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    Diablo II Review

    By Surge

    At Last!
    Click Image to enlargeIt took Blizzard years to make this game, this probably having been their longest game in development yet. After being delayed several times from it's original release date, originally set for Christmas 1998, we finally have the game, even though it's now Summer 2000. During it's long duration of development, Diablo II received more hype than probably any other game ever has, and why not, as the original Diablo was a major hit, selling more than two million copies worldwide. But the big question that's on every fan's mind is... can Blizzard pull it off again, and deliver us a fun and unique RPG, that is an instant classic?

    Welcome to (the new) Diablo
    Click Image to enlargeIn case you've never heard of Diablo before, (if you haven't, than you might want to go get checked for memory loss) it is an action game blended in with role-playing elements. The original Diablo, released back in 1996, was one of the very first games to do this, and it did it beautifully. Diablo had great new features that made it stand out, like randomizing levels and quests, a large array of weapons and armor that could be found, a nice collection of interactive NPC's to talk to, and a huge list of different enemies that you had to battle against in your journey through the depths of Hell to kill Diablo. Sounds pretty cool, eh... well it was.

    Well, since Diablo, clones of the game have flown on and off the shelves. Some standing out, and some being just plain trash. Yet this left Blizzard with a problem, in order to stand out yet once again, they would have to revamp the entire Diablo game, to make it once again the best thing we've ever seen on the RPG-action market. To do this, every feature in the original Diablo would have to be spiced-up, with more new features, and most importantly of all, the game itself would have to be larger. This meant larger levels, more enemies, more character classes, more weapons, more armor, and basically, just more of everything.

    Click Image to enlargeDiablo II follows the story of the strange being known as the Wanderer, who is in actual fact, the hero you played in the original Diablo game. But it looks like Diablo has possessed the hero's body, and the powers of Diablo have been unleashed upon the world once again. When the hero (Wanderer) left the town from the original game, Tristram, all hell breaks lose (again). And as the Wanderer passes through the Monastery and Rogue Encampment, all forms of havoc is unleashed as well. In Diablo II you are a new character, who begins the game at the Rogue Encampment, which is one of the four towns (one per act) throughout the game.

    Characters Galore
    Click Image to enlargeThe original Diablo had only three different hero characters to choose from. They were the Warrior, Rogue, and the Sorcerer, all three being very basic classes. Diablo II boasts five hero character classes to choose from, all very unique and special in their own way. You can play as the Amazon, a talented women warrior skilled at the bow and spear (similar to the Rogue from the first game). You can also play as the Sorceress, a magic dependent character, who really has no skill at combat with weapons (similar to the Sorcerer from the first game). And then there is the trusty Barbarian, your gung-ho everyday super warrior, who is skilled at using any kind of weapons he can get his hands on, but has no magical ability whatsoever (similar to the Warrior from the first game). We also have the Paladin, a very spiritual warrior, who has a bit of talent in both combat and magic (a mixture of skills between all three characters from the first game). And, last but not least, there is the Necromancer, the most unique character to be seen in any Diablo game yet. He has the ability to conjure up creatures from the ground, raise skeleton's from the dead, and when you get far enough in the game, he can actually recreate any dead creature, and restore it to it's original form to aid him in his journey. All five characters will have to play the game differently, and for each character you will have to devise different strategies. The question is, which one will you choose?

    Also, the character customization doesn't stop there. As with the original Diablo, everytime you level up one level, you receive five experience points to distribute amongst the four primary attributes, (Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, and Energy) as you choose fit . Each character class also features 30 unique skills to choose from and to develop. Every time you level up, you get one more skill point to add to a particular skill. The more skill points in one skill, the stronger that skill becomes. Also, you won't be able to add skill points to all of your thirty different skills at once, as all of the skills are divided into separate categories with each character. Each category of skills has one, two, or three base skills, with better skills branching off from these base skills. The more advanced skills aren't activated until the base skills reach a certain level (number of skill points placed toward that skill). Different kinds of skills also vary from character to character.

    Click Image to enlargeWhile we are on the subject of characters, why don't we talk about Diablo II's new character rendering system. Remember in the original Diablo how your character always looked the same, and would only change it's look about twice in the game? Well, that really is okay, but you may be forgetting that when your character looks like it has on raggedy clothes, he is actually really wearing some big huge piece of leather armor. This sort of really bugged me, and lots of other Diablo gamers as well. So Blizzard addressed this issue with the fans by featuring a new way the characters were rendered within the game. Now, the character's game look changes with the type of armor/weapons he is wearing/carrying. This not only looks cool, but in multiplayer games, this can give you an advantage of being able to see what the other player has on for equipment.

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