Evil is back and, believe it or not, it plays even better on the console than on the PC.
Five months after launching the Diablo III expansion - Reaper Of Souls - for the PC, Blizzard Entertainment has ported the game to consoles. Unlike the PC version, which requires you to buy the original Diablo III and the expansion separately, the Ultimate Evil Edition bundles everything into one neat package.
Most of my friends had already slain Malthael, the "angel of death" and final boss, in Reaper Of Souls many months ago. In fact, I had stopped playing Diablo III altogether, until last week, when I had to start a new adventure to test the console version of the game.
It was time well spent because the console version offers so much more than the PC version. On the console version, up to four people can play cooperatively on the same console, whereas the PC version requires each player to use his copy of the game.
My 12-year-old daughter and I spent time adventuring together as Demon Hunter and Barbarian. As Demon Hunter, she would wreak damage from a distance through her twin crossbows, while I soaked up the damage from the monsters by jumping into the melee fray.
Interestingly, it now feels as if Blizzard had planned the console port from the very day it released Diablo III for the PC two years ago. That version offered gamers only six active skills to use at any one time, even though so many more are possible through the keyboard and mouse combination.
On hindsight, it now seems that this may have been done so that the game could be ported seamlessly to consoles, where the number of buttons to press are limited.
The graphics on the PlayStation 4 version which I tested were simply stunning. The characters were larger than in the PC version, taking into account that gamers would be sitting further from the screen. That allowed me to see the details of my characters' armour and weapons more clearly.
The entire inventory management system has also been revamped. Items and skills are now filtered by categories to make them more manageable. Unlike the PC version, which required high-end graphics cards to run the game smoothly in high resolution, the game came alive on my console, which was connected to a standard 32-inch high-definition TV.
Gameplay on the console and PC versions are identical. I did not expect to finish the entire single-player campaign again, but after more than a week of hacking and slashing, my new monk had defeated Malthael and is now running the bounty quests to get better equipment.
I will probably stop playing now that the review is done as I have spent too many hours on the game since its inception.
If Diablo III is new to you, this is a must-buy for console owners. It may not be as meaningful for players who have already completed the PC version, but if you want to play with your family or friends on the same console or if you are a die-hard fan who wants to experience the slightly different controls and camera angles, the Ultimate Evil Edition will give you yet another ultimate thrill.
$49.90 (PlayStation 3), $69.90 (PlayStation 4, version tested), Xbox 360, Xbox One
Action role-playing game
This article was published on Sept 3 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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