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Diablo II: Lord of Destruction - Review

A Complete Enhancement

By: Desh


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 7
   Plot 7
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 10
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Varies
   Time to Complete

20+ hours

 
Overall
9
Criteria

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
 

    In case your index finger was not worn down to a stub playing through the first four acts of Diablo II, Blizzard has released yet another chapter to their epic story. Both Mephisto and Diablo fall by your hand, yet one Prime Evil remains... Baal, Lord of Destruction. In this, the fifth act, Baal holds seige a mountain town so as to take control of the powerful Worldstone in Mount Arreat. It is up to you, oh hero, to defeat Baal and save the world from whatever evils he could cause with the Worldstone.

   And thus your adventure continues. Once again returning to the human plane, you arrive in the mountain fortress Harragoth, only to find that, right outside the gates, a seige is taking place and being fought off by Harragoth's barbarians. Once again, the point-and-click madness begins, strategically attacking these new enemies by whatever means possible. The strictly real-time battles can be engrossing, but another age-old problem still plagues online players - lag. These lag spikes are still enough to kill most characters and ruin the fighting experience in more than one way.

   Using convenient hotkeys, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction enables players to adjust stats, skills, and inventory with ease and haste, a necessity in the heat of battle (or just when other players get impatient with you). What's even better is that this expansion has doubled, yes DOUBLED, the size of your stash inventory. This change was met with open arms and Hallelujah choruses from over-burdened players who just can't stand to part with their horde. Another nice added bonus is that a character can hold two sets of arms, easily switched between by pressing w. This allows players to switch weapons swiftly in case certain strategies required it. But, to the delight of even more players is the inclusion of two more classes - the Assassin and the Druid, with whole new sets of equipment, items, and skills to explore.


Eh, I'll just let my small army handle it.
Eh, I'll just let my small army handle it.  

   Socketed equipment has become a much more common sight, along with two new lines of socketing pretties. First, runes act very similarly to gems in that they have different effects depending on which piece of equipment you put them in. Secondly, jewels have same effect on a player no matter where you put them, but also leaving a slight lack of variety and choice. Luckily, both new sets of socket-fillers sell for a pretty penny or three, so...

   The system Blizzard has put forth is incredible, and along to go with it is an incredible story. In addition to the fabulous gameplay is a tale that will make you hold your breath at the end. Very real characters lead you along the storyline, filling you in with all the grim details you'll need to reach Baal. The plot fits in well, and is very complete, but the gameplay makes it fade into the background, almost forgotten in the point-and-click madness.

   What story there is has been told very well, with great voice actors throughout. Unlike many other games which use voice actors for their characters, this one doesn't feature various gross moments in acting. The characters created are very real, and can draw in the player extraordinarily well. As there was no translation to make for us Americans, major grammer problems were not present unless done on purpose.

   The smooth storyline, the real characters, and the satisfaction from destroying everything is enough to draw most people back to play again. Diablo II: LoD gives much more than that, providing seven classes to play around with, not to mention many different skill paths to take with them; an immense number of magical items to collect; and three different difficulties to pass through: normal, nightmare, and hell. The game designers at Blizzard have insured that it would take many, many times through to do everything, and that the addiction would run deep.


Reach Out and Touch Someone
Reach Out and Touch Someone  

   The graphics only enhance the experience. Everything is masterfully detailed, right down to the shadows of jumping imps. Your character's equipment is actually shown on the character, not just as a stat booster. The incredible effort put into this is just amazing, and to top it all off are incredible cinematics between acts. There's nothing else to say - they're wondermous.

As you might expect in a game like this, different parts are harder than others depending on what class you are and what difficulty you're on. While imps in Act 5 may drive you batty, frost beasts may be a minor nuisance later on. And Hell difficulty is nothing to laugh at unless you're at least level 70. With all the difficulty modes, you may spend a good chunk of time leveling or searching. If you go without help, normal may take you around twenty hours to get through. If you get power-acted... well, it might take you a little less than that to defeat Hell... but assuming you do everything the "real" way, you may be spending a good deal more than twenty hours on this game. And that's only for one class.

With all the variety offered in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, it's not surprising that it has such a hugh crowd of fans. With seven classes to explore, many different skill paths to take with each, and set/magical items galore, Blizzard has insured that it will keep players busy until its next game like it comes out. Tie in the amazing graphics and music, the addiction that is Diablo II deserves tremendous praise.





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