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Diablo
CathedralThere are software houses that take their time, much time. With Diablo, published back in 1996, Blizzard led the concept of "much delayed games" to unlooked-for dizzying heights. One of the delay's positive side effects was that, apart from mounting expectations among fans, Blizzard delivered a qualitatively top-notch and glitch-free title that revolutionized the way we're playing role-playing games today. After Warcraft II one year previously, Diablo was Blizzard's second substantial financial success. Besides this, Diablo was one of the first games to require Windows 95 to run at all, making the title the killer application for Microsoft's brand-new operating system, at least as ambitious gamers were concerned.
 
Hell breaks loose:
InterfaceAt a time when AD&D;, with its complex set of rules still known from blissful Pen & Paper times, dominated the virtual life in fantasy realms around the globe, Blizzard took an altogether different approach, got rid of an epic story and an interface bursting with statistics that would have required an encyclopedic manual to comprehend. Instead, they literally unleashed the hordes of hell and let the player embark on a quest to root out the spreading evil. At the beginning, you returned to the run-down village of Tristram either as muscle-packed warrior, nimble rogue, or spellcasting sorcerer and listened to the horrid tales of the handful of residents who painted a gloomy picture of a dark lord who caused havoc in the dungeons beneath the village. Only shortly later, you descended the flight of stairs of the nearby cathedral, with the grim determination of teaching these diabolical brutes a lesson they wouldn't forget.
 
Alone in the Dark:
Fighting skeletonsOn entering the first of the 16 levels, you were greeted by an almost impenetrable darkness that was only lessened by the small cone of light surrounding yourself and torches sporadically placed in sconces along the wall. Dark silhouettes waited just outside the of the light's perimeter, poised to rush in on you and hack away at you with abandon. And the monsters from hell were numerous, existing in many different forms and colors. The farther you descended into the bowels of the cathedral, the nastier the waves of skeletons, zombies, ghouls, goblins, horned demons, knights and boss enemies became that rolled against your one-man army. Since the foes outnumbered your heroe by far, your only chance of survival was more often than not to lure some of the creatures into a secure place and kill them one by one.
But then you weren't defenseless - far from it. In the course of your adventuring, you received a plethora of items and weapons from defeated foes, chests or by buying them from the smith, healer or witch in Tristram. The medieval arsenal ranged from simple swords to mighty fire bows, with the so-called "Unique Items" having the best (magically enhanced) properties. The same was true for various pieces of armour or magical rings that had the same boosting effect on your character's values as reaching a new experience level, provided that you had dispatched enough monsters before. The sorcerer didn't even soil his hands but send powerful lightning blasts as well as fire balls and walls against the onstorming creatures. Especially in more advanced levels, range weapons proved to be of considerable advantage against the equally equipped enemies. Of particular difficulty was the final clash with Diablo himself, but even he had to face obliteration through the able hands of your heroe.
Details:
Producer:
Blizzard

Released:
In 1996

Nostalgia:
very high

System:
Windows

Playable?
sure thing

Available?
Low budget

Links:
Diablo,
Battle.net
Diablo 2

Infos/Hints:
Schattenjäger
Diabolical success:
Fighting DiabloWhat made Diablo stand out among the rabble was the motivation to re-enter the dungeons beneath the cathedral even after finishing the regular single-player mode. On the one hand, the difficulty level slightly increased, and on the other hand, the levels were generated at random when starting a new game, resulting in a modestly modified layout of the levels. But also the hunt for more powerful equipment kept you hooked for hours uncounted, as was the case with the co-operative multiplayer mode where you could play with your friends via a local network or online via Blizzard's Battle.net. Some critizised the game because of its simple gameplay, the village's static populace, or the repetitive and unassuming quests, but that couldn't prevent the game from becoming a sweeping success - in particular as the nice SVGA graphics and the ominous ambient sounds created a wonderfully creepy atmosphere.
Except for the add-on Hellfire, which introduced the monk as a new character type, the gaming community waited nearly four years until the sequel Diablo II finally shipped. The game had become four times more extensive than the first installment, while featuring more monsters and more sophisticated quests. Though the graphics were already outdated when the title was released, phantastically rendered cutscenes and the highly addictive gameplay of purest hack and slay more than compensated for the minor drawbacks and long waiting period. After the add-on Lord of Destruction, it has grown quiet in the world of Diablo. Rumour has it that, subsequent to the release of Warcraft III and Wolrd of Warcraft, Blizzard will start working on a successor to the equally popular Starcraft. But so far Blizzard hasn't entirely ruled out that another Diablo installment might still come our way some day.
© 05-10-2002 by CE

 
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