Diablo

a game by Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, and Climax
Platforms: PC Playstation PSX
Genre: Action
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 6 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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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.

Dark Days

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.

Hack Heaven

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.

ProTips:

  • 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.

Game Reviews

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.

Overview

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.

Gameplay

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.

Graphics

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.

Bottom Line

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!

Overview

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.

Interface

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.

Replayability

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!

Graphics

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.

Audio

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.

Documentation

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.

System Requirements

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

Bottom Line

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.

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