|Diablo, by Blizzard Entertainment, is a fantasy real time
role-playing game. The kingdom of Khandaras has fallen into chaos. An
unknown force of evil has swept across the land, plunging it into civil
war and terrorizing the populace. A mad king, his missing son, and a mysterious
Archbishop are all pieces to the puzzle that faces you. You have journeyed
to the source of the evil, the town of Tristram, now inhabited by only
a handful of survivors. The cathedral there is built over the ruins of
an ancient monastery, and now eerie lights and sounds are echoing through
its abandoned halls. And the answer lies within the remains. In this game
you must guide one of three distinct characters through a series of labyrinthine
dungeons and cavernous grottos carved deep in the earth near the medieval
village of Tristram. At each level of this subterranean maze, you confront
an amazing array of demons, beasts, and undead fiends, all bent on your
untimely demise. As you descend, you encounter new creatures
of increasing viciousness and power, all battling for increasingly valuable
treasures. In addition to the treasures you acquire, you'll bolster your
various characteristics (strength, dexterity, and so on) as you gain experience
in combat. Each increase in experience level rewards you with five points
you can distribute amongst the various characteristic
categories. There is a PC and a Mac version.
Blizzard Entertainment has a great Web site with contests, demos, clubs,
forums, links, and news. http://www.blizzard.com
Blizzard also offers a free online gaming service to StarCraft owners
called Battle.net. The service is very easy to use, relatively lag-free,
and provides a comprehensive ladder system. Price: $24.95. There is also
a book, "The Official Strategy Guide," that you can purchase
from Blizzard for $19.95. It has tactics for survival within the labyrinth
and strategies for multiplayer battles.
Installation: Easy to install. The program does not take a lot of disk space as it relies heavily on
the CD ROM. You do need a fast CD ROM drive and you have to leave the CD in the drive to run the program.
Interface: The interface is intuitive and easy to learn. It is divided into two main sections, the Play
Area and the Interface Bar. The Play Area displays the immediate environment around your character, including any
other creatures or items that are within your character's line of sight. You can zoom in on your character. The
Interface Bar provides you with quick information on your character, as well as buttons to access the various information
screens. The colored orbs indicate your character's current Life and Mana. The red orb represents your current
Life, and the blue orb represents your current Mana. As you take damage or cast spells, the liquid in the orbs
will decrease. If you run out of Life points, your character is dead. Running out of Mana will prevent your hero
from being able to cast memorized spells.
Background: The plot unfolds slowly as you play the game, but you can cheat and read all about it in the
excellent User Guide. It is fairly complex. It all started with The Great Conflict between Heaven and Hell. With
the accession of mortal man, the agents of both worlds descended to the mortal realm to vie for the favor of man.
A conflict ensued between the Lesser Four Evils and the Three Prime Evils of Hell, Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred;
Baal, the Lord of Destruction; and Diablo, the Lord of Terror, and the Three Evils were exiled to the world of
Man. Eventually, a secretive order of mortal magi was gathered together by the Arch-Angel Tyrael. These sorcerers
were to hunt the Three Evils and put an end to their vicious rampage. The order, known as the Horadrim, consisted
of wizards from the diverse and numerous mage-clans of the East. Employing disparate magical practices and disciplines,
this Brotherhood succeeded in capturing two of the Brothers within powerful artifacts called Soulstones. Mephisto
and Baal, trapped within the swirling, spiritual constraints of the Soulstones, were then buried beneath the dunes
of the desolate Eastern Sands. Diablo was finally captured and imprisoned within the last of the Soulstones by
a group of Horadrim monks led by the Initiate Jered Cain. These monks carried the cursed stone to the land of Khanduras
and buried it within a secluded cave near the river Talsande. Above this cave, the Horadrim constructed a great
Monastery from which they could continue to safeguard the Soulstone. As ages passed, the Horadrim constructed a
network of catacombs beneath the Monastery to house the early remains of the martyrs of their Order. As generations
passed, the numbers of the Horadrim slowly dwindled. Eventually, the great Monastery that they had built fell to
ruins, and no one in the village knew of the dark, secret passageways that stretched into the earth beneath the
monastary. Time passed and King Leoric, with his trusted advisor, the Arch Bishop Lazarus, made their way to the
city of Tristram. Leoric appropriated the ancient Monastery. Diablo awakes from a long sleep and lures Lazarus
to shatter the Soulstone and free him. He slowly takes King Leoric under his spell, and then the King's son, Albrecht.
This is where you come into the picture. It is within your power as a Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer to stop this
Characters: There are three archetypes or classes to choose from:
Warrior, Rogue, and Sorcerer. You get to name your character, but that
is all, as each character is predefined in statistics and appearance.
These three classes share common abilities, but they have different
strengths and weaknesses. Each class
has a unique skill that is only usable by members of that class. You
can restart the game as often as you wish, and you get to keep your
character's attributes as well as what he is holding or carrying. Thus,
you can build up your character and learn ways and means to defeat your
- Warrior--The Warrior is the strongest and toughest character and is most
effective in close combat. His primary weakness is that his extensive physical training has left little time to
develop more than a rudimentary knowledge of magic.
- Rogue--The Rogue is a member of the sisters of the Sightless Eye, who are
a loosely organized guild. They are highly skilled archers who have learned ancient Eastern philosophies and developed
an inner-sight that they use both in combat and to circumvent dangerous traps. The Rogue is more balanced than
the other two characters.
- Sorcerer--The Sorcerer is part of the veiled Brotherhood of the Vizjerei,
one of the eldest and most dominant mage-clans of the East. The Eastern Sorcerers have developed a greater understanding
of spellcasting than the other classes, and while a Vizjerei neonate knows only the simplest of spells to start,
he can expect to rapidly grow in power as he discovers new incantations. All Sorcerers possess the ability to recharge
spell staves by drawing power from their surroundings and channeling them through the staff. Their disadvantage
is that they are weak in hand-to-hand combat.
Gameplay: There is plenty of replay in this game with the 16
levels, playing three different
characters, and the three different difficulty levels. Each time you
restart the game, the layout of the dungeons are different. The levels,
monsters, and quests are all randomly generated.
Levels: There are 16 levels, broken into 4 groups: Dungeon, Catacombs,
Caves, and Hell. New groups are
reached after progressing through 4 or 5 levels in the previous group.
Each brings new background graphics, monster types, and a stairway back
to town. You can play the game with each type of character, with three
different difficulty levels to keep you replaying and replaying.
Graphics: Visually, the game is a pleasure, as Blizzard has paid
attention to detail in and around the town, and there is a weapons shop,
a healer's place, a magic store, and an inn, besides the
ruins of the Monastery. The game takes on a gorgeous gothic style. The
background is realistic and the characters and creatures move in a believable
manner. The dungeons are spooky and dimly-lit. The spells are delightfully
animated. And you have a slew of great enemies: skeletons, dog-like
creatures, bats, minotaurs, and zombies.
Sound: The music is well suited to the game, very spooky, and does not detract you but enhances the game.
The voices are convincing.
Multiplayer Game: Four people can play over a modem, IPX network or the Internet. You get free access
to Blizzard's Internet gaming service, Battle.net.