Finished up my first play through of Diablo III Monday evening. Curiously, I played it on the PS3. With a fixed loot system, no always online requirement, and the real money auction house removed, I felt like I could finally get into the game. I’m glad that I did!
The PS3 version is pretty much the same as the PC version, only with better controls. Yeah, I said it, the controls are better on the console version. The just are. Direct input rather than mouse dragging your character around means that you can be more precise. Gamepad controls for abilities are much more immediate, allowing me to chain together shouts and attacks more quickly. I adored tearing through groups of monsters with gamepad in hand, and I felt like I was properly in control the entire time.
Of course, the story, audio, and visuals were top-notch. This is a Blizzard game. Their production values are as good or better than anyone in the industry. The story was also pretty compelling, with some great characters. Even the side characters, such as your followers and the NPC merchants were interesting. Covetous Shen might win best NPC of the decade award.
Sometimes the game’s difficulty felt a bit uneven. At points in the beginning and middle of the game I had some trouble, and I was only playing on Normal mode. I would die for a reason I couldn’t understand, and when I returned to the same group of enemies, I could defeat them easily. I don’t know if the game does some balancing on the fly or take pity on you, but that happened more than once. Then, later in the game, after I got some key abilities, I felt like I couldn’t die. The fight with the end boss was fun, but it was over a bit too quickly, and I wasn’t ever really challenged. Some of the earlier bosses were much more difficult! I found the wide differences in difficulty a bit frustrating.
It’s great to pick up and play for a few minutes. The free town portal feature means you can just go out and wander into some area, battle for a bit, and come back whenever you’d like, with checkpoints scattered frequently around so you never have to run too far. Mini-dungeons and optional sidequests are fun to explore, taking a break from the main story. There are always interesting things to find and explore, and since the maps regenerate every time you load the game, it’s always different. All these things make the game great to go back to and increase replayability. And there are always more classes to choose from!
Overall, I had a great time with the game. Some strange difficulty spikes and a few sound files out of synch were the biggest problems, and they were barely problems at all. Blizzard once again made a masterful brawler.