|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Distributor:||Electronic Arts||1-2 Player|
|Game Type:||RPG/Adventure||Memory Card (1-9 blocks)|
|Review Date:||May 1998||Standard Joypad|
Setting the Scene
Years ago I played this ancient ASCII character based game called Moria, it was loosely based on the Lord of the Rings books and the object was to traverse the multiple levels of a randomly generated dungeon and kill lots of bad monsters. Along the way you would pick up heaps of cool items, magic books, scrolls, enchanted weapons and gold, every now and then you visit the town above the dungeon to identify and sell the items you had collected. Playing Moria gave me an intense dislike and fear of the letter 'B' because that letter represented the Balrog, the meanest, nastiest, toughest monster in the entire dungeon (beating the Balrog was the aim of the game). After many months of playing you would eventually find the Balrog then spend hours trying to kill him or be eaten alive, game over. Many years later everybody was talking about this game called 'Diablo', where you took on the role of a character (either a Warrior, Rogue or Sorcerer) and traverse the multiple levels of a randomly generated dungeon and kill lots of creepy monsters. The aim of this game was to get to the bottom of the dungeon and kill the ultimate bad guy, 'Diablo'. Sound familiar? Regardless of whether the two games can be compared, or whether the developers of Diablo have any idea they copied Moria, Diablo has made a huge impact on the games industry over the last two years. The $64,000 question is: Has the gameplay survived the port from PC to PSX? Have the graphics and sound improved? Having played the PC version would you bother buying the Playstation version or should you just brush the dust of your PC and return to the dungeon? The answers to all these questions and more, next on "Diablo, the Review".
How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Who cares, they're all to busy playing Diablo. Sorry about that, it's a Role Playing Game, you become a character, you beat up bad guys, get experience and gold and go up levels, classic definition of RPG.
Earlier I made a comparison to Moria, an ASCII text based game were you took on the role of the '@' character and ran around killing lots of 'b','h','o','t' and 'D' characters, you occasionally picked up some '$' symbols (gold) and some '*' characters (gems), if you were lucky you'd come across some '|' or '\' symbols which you would use to hit the critters. You get the idea, luckily Diablo has improved dramatically on the graphics available only 8 years ago with real time light sourcing, transparencies, high-resolution sprite based graphics and Full Motion Video. All used to good effect to set the scene and provide us with enough eye candy to distract us from what the game is all about. The inevitable comparison to the PC version must be made, and I have nothing but good things to say. Don't believe all those other reviews you've read, if anything, the graphics have improved. The improvements are very subtle and the untrained eye would miss many of them but they are there. For example, as you walk past the little river flowing through the town you can actually see your reflection on the water, this did not happen in the PC version, subtle but effective. The frame rate is always constant and smooth, the movement of your character is realistic and convincing and the death animation's of the monsters are many and varied. One cool feature of the graphics is how the appearance of your character changes as you wear different armour or weapons. As the warrior, strap on your leather tunic and short sword and your character will look like a plain clothes detective from a medi-evil cop show, but strap on a suit of full plate and a two-handed sword and you'll look like a walking, grunting killing machine. The Rogue and Sorcerer have similarly different graphical representations depending on the equipment they are carrying. Overall the graphics in the Playstation version of Diablo are just as, or more impressive than the PC version. While the game isn't exactly pushing the Playstation's 3D capabilities to its limits the impression of depth and space is achieved with great effect. If you're picky you may notice the odd frame of animation being dropped when the action hots up, but if this is the case you should really quit your job as a traffic counter and get a life.
Sounds and Effects
To continue the comparison, the sounds and effects in the Playstation version are identical to what I remember from the PC version. The music is spooky and creates a real feeling of tension, changing to increase the stress levels as you progress deeper and deeper into the depths of Hell. The characters have a few choice phrases that they use to inform you of their status, the most impressive of which is the Rogue, who never ceases to impress with her best Winona Ryder impression. Also impressive is the full speech used throughout the game, all the characters you interact with actually talk to you, you hear yourself reading the books out loud, even some of the Boss characters taunt you. I'll never forget the first time I heard "FRESH MEAT" echo down a hallway of the dungeon, it was definitely a change-of-underwear event. The bottom line is that the original audio feel of the game has been preserved. Although there has been nothing obvious added in this area the sounds and effects on the Playstation version are bound to be appreciated more than the PC version simply because the Playstation lends itself more to being plugged in to a decent stereo than any computer on the planet.
What could I possibly say that hasn't been said before? Diablo isn't a multi-award winning game for no reason, it is one of the best games to be released in the last few years, most people would agree. So, what's it all about then? You take on the role of one of three characters, the muscle bound warrior who speaks with his steel before his mouth, the cunning Rogue who's deadly accurate bow is the bane of many a dungeon dweller and the all powerful Sorcerer who's spells of mass destruction scorch the life from anyone in his way. The first thing to address is how the developers responsible for the port managed to convert more than 14 keyboard and mouse actions to the Playstation Controller. The answer is very simply to eliminate all the unnecessary actions and filter it down to a few essential functions, attack, open, cast spells, increase health and increase mana. By doing this there is a much greater 'arcade' feel to the game, you push one button to attack, one to open doors, one to take a healing potion, one to take a mana potion and one to cast a spell. While there are other functions you can do in the game these few key actions are the only ones you will do with any regularity. With this in mind the developers have done an excellent job of adapting the game to the relatively limited Playstation controller. The Playstation mouse is not supported by this version, simple because you could not even do these basic functions without the use of another controller or keyboard. Since the thing you will do most in the game is attack, it is fairly important that it is intuitive and easy. In the PC version you would point your mouse cursor at the enemy and click, so how do you convert that to a controller? In this version you simply point your character in the general direction of the enemy, the bad guy will attain an ominous coloured outline, showing you which is your current target, you press the attack button and they die painfully. Easy really. If it's true that the multi-player capability is the key to the success of the PC version, the absence of it could certainly spell the failure of the Playstation version, this is certainly NOT the case. In fact the addition of the two-player game, where you both play on the same screen simultaneously, has actually enhanced the gameplay of the Playstation version. While it is a tremendous amount of fun adventuring with a pal, there are two basic problems with the implementation of the two-player mode. Since you are both on the same screen you cannot go wondering on your own at any stage. You are stuck walking around the same area with your adventuring partner, unable to move around independently, this can be a little frustrating at times but could only have been overcome by a split screen, which would have detracted from the playability considerably. The other gripe I have is that it is all too easy to stab your friend in the back. In the heat of battle the auto-aim feature keeps you out of trouble but quit often you will clear the screen of enemies and still be slashing or shooting wildly, the accidental slaughter of your companion usually follows. A little control and practice usually minimises this, but be prepared to get punched in the arm lots while you're learning, an option to turn off friendly fire would have prevented a considerable amount of pain and suffering on my part. I order to beat this game you must kill the creature known as Diablo, residing on the 16th level of the dungeon he has surrounded himself with all manner of horrible creatures who are tasked with stopping you and your companion from getting anywhere near him. While this is the end of the quest, your journey of filled with numerous smaller quests that you must complete in order to obtain special magic items that will assist you in surviving long enough to meet Diablo. These quests are part of the charm of the game and tend to break the monotony of trudging through dungeons killing seemingly endless lines of monsters. I must have a small gripe, for some reason the Playstation version strips you of any previously earned quest items if you start a new game with a saved character. This could mean you will find yourself starting a new game with a naked 25th level character, look at it as a challenge and stop complaining you cry baby. Apart from these few minor problems the gameplay has been preserved for this version. The basic premise of adventuring through a dungeon environment in order to conquer an ancient evil to free the town of Tristram from its dark grip is still there. Slice and dice your way through hundred of creatures from Skeletons to Orcs, Acid Splitting beasts to evil Sorcerers, pick their corpses for gold and magic items, and boast to your friend about what level your character is. It's all still there, with the added advantage of being able to play it from the comfort of your couch instead of a rickety old office chair. So, the final word on Playability is that apart from a few minor changes that had to be made for the conversion the essence of the game remains.
Value for Money
Ordinarily the 16 levels in Diablo means that it would get a pretty good rating for playability, under normal circumstances it would take several days to complete the game. Add to that the fact that the randomly generated levels are different every time you play, the multiple missions and quests you can complete and Role Playing aspects of the game and Diablo has almost unlimited playability. The two player mode adds a whole new dimension to the game and only serves to further enhance the replay value, it would have been a real shame is the developers had not taken the extra time to add this feature and I am very glad that they did. As with the PC version this port gives you the option of playing at one of three difficulty levels, Normal, Nightmare and Hell, you must kill Diablo at least once in each level to progress to the next one. The difference between the difficulty levels is enough to challenge even the most experienced player, while Normal is relatively easy, Nightmare and Hell are both extremely challenging and should keep you occupied for many days as you struggle through the deeper levels to Diablo. The only question that remains to be answered is whether veterans of the PC version should bother with the conversion. The answer is, probably not. If you've played the PC version to death, you've found every item and killed every creature and you've had more Diablo kills than hot dinners then you're not likely to see anything new in the Playstation version. However, for non-PC Playstation owners Diablo is a game not to be missed, get it now.
suffered from a tragic addiction to Diablo on the PC, the RPG elements,
the ability to build up a character and the hundreds of different items
you could find in the depths of the dungeon. However, the biggest
attraction to Diablo was the multi-player games, log onto battle.net and
play a game with multiple other human players, nothing beats teaming up
with some real humans and charging through the dungeon on a killing
spree. Luckily this multi-player element has been preserved to a certain
degree on the Playstation, the two player games are extremely enjoyable
and well worth the price of admission.
As a Playstation game Diablo scores big points, as a port from the PC game, Diablo scores bigger points, as an RPG game, Diablo scores the biggest points. The only thing I would add to a wish list for Diablo is more character classes, where are the Clerics, the Thieves, the Assassins, while the three available classes contain elements of these it would have been nice to have a little more variety to choose from.
It is a shame that games of this type are far too rare on Playstation, I just hope that the developers take the time to make the port of Diablo 2 when it is released, hint, hint.
Chris, this game left me far from satisfied. Sure the graphics may be
comparable to the P.C version of the game - but that was released way
back in 1996 and we have come a long long way since then. The sounds
were acceptable, but hardly had the hair on my neck standing on end.
I found much of the gameplay to be very repetitive - Kill and get gold, Kill and get gold. After a period of time it became a real effort to continue playing. I guess for a real die hard RPG fan, this game may very well be heaven, but for me it was pure hell.
Be warned, to some I am sure that this will be a great game, but if you haven't played an RPG before, rent it before buying.