A lot of people, including myself, were skeptical about Diablo III being ported to console. I was afraid that it’d be dumbed down, turned into a shell of a game that was just a former shadow of the title I spent many days clicking away on. However, now it’s made its way to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with a PlayStation 4 release on the way, I might as well dive in and see how its turned out. Hint: it’s not as bad as you think at all.
Following the exact same storyline as the PC release, as it’s not a new game, Diablo III takes place a few years after the events of Diablo II. You start in the town of New Tristam, where you run into Leah, who’s on the search of her uncle Deckard Cain – who fell into a crater at the end of Diablo II. Here you join up with Leah to aid her search, knowing full well what lies ahead of you. Things quickly escalate and you soon realise that you could decide the fate of the world by stopping mysterious dark forces from their plan to make Diablo rise again.
Now the story is out of the way, let’s focus on what’s changed this time around. You can grab the meat of Diablo III in our original PC review, but it has to be said that Diablo III runs absolutely great on consoles. My biggest fear was that these under-the-tv boxes may not be able to handle all the enemies that Blizzard want to throw at you – a big concern when some of the best moments of Diablo III came in the form of being ambushed by huge mobs and slaughtering them all. Luckily, the huge grin came back to my face as soon as I was swarmed by enemies shortly after starting. From that moment on I knew that this wasn’t just a dumbed down port, it’s the full experience on the biggest screen in your house.
Those controls that felt pretty perfect on PC have made the transition to a pad really rather well. Face buttons and the triggers are used for attacks, while shoulder buttons dole out items. Movement with the sticks feels wonderful, completely natural really. However, for me, the nicest thing about the console release is that you no longer have to hold down a key to have your character stop moving and attack. I can’t tell you how many times I died on PC, just because I accidentally ran into a mob to fire a crossbow instead of doing so from a distance.
The loot system has also had a bit of refinement from the PC release. It no longer shows the name of the item obtained, instead opting to just show a picture. But don’t worry, you can still tell how rare an item is just by the coloured circle displayed around its picture. You can also see its stats as soon as you pick it up, telling you if it’s better than your current equipment. It’s an immensely handy system that should have really been in the PC release.
However, due to the limitation of each console’s online rules, the Auction House doesn’t feature anywhere in this Diablo III. For some, its exclusion could be seen as a downside compared to the PC release, but as Battle.net isn’t uses here, there was no real way they could have included it. They have tried to make up for this exclusion by increasing the rate of loot drops so you have more chances to grab the gear you want. Granted, this does remove some of the need for grinding, but it’ll still take you some time to get what you want and shape your character the way you want them to be.
The inventory system has also changed. No longer does it show the suit of armor alongside your equipped gear on the square slots of your bag. Now, each item is categorized around your character and put into a list where you can check out each category. You can still only carry a certain number of items though, but don’t worry as the chest in New Tristam allows you to store all your rare items.
There’s more changes going on too as Blizzard has added in a dodge mechanic to help you evade blows. Mapped to the right stick, it means you can duck and roll in any direction when you feel that it’s needed. It’s a brilliant feature that the PC release really lacked, it now means that you don’t have to go toe-to-to with enemies and get absolutely pummelled. Now bosses feel truly epic as you dodge and dive around attacks and run forward and around to continue your assault.
It also feels like a harder release, probably due to the new dodge mechanic cutting down the difficulty a bit – meaning that more of a challenge is welcome. I can’t tell you how many times I died when I first started playing by myself. I really didn’t pay too much attention to the dodge mechanic, playing it largely like I did on PC, but this isn’t Diablo III on PC, and you can’t play it that way. Once I started dodging attacks I quickly realized that it’s an absolutely essential ability for console players.
If you always wanted to get your hands on Diablo III before, now is the best time to pick it up. It feels completely at home on PS3 and Xbox 360, exactly like you wanted it to be. Everything that’s been changed is mostly for the good, if anything it makes this release a new experience for old fans. And, if you’re one of those people – like I am – who played Champions of Norrath I & II to death on the PlayStation 2, then I can guarantee that you’ll fall in love with Diablo III just like you did with those.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: Looks, sounds, and runs just as good and its older brother on PC.
Gameplay – 4/5: Feels right at home with the controller, offering you almost the same exact gaming experience as on PC.
Innovation – 5/5: The loot hunting and random area generator still makes this game just as fun and addictive as ever!
Value – 5/5: Local or online co-op and hours upon hours of loot hunting that everyone will love, as long as you’re into that kind of thing.