Action role playing games (RPGs) aren’t to everyone’s taste, as can be witnessed by the lack of them currently available on home console formats. However, that’s not to say there isn’t an audience keen to adopt them when the big names roll out their guns, and perhaps the biggest of modern times now graces modern consoles. Diablo was the envy of the console community more than a decade ago, and now Diablo III proves that the long wait has been worth it.
The original Diablo did see release on PlayStation a year after its initial release on PC, however it was largely believed that the videogame lost much of its lustre on the transition. Diablo III has also taken nearly a year to make its way to consoles and yet feels reinvigorated in doing so: this is exactly as Diablo on consoles should be. The controls handle beautifully, the on-screen furniture is helpful but not cluttered and the online multiplayer is near-faultless. It’s a wonderful loot hunting experience designed to be shared with friends, and though the AI does it’s best to replicate the experience, Diablo III is all about co-operative gameplay.
The campaign is a lengthy experience, with some maps requiring far greater investment than others. The adventure unfolds from a series of hubs around which quests will take place in the surrounding environment, with the shift between safe zone and action neatly tucked away behind a loading screen. It’s a familiar solution delivered in a more elegant package, with the player teased in gently before they realise that they are miles away from home with a full inventory and a thousand new demon kills to their name.
In these environments players will fond a pleasing amount of interactivity, with nearly every room or pathway feature a book shelf to topple, a trap to activate or a desk/log/drum/grave to smash. A number of other unique additions to the fairly traditional action-RPG experience prove that Diablo III has done its homework: the object or enemy you are currently targeting is highlight with a red outline, warp zones are placed in the perfect spot for a momentary break with a full inventory and any attack animation be broken immediately by a dodge manoeuvre once you feel you’ve reach the limits of your character’s abilities.
The character classes available do help to promote experimentation, with each having obvious strengths and weaknesses. Players retain now control over statistics but are able to choose which moves become part of their arsenal as they progress. Instead, the greater assets are those which come from the bountiful supplies of loot you will find, with armour and weaponry drastically altering the way your character fights with new animations and significant statistic boosts.
As an action-RPG Diablo III was always going to break new ground on console, the fact that it has next to no competition is surely little to do with it. This is the definitive title offered by the genre simply thanks to it’s conversion: this isn’t the PC videogame dumped on a control pad, this is a fantastic action-RPG redesigned to fit on a console. And fit it does; so well that it ranks as one of the best videogames we’ve seen this year.