As I have previously noted, I am subject to bouts of game nostalgia. And, after more than 30 years since I received an Atari 2600 for Christmas, that is a lot of gaming ground to cover.
Lately I have been feeling the urge to play Diablo II. I blame Michael Zenke for this, as he put an article up on Massively a week or so back that triggered it.
The article itself was about Hellgate: London and was primarily posted to point out an excellent analysis of HGL by Shamus Young on his site Twenty Sided.
(And, as an aside, while you are there you should also check out his web comic, DM of the Rings.)
And how did this lead to Diablo II? I’m getting to that.
Shamus chose, as a major vehicle for his review, to compare HGL with the development team’s previous project, Diablo II. A good chunk of the team at Flagship Studios, where HGL was developed, came from Blizzard North, the group that was responsible for Diablo II. And so the two products end up being laid side by side at different points throughout the series of posts.
This not only highlighted the flaws of HGL in both a dramatic and a tangible fashion, but it also brought out what was done so well in Diablo II.
This lead to me digging out my Diablo II CDs.
Which, in turn, lead to a minor conflict between my memories and reality.
I decided to just install Diablo II and not the expansion. The four acts of the original game were all quite enjoyable and I did not think I would need any more than that to cover nostalgia.
After installation the game launched and resize the display down to 640 x 480. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just go into the options and fix that once I get into the game.”
I had forgotten that, in the base game, there is no resolution beyond 640 x 480. Digging around I discovered that and alternate resolution did not come into the game until the expansion, The Lord of Destruction. And even then, that alternate was only 800 x 600.
I figured that might be tough to cope with on my 1600 x 1200 LCD monitor.
I was committed by this point though, so I loaded up the expansion. And, yes, seeing the game running at one quarter the resolution of my monitor was a bit taxing.
But then I started playing, getting into the clicking rhythm of the game. It took a few minutes to stop putting my fingers on the WASD keys. Soon though, I was under the spell of the game.
It is a very good game, even today.. It always feels so dark and gloomy. Even in the bright sunlit areas, there is a sense of foreboding and the feeling that clouds are going to pass over the sun at any moment. The graphics startlingly good for their low resolution. The map system is outstanding. It feeds that obsessive compulsive desire to make sure you see everything. The difficulty of the whole game scales when you have more people playing with you. And, of course, there are elements of that game that we now recognize in our favorite MMOs. For example, punctuation marks anybody?
I found myself plunging into the game, appreciating both its simplicity and its depth.
This lead me to wish, yet again, that they would make a new version of this game. I want Diablo III!
Only, in my gut, I know this is never going to happen, for one of two reasons.
The first reason is that, theoretically, it already has been made, it was called Hellgate: London, and it stank on ice.
The second reason is that, while Blizzard no doubt has the talent on hand to create a Diablo III, that talent was put into making World of Warcraft. WoW owes so much to Diablo II that it is, for all intents and purposes, the technical sequel to Diablo II. After playing WoW for a couple of years, going back and picking up Diablo II can be a stunner. You start to see the logical progression of features, the things improved, borrowed, or lifted outright.
The only thing wrong is that Blizzard chose to place the game in Azeroth and give it a brightly colored appearance rather than setting it in that dark world of Diablo II. And that makes all the difference.
Not that WoW is a bad game, but it certainly does not feel like Diablo.
There have been a number of Diablo knock-offs as well, with Titan Quest probably being the most well known and best reviewed, but none of them have quite captured that Diablo feel either.
So I suppose I will go on wishing for a new version of Diablo while poking around again in Diablo II. I have friends and family who still play the game.
Do you think Blizzard will make another Diablo game?