Diablo 3 (PlayStation 3)
Released: September 3rd, 2013
It’s a chilling thing when you’ve anticipated something as long as we anticipated Blizzard’s release of Diablo 3 and it drops, you know? A year ago, we were all grinding our fingernails into our desks and watching that countdown just to find that purely being Diablo did not make it impervious to critiques. While major gaming news houses seemed to find it a nearly perfect experience, fans were left wanting. Many people found the addition of an auction-house ala World of Warcraft to be something damning to the immersion and I was one of those such people. Simply ignoring it worked for the best and involving yourself in the beauty of Sanctuary, the world that Diablo takes place in, was how you avoided the drama surrounding Diablo. Some said it was too short, some said the classes were over-powered and it seemed like a good chunk of the internet infobahn was just wanting to complain about something, forgetting it was the third in a series we had loved all along.
I guess that’s just how we are sometimes, right?
As a heavy console gamer who also enjoys a wide variety of PC titles, I adopted into Diablo because it was how I was used to the game being played. The last time the series had seen a console release was on the PlayStation and it was a messy, broken port at best. Did I play it despite that? You bet I did. However, it was no surprise that we didn’t see the much meatier and graphically intensive Diablo 2 meet the console market and I was fine with that since I didn’t want to see it bumped into another messy port that would make me regret the title altogether.
Maybe, just maybe, that’s where a lot of the Diablo fans are sitting right now. Brow raised, arms crossed and offended at the very idea that their beloved PC title would make them push aside their keyboard and mouse and pick up a controller. We’ve been burned by that horrible port back in the late nineties, why would we come back to this? Like jaded children, the Internet was a melting pot of folks saying that they already had it on its intended platform — so why bother with having it for a console? I have to admit, I was nervous about it as well.
Until I got that controller in my hands and gave it a go, that is.
As soon as I had popped that disc in and that little update blazed through, I was welcomed by the gorgeous graphics that Blizzard had intended for our PCs only until now. I was reunited with Leah, Deckard Cain’s niece and the new lead-character of a game that had been Cain’s show until now. A brief introduction brings you into the fold to walk you through your new control scheme and introduce you to the denizens of a town being saturated by the darkness of the Underworld. Having the option to be at the helm of either a Witch Doctor, a Wizard, a Barbarian, a Monk or a Demon Hunter gave us plenty of options until the upcoming expansion brings a Crusader into the motley crew. I broke out into my favorite of the group: the Demon Hunter. I wanted familiar territory since I was going to be going in blind with the new control scheme and each button-press feels like a fawn finding their footing at first and then you start to wonder how this is going to work out. A little shaky as you see that your usual menus are replaced with sets of wheels manipulated by analog sticks but you start to see how swift and streamlined it actually is.
Does it look bulky? Not at all. Blizzard subtracted the extremely flawed and exploited Auction House as well as the more recent “Brawler” mode where people can pit their toons against one another. This is the Diablo 3 without the tricked out and possibly broken modifications that the fans asked for but quickly realized were not what they were cracked up to be and that’s a lovely thing. A wider angle to look over your screen and a condensed on-screen HUD makes sure the game isn’t obtrusive with bars any longer and everything you need sits on the bottom left-hand corner. Need to remember what buttons do what? Just look to the bottom left and be reminded. Smack that ‘Select’ button and scroll through and shoulder-press your way through everything that took keystrokes before.
Much like that first few times with a new lover, you find your muscle memory going to exactly what spots feel good and how to do it without even thinking on it. It’s perfect. I can’t even understand, honestly, why it took this long to get this in my hands. This was the system I had wanted, no, that I needed, when it came to dungeon crawler hack-and-slash and it had been devoid in so many titles until now. We, as console loyalists, just weren’t given anything that was remotely competent until now. Here it was — the new age.
Another fascinating aspect to the new Diablo 3 experience is that, even with sixteen gigs of ram, a four gig graphics card and plenty of space to spare — I still felt lag in cut-scenes and load screens on my computer. Diablo 3 on the PS3 was so fluid that it was startling. Often enough, I would enter a building and think I had time to get up and grasp my drink off the table but was then immediately in my next area. There is a mere one to two second load time, on my console, and that was thrilling. The action never had a moment to stop without those cumbersome load screens and I found it kept me wanting to go further and for longer because I didn’t have those longer load screens that got my mind whirring elsewhere. I’ve heard reports of framerate drops and it appears this is happening to a select amount of people to any alarming rates — as this happened maybe two or three times and for half a second while playing in multiplayer. I can’t necessarily confirm that this was the game or actual lag due to hosting a game. Again, I recognized nothing negative visually. There were no skipping cut-scenes, no choppy graphics and the only lag I experienced seemed to deal with network blips instead of port bugs.
My only real suggestions for perhaps a patch later on would be the ability to change where my mini-map sits on the screen, as whenever an achievement would pop up or a quest would finish — in multiplayer — it would cover up your map. I found myself stopping in place and waiting for the adulation and fanfare to cease before I’d pick up my pace again. The concept of changing where we can put that little map would clear that tiny problem up easily. Another strange little thing I noticed is that, since you’re playing on a television and your cool-downs are showed on the small icons there in the bottom left, you sometimes don’t realize your potions aren’t ready for you. There were quite a few times I found my character demanding healing and I’d hammer down that L1 button to be met with a shrill “That’s not ready yet!” while red mist pulsated around the screen. Perhaps making those icons just a bit more visible so that we can take note of cooldown times would stop a few untimely deaths in the midst of battles with demon spawn. It’s not without a few flaws, despite how much I will tout this port of the game proudly, but they are flaws that are easily fixed and/or eased around if you’re enjoying yourself in the first place.
I think, at the end of the day, the best part of this experience was when a good friend of mine bought a copy in order to play online with me. Someone who had never ever played a Diablo game was stepping into the third chapter of the massive series and his eyes and mind were blown wide open at the intensity of what the story had to tell. More often than not, he would find new loot (Some very impressive items that are PS3 exclusives such as a Legendary shoulder item featuring the scarves from the hit game “Journey” as well as another Legendary amulet ala the Ring necklace that Uncharted’s Nathan Drake sports. Pretty nuts, right?!) and scream happily into his microphone over it. Every new skill that his Wizard would unlock would bring a quick “Hold on a second! Let me check this out!” and he would revel in golden fire-breathing Hydras and freezing spells that would halt enemies long enough for me to send rapid-fire lightning into their numbers. Playing this console version with someone who had not experienced the PC version beforehand was very telling and it wasn’t as if he was a hardcore console loyalist at the start, but he had nothing to compare the outing to like I had. He enjoyed it, he had no complex issues with the way the D-pad and main buttons had replaced keystrokes because he had never witnessed them prior. The inventory system wasn’t jarring because, like with the button configuration, this was all new to him and this would be what he would become used to.
He enjoyed it to the point that we sat through two marathon sessions through two acts for two days in a row and I found that I had no desire to go back to my PC version of Diablo which housed five characters and a lot of amassed loot and gold. Yes, I was willing to leave behind everything I had earned on the PC because the console version was that solid of an effort on Blizzard’s part. What is a shame is that I have sung the praises of this port of the game and it has been met with a lot of computer loyalty. I have never understood why we have to stay so strictly exclusive, you know? If you love a game and truly love it for all the reasons it was created — is it so bad to give it a go however you can? Coming from someone who owns every single port of Resident Evil 4 and hungers to find out how improvements are made in controls and experiences, I just wish people would give a solid game a solid chance because it deserves that and more.
Category: PlayStation 3