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Diablo II & Lord of Destruction expansion

"Diablo 2" is a legendary video game that continues to be played, more than 12 years now. When "Diablo 2" first released, it was plagued by bugs and balancing problems. However, after a hearty must-have expansion pack, "Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction", and vital patches; "Diablo 2" has earned its place among the best games of all time. This review of "Diablo 2" and the "Lord of Destruction" (D2:LoD) expansion is aimed for the curious gamer of today, who never got the chance to get into this excellent game. This review is especially crafted for those that played either the first or the recent third Diablo games. The final quantitative analysis of D2:LoD takes into consideration the state of the gaming industry in 2000 and 2001, while also acknowledging the decade long impact that D2:LoD has made in this industry.

D2:LoD, like the first "Diablo", is an Action-RPG (action role playing game). The story of D2:LoD continues where the first "Diablo" ends. The warrior (hero from Diablo) who defeated Diablo, has taken Diablo's soul stone and injected it into his head; in an effort to contain the essence of Diablo. Slowly, this warrior loses an internal spiritual battle with Diablo, and begins to wander the world of Santuary, in search of the other Prime Evils, leaving a trail of destruction and devastation behind. As one of five (7 with the expansion) new heros, your goal is to prevent Diablo from fully reviving himself, and his two brothers (Baal and Mephisto), the Prime Evils. The story is told through two methods. The first is from quest and NPC dialog, which progresses as you complete a particular act. The second is the impressive FMV (full-motion video) sequences that take place in between each of the four (5th is in D2:LoD) acts within the game. D2:LoD's plot is not only epic, saving the world from ultimate destruction, but it is also well written. The writers walk a fine line of providing enough dialog to drive the plot, yet hold back from over explaining details that the player subconsciously understands (akin to the original "Star Wars" triolgy).

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Meet Andariel. The first bringer of many deaths.

Unlike the story, the graphics of D2:LoD, even by 2000's graphical standards are below average. The graphical trend, back in 2000, was to push 3D graphical rendering capabilities. Every asset of art in D2:LoD was designed and pre-rendered in 3D rendering software. This pre-rendered image was then used as a 2D sprite of the 3D model (rendered out of game). The problem is with screen resolution. The artwork for D2:LoD was never initially rendered for high-resolutions. The notion of HD graphics was non-existent in the late 90s and early 2000s. This meant that the alot of memory was needed in order to store images of high-resolution quality. Because of this, Blizzard opted for a maximum screen resolution of '800x600', eliminating the need for an expensive PC requirement. The use of pre-rendered sprites isn't the drawback of D2:LoD, rather it is the low resolution that these sprites were rendered in which hurts it's visual appeal.

If you are the kind of person that doesn't need pretty 3D graphics, and is capable of ignoring pixelation when displaying the game on a large screen, then there is a lot of subtleness for you to enjoy. Each of the five Acts contain detailed environments and diverse landscapes. From the beginning's open farm lands and vast sand dunes, to the end's river of flames and snow capped mountains, you'll notice that each area is teeming with life. For what it is worth, the lighting system is rendered in realtime and illuminates with a rainbow of vibrancy. With these considerations in mind, the graphics does not hinder D2:LoD's gameplay; it very simply does the job.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Each of those poison balls glow and dynamically illuminate the environment.

Unlike the graphics, the sound still impresses. The music, even by today's standards, reflects a moody and memorable score. The music within Act 2's Harem level is a prime example of this. Everything in D2:LoD generates a sound. Every weapon, item, and skill have their own sound effect for being dropped, equipped, or used. Each of the 5-7 playable character classes have their own voice acted sound effects for when they are being attacked, casting spells, using the speech hotkeys, quest events, and inventory up-keeping. This degree of detail extends onto the numerious creatures and monsters of D2:LoD. Humorously, some of these abominations will randomly shout out weird catchphrases. When you interact with the townspeople, for quest advancement and character background stories, you'll listen to well acted voices. Atmospheric sounds plague each environment, with the third act's jungle, particularly, impresses with the sound of monkeys and birds heard in the distance, and creepy bug-like humming surrounding you. In conjunction with surround sound support, D2:LoD's audio is a masterful accomplishment.

The most important aspect of D2:LoD, as it applies to all video games in general, is the gameplay. No matter how old a game is, if the gameplay is excellent, it'll never stop entertaining. D2:LoD pits you against thousands of monsters for your killing, experience gaining, and loot hording pleasure. If you have played any of the following games, then you will have a good understanding of how D2:LoD's gameplay works: Torchlight, Dungeon Siege, Path of Exile, Too Human, Dragon Age, World of Warcraft, and many many many others. Whenever you level-up your character you are awarded with five 'stat' points and a skill point to customize your character however you please. These stats points are as follows: vitality (increases health and stamina), energy (increases mana and mana regeneration), dexterity (increases chance to hit, armor, and equipment requirements), and strength (increases physical damage and equipment requirements). The skill points can be put into one of three different, class unique, skill trees. The skill tree system is far to complex to fully detail within this review, and has undergone numerous patches which significantly change their feasibility in combat. In addition, the "1.10 patch" (released over two years after D2:LoD) introduced a major gameplay change to the skill system called synergy.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Equipment is just one of the ways which you will customize your character.

To simplify such an important gameplay element, nearly all skills are used by the player to deal damage, in one way or another, to the endless enemy swams. Each class contains their own collection of passive and active skills. Passive skills are always active, offering an enhancement to the character or an enhance to a sub-collection of their active skills. The active skills typically use up mana, and are meant to deal damage to the enemy. An example of active skills are the following: bash (barbarian), fireball (sorceress), and clay golem (necromancer). Each class contains ~30 skills overall, with ~10 skills allocated to each of the three class-specific skill trees. Skills within any given tree are also tier'd, with certain requirements that must be met before the skills becomes unlocked. All of this talk on the skill tree system must sound very familiar, and it very well should. At the time, D2:LoD's skill tree system was entirely unique. Considering that most RPG video games today borrow significantly from D2:LoD's skill system, it should be a testament of just how addictive, and insanely fun it is to customize your character. Before you know it, you'll become enthralled by the process of careful skill point allocation; paving the road to more efficient killing and faster "Baal Run" farming on Hell difficulty.

Including the expansion, there are seven character classes to choose from. Many of these classes, depending on the skill customization, can be played very differently from one another. It should be obvious that the paladin can be built to be a party tank, support buffer, or enemy debuffer. However, when you discover a unique, and fully effective character build that allows the paladin to become a party healer, that is where the true reward of character customization comes in. However, you must be careful with your character builds as some, like the aforementioned, are only useful in multiplayer games. All of these character enhancements assist the player with reaching the end game of loot farming. The items of D2:LoD are the primary motivators for sustained play-throughs. The endless search for better armor and weapons pushes the player years beyond the completion of D2:LoD's hardest difficulty mode (Hell). This endless item hunt feeds into the cycle of better character customization, for more efficient "loot runs", for upgraded armor and weapons, for a better character customization.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Fear leads to terror, terror leads to suffering, suffering leads to Diablo!

The last time I checked, you can buy both "Diablo 2" and the "Lord of Destruction" expansion, in a box set (battle chest) for $20. Although, "Diablo 3" offers the latest and greatest to the Diablo franchise, at it's time, D2:LoD kept gamers entertained for years. It is a little difficult to recommend D2:LoD now that "Diablo 3" has finally released. But, for such a low entry price, it is entirely worthwhile for those who have never experienced D2:LoD before, to give it a purchase. The massive randomization of loot drops, monster encounters, and dungeon layouts, coupled with the scaling multiplayer (which is free) is the greatest reason why there are thousands of gamers that are still playing this game (over 12 years after it's release). To those who haven't gotten into the Diablo universe and are curious; don't wait any longer! "Diablo 2" and "Lord of Destruction" still has what it takes to pull-in the curious gamer and entertaining them for countless hours. If it wasn't published before, then I'll publish it now; "Diablo II: Lord of Destruction" is the greatest multiplayer RPG of all time.

Final Score for both Diablo II and Lord of Destruction

Review Scoring System: 32-bit
Class MemberBit AllocationBit SignificanceValue
Critical Rating1 bit2^311 out of 1
Gameplay1 bit2^301 out of 1
Control4 bits2^2611 out of 15
Innovation4 bits2^2213 out of 15
Value2 bits2^203 out of 3
Multiplayer6 bits2^1463 out of 63
Graphics4 bits2^107 out of 15
Audio6 bits2^460 out of 63
Story4 bits2^012 out of 15
Total0x EF7F DFCC
(In Base 10)4,018,134,988
Out of4,294,967,295
Potential Achieved93.5545%
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