(XO/PS4/PC/Sw) *** Age: 15+
Before there was Diablo, there was Gauntlet. A top-down loot shooter that lit up the arcades in the mid-80s, it inspired Blizzard 10 years later to produce its own dungeon crawler, Diablo.
Now while we wait for the fourth instalment of the series, Blizzard returns to its 21-year-old predecessor for a remaster of what many fans regard as the best of the trilogy so far. Diablo II never appeared on consoles, so this is a chance for plenty of players to see what all the fuss was about.
Some will be unimpressed. Others may even be bored. Hardcore devotees could even admit certain annoyances should have been smoothed over.
Resurrected takes the original isometric dungeon crawler, slaps a fresh (but not lavish) coat of paint on the visuals and … more or less stops there.
The cut-scenes have been reshot brilliantly by Blizzard’s cinematics team, which is probably the best in the business. But the gloomy overworlds and underworlds still favour a fairly minimalist approach to scenery and detail. Masochists can even immerse in the original’s pixellated aesthetic with a flick of a button.
Diablo II was notorious for its awkward inventory management, which was probably a memory limitation of the PCs back in the year 2000. Given that dying monsters release loot at a rapid rate of knots, your tiny swag bag quickly fills with gear and weapons that must be sold off at merchants back at camp.
So your swashbuckling raids through the dungeons becomes a slog as you try to sift through the mountains of trash for the equipment that will level you up. Attack monsters, collect loot, return to camp, sell loot, return to dungeon. Rinse, repeat.
Surprisingly, the remake team at Vicarious Visions chooses not to alter this dynamic, nor to explain its tangled systems of skill upgrades and abilities.
The arguments will rage about whether a remake should be completely faithful but to my mind there’s little point in reviving a revered game only to leave its jagged edges showing. If you’re a purist, just play the original.
Resurrected was of its time and my preference for the superior Diablo 3 – still available on most platforms – means that to me Diablo 2 is just a curio that’s fun to play for a while but ultimately has been eclipsed.