There's a reason I'm still fond of Borderlands and Borderlands 2, loot, loot and more loot coupled with a lot of action. There are times I want a game where I can combine my love of different tactics with pure adrenaline-soaked fantasy violence. I played Diablo III on the PC and I liked it, but it started to lag a few months ago and when my router was playing up I couldn't play offline at all - the lag and the Real Money Auction House coupled with the online issues I was having - silly DRM really...killed my interest in the game - then Torchlight II came out and all was awesome once more.
So I got my hands on the 360 version of the game and I can tell you right now, it's superb. No RMAH, no online only DRM and full co-op support for Xbox Live (4 players), same screen co-op (4 players) and co-op specific content challenges.
There are 5 classes to get your teeth into and 9 character slots, so you can setup various play-through runs with friends across Live or same-screen.
The Monk: All hands and feet, devastatingly martial and extremely fun to play. The Monk can dish out fair damage and heal themselves/the party.
The Demon Hunter: Ranged and deadly, preferring tricks and traps to outright confrontation. The Demon Hunter is a power-house at higher levels once they get the trademark rapid fire ability which turns their bow/crossbow/hand-crossbow into an SMG.
The Witch Doctor: A good ranged support and magical based class, the Witch Doctor is all about de-buffing the enemy and using the undead to hammer home a point: That point being: undead zombie dogs and their teeth.
The Wizard: Initially quite weak but capable still, the wizard in Diablo III is a powerful caster and can throw rays of frost, magic missiles and area effect spells to support the other more melee focussed classes.
The Barbarian: The tank, the true power-house and a rage-fuelled death-machine at high levels. Barbarians destroy the enemy up close and personal and don't mind how they do it.
What I've always liked about Diablo III is the ease of which you can setup a game in a few seconds. You can choose any unlocked Act, Mode and Difficulty. Act I, Normal, Medium for example and with the Quests menu you can keep on going back to earlier quests to try and get better or rare rewards, especially useful if you've been finding things a bit too hard and you need more XP and better gear.
The controls for Diablo III have been designed to take advantage of the console's pad, they're slick, easy to use and having a new d-pad based quick-equip lets you cycle through some badass loot you just got and pop it right on there and then with the press of a button. No messing in menus, if you have to go into the menu it's quick and simple to equip and compare items in seconds. The game really works nicely on the 360 in that regard and it's a pleasure to play.
That's really what I want to discuss, playing it. You can harp on all day long about the gorgeous (not as nice as the PC though) graphics and fairly constant frame-rate, all the special effects can cause a teeny bit of slow-down if there's a lot happening at once but I've only seen a really tiny bit of that and I'm playing the Demon Hunter on Nightmare - Medium difficulty on my second play of the game.
The game play though, that's beautiful. Its action packed, faster paced than Diablo III PC and ultimately since the loot system has been reworked and balanced, far more rewarding. If you're a Borderlands loot fan or a fan of loot in general, this game has loot of all colours/shapes/sizes and constantly gives you cool things to either sell, or equip.
The tell-tale PONG of a Legendary item drop is the best sound ever created for any video-game with perhaps the exception of a shovel noise from Evil Dead. That glowing orange item is mysterious until you ID it and when you do, it could be anything. If you can't equip it, you can sell it or hoard it in your shared-character Stash.
Money, Stash, gems and materials are all shared between your characters so you can access them at any time. Items can be broken down at the Smith for materials used to make more powerful weapons.
So useful if you need to visit the Blacksmith or Gem Cutter to get some new weapons or combine and work with gemstones (the better the gem, the more bonus it gives). You can also train the crafters so they can make better items and so forth. It all feeds back into the core gameplay loop of kill/reward/loot and as you gain better equipment, the system makes sure you get better and better toys as you progress through the levels (1-60). Once you hit level 60 though, you start earning Paragon levels so the level system goes beyond 60, you just don't get skills/powers and so on. You do get a bonus to your stats and that's fine by me!
The game mode (Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno) along with 8 difficulty settings increase the reward and challenge too, so there's a lot of content to see in this one. There's also the one-life Hardcore mode which literally means just that, die and it's bye-bye character and loot.
The rise to power is an addictive one and the game sucks you back in, you'll lose hours to the various dungeons and open-areas in Diablo III just racking up the kills and XP, kitting yourself out in better and more badass gear. Soon you'll be covered in Legendary items and on the look out for upgrades, more powerful loot.
Diablo III at this point has your soul. I'm writing this and whilst writing it, I'm thinking about playing the game.
With the 5 characters (each can have a male/female option), the difficulty levels and the various quests there's a lot of replay value in the game. Add to that the Diablo trademark randomized encounters, level design, dungeon design and even special Events (rare bosses, more rare loot and dungeons) - you should be able to come back to Diablo III time and time again.
You won't ever have the same game twice.
The gameplay is fast and fluid, the graphics are nice and detailed and the same-screen is flawless. The online co-op is even better with players being able to explore the world together or far apart, having a banner means you can click on it in town and teleport to your amigos. No need to track across endless wastelands to find your party of happy go-lucky adventurers!
Having direct control of the character is a buzz, there's something intrinsically cool about not clicking a mouse to fire off a spell. I love my PC, but in this case it works so well I can say that I prefer Diablo III on the console platform.
It hasn't been toned down either, the action can get almost overwhelming and there are options available to all classes as long as you think tactically. That's the key, tactics. The Demon Hunter is a superb tactical class, fragile in many ways but capable of devastation even at the higher difficulties when the monsters come thick and fast.
You can also enable Elective mode which lets you set skills to different buttons and use skills from the same set together. This is extremely handy if you like having two or more skills from the same group active at the same time.
With a new dynamic action camera and so many tweaks (it's running PC patch 1.08) allowing for brawling, Infernal Machine and the aforementioned Paragon System the game really does ratchet in the value for money.
When you add in the stellar voice work, the superb musical score and the high quality production values it's not hard to like the game.
Throw in co-op and the seamless nature of said co-op, and you're onto a massive winner.
No Auction House, No Online DRM whatsoever and no barriers to enjoyment means that the console version of Diablo III has hit all the right buttons for me.
The load times aren't bad, there's a checkpoint save system which is sensible and if you die you'll lose 10% durability on your items, which can be repaired in town. You can respawn at a checkpoint, your corpse or even in town. Blizzard has thought of everything to make the game fun.
So if you want fun and you love randomized loot fests in a dark fantasy kingdom, with a neat story, great cgi and interesting classes - Diablo III is for you.
This review paid for by the Diablo III Looters Anonymous ~ 'Just one more Legendary!'