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Diablo II By John "Award" Del Percio, August 17, 2000
Developer :Blizzard
Publisher :Blizzard
Release Date :End of June 2000
Demo Available : No
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Where are the darn goatmen? Oh, nevermind.

Finally, the number one complaint by players of Diablo was that the game was far too short. No longer. The game is separated into four acts. The ravaged lands of Westmarch (where Tristram was), the Arabian city of Lut Gholein, and the many tombs throughout the desert, a decimated city based on Aztec architecture and tribal beliefs deep in the jungle, and the Underworld in the last act. Also, there is a story now. Unlike previously where you just senselessly went from dungeon to dungeon killing bigger, badder enemies, and talked to annoying townsfolk, in this game there is a story to follow, driven by some of the best cinematics in the game industry (and the movie industry for that matter), talking to people actually gets you more information. In addition to the four improved towns is the addition of better quests in nicer areas. The quests aren't just "go find this and bring it back", but are tied in with the ultimate goal of the Act. Often getting you useful items as well. In addition, you don't just plunder dungeon after dungeon, in fact more of the game seems to take place above ground then below it. You fight through huge outdoor areas to find some 1 to 4 level dungeons. Most of which are entirely fun.

A waypoint
Indoor tavern. Looks almost like AD&D
Seen that shot before? Thought so.
A typical inventory/shop panel

Something else that can be classified as a plus or a minus is the save game system. Unfortunately, to save, you must exit the game, and restart in town. The monsters all respawn once you restart, leaving everything you did useless. To compensate, the game has waypoints scattered throughout key areas. Waypoints are like transporter beams from Star Trek, in that they transport you between the pads instantly. You can even go between Acts this way. When you die (and you will), you drop all your armor in a convenient corpse that you can simply click on and everything will go where it should be. Much nicer than picking everything up individually. Speaking of picking things up, there is also a feature to highlight any items on the ground, so you can see what they are and where they are, if you want to pick them up. A definite advantage by any standard. Monsters also have a health bar now that is visible on top of the screen, listing their special attacks as well. No more trying to find it on the main interface. It's plain as day.

Beautiul lighting in the desert tombs
LordHavoc and I go for a little online test drive
Eeww, yummy!
The world looks so much smaller at night

Yet another improvement to the game is the gem system. Now, you are beyond simple items, but there is an inclusion of socketed items. You find gems of different types and grades throughout your travels. You can insert them into a socketed item for extra benefits. I prime example is a ruby. If you insert a ruby into a weapon, you add fire damage to your attack. If you insert it into a shield, you get fire resistance, and if you insert it into a helm, you add to the maximum life of your character. There are several different types of gems located throughout the game, and many more socketed items. This makes the amount of weapons nearly limitless. Gems also provide you a way to make that weapon you always wanted to have but haven't found yet.

Belts are another feature of the game. Not only can you have a few more items such as gloves and boots, but you also have a belt. A belt not only provides protection, but the better the belt, the more potions you can carry in your belt. The top belt is the plated belt, which has four rows, or 16 potions it can carry. Very useful in big battles. Of course, in nightmare mode, all belts are 4 rows, because you'll need them. Nightmare mode has much nastier monsters, and much better artifacts then normal skill, but the penalties are severe. Death in multiplayer nightmare mode will not only result in the loss of gold, but also the loss of experience. This feature is sort of nasty, as you end up dying over and over, and have no money for potions, and no experience to prove your last 5 hours of gameplay was worth anything.

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