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    Diablo II Review - Page Two

    By Surge

    The Never-ending List of New Stuff
    Click Image to enlargeThe focus of Diablo II remains the same as the original, but in order to make it fit in with today's standards, Blizzard had to take that focus and make it better. To kick things off, the game is nearly 4 times larger than the original, and is split into four different parts, called Acts. To fit all this in, Diablo II ships with three CDs, much more than the original's single CD.

    Each act is unique and has it's own sense of style. Unlike the original, where you are running around in the same dungeon the entire time, Diablo II can take you outside in the wilderness, into buildings and castles, into dark murky caves, and the list goes on and on. Each act features a town, which will be your resting and refilling place throughout that act. Also, each act takes place in a different part of the Diablo world. The first act starts you out in the forestry areas around Tristram, where the original game took place. But the game eventually moves on into new environments like deserts, swamps, and of course, Hell. The art in these newer areas is astounding and mind blowing (for some reason the first act looks plain and dull, but as soon as you hit the second act the art and graphics are awesome 'til the end).

    Click Image to enlargeWithin each town, there is a new set of NPC's to interact with by talking, trading, and even gambling with. Every town in the game features at least a Blacksmith who can repair your items and trade with you, as well as a dealer who can trade and gamble with you. (Okay, here's how gambling works. Several items show up on the screen, all of them unidentified. You pay the dealer a hefty price for one of the items, go get it identified, and hope to God that it's something rare and unique. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's nothing but a basic weapon you paid 30,000 in gold for!) Other NPC's include a person who can identify items, a healer (who sometimes doubles as a dealer as well), and finally a person whom you can hire a mercenary from. Other unique NPCs show up within the towns, who may have some useful information on your current surroundings.

    A terrific new feature within the game is the ability to hire mercenaries. These are AI controlled characters that follow and protect you throughout your journey. The kind of mercenary you can hire varies from act to act. For example, in Act I, you have the ability to hire Rogue Mercenaries.

    Click Image to enlargeYet another feature is called your stash. Each town will have one for you, and it is yours, only yours, and can only be accessed by you. Remember in Diablo having to leave loose weapons, armor, and items you wanted to keep but couldn't fit in your inventory lying around Tristram? This became a hassle in multiplayer games because if you did this, people would came and pick them up for themselves. So, Blizzard resolved this problem by creating a stash. It is a chest you will find in every town, in both single and multi player games. Inside your stash, you can safely store loose weapons and gold that won't fit within your inventory, instead of being forced to leave it scattered all over the ground. Plus, since only you can access your stash, you don't have to worry about anyone robbing you in multiplayer games.

    And speaking of multiplayer, this has gotten bigger and better. Blizzard has stepped up their Diablo multiplayer game and added several new features, such as the ability to go hostile against someone, and fight against each other while not within a town. On the other hand, players can now join up into teams and travel the Diablo landscape together. In fact, as long as you are in the same act as the rest of your party, you all gain experience points together! Another new feature is an open character, which will allow you to bring your single player character onto the internet. Although cheating can easily occur with characters like this because the character is stored on your hard drive and not on Battle.net's servers, it shouldn't pose much of a threat to anyone. Blizzard has worked extremely hard to stop from happening to Diablo II what has happened with Diablo, when everyone on Battle.net started using cheats, and the whole game experience ended up being ruined. Also, trading in multiplayer games with Diablo II has become a reality. You can now trade with a player using a nice trade window, where each player can set their items out they want to trade, so each player can see and confirm what they are going to get, and than with confirmation from both players, swap their trade items with each other. All of this just adds to the greatness that is Diablo II.

    Click Image to enlargeOf course, you're probably wondering right now, since Diablo II is so much more larger than the original Diablo, does it have more monsters? The answer is... 'YES!'. There are roughly 300 different monsters (each with a different skin and name), which are built off of 70 different, unique models.

    There are also other little features such as support for a 3D video card, and a huge amount of new weapons and items that you will encounter throughout the game. In the end, Diablo II has enough to please any avid Diablo fan.

    Where Diablo II Goes Bad
    Click Image to enlargeYou would think after all this talk of the game being so good, there would be nothing bad. Well, I hate to say it, but you are wrong. For one, the graphics truly are dated compared to technology used in other RPG games of today. But the amazing art that is there, and the fun gameplay, help to overshadow this problem quite well.

    The biggest problem though, is Blizzard's online gaming service, Battle.net. As of this review, I still have problems connecting to games, and am still finding flaws with either the software or the server. You'd think Battle.net would be in tip top shape server and software wise, since 100,000 people got an early glimpse at the game. (I was one of them :P) There was even a Battle.net stress test to make sure things like connection problems didn't happen. And yet, as I am writing this review, Battle.net is still not working properly, and is really forcing me to turn away from this once great online service.

    The Final Word
    Click Image to enlargeDid Blizzard pull it off? Well, as you can see, Diablo II did actually live up to it's hype. But still, after all of my comments about the game being so good, I think it could have been a little better in some areas.

    Diablo II is still a revolutionary game, and Blizzard was truly able to take Diablo and make it 60 times better. This game deserves to be on every gamer's hard drive, whether you like playing RPG games or not. Diablo II shall permanently take over Diablo's spot on my hard drive, until of course whenever the next big RPG game from Blizzard comes out. (Which at the rate they develop games, that could be centuries :P)

    << Rating: 96% >>
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    Note from the editor: We have available a Gallery Section for Diablo 2, featuring not only the pictures and images used in this article, but artwork and Fan Fiction images as well.

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