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Diablo II

Developer: Blizzard North | Publisher: Blizzard
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 06/29/00 | Genre: Action/RPG

Blizzard has been developing Diablo 2 for over three years. After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, they have released it to an eager gaming public, ready and eager to enjoy the sequel to the immensely popular Diablo. Blizzard brought many things to the table when they released Diablo. They quickly became the frontrunner for free multiplayer gaming on the Internet using their Battle.net servers. This became a popular hang out for all gamers with a connection to the Internet. In addition, Diablo showcased the problems involving cheating in online games, with players exploiting bugs and creating "God-like" characters in order to ruin the game for others. The greatest achievement Blizzard accomplished with Diablo, however, was simply making an action/RPG a fun and enjoyable experience. Although the title has been imitated several times, no one has ever been able to capture that magic... until now.

Blizzard first showed Diablo 2 at E3 in Atlanta, back in 1997. The game was very early looking and played more like Diablo 1.5 than a new title. As the next E3 came, this time in LA, Blizzard displayed a more polished game that played much better and displayed better graphics than the prior version. After this E3 1998 was over, Blizzard missed multiple release dates for Diablo 2 and many felt the title would never be released, much like Warcraft Adventures. At E3 99, Blizzard showcased Diablo 2 once again at their booth. The game was significantly improved from the prior year and the gaming press could be heard asking one question, "When will Diablo 2 be released?" Once again, Blizzard made promises of release dates and missed them again.

LA hosted E3 2000 and Blizzard had Diablo 2 center stage for the fourth consecutive time! Even though the game looked and played like a dream, the only question on the minds of the gaming press was, "WHEN THE HECK ARE YOU RELEASING DIABLO 2?" Blizzard was quite aware that people were growing tired of waiting for this title. After an eternity of waiting, Diablo 2 released in July of 2000 and gamers around the world quickly purchased a title for their own. The exact release date is hard to figure out due to vendors selling the title as soon as they got it in stock! After players purchased the title, they expected to find a fun-filled, fantasy role playing game. While the title is much better than many hoped it would be, Blizzard did the unthinkable--they actually released an unfinished product!

Rumors quickly spread on the Internet about installation errors, hard drive crashes, lag through battle.net multiplayer games, etc. Blizzard quickly rushed patches to resolve the game play issues but still has never resolved the 'so called' hardware difficulties. Despite all of this, I quickly installed the product on my computer without experiencing any of the before mentioned problems. Once Diablo 2 was installed, I witnessed an opening cinema that rivaled Namco and Square's latest titles. The level of detail was incredible and it showcased some of the most gorgeous CG I have ever seen. While the game engine will seem quite familiar to those who have played the original Diablo, Blizzard has done their best to upgrade the engine considerably. Within Diablo 2, I was introduced to a beautiful game world, played in 2D, while still utilizing all of the graphical improvements a 3D card can provide.

As with most Blizzard sequels, many enhancements have been made since Diablo was released. While the game play is similar to former players, the game has a completely different feel to it. This time around, you actually feel like you are playing a role playing game. Quests now have a meaning and purpose and NPC's actually make you feel you are not alone in the world. No longer are you forced to go deeper into a dungeon, Diablo 2 allows one to explore and master their gaming world. For those who love dungeon exploration, fear not, there are still dungeons to conquer and enemies to kill within.

Like the previous title, Blizzard has hired the voice talents of many professionals for Diablo 2. Although there are a few voices that can be annoying, for the most part, they are excellent. The music is exceptional as well. The full orchestra score readies the player for the epic quest that lies ahead. During battles, the music speeds up with clanks, cries, and groans heard as the climatic struggle between players and monsters is played out within the game.

Diablo 2 is an engrossing title that is impossible to put down. Despite some bugs in the retail release, Blizzard has created yet another masterpiece that deserves a place in every gamer's library. It is an understatement to call this a must buy. In fact, with Diablo 2, Blizzard has successfully merged the action genre with the RPG genre unlike any developer has ever done. Be warned, after you begin Diablo 2, it will take over your life. Prepare yourself for an addiction like you have never experienced before.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 02/22/02
ESRB Details: Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence
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Screenshots for Diablo II

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