Thursday, November 13, 2014

We've Reached The Point I'm Discussing Games I Didn't Even Want To Play

No, I don't know where my comics are. At this rate, I fully expect Fraction and Aja to actually finish Hawkeye by the time my books get here from wherever the hell they are. So you're stuck with something else in the interim.

The Diablo video games have a pretty good pedigree, but I haven't had much experience with them. I watched Papafred beat Diablo 2 back in college, though he'd done that previously, I'm pretty sure. He helped me get a demo of the original game for my laptop at the time. I played through it a bit, and that was pretty much it. I wasn't then, and still am not, much of a computer gamer. No particular reason, except maybe the feeling I'd constantly need to be upgrading my computer to play newer games, and I'm cheap.

My coworker had Diablo 3 on their 360, though, and for whatever reason, wanted to beat it on co-op mode. Which is how I got sucked into it. Joke's on them, we never got around to finishing the game. Ha ha.

Her character got the voiceover narration, and so she was on a quest to get revenge, or was trying to find something, I forget which, I haven't played the game since June. I'm not sure why my character (I picked a lady monk, because I felt like kicking things, I guess) was along. Friend solidarity? Maybe the two of them were on separate quests prior to the start of the game and happened to meet and decided on a team-up. Not sure how else a warrior monk meets a lady barbarian. We eventually rescued this old man, Leoric, who was important in the earlier games, I guess, and then there was a guy found in a crater who turned out to be an angel who renounced his titles to help fight with us, something like that. I'm vague on the details.

Not just because of the span of time, but I honestly wasn't paying much attention. The story seemed ancillary to the gameplay of traveling to a place and killing everything there, then looting their bodies for stuff to either use myself, or sell so I can buy better stuff to use myself. And, since I'd never been all that gung-ho to play in the first place, I didn't feel terribly invested. So the idea that my character - I just now remembered I named her Lei Kung, because I couldn't remember that "Wu Ao-Shi" was the name of the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay from Immortal Iron Fist, so heck, make her the Thunderer-  was just along to help a friend sort of fits. The details in that event are largely irrelevant; I'm just trying to keep my friend from dying until we finish whatever it is she's trying to do, and can go back home and chill. Until then, I'd just keep kicking giant, stupid, ugly monsters in the face until they die.

So the gameplay itself was fine. That particular, three-quarters top-down view was familiar from my limited experiences with the earlier games. It's not a bad view, I can't recall feeling like there were things I ought to be able to see I couldn't, even when there were a whole mess of enemies around us. The various dungeons, caves, lairs, and such that we entered we large enough that it actually felt a little challenging trying to find the proper objective. Sometimes the game might provide an arrow on the map, pointing in the proper general direction, but sometimes you don't even get that. I'm not typically a fan of wandering around blind in a dangerous place, but it made sense in this case. This wasn't like Zelda games, where you eventually find a map of the dungeon that shows you everything. The only way to find out what's there is to go look around.

The game allowed for each character to pick a special attack mapped to each button. As you leveled up, new attacks or skills would be unlocked, or else modifications of ones you'd already learned. But the choice of which ones you used was up to you. And if you decided the one you had wasn't working, or you needed a new approach, you could go into the menu screen and change it up. I found I liked the whirlwind kick that knocked enemies back. That might seem counterintuitive, since I was playing as a character reliant strictly on melee attacks, but I liked being able to make breathing room, it hit a lot of enemies, and it scattered them, so it was easier to charge at one or two and take them out in smaller groups.

The menu screen also had a section where you could just check out how cool your character looked in whatever you'd outfitted them with at the moment. Lei Kung did look pretty cool most of the time. You couldn't really tell when you were playing, because the view is from a distance. Like I'm in the balcony at an opera house. Made sense, given the size of some of the enemies, though. There were times when entering a new area seemed to bring a massive spike in difficulty. We'd breeze through one dungeon, go on to the next one, and almost immediately be struggling to survive against the very first enemies we'd run into. Which is the sort of thing I always worry about in RPGs, that I didn't level up enough. Except I'm usually worried about boss fights, not random monster battles. The game at least usually gives you the chance to resurrect where you fell, so you aren't leaving your partner hanging for more than a few seconds, assuming they can stay alive that long. I tended to fare better than my friend, even though her barbarian usually had equipment with higher defenses. I guess Lei Kung was dodging a lot of attacks.

Neither one of us got any use out of the blacksmith. You had to bring him materials before he could craft anything, then he has to craft lousy stuff first, until he gets good enough to make good stuff, and during that whole time, we'd just be throwing away money. No thanks. I'm not sure if it was a glitch, but at one point it appeared the game was giving us the option to take another character along with us for help. Except the game wouldn't let us actually select any of the options. Maybe since there were already two of us, we couldn't bring a third person along, though the game had let us do that at other times.

Diablo 3 seemed good at what it wanted to be, but it wasn't a game I had any strong desire to continue playing.

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