Switch port of ‘Di­ablo III’ gives six-year-old game fresh legs

Medicine Hat News - - ENTERTAINMENT - CUR­TIS WITH­ERS

At first glance, Bliz­zard’s “Di­ablo” games seem to of­fer lit­tle more than a grind through lim­it­less hordes of en­e­mies in the never-end­ing quest to ac­quire rare items and pow­er­ful ar­ti­facts. Yet the pol­ish and con­sid­er­able depth of th­ese ti­tles has made the se­ries a mas­sive hit that has with­stood the test of time.

The stay­ing power of the fran­chise is ev­i­dent with the re­lease of “Di­ablo III: Eter­nal Col­lec­tion” for the Nin­tendo Switch. The abil­ity to play the dun­geon crawler on the go has given the six-year-old game new life.

The ac­tion role-play­ing game tasks play­ers with bat­tling the de­monic and un­dead agents of the archde­mon Di­ablo, cheer­ily known as the “Lord of Ter­ror,” through the world of Sanc­tu­ary. While there are in­ter­est­ing bits of the world’s lore to un­cover for play­ers who choose to in­ves­ti­gate, the plot is ba­si­cally there to sup­port the sim­ple but ad­dic­tive for­mula of smash mon­ster, loot trea­sure.

Play­ers can choose from seven classes to tackle the game’s many dun­geons and quests, with each bring­ing their own strengths to the bat­tle against Di­ablo and his al­lies. De­mon hun­ters are mas­ters of ranged at­tacks, while necro­mancers can raise un­dead abom­i­na­tions to aid in the fight. Cru­saders smite en­e­mies with light-based at­tacks and bash them to pieces with their shields. Witch doc­tors en­joy a truly bonkers set of skills, in­clud­ing hurl­ing jars of spi­ders at foes.

The mighty bar­bar­ian, spell-sling­ing wizard and bal­anced monk round out the ros­ter of char­ac­ters.

While each class ini­tially favours a cer­tain play style, they be­come more adapt­able as they in­crease in level and un­lock new pas­sive and ac­tive skills. The skills can be mapped to any avail­able but­ton and can be aug­mented by one of five avail­able runes. For ex­am­ple, a rune at­tached to the necro­mancer’s bone spear at­tack can give the added ef­fect of slow­ing ad­vanc­ing en­e­mies. The mix­ing and match­ing of skills and aug­men­ta­tions al­lows for a high de­gree of cus­tomiza­tion, which can make plow­ing through un­re­lent­ing throngs of de­mons and zom­bies more in­ter­est­ing.

Game­play be­comes more com­plex as char­ac­ters reach a high enough level to take on the game at one of its more daunt­ing dif­fi­culty set­tings, where the loot be­comes more valu­able but the mon­sters start to gain re­sis­tances to cer­tain at­tacks as well as en­hance­ments to their own abil­i­ties. Play­ers can still lay waste to mul­ti­ple en­e­mies, but will have to do so more strate­gi­cally.

All con­tent in “Di­ablo III” can be tack­led solo, but the game be­comes much more fun when form­ing a party with up to three other play­ers. “Di­ablo III” can be played with oth­ers through the Nin­tendo Switch on­line ser­vice, which re­quires a fee to use. But if you have friends close at hand, four peo­ple can play lo­cally on one Switch con­sole, and mul­ti­ple con­soles can be linked through a lo­cal area con­nec­tion.

Where the Switch ver­sion of “Di­ablo III” ex­cels be­yond be­ing a faith­ful port of an ag­ing game comes from the seam­less tran­si­tion to the sys­tem’s hand­held mode. Play­ing on the go works per­fectly with the game’s pick-up-and-put-down na­ture. It’s as sat­is­fy­ing to knock out one or two short dun­geon runs dur­ing the morn­ing com­mute as it is to run through an en­tire se­ries of quests with a group of friends.

And there is quite a bit of game to get through. The “Eter­nal Col­lec­tion” in­cludes all of the orig­i­nal game’s ex­pan­sions and added con­tent.

“Di­ablo III” runs quite smoothly on the Switch in both docked and por­ta­ble modes, but it’s not with­out its kinks. There were some is­sues dur­ing a test play where a char­ac­ter would do a cou­ple of un­prompted dodges, oc­ca­sion­ally rolling into harm’s way. The vo­cal cues for us­ing some abil­i­ties seem to oc­ca­sion­ally lag be­hind the fast pace of the game, with a char­ac­ter in­sist­ing he or she can’t use a power, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously us­ing said power to wipe en­e­mies off the screen.

The on­line mul­ti­player is also not yet com­pat­i­ble with the Nin­tendo Switch On­line app for voice chat, and fig­ur­ing out how to make games pub­lic in or­der to group up with play­ers not on your Switch friends list is not as in­tu­itive as it could be.

Mi­nor quib­bles aside, “Di­ablo III” is a well done port of a clas­sic game. It’s a great en­try point for play­ers new to “Di­ablo,” and the chance to play it on a por­ta­ble sys­tem makes it worth the in­vest­ment for es­tab­lished fans.

“Di­ablo III” is rated M for ma­ture au­di­ences and re­tails for about $80.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/HO, NIN­TENDO OF AMER­ICA

The game "Di­ablo III: Eter­nal Col­lec­tion" is seen in this hand­out im­age. At first glance, Bliz­zard's "Di­ablo" games seem to of­fer lit­tle more than a grind through lim­it­less hordes of en­e­mies in the never-end­ing quest to ac­quire rare items and pow­er­ful ar­ti­facts. Yet the pol­ish and con­sid­er­able depth of th­ese ti­tles has made the se­ries a mas­sive hit that has with­stood the test of time.

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