Having a Hellish Time, Wish You Were Here

''Diablo III'' is a wildly addictive dungeon crawler that pits you against the forces of hell, whether on your own or with a group of friends

By Sean Bugg
Published on June 7, 2012, 5:02am | Comments

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Diablo also pushes you to play online with others. You can easily navigate the early difficulties on your own — the game even provides followers you can hire for some extra, if limited, firepower — but as the game gets harder, having three other real people on hand can be a lifesaver. Playing with others is simple. Your friends can jump into your session anytime, unless you deactivate that setting. You can open your game to the public, allowing other players to be randomly dropped in. Or you can directly join someone else's game at random.

Playing with random people can be entertaining, but it comes with the standard problems of anonymous online gamers. Some people will join, thereby raising the difficulty level of the monsters, but just sit around town doodling with their armor rather than fighting. Others take great joy in running through the dungeons attracting the attention of every demon in sight to guarantee a quick wipe. But the griefers aren't that prominent, so with some patience you'll find a group that will get you through some difficult and exciting dungeons.

The downside to Diablo's relentless multiplayer focus is the game's requirement to always be online, even if you're playing solo. Ostensibly, this is for anti-pirating purposes and protecting the game's upcoming ''real money auction house'' — a place for players to sell in-game loot for real-world cash — but it can be onerous. Diablo's launch was, to put it mildly, a disaster, with players unable to log in to the game's servers for days at a time. Things have calmed down considerably since launch, though sudden shutdowns still pop up as developer Blizzard continues to patch the game.

DIABLO III
starstarstarstar
Blizzard
Rated M
PC and Mac
Available on DVD or digital download

It's also disconcerting to play a single-player game that's subject to server lag, another problem that has diminished since the game's launch but still makes an occasional, stuttering appearance.

Those are minor problems that likely will fade even further as the game progresses. Overall, Diablo III is a tightly designed and wonderfully addictive gaming experience that will take your spare time to hell for weeks and months to come. And you'll enjoy every minute of it.

Review based on a single wizard character playthrough of ''normal'' and ''nightmare'' modes, plus limited play time in normal mode with other available classes. Gameplay was both multiplayer and solo.