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Reviewed: Diablo II
Author: Chris Kim       Date: July 30th, 2000
Page: 2

Diablo II is the sequel to one of the most successful games ever produced in the computer gaming industry. It started the revolution of the "action role-playing" genre with a fun, addictive, yet simple, but still interesting with emphasis on character generation. It led to the recreation and rebirth of the nearly dead role-playing genre. Since then, there have been countless numbers of games in the same genre trying to reproduce the same flare that gave the original game such fire. Some have had varying degrees of success, but none have reached the same pinacle that Diablo did. Now, three years after the original was released, the sequel has been released, and it is better than ever.

Being a sequel, the game remains very similar in the core gameplay areas. It still is a click and attack role-playing game with 95% of its emphasis on strategic button clicking. At the same time, the player also must focus their character's development with various statistics and skills that come as the player gains levels. While all this is going on, players must try to attack and kill all the enemies while trying to accomplish various tasks and quests that have been assigned to the only hero in the game. Basically, it's a kill everything that moves which isn't a good human, type of game. Hack your way through the wilderness and dungeon, and return to town to power up. It is very simple in its design, but it is definitely fun and addictive.

Goodbye
Level Up!
No Magic

After all these years, here comes the long awaited (and delayed) sequel to one of the best games of 1997. Even to this day, many gamers are still playing the original Diablo across the internet. It was the simple nature of the game that made it so extremely addictive. Once again, that simple point and click game has returned with some distinct changes, most for the good. The original consisted of one player and one dungeon in one town, Tristram, which had been influenced by the perils of Diablo, or Devil for those that don't understand Spanish. The player had to go down into a dungeon and clean the area of all sorts of monsters while accomplishing various "big missions" while in the labyrinth. The only shortcoming was that there was only one area designated in where players could fight and only one town to develop their characters into.

The second game remedies the lack of options to play by adding in several areas to fight, not only a labyrinth, but also wilderness, and other outdoor areas to get rid of the claustrophobic nature of the original. This creates for a lot more variation and different strategies than in the original as the outdoor areas are much more open and not confined to small spaces like the labyrinths are. More events can happen when outdoors as there are few obstacles to stop oncoming enemies. Often, players will find themselves with an onslaught of enemies approaching them, requiring lots of running or strong multiple attacking weapons/spells to counteract these waves of enemies.

Let it Shine!
Yack, Purple!
Purple Thing

Just as the original game, Diablo II also assigns various quests and mission to the player given by various NPCs in the towns and outdoors. Each quest typically involves defeating some sort of monster or collecting an item and then traveling to a certain area by either teleport or travel across the outdoors. Thankfully, players can now run, allowing for players to get from place to place quicker than they were able in the original. The player cannot run forever; however, he has a stamina bar that decreases slowly as the player runs from place to place and increases as the player moves slowly or stands still. It allows for quicker transitions getting place to place, which is a much needed feature since so many of the game's areas are so large. New are also various shrines, unlike the original where there were only "behind the scenes" shrines (reveal the automap, etc.), these new ones offer everything from improved armor to explosive potions.

Increase in size of the game is one of the best features. Unlike the original, which seemed to be very short and quick, Diablo II remedies this by featuring four different acts. The first act alone is as big as the whole first game! That gives a good indication of how large Diablo II is. One of the best features of the original, the randomly generating dungeons, is back and better than ever. It has been slightly improved over the original with various types of dunegons just placed in the map and uniquely designed areas. The missions and areas in Diablo II are excellent in quality, far more robust than those of the original game, which has now become a trademark of Blizzard. Storyline also has been significantly improved with an actual story in the game, not just the book Players can also hire mercenaries to do work for them; however, the AI for these mercenaries are very poor and offer little help.

What a Bafoon
Come Back to Me
Goblin Camp!

Character generation remains quite similar to the original--with the addition of the energy pool. The other statistics, strength, dexterity, and vitality remain and function in the same way. Based upon which character the player decides to choose, the variation in how the character plays can vary wildly. Unlike the original, there are five character classes opposed to three. They are: Barbarian, Amazon, Sorceress, Paladin, and Necromancer. Unlike the original where the character classes played quite similar despite their special abilities, the characters in Diablo II are unlike each other and have completely different skills and areas they specialize in. The skill tree is now much more robust than it was before. Players will now be able to build up skills in three areas: defense, offense, and combat (generally, specific classes per character) through a technology tree. Certain skills must be attained prior to gaining more skill in another area. These skills are specific to each class, so no one character has the small set of skills.

Remaining true to the original, equipment remains almost exactly the same. The inventory is still the excellent tile-based storage system where certain items take up a certain amount of tiles. The player can equip any weapon or armor that meets the requirements, and unlike the original, players will graphically show their new armor, for every piece, not just the certain classes. There are the same basic and magically enhanced weapons like the original; they still break and need maintenance. This requires players to use their equipment wisely. Another great addition is a personal stash, which allows players to store their equipment they aren't using in a little chest in town, so the ground doesn't become so littered with items. Trading and selling of items has improved with the ability to sell and trade items at the same time, side-by-side.

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Added:  Sunday, July 30, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 2/5

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