Diablo III is - remarkably - a few short days away. Perhaps it's been so long since you last played a Diablo game that you can't remember all the narrative details, or maybe this will be your first experience with the series. Either way, it's a good idea to avoid any confusion on launch day by catching up on the story.
Please allow my brain to provide this service for you. I was sixteen years old when I last played the original Diablo. Diablo II remained on my hard drive for years until I uninstalled it for good after my thousandth playthrough as a Necromancer sometime in 2006. Without the aid of anything but my memory, I will now recap the story of the entire series.
This will surely go well.
Diablo The First
You wander around a town with more buildings than people. Eventually a blacksmith and a priest persuade you to hop into a pit below a church. This seems slightly suspicious, but you follow along because in your experience the bottom of a mysterious hole usually contains something great like a fresh loaf of bread or a pile of discarded porn scrolls.
Once inside the hole, you encounter a birdbath full of reddish liquid. You shove your face in there and drink the whole thing dry. A few steps later, you come across a barrel. You hit it with your sword until it falls apart. Then something truly special catches your eye - a birdbath full of neon blue liquid. Amazed at your luck, you shove your face in deep and inhale every last drop.
After you kill a few skeletons, you start to feel pretty good. Then some horrible man named The Butcher shows up and you scream, immediately exiting the game and uninstalling.
Diablo The Next, The One After The First
A dude with a gem in his forehead is on vacation. You get occasional updates on his travels. Inspired by gem forehead man's trip, you decide to venture out from your camp for the first time in your life, past the fields of porcupines and the discarded legs of people named Wirt.
Eventually you come come across an old guy that had been imprisoned in a go-go dancer cage for refusing to stop doing his awful Sean Connery impression. You rescue him, and he follows you for the rest of the game, pestering you to let him take a closer look at all of the items you discover.
Your travels take you to the desert, where you get lost in a claustrophobia-inducing tunnel, blow up a giant maggot, and dig so far that you end up in space. Naturally.
There's a jungle. It's best not to talk about it.
Then you arrive in Hell, which is considerably nicer than the jungle. There's a lot of lava, a lot of tortured souls, and a surprising amount of potion bottles tucked away in breakable objects. Hell also has a Diablo, which you fight. By fight, I mean you throw yourself at him repeatedly, scrounging the entire level for items to sell so you can repair your gear and buy new potions.
When you finally beat Diablo, you find out something about corruption. Basically, a good person turns into a bad person. This is probably unfamiliar territory for fans of Blizzard, and might be too complicated to understand all at once, so I'll explain it another way:
Someone that is not evil becomes evil through corruption. Also, sometimes a bad person does something good. I think that's called salvation.
There probably won't be any of that in Diablo III.
If I was forced to come up with one PC game to play the rest of my life, it would be a sci-fi themed strategy game. The thing is, I don't really have any favorites from recent years. Sword Of The Stars and Galactic Civilization are chock full of management options and numbers, but they lack any real personality to keep me interested long enough to stick with them.
Endless Space, now in alpha, is shaping up to be my dream game. It's the best parts of the classic Master Of Orion games mixed with features from Civilization. It has a remarkable UI and a consistent art style that spans every aspect of the game, making the entire experience absorbing.
I'll probably come back and cover the game more thoroughly when the release date draws near, but in the meantime I'd suggest checking it out if you even remotely care about atmosphere and character in your strategy games.The alpha is currently available to people who pre-order, and if you aren't prepared to make that leap there are all sorts of previews popping up.
A Valley Without Wind
Zero art direction, but lots and lots and lots of ideas that don't really work together or feel remotely satisfying. 3/10
Risen 2: Dark Waters
People don't have a hard time enjoying Gothic and Risen games because they're difficult, they have a hard time with terrible design quirks that really shouldn't have existed the first time around, but appear again and again while a dedicated audience puts on their Flawed Gem blinders. 5/10
Sniper Elite V2
Better looking than you might expect, not quite as good as it looks. 6/10
When you take space cowboys and floating space motorcycles and space nukes and make a game that elicits an "It's not bad!" instead of one long space yeehaw, you failed to live up to your potential. 6/10
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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