"After staring at my PS3 review copy with dire hesitation for a few hours, I popped the disc in…and was jolted with bewilderment."
I have to confess I’ve never been a big Diablo fan. While I admired the series’ lore and depth, I could never deal with the tedious point-and click-gameplay mechanics for more than a few hours. Diablo II was my first and only experience with the franchise back in the day and I had no desire to come back for the third installment, particularly after all the controversial connection problems during its launch last year. So when Blizzard announced they were porting Diablo III to consoles, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with joy. Then the unthinkable happened. After staring at my PS3 review copy with dire hesitation for a few hours, I popped the disc in…and was jolted with bewilderment. Two hours passed, five hours passed, a day went by, and I was still playing. I don’t say this lightly… but I didn’t think I would see the day when a console port of a legendary PC franchise would be the superior and definitive version.
I’m not going to waste time recycling the premise or narrative of a year old game. A million other reviewers have already covered the basics of the PC version and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know what Diablo is all about. What you didn’t know…and what nobody anticipated is that Blizzard didn’t simply emulate the PC experience; they recreated it for consoles. Structurally, Diablo III is still the same game, so those concerned that it’s been compromised to suit the console limitations need not worry.
First round of applause goes to Blizzard’s decision to remove the dreaded online connectivity requirement. I was able to play through the entire game via old-fashioned couch-co-op without having to worry about annoying connection problems. Even if you decide to go solo, the game won’t force you to sign up for a Battle.net account or anything…just click start and play.
"Now, before everyone starts assuming that I’m gushing over the port because I’m a console patron…you’re mistaken."
Since I never cared for the monotonous mouse-clicking action on the PC, I was pleasantly surprised with how much more intuitive the controls felt when switching to the gamepad. There’s a level of intimacy that simply doesn't exist on the PC platform. Now, before everyone starts assuming that I’m gushing over the port because I’m a console patron…you’re mistaken. My gaming PC and consoles proudly stand side-by-side sharing the same gaming space.
The truth is… being able to control your character with a gamepad makes Diablo III remarkably more immersive. You can feel the impact of each attack, particularly when hammering away with the Barbarian character, and having each action tied to a button is just more fun than clicking away with a mouse. What makes the console port even more preferable is the addition of the dodge/roll command via the right analog stick. This was the most impactful change for me as it made the combat significantly more complex and diverse. The game wasn’t any easier because of it either, but allowed for more maneuverability and precision.
"There’s an absurd amount of enemy variety and you never feel like you’re revisiting the same area."
Diablo has always been a gorgeous game and this still holds true on consoles. While the textures are slightly lower, the game still looks stunning with incredible lighting effects and breathtaking level designs. No matter how hectic the action gets, the frame rate stays a solid 60 fps with very, very minor occasional dips and subtle screen tearing. There’s an absurd amount of enemy variety and you never feel like you’re revisiting the same area. The sense of discovery is phenomenal and will keep you exploring every corner on the map and I cannot wait to see what the PS4 version will look like when it launches next year.
It all comes down to this…Diablo III is the best couch co-op console experience this generation. If you’re like me and never liked the series in the first place, this reiteration will surely change your mind. I’m still in awe at how both similar and different Diablo III feels on consoles. After hacking away with the gamepad…I can’t imagine playing it any other way.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 3