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The GoodThe game follows the Diablo style of addicting medieval-type, very light role-playing games. Anyone who liked Blizzard's innovative evolutionary step from NetHack will probably enjoy this immediate, slightly improved version. Many people will again find themselves spending hours trying to improve thier characters through numerous quests.
The 3-D graphics, while not the prettiest, perform their function and it is a very nice feature to be able to rotate and zoom your view around. No more lost rings like in Diablo. You can zoom out and look top-down to get a good tactical view, or zoom in when you're comfortable for a lovely over-the-shoulder-ish view.
The interface, much like Diablo's, is slick and user friendly, allowing for long click-fests with minimal interruption. The two button mouse system occcassional makes for errors (such as drinking a potion you wanted to save) and you can occassional become locked in certain modes (pickpocketing being a bad one), but overall its simplicity is for its own good.
The wandering in the wilderness makes the game feel larger than Diablo and allows for more space between players if they don't wish to be on the same team.
Even though they're just mainly gender variations of the original Diablo classes and the monk expansion , the total of eight character provides a bit more diversity than the base Diablo classes.
While not as truly random as Diablo (for levels tend to have same general patterns), the random dungeons and quests make for a little more replay value. Some quests are easy, some hard, and some nearly impossible without knowing the trick to them (SPOILER: Such as using 'fear' on the Hive quest).
The BadAs with Diablo, Darkstrone really is an action game with stats rather than a role-playing game. Lacking any true role-playing inducing features and possessing a bare-bones story with NPCs that are merely walking sign posts, you'll often find yourself going back out not to save these pathetic folk, but to improve your all-powerful stats. Fans seeking a more intricate, truer role-playing game should look elsewhere. For more details on my issues with games like this, see my Diablo review.
If you thought the Diablo method of trying to make sure people don't abuse their characters seemed difficult, you should try Darkstone. Even with the newest versions, it's still a crap shoot whether or not your character will transfer from one machine to another. Worse, you may actually lose your characters should something happen to your machine that would cause a re-image. A friend lost his many-hours-to-build high level mage because Windows became corrupted and he reinstalled it. Copying back his character directory into Deathstone, the game, apparently seeking some specific combination of items to load the old save, wouldn't load the characters. Worse, it wiped out the file. This is more frustrating than any death you could have in-game. And, mind you, this was all on the SAME machine with just a re-image of the C: drive.
Some of the monsters later on are so class-specific that it's nearly impossible for a character of a certain class to take down the beastie. Playing alone, this makes for dangerous work, as the next creature may be totally resistant to magic, or may not take any damage from the type of weapon you choose. This, coupled with the obscene speed monssters move at at the higher levels makes for a frustrating time.
The Bottom LineDiablo in the Third Dimension. A good game for Diablo fans to play with while waiting for Diablo II. Take one or two members from a choice of eight characters and try to free the world through action and magic.
Hardcore role-players should look elsewhere, however.