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Diablo 2
Diablo 2The most anticipated action role-playing game of the year has finally arrived and there are already some who complain about acute symptoms of insomnia and a stiff index finger - sure signs that Diablo 2 has been released. The sequel to the mega seller from 1996 will be a programmed success for Blizzard Entertainment. But what does Diablo 2 have that other games don't? What makes the basically simple gameplay so highly addictive? Questions you'll only come to ponder after you've spent more hours on the renewed hunt for Diablo than you actually intended to. So you'd better fasten your sword belts now.
 
Graphics:
Archangel TyraelIn some respects, the long development period of Diablo 2 doesn't go unnoticed. In particular the only resolution of 640 x 480 is no longer state-of-the-art - the small part of the screen visible and the slightly blocky environment are not what you'd expect from a company like Blizzard. Still, miraculously, the graphics does look well enough. Nice animations as well as atmospheric illumination and shadow effects make you forget about the low resolution. A 3D accelerator card improves the visual effects. But also the effects you can see once you have accomplished a quest are worth mentioning. Having cleansed a dungeon from all sorts of creatures, for example, rays of sunlight break through the ceiling. On seeing the very long cutscenes, at the latest, your eyes will widen in astonishment: the phantastically rendered sequences give you the impression as if they were originally made for a movie and not for a computer game.
 
Story & gaming world:
D2 boxDiablo 2 continues the story of the first installment. After his victory over Diablo in the dungeons deep below the city of Tristram, the hero banned the hellish creature into a gem set in his own forehead. But Diablo is far from defeated. His spirit wrestles with that of the hero-turned Wanderer and threatens to overpower him - a somewhat unhealthy turn of events, since Diablo is already plotting his reunification with his likewise evil brothers, Baal and Mephisto. Also the people inhabiting the fantasy world sense the approach of more disasters to come. In the wake of the Wanderer's passing, vile hordes of nightmarish creatures attack the cities and settlements and decimate the population.
Now it's up to the player to thwart Diablo's plans in the course of four Acts with different settings and quests each. The game starts within the ramshackle walls of a rogue encampment, proceeds to the desert city of Lud Gholein, from there on to the swamps surrounding Kurast and eventually to Hell itself for the showdown. In every city you'll be briefed on your quests by the populace. Moreover, merchants offer their wares and mercenaries can be hired. Once you are well equipped, the vast areas surrounding each city wait to be explored, especially since the entrance to many a dungeon or temple can be found there. In order to save precious time, waypoints enable you now and then to teleport back to town. Also the diversity of opponents has increased in number, now ranging from the weak Goblin type over Golems to sorcerers and all sorts of saliva-dripping monsters imaginable. Every creature exists in more than one variety, differing both in strength and appearance. For example, you encounter axe-swinging skeletons, another time equipped with bow and quiver, and once more casting spells. Naturally, the boss enemies such as Andariel in the 1st Act or Mephisto, Baal, or Diablo himself later will give you the creeps when they start bearing down on you.
 
Character choices:
The Den of Evil - Act IYou now have to choose between 5 different character classes instead of 3 in the first Diablo. Depending whether you'll opt for the Barbarian, the Amazon, the Paladin, the Sorceress or the Necromancer, you'll experience the game from another point of view. Although neither quests nor locations change, the fighting tactics and the 30 skills of the corresponding hero do change all the more. Once you've reached a new level of experience, you are free to allocate five points to character values such as strength, dexterity or vitality as well as one point to your additional skills. For using one of your skills, you need a certain amount of mana. Besides this, all characters have now the ability to run.
The Barbarian relies on his fighting prowess alone and is not the man for magics. He can use all sorts of armor and weaponry and influence the outcome of skirmishes with different warcries and attack routines. He's the only one to swing two weapons simultaneously and make use of powerful jump attacks.
The Paladin is a skilled fighter as well. His strong faith in his god enables him to protect the party members and himself with protective auras. Moreover, he knows quite well how to fight undead creatures effectively.
The Amazon is the best allround character and hones her fighting skills in the use of bow and quiver and spear weapons.
The Sorceress causes her enemies pain with offensive fire and ice spells but is also capable of weaving protective magic. However, she now longer learns her new spells from books or scrolls but by means of the new skill system.
The Necromancer is also well-versed in the field of sorcery but instead of fighting himself he creates his minions who fight for him. His array of spells allows him to resurrect dead creatures and command monsters with his will.
 
Collecting passion:
Lud Gholein - Act IILike virtually no other game, Diablo 2 makes the player collect items en masse. The number of weapons, armors, amulets, rings or other accessories such as belts or gloves has increased considerably. Not only items imbued with special powers as well as unique items are now available, but also the so-called "socketed" items. By inserting certain gems into the empty slots, the item's attack or defense value, among other things, can be improved. The amount of the bonus granted depends on the gems' quality. Holding down the ALT key prevents missing a precious item. An automap helps to keep one's bearing in the vast territories. By the way, every city provides the player with a private stash where he can stow his some extra belongings.
Details:
Producer:
Blizzard

Website:
Diablo 2,
Battle.net

Genre:
Action RPG

Graphics:
good

Sound:
good

Gameplay:
very good

Verdict:
very good

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Diablo
Pros & cons:
The necromancer - Act IThe basically simple gameplay gets you hooked like almost no other game. The reason for this phenomenon lies in the incessant hunt for ever mightier equipment and better character values. In the beginning, your heroe resembles more of a puny chicken only to emerge as an omnipotent devestator in the end. Due to the new skill system and the option to break into a run, the characters are more balanced than in the prequel. Even though the quests don't change, you won't be in danger of falling asleep on your keyboard because of the huge number of items, the vast and randomly generated areas above and below ground, as well as reasonable modifications to the gameplay. Players of the first installment will even encounter some old friends.
Only the slightly dusty graphics (except for the gorgeous cutscenes) and the irritating save option cast some shadows on the otherwise flawless game. Diablo 2 saves automatically on entering a new area or on exiting the game. If you happen to be dispatched by a horde of villains, you have to pay a certain percentage of your capital to continue. But in face of the epic task unfolding before you, you're more than prepared to forget about these minor shortcomings. The different characters make you want to play the whole thing again, and once you've been victorious you can restart the game in the next difficulty level. And, of course, you can play Diablo 2 online via the company's own Battle.net server. So I won't be completely mistaken by claiming that Diablo 2 is probably THE game of the year. As for me, I have to return to my duties. Only one more quest, one more dungeon, well, perhaps the following one as well...
© 2000 by CE

 
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