Pick off bad guys one at a time with arrows. Don't waste time with swords and axes - the rogue is most effective with a bow. Don't worry about defence, you shouldn't get close enough to the monsties to make this a problem. Also, ensure that you make use of the rogue's trap-checking abilities.
MULTI-PLAYER TIP: A rogue always works much better with a warrior than with a mage.
Diablo's heritage guaranteed that this long-anticipated RPG would receive lots of hype while it was in production--the developer, Blizzard Entertainment, also created the classic Warcraft series, so expectations for its next title were high. Not to worry, Diablo lives up to its roots, and RPGs may never be the same.
As Diablo opens, the town of Tristram has fallen victim to an evil most foul. Most of the town's denizens have been murdered. and those left alive are slaves to the dark lord that holds the town under its power. Diablo challenges you to travel into the darkest depths of the labyrinth beneath the town, slay this evil being, and free Tristram from its spell.
Calling All Heroes
Before you can begin your hunt, though, you must decide whether you'll play as a warrior, rogue, or sorcerer. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The warrior, for example, is a tough fighter who can duke it out with the best of 'em. He is, however, a little on the dumb side and can't learn as many powerful spells as his counterparts.
Diablo's action is spectacular to behold. There are more than 200 types of beasts to fight in the dungeons; countless spells to find, learn, and cast; and 16 levels to explore--all rendered in stunning SVGA. The haunting musical score enhances the drama, as do the grunts, groans, roars, and screams of battle.
But best of all, Diablo is different every time you play. The dungeons are randomly generated each time you start a new game, and they're filled with different demons to fight, as well as new spells and magical items to find.
The mouse-driven control couldn't be easier. You just click on a beast to attack bim, click on a spot on the screen to move there, and right-click to cast a spell.
Diablo's definitely not your typical dungeon hackfest. There's really been nothing like it before on the PC. In fact, its closest rivals are games like Gauntlet or Loaded on the PlayStation, but they really don't compare. Diablo is beautiful, action-packed, simple to play but not to win. and backed with a superb story. Blizzard's done it again.
- The Firewall spell is a handy way to clear out rooms filled with bad guys--before you enter!
- Check the map often to make sure you haven't missed any rooms or doors.
- The deeper into the dungeons you go, the tougher the opposition gets. Clear all enemies out of the early levels to build up your character as much as possible.
- Fight in doorways whenever you can--that way, you have to take on only one enemy at a time.
- Keep the fighting at a distance with the sorcerer, especially early on.
A familiar tale sets the stage for this promising RPG-style adventure. Your medieval village is plagued by an evil force, and you must descend into mazelike crypts beneath the town to seek revenge.
Diablo presents you with a series of missions that you must solve by talking to villagers, poking around in the crypts, and, of course, slaughtering monsters. The mystery of the town's plight unfolds gradually as you gain more powerful fighting skills, weapons, and magic. The dungeons are randomly generated, so the game stays fresh with new traps, monsters, and treasures in each foray.
Snazzy rendered 3D graphics promise to lend this demonic tale an eerie fire-and-brimstone atmosphere. But you won't have to face the darkness alone: Solid multiplayer options let you go head-to-head or play over a network or modem.
The PC version of Diablo is one of the rare American games that found overwhelming success in both the U.S. and Japan. Such conditions guarantee a console conversion, and finally, here it is.
For those who don't pay attention to computer games, Diablo is a unique action-RPG whose game design transcends typical genres. Exploring dungeons and improving your characters is a large part of this game, but being quick with the controls will help you live longer. Combat is fast-paced, but is executed by highlighting the enemy you wish to attack and then pressing the button. Although that might not sound action-packed, it actually is because you must quickly readjust your point of attack or select different spells so that you can compensate for ever-changing dangers. Once the battle gets heated, it is advisable to rely on your arcade skills and quick reactions to move your character out of harm's way.
These skills will only get you so far. There are over 300 different items that include staffs, swords, shields, rings, helmets and potions for you to find in the 16 different labyrinths. If you get wealthy enough from slaughtering its inhabitants, you can even buy some interesting things in town. Which items you can use depend on your character class (Warrior, Rogue, Sorcerer). For example, a Warrior is at home slicing and dicing with a huge axe, while a Sorcerer can't even hold it. Regardless of which class your character is, you'll need to be armed to the teeth to finish the game. Aside from wiping the dungeon floors of its resident vermin, the ultimate goal is to kill the monster whose name adorns the game.
As you might expect, the PlayStation version of Diablo has some major changes. Two players can cooperatively play, as opposed to four on the PC (via Internet). Partially making up for this are some aesthetic enhancements that include new lighting effects on spells, dungeon lighting and some day-to-night tran sitions. With changes, it will be interesting to see how these tradeoffs impact the first console adaption of the blockbuster PC game.
- MANUFACTURER - Climax Ent., Ltd.
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Diablo has sold over 750,000 copies on the PC worldwide, And that's a number from a few months ago, With incredible numbers like that, it was only a matter of time until Blizzard's action-RPG found its way onto the PlayStation, Diablo became popular partly because of Its simple gameplay and excellent multiplayer capabilities. Obviously, Diablo's Multiplayer Mode was accomplished over the Internet on the PC, but on the PlayStation, only two will be able to play simultaneously.
Exploring dungeons, and hacking thousands of creatures to death describes Diablo perfectly. Three different classes of characters are available (Wizard, Warrior, Archer), and each builds up his powers by accumulating hit points, objects and new weapons. The game could loosely be called an RPG, but the emphasis here is action, not role playing.
Even I, a non-PC gamer, have heard of Diablo. I was not sure what type of game it was but I definitely knew it was popular with the PC gamers. Needless to say when I heard that a PSX version was in the works, I was definitely psyched to see what this game was all about. I was also a bit skeptical due to the less than stellar PC to PSX conversions in the past but I knew that if anyone could pull it off, EA could.
Diablo is nothing like what I expected. I figured it was one of those real time strategy (yawn) games that are the rage on PC. After checking out the back of the box I was quickly delighted to see that this was not the case. What it looked like we had was a good hack-n-slash adventure game. As it turns out, there is plenty of hacking and slashing but that is only part of the game. You may even say that the game has some small RPG influence albeit very minimal. All of this and the Mature 17+ rating really had me pumped to rip into the game. After the first level it became abundantly clear to me why the PC game is so popular.
The entire time I was playing Diablo I was trying to find a game to compare it with as a reference point. The weird thing is that I could not place my finger on just one game because there are elements of so many different games as well as a uniqueness that makes it stand out on its own. I really never came up with a game to compare it with but I have a feeling that if the game catches on like it did for the PC, I will be comparing a bunch of future games to Diablo.
The objective of Diablo is quite simple and straightforward. Battle your way through the labyrinth and destroy Diablo. What is not so simple is actually accomplishing the goal. There are tons of baddies awaiting you around every corner. Some are wimps, others are...not wimps. One of the things I really enjoyed about this game was the enemies and wondering what I would have to face next. There are some seriously evil dudes in this game and they did a great job of conveying that evil into your living room.
Although the underlying object is to battle through the labyrinth, there are other quests that you are to fulfill along the way. As you interact with the townsfolk (see next paragraph), you may be sent out on a particular quest by one of the people. If you succeed, you are usually rewarded with something that will aide your quest to kill Diablo. Sometimes, if you do not complete the quest, you can't advance. These quests are usually straightforward and are nothing more than finding a particular item or killing a foe that you would have done anyway but it helps give you short term goals to keep your interest level up.
The game takes place in two separate environments. Of course you have the labyrinth which is where all of the combat takes place. The other area where you spend time is in town. The town has people that you can interact with and each has their own special skill. For example, you have the healer from whom you can purchase potions to regain your health and such. You have the Blacksmith who repairs your weapons and armor. You have the old dude that helps identify objects that you find in the labyrinth. This is partly where the RPG aspects of the game take place. You collect gold pieces and use these for buying the goods and services of the townsfolk.
The other area where the RPG elements come into play is in your character. You can start the game as one of three players. You can select the warrior who is good at close combat but not so good at magic. You can select the Rogue who is good with bows and is fair with magic. Finally, you can select the sorcerer who is great at magic and not so good at close combat. Depending on the character you choose, the game play and strategies are very different. First, you are awarded points to distribute to your abilities as you progress through the game. You can distribute these points between your strength, magic, dexterity and vitality. When I played as the warrior, I used the points mostly on strength because close combat required more strength. When playing as the sorcerer, I would crank up my magic points because that was where he was most effective. You have to be careful not to neglect certain areas because you will find items throughout the game that require certain amounts of each before you can use them. If you do not have enough strength for example, you could not use certain weapons. This keeps you thinking from the start to finish of the game.
As fun as the one player mode is, the game really shines in the two player mode. You play simultaneously with another person and can really kick some demon ass. After playing for awhile you will learn which items work better for which person and start trading items to help strengthen each other. You will also get good at sharing heath and other vital potions to help the quest. Also, the game claims to regenerate the labyrinth so the game is not the same every time. This did help the replay value but trust me, after working your way down to hell a couple of times, you will not have it in you to go it again.
I did have a few minor complaints with the game. The first is that the load times were enormous. Sure, during the actual gameplay there are no load times at all but it takes forever to load the levels. Also, when you load or save from the memory card, you may as well go grab a snack. The reason that this sucks is that you will constantly be saving your progress as you defeat a group of enemies. I wish they used a faster saving method because I would press on at times that I would have liked to save but I just did not have the patience to wait.
The other thing that bothered me was that your character could be a bit awkward to control at times. It was not awkward like 3D awkward but more like stiff awkward. You would try and cut diagonally and the character would not move correctly making it hard to maneuver around objects. Thankfully it was the worst in town where you were safe from the evils of the labyrinth but it was still annoying nonetheless.
If you are looking for flashy 3D polygons, you may as well look somewhere else. Is that to say that the graphics are not good? Quite the contrary. This game goes to show that you do not need all of the glitz and glamour to get the job done. I actually think that if they had tried to make this game 3D, it would have hurt the gameplay. The overhead view of the action gives you plenty of warning for the upcoming dangers and aside from the stiff control of the character, it is easy to make your way around the labyrinth without having to worry about camera angles and such.
If you sit down and give this game a little bit of time you will be hooked. The RPG element added just enough to make the game more than a hack-n-slash bore but is not overdone. I had many nights that I just could not stop playing because I wanted to see what was coming next. The long load and save times were a bit annoying but I guess it is better to load everything at the beginning of the level instead of throughout the entire game. I highly recommend this game to just about everyone. Just remember to not get overwhelmed and give up. Everything will become clear in a matter of time. Check it out!
If you've played Diablo, reading my review will simply be a confirmation of something you already know: this game rocks. We here at GameFabrique try to avoid such phrases because they tend to get overused and fail to convey real specifics. But in this case, I can't avoid saying it: Diablo truly rocks. If you know this, your time is probably better spent playing Diablo than reading this ... if you want to see what all the fuss is about, I'll do my best to clue you in.
Diablo, in my opinion, is the first completely successful combination of role-playing and real-time action to hit the PC. There have been successful RPGs and great action games, but never a combination that played so easily and offered so much as Diablo. Until now, RPGs were basically a niche market, mostly bought and played by diehard Dungeons and Dragons types. Similarly, action games have traditionally been focused on inducing an adrenaline rush, with only the occasional half-hearted attempts to incorporate role-playing or character-building elements.
So why does Diablo succeed where so many others have failed? There are several reasons. First, and maybe foremost, is the wonderful design and implementation of the game's interface. The lower portion of your screen tells you what you need to know at a glance: most importantly, your health and mana levels. The upper portion of the screen is your window to the world of Diablo, where you perform all real-time actions in the game. Now, other games have at least accomplished this much (even Doom), but not the simplicity and ingenuity of your character's pop-up screens.
Many types of information cannot be included on your main character screen, simply for lack of real estate. These include your inventory, spellbook, and character attributes. To solve this, other RPGs have usually made you visit a special room or (worse) taken you out of the action completely to enter an inventory or separate screen, do your business, then return to the game. Diablo ingeniously uses popup screens that cover only half of the action window at a time, which you can access by pressing the corresponding button on the lower portion of the main screen. Huh? Ok, picture this: you're fighting a gang of skeletons, and you realize that you forgot to wear that new armor you just bought. It would help your cause considerably. What do you do, run away somewhere so you can get into your inventory? No. Just click the "Inv." button to open the inventory on the right half of the action window, grab the armor, and drop it over the the chest of your inventory body. Bam. Now you're protected, and the whole while you've been able to keep fighting on the other half of the screen!
Also wonderful is the map feature. You can turn the map on or off with the TAB key, and it will greatly improve your efficiency in searching and clearing levels. Unlike maps in other games, this one doesn't replace your action window: it's just a ghostly overlay that helps you get your bearings. You can quickly scan the map to see what areas of a level you have missed or to remember where the stairs were to the next level. Since map movement and character movement are independent, you can look quickly over the whole level while you are moving in a different direction.
But perhaps my favorite feature is the "belt," a series of instant use slots on screen where you can keep scrolls and potions, then simply right-click on one to use it. This is a savior in tough battles, because it allows you to drink health potions without even a hitch in the action. You can also have a spell prepared for use and simply right-click in the action window to use it. There are so many different things you can do in Diablo, but doing them in combination or sequence is so easy and intuitive because of the outstanding interface design.
One reason Diablo is such a great value is its replayability. Every time you start a new game, single- or multiplayer, the maps of the dungeons are drawn differently than they were in the last game. You'll probably have different quests as well, because the 5-8 quests in a given game are pulled randomly from a set of around 40 different quests. Finally, the items and monsters found in each game will vary. Combine these variations with the choice of three character classes, and you can play single-player Diablo for quite a while.
But you may never play single-player again once you try out Blizzard's free online service, Battle.net. You can play endlessly if you want to ... playing in teams or hunting down other players. And talk about replayability! There are hundreds of games going on at once, so if the dungeon is picked clean on one, just hop to another game; if the Smith doesn't have any good weapons to sell in a given game, try another and another: each game will have not only different players, but also different map layouts and different items to be found.
If you do venture onto Battle.net, beware the Player Killers -- dastardly souls who will kill you for sport or to get half your gold and an ear for a trophy! Most players on the Battle.net service are helpful to new players, including most of the higher-level characters. But in any such environment, there will always be a few loose cannons. Whatever the case, you'd better have an unlimited-access account with your ISP if you start playing on Battle.net, simply because hours will drift on by, and if you're not careful, you'll need to take out that second mortgage on your home after all.
Warning! If you mess around with your Network settings in Windows, be very careful. While installing a LAN in my home, somehow I torched my 12th level warrior. Not sure what I did, but the next time I went to the multiplayer menu, Chud was gone! All I could do was start over with a new hero. Ach!
Diablo is played from an isometric perpective, like Origin's Crusader: No Remorse. One of Blizzard's nice touches is the partial transparency of walls downscreen from your character. This allows you to easily scan for objects or doors, and you never "lose" your character behind a wall as in some games (Total Mayhem, for instance). This means that no matter what nook or cranny you crawl into, you'll always be able to see where you are. In a game where you fight by clicking the mouse on your opponents, this is vital. The graphics themselves are gorgeously rendered in SVGA, and you have the option to zoom in on the action if you like or stay back for a wider view of your surroundings. Many, many different types of monsters will be found, most being offshoots of a basic type (e.g., there are skeletons with axes, some with swords, some with bows, some that glow red, some that glow yellow, etc.) These are all technically different monster types, each with its own damage and vulnerability levels.
There are too many nice graphic touches in the game for me to mention them all, but they include: when you use a spell and a swirling cloud of magic momentarily envelops you; when you break open a barrel and a skeleton doesn't just appear, but actually rises up out of the barrel as if he were crouching in it; when you get better armor and your on-screen character actually appears different because of it. (This allows you to tell which characters in a multiplayer game might be the most helpful -- the most dangerous.) The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that the development team and the artists involved not only knew what they were doing technically, but had some inspiration and imagination to go along with it.
The music in Diablo is enchanting, and complements the graphics and gameplay perfectly. Real acoustic guitars are featured, along with other stringed instruments and flutes, combining to provide a mostly soft, mysterious, and fairly authentic medieval feel. In times of combat, the pace often quickens and drums or horn sounds may be introduced.
You'll also find different music depending on where you are physically in the game. In the town, for instance, you'll hear mostly the guitar and flute playing a soft, open theme; while in the catacombs, you'll often hear more drums and silence, mixed with wonderful creaking, crackling and groaning effects.
The sound effects were every bit as impressive and customized as the music, many monsters died with their own "song," and some of them are quite gruesome -- ah, the sound of liquefied brain matter sloshing on the dungeon floor. Gross, yes, but usually in an almost comic way, and nevertheless consistently realistic.
Blizzard's docs are always a pleasure. They never simply give you the system requirements, game options, and troubleshooting guide. Instead, they go beyond the call of duty by adding in all sorts of wonderful illustrations of game characters and thorough storylines. The only sadness is that most players briefly glance at the book and then toss it in a drawer because the games are so good and so intuitive that people just start playing them.
Diablo requires only about ten megs of HD space!
Windows: P-60, 8 MB RAM, Win 95, SVGA capable video card, Microsoft compatible mouse, 2X CD-ROM drive. Note: you may need to buy extra copies of the game to play over a LAN.
Reviewed on: P-120, 16 MB, 16X CD, Diamond Stealth 64 video
Diablo is, hands-down, the best game I've seen in years. If only it had been released when I was thirteen, I may have spent all of my formative years lost in the catacombs somewhere. The fantastic design, intuitive gameplay, spectacular graphics, inspired music and sound effects, sheer number of monsters and unique items, and the free Battle.net service put Diablo at a high level of excellence that future releases may never reach.
With the PC market conquered, Diablo--one of the most addictive and enjoyable action/RPGs ever created--prepares to possess more than a few PlayStations.
The More The Messies
The PC game's multiplayer options helped make it a monster hit, so EA has promised to incorporate a two-player split-screen mode for PlayStation dungeon double-teams. Improved lighting effects and larger characters are also on the company's slate of improvements. Characters can be saved and reused in later adventures--and thanks to the game's randomly generated quests, treasures, and level architecture, no two quests will ever be the same.
To Hell and Back...Maybe
If you didn't surrender all your free time to Diablo last year, here's the perfect opportunity to give yourself over to the lord of the underworld. Take on the persona of a warrior, rogue, or sorcerer and explore the city of Tristram's catacombs, caves, and dungeons--some of which go a lot deeper than you might be ready to handle. Skeletons, demons, and 100 other types of belligerent fairy folk await as you merrily hack and slash your way through 16 levels toward the ultimate showdown with Diablo himself.
The minions of evil have been working overtime, and Diablo's dungeons are almost ready for exploration. Choose a warrior, a rogue, or a sorcerer to brave the randomly generated catacombs and caves of Diablo's lair. Two can quest together, and characters can be saved separately from games to go on multiple quests.
EA is incorporating a zoom feature to compensate for the television's lower resolution, and while this preview version features tweaked controller options, there's no mouse support which is a shame since the original PC game was designed for one. But if traditional RPGs leave you cold, an action-filled trip to hell with Diablo should warm you to the genre.
Are you ready to race the Lord ot Terror? EA brought Diablo, the hit PC action/RPG, to the PlayStation--and by and large, it's done a fine job.
In Diablo, you play as one of three adventurers who have entered the cursed town of Tristram. You'll need more than mere bravery to survive the 16 levels of dungeons, catacombs, and, ultimately, the regions of Hell. Every level's layout and contents are ran domly generated, so no two dungeons are alike, ensuring an endless stream of fresh two-player games.
Diablo was graphically stunning on the PC, and some of that sparkle has understandably dulled; the smaller palette and lesser frame rate are PlayStation-port necessities. And while you can't play online, there's a good two-player mode that enables you and a buddy to shoot, slash, and summon as a team.
Diablo isn't your average dungeon crawl, it's a blood-soaked sword romp with RPG elements liberally sprinkled on top. If you enjoyed the PC version, there's nothing new here, but if this is your first Diablo experience, you're in for a Hell of a good time.
- The bosses and minibosses are identified with a special title. Target them first, then pick off the followers. They'll leave an enchanted item for you when they die.
- When distributing attribute points, build your warrior's strength, pump up your rogue's dexterity, and concentrate on your sorcerer's magic.
- In the long run, sorcerers will do better with an axe or a sword than a fancy staff.
- Never rush blindly into a room. Instead, stand at the entrance and pick off the baddies as they walk out. Rogues can even shoot through grates and kill enemies before opening the door.
The frame rate isn't super fast, and the dungeon denizens are sometimes hard to discern, but outlined targets and large text descriptions help compensate.
Diablo was conceived on the PC with a mouse in mind, but the PlayStation version doesn't use one. Despite that omission, the responsive directional pad and configurable buttons ease the game's complex controls.
Diablo features great voice acting (Farnham the Drunk is a hoot) and a brilliant, creepy medieval soundtrack that sounds like the work of a bard who's seen one too many horrors.
While serious RPG fans will dismiss Diablo as RPG life, the accessibility and high replay value will instantly appeal to the rest of the gameplaying world. Any way you look at it, Diablo's hot.