Diablo III
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Oooh, pretty...

Hi there.  My name is Chris, and I’m a Diablo addict.  It started small, just an hour or two here on the original back in ‘97.  I was drawn to the simple gameplay and the complex character creation.  The graphics were grim and gory, and the sheer amount of kit you could deck your guy or girl in was enough to put even Barbie to shame.  The game was fun, but I knew I could kick it any time I wanted.

But then the second Diablo came out, and I was hooked from the moment I heard the dulcet tones of Deckard Cain.  Soon I was running around the rogue wastelands, bashing everything in sight with a hammer.  My finger turned white.  My jaw was fixed in a permanent drooping position.  My eyes developed a thick mucous crust and my armpits must have smelled like Pete Doherty.  But I had to keep playing, just to see if I could get a slightly better hammer.

That was the beauty of Diablo, and the reason the game was so damn addictive.  “Just one more dungeon and I’ll quit.  I’ll just level up then I can stop.  I’ll do one final boss run then I’ll switch it off.  Oh bollocks, it’s 7am, time to go to work.”  Days went by, then weeks, and then you woke up in a haze in your chair and realised that you’d blown a whole month on the bloody thing.  It’s a testament to Diablo’s addictiveness that millions of dedicated followers still play online, and that number is about to be added to with the release of Diablo III in 2009.  Oh yeah, it’s time to get back on the good stuff.

Diablo 2 wasn’t a massive leap from the original in terms of gameplay.  What it did was take the already pretty-damn-good ideas of the first and perfect them.  More characters, more skills, more spells, more hammers, more things to bash with hammers.  First impressions of three suggest a similar approach.  This time the world is rendered with a stunning 3D graphics engine, custom-created by Blizzard.  The dungeons just bleed atmosphere, and somehow manage to be creepy as hell and pleasing to the eye at the same time.  Mist oozes from cracks in the ground, slime carves a path through dusty walls, and blood spatters in a satisfying manner across every surface.  Nice.

The 3D worlds aren’t purely for aesthetic purposes either.  The player-controlled characters and the enemies can both make use of the new dimension for strategic purposes.  For example, say you’re traversing a narrow ledge and discover a horde of skeletons marching straight towards you.  You notice a crumbling column between you and them, the kind that just needs a little encouragement to come crashing down on top of your bony foes.  Well, simply line up that lightning bolt spell and wait until they get underneath, then unleash terrible fury on their skinny arses.  Likewise, the bad guys can leap for cover behind boulders, and even scuttle along walls and out of chasms in a bid to munch on your legs.  You’re going to have to stay alert to keep alive this time.

The story should sound strangely familiar to Diablo connoisseurs.  All the heroes from Diablo 2 have gone stark raving bonkers and it’s up to a new set of characters to chase after and destroy Diablo, who refuses to stay dead.  No doubt they’ll all end up dribbling lunatics by Diablo IV, but the journey’s gonna be a hell of a lot of fun.  The Barbarian returns from the previous game, with new characters such as the Wizard and the Witch Doctor taking the place of the Sorceress and the Necromancer.  The variety between characters means Diablo has always had incredible replayability, and hopefully this will still be the case in Diablo III.

I’ve already stocked my fridge with a month’s supply of beer and frozen pizza, ready for the launch date of March 27.  Am I worried I’ll still be hooked long after the booze runs dry and the food is all gone?  Nah, not really.  After all, I’ve already kicked the habit twice before.  Surely I can do it a third time, right?

Peaches Geldof apparently appears as a slobbering end-of-level boss