Diablo II was met with great anticipation upon its release and quickly became one of the best selling PC games of all-time. While the game offers little new to the RPG world, it proves to be a fun and interesting game to play that can be very addictive. The multiplayer aspect only adds to the game.
Diablo II's plot is not the focus of the game, but it is still a very necessary area. Basically, it picks up where the first game left off. The Wanderer, who defeated Diablo in the first game, returns to Tristram for a hero's welcome in his amazing victory. However, he had changed- and no one knew why. He soon left, and then destruction came to the town. Playing as a character from a rogue encampment, you are to discover what is going on and why evil is roaming the land once again.
Unlike the first Diablo, which had a simple plot - kill the bad guy, Diablo II attempts to have plot progression scenes between the Acts and such, and gives more of a reason to quest on. While there are no real plot twists, the plot is not the focus at all, yet it provides for a mood and atmosphere that will keep the player drawn in. Again, the plot is nothing special, but it serves the game well.
The characters in Diablo II receive limited character development, even with the plot progression scenes. While some light is shed on your character's quest and such, there are no memorable characters like those in console RPG's. Again, Diablo II does not focus on this issue.
The focus character issue is the class chosen and the skills you develop. There are five unique character classes - a barbarian, necromancer, paladin, sorceress, and amazon. Each class has its positives and negatives and it's up to the gamer to decide which one is best suited for them. You can acquire skills unique to each class through leveling up and there are abilities such as strength that can also be increased. Thanks to this, you can have a truly original character performance. It's not good characterization like in a console RPG, but this isn't a console RPG, and the characters serve a different purpose. Interesting and effective!
The music in Diablo II is mostly ambient. The compositions are classical in style and mainly serve to set a mood and atmosphere, much like the plot. The instrumentation is good, and the sound quality is equally as impressive. As stated earlier, though, the music is ambient, and quite forgettable. In fact, the music can only serve to immerse the gamer a little more in the game, and by turning it off it doesn't hurt the game at all.
The sound effects are better than the music. They're clear and the sound of the evil monsters walking around is always different and sometimes chilling. The voice acting is also very good; I'm surprised to see that the game had such a good team of voice actors. The EAX surround sound adds to the game as well, but that's only if your hardware supports it. The audio department of Diablo II is a good showing, but more powerful music could have made for an even deeper experience.
Click. Click. Click. Click. That's the sound you'll be making with your mouse for the entire length of Diablo II. Now, that may sound boring, but by some odd miracle of God, Diablo II proves to be one of the most addictive games I've ever played.
Gameplay is simple. Your character wanders the land in missions that have certain objectives. For the most part, you just click on things to achieve these objectives, but along the way you click your mouse on many enemies roaming the land for experience. These dungeons are randomly generated, and thankfully this isn't a bad thing.
Leveling up your character proves addicting and playing Diablo II on Battle.net is even more fun; you can play the single player missions online, and even kill other players to steal their rare items. It's fun and while it does get repetitive, you won't notice till late in the game.
While I found the item management system a tad annoying due to the limitations on what can be carried and the management itself, this is a minor gripe that may have strong roots in personal preference. The game is enjoyable, but it never really goes deeper than clicking on enemies; the puzzles and quests are limited as far as exploration and emphasis on discovery.
The graphics in Diablo II are sprite-based. Now, this would tickle my fancy, but the game only runs in a measly 640x480 (and here I am running Quake III Arena in 1600x1200) and the game becomes terribly pixilated all too often. The character animations are smooth, and the enemies are also animated quite well; it's just overall, there's a lot of pixel and the spell effects suffer because of this.
Though the game may run smooth, there's no real eye candy here. The locales, while designed well, suffer from repetitive color use and the dungeons are mostly all one color. This isn't to say that the graphics are bad. However, compared to sprite-based games like Baldur's Gate II or even Fallout 2, the graphics are dated.
A North American developer made Diablo II, so the game is localized ideally for the North American public. This shows, with good voice acting in proper, connected English, and while there isn't much text to read, what is there is spelled correctly and grammatically OK. Blizzard did a fine job making you feel like you're in the world of Diablo II.
I have little to pick at with Diablo II. It's a solid game. The difficultly levels are adjusted accordingly and they're not unbalanced in the least. The game is much longer than Diablo; in fact, Act I is probably just as long as Diablo was in its entirety. With four Acts to bash through and online play that is even more addictive, Diablo II will keep your hands on that mouse for quite some time. And since the control is easy to manage with the mouse as well, you won't be slamming the mouse in anger…that is, unless you get killed by another, stronger player…or you happen to be playing on Nightmare. =D