II Raises Hell
Sequel Full of Thrills, Chills
By Jim Bray
One of the most popular
games of recent years is back.
Diablo II, from Blizzard
Entertainment, is a third person role playing/hack and slash
game for the PC that pits your character against various dead things and
denizens of hell.
Diablo II assumes
that, since time immemorial, the forces of Order and the forces of Chaos
shave been at each others throats in a struggle to decide who rules
Creation. The original Diablo inflicted upon players the unpleasant task
of caging the demon Diablo and stopping the carnage.
You cant really
keep an evil thing down, however, and Diablo is back, in possession of
the body of the hero who thumped him in Diablo I, and intent upon shackling
humanity into unholy slavery.
Naturally, only you
have the wherewithal to, according to Blizzard, Determine the outcome
of this final encounter.
I imagine this will
only be the final encounter if Diablo IIs sales dont meet
expectations, otherwise Blizzards sure to unearth these unearthly
enemies for years to come.
You can choose to
play as one of five character types: Amazon or Sorceress (for the ladies,
or lady wannabes among us), Necromancer, Paladin, or Barbarian.
I chose the latter personality, since it seemed so close to home, and
sallied forth on my grand adventure to keep the world safe for humanity.
Boy, was that a mistake!
Now Im hooked.
The playing field
is set up so that you can wander around virtually at will. There are fences
and other obstacles to keep you in bounds, but other than that youre
free to poke your nose into all manner of interesting places. As you travel,
you come across loose rocks or unlocked chests or the spoils of
your victims from which you can pick up inventory items to help
you. There are mundane things like gold, armor and weapons, and stuff
thats much more important to your immediate well-being, like rejuvenation
potions and the like.
Before venturing onward
your best bet is to tour the rogue encampment in which you
begin (and where you maintain your private stash of items retrieved from
afar if you manage to get back with them) and talk
to the other residents. Theyll give you hints and advice about the
game that could come in handy down the road.
As you wander across
the countryside you come across doorways to underground lairs you really
dont want to visit, but which you must visit if youre to root
out all the evil creatures that are your raison detre for being
in Diablo II in the first place. These are dark and it can be hard to
find your way around while keeping one eye on your back and one hand on
your sword (or whatever weapon you happen to be carrying at the time).
An equally unpleasant
surprise can be the news that theres yet another level awaiting
below the one youre currently cleansing, which means therell
be more mayhem managed before you can return to the clean air of the countryside
Sound and graphics
of Diablo II are very good; you even get audible squishing (in Dolby Surround!)
when you run through some of these dark denizens and the blood forms a
pool on the ground around them.
The graphics dont
come close to approaching the graphic bloodbaths of games like the Doom
and Quake series, however. Its cartoony with
good animation; besides, these critters are out to spike YOU, so you have
to get them first!
The game requires
a reasonably hefty PC. Blizzard says it runs under Windows 9x, NT 4 (with
Service Pack 5) and Windows 2000, though I couldnt get it to work
on my Win2K installation (rats!). Diablo II also wants at least a Pentium
233 with 32 Mb of RAM, a minimum of 650 Mb of hard drive space (a full
installation takes a gig and a half!) and a 4x CD ROM drive.
The multiplayer option
(up to 8 players on Battle.net) requires even more hardware, and theres
an optional 3D video acceleration mode for those with nicer video cards.
Diablo II is an addictive
pastime; you might as well say goodbye to the spouse and kids for a while
once youve installed it, lest your attention wander and you succumb
to the dark forces.
Its one hell
of a game!
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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