Marvel Heroes (Second Review)

It’s been several months since Gazillion Entertainment’s Marvel Heroes burst onto the scene, hoping to give other action RPG juggernauts such Diablo 3, Path of Exile, and Torchlight 2 a run for their money. Continue reading

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Marvel Heroes (Review)

I have significantly updated my thoughts on this game as of November 2014. Click this link for my second review of Marvel Heroes.

When it comes to gaming, there’s one genre that always suckers me in no matter what and that is the action RPG genre. We’ve received some real gems over time such as Diablo II and Torchlight and, in recent years, the genre has seen a bit of a revival as several noteworthy action RPGs entered development. The four big ones for the last few years have been Diablo III, Path of Exile, Torchlight II, and this very game. Marvel Heroes. Developed by Diablo creator David Brevik, along with many former Blizzard North developers, you’d think that this would be a pretty difficult game to mess up. Well… I don’t know how to really put this, but… Continue reading

Diablo III vs. A Rock

I thought that this was a slightly amusing find, so here I’m throwing it up on here! This is a silly comparison between Blizzard’s blockbuster video game Diablo III and a common rock. The chart compares the entertainment value between the two and it seems that a rock may give you more bang for your buck… but then again, rocks are free and plentiful and can be found just about anywhere!

You can click the following image for a full size version. Also note that if I see any queued comments screaming at me over the nature of the image, I’ll refuse to approve them. Remember, this image is all in good fun. Don’t take video games seriously.

11 Settings That Are MMO-Worthy

There’s been an insane bandwagoning of franchises making the jump to the MMO genre as of late. I suppose many developers simply want a piece of WoW’s pie, but with so many MMOs competing with each other (rather than challenging WoW), it seems unlikely that any of them will get that pie. Still, you can’t blame them for trying, and a lot of developers do seem eager to get into the MMO genre. The list of franchises and series that have transitioned to the MMO world has grown quite long over the past few years, but there’s certainly room for many more. Here are several well known settings that I feel would make fantastic transitions to the land of MMOs. Note that they are not in any particular order.

Avatar’s Moon of Pandora


Pandora had it all. The moon of Pandora is home to the Na’vi, a spiritual race of wildlings that seem to be in tune with all aspects of nature. Unfortunately the technologically advanced Humans ruthlessly expanded their operations across the world and caused several major conflicts. This would be an amazing setting for an MMO, with players being able to choose between the Human or Na’vi factions. I have no idea how avatars could fit into everything, but I suppose that a creative developer could think of a great way to incorporate them. Aside from the conflict between the Humans and the Na’vi, Pandora itself suits the MMORPG genre simply because it has everything you can think of. Heck, it even has flying mountains!

Diablo’s World of Sanctuary


Despite the fact that Blizzard is working on their next MMO and it isn’t related to Diablo, I don’t think that rules out the possibility of a Diablo Online in the distant future. Imagine being able to pick from several classes spanning all three Diablo games. Angels, Demons, and Humans could be the three factions. The most appealing part, however, is the idea that we’d be able to travel to any location we’ve ever heard of in Diablo lore. Imagine Caldeum, Kingsport, Kurast, Lut Gholein, Tristram, and Westmarch all being visitable. We could even explore the Dreadlands (former homeland of the barbarians), the insanely expansive Dry Steppes which is north of Caldeum, along with the mysterious Skovos Isles which rests in the sea south of Kingsport. There’s a lot of potential here, and it’s frustrating that Blizzard still hasn’t allowed us to explore more of this huge world.

Zelda’s Land of Hyrule


If Nintendo ever decides to make an MMO, they’ll most certainly go with Zelda. Hyrule has quite a developed backstory behind it now and it has become one of the video game industry’s most celebrated and widely recognized worlds. Imagine a fully 3D Hyrule with several players grouped together and exploring mountains with hookshots, solving dungeon puzzles together, and working with each other to defeat a fearsome dodongo. There would be so much to see, so much to do! Another thing that would work in favour of a Zelda MMO is the fact that the series has Link, a completely silent protagonist. MMO characters are also completely silent (unless you’re playing The Old Republic) so it would help keep the Zelda atmosphere intact while establishing a firm sense of being in an MMO world. Whether or not Nintendo ever makes an MMO is a different question though, so this one doesn’t look terribly likely at the moment.

Mortal Kombat’s Elder God Realms


NetherRealm Studios is pretty much the last development team I’ll ever expect to make an MMO, but never say never. Mortal Kombat may be a fighting game, but it still has a vast and thorough lore behind it. Earthrealm, Edenia, Outworld, and a slew of other realms make up the several lands created by Raiden and his fellow Elder Gods. After playing Mortal Kombat Deception (I know, I know…) and experiencing a pretty limited and poor representation fo the several realms, I can only imagine how much better NetherRealm could make the realms look and feel now that they are no longer shackled down by Midway. Each realm is so distinctly different. They’d be a joy to explore in a proper MMO title. If there’s a good fighting engine in the game as well, then even better.

A Song of Ice & Fire’s Westeros


HBO’s Game of Thrones has skyrocketed the popularity of George R. R. Martin’s book series. A Song of Ice & Fire is traditional fantasy but, at the same time, it isn’t. There’s something distinctly different here that sets the series apart from other fantasy stories such as Lord of the Rings. Because of this, I don’t feel that A Song of Ice & Fire would work best as a regular MMORPG. Aside from the fact that it would simply crater due to being too similar to the competition, there’s just so much potential to make things very interesting. I’d love to see the setting adapted as an MMO where players have to align themselves with a major house right at the start and then work to strengthen their house and go to war. It could be very PvP oriented, and this would fit the whole war theme that the overall story encompasses.

Fallout’s Post-Apocalyptic World


I’ll point out right away that I hate Fallout an awful lot. I didn’t like the old RPG-esque games and I didn’t like the newer ones that utilize Bethesda’s engines. The games just don’t click with me, which is a shame because I like the setting. Post-apocalyptic settings are always very interesting, and I think that Fallout has a good amount of lore built up behind it that would enable it to be a pretty decent MMO, especially if they played off of the whole premise of essentially being a scavenger fighting to stay alive. I know that Bethesda canned one attempt at making a Fallout Online, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t have another go at it later on.

Resident Evil’s Raccoon City


Why not? Capcom is testing the waters with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a small scale co-op shooter that is set int he fallen city. In it, players assume the role of cleansers sent in by Umbrella and it is their job to clear the undead. I think that a massive MMO with a city on the scale of what you’d find in real life, complete with an endless supply of respawning zombies, would be really cool to experience. Imagine not having to bother with grinds or levels, but rather focusing solely on your own survival and nothing else. I don’t know what kind of endgame content there would be if all you’re doing is scavenging and surviving, but wouldn’t it be a blast logging in simply fighting to stay alive against an entire city that wants to eat you? Capcom could even instance the city so that there would never be too many human players running around at once. Imagine a huge city the size of, say, the entire playable area of Skyrim, and there are only about ten to fifteen human players in it who can’t even communicate unless they’re within range of each other. Wouldn’t it be an awesome feeling of relief to find each other? Come on Capcom, this just may be able to work.

Terminator’s Post-Apocalyptic World


Imagine fighting against Skynet. Seriously, just do it for a moment and then keep reading. Okay, you’ve done it? Gave you a pretty hopeless feeling inside, didn’t it? Now imagine if you really had to do that in an MMORPG. Imagine fighting against computers ON your computer. Wouldn’t that make you feel a little paranoid? I bet the game would make Skynet cheat. Ignoring the fact that you’d be using Skynet’s own technology against them, wouldn’t it be really freaking cool to play a game that would deal exclusively with taking down terminators!? Come on, you know that you’ve mentally put yourself in the shoes of John and Sarah Conner before. You’ve imagined yourself running and trying to escape from terminators. You’ve also imagined blowing them up with high powered guns and explosives too, right? A Terminator MMO would let every teenage boy of the 1990s relive their fantasies. Terminator Online would be absolutely epic.

Grand Theft Auto’s Liberty City


I’ve been wishing for an online GTA game ever since I played APB a few years back. APB was all about jacking cars and gunning down enemies in the city of San Paro. It was basically a violent GTA with absolutely no story or content besides driving and shooting. If Rockstar ever works up the courage to attempt a GTA Online, I think that it could be quite interesting. I’m sure that Rockstar locked at APB carefully and know where the developers went wrong with their car jacking, gun tootin’ MMO shooter. A GTA Online would likely feature a more defined story and would, I hope, have more features than just stealing cars and shooting at people. I’d bet money on Rockstar adding a lot of other fun group activities and minigames. Heck, maybe even PvP wouldn’t be the only thing you’d be doing all the time?

L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz


Oh we’re off the see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz! While The Wizard of Oz was originally a children’s book and then adapted into a movie children, it’s impossible to ignore that there are some truly dark things going on in the world of Oz. I was never truly aware as a kid, but now that I am an adult I fully realize just how twisted of a place Oz was. It could perhaps make the MMO transition pretty well, but I’m not sure how it would be marketed. Would it be a kid friendly MMO, or would it perhaps be a little darker and grittier than the ESRB’s E rating would allow? Regardless, Oz has a lot of backstory these days and I think that a Wizard of Oz MMORPG isn’t a question of if, but rather a question of when.

Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom


Will we ever see Nintendo make an MMO? That’s a pretty good question. While Zelda’s Hyrule would probably be given the MMO treatment ahead of the Mushroom Kingdom, I doubt that anyone could possibly deny the appeal behind adventuring throughout the Mushroom Kingdom with your friends. The NES loving kid inside of me would kill for a Mario MMO while the adult that I am, who still loves the NES, would probably do very horrible and rotten things if it ever meant Nintendo would develop a Mario MMO. I mean seriously! How could anyone not want this? Imagine King Boo as a raid boss. Just do it. There, now you’re as sold as I am. The concept of a Mario MMO doesn’t even need explaining, it just needs to happen!

Diablo III (Review)

I don’t know what to write. I hate to open a review by saying that because you’re here for my opinion on this game, but I truly have no idea how to go about reviewing Diablo III. This is a game that is so hard for me to describe my feelings for. When I’m playing the game, I think it’s a lot of fun and I don’t want to stop… but when I’m not playing the game, I pretty much have nothing but bad things to say about it. I’ve never felt so conflicted about a game before! With that said, if you are reading this now, then surely I came to a decent conclusion about this game that I felt was worth expressing. Let’s hurry up and cut to the chase, shall we?

Diablo III is the third installment in Blizzard’s sixteen year old action RPG franchise. It’s hard to believe that the Diablo series is so old now with only three games to its name, but keep in mind that the original Diablo III would have happened over half a decade ago if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate demise of Blizzard North. Twelve years have passed since Diablo II and, in that span of time, one would expect Blizzard to come up with a lot of exciting and innovative ideas for the next game. To put this span of time into perspective, the time that passed between Diablo II and Diablo III was greater than the time that passed between Super Mario Bros. on the NES and Mario 64 on the N64. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Even more so hard to believe given the severe lack of innovation in Blizzard’s latest outing. Irvine, California based Blizzard definitely played it safe with Diablo III, believing that sticking to what they knew, rather than pushing the envelope, would be the key to Diablo III’s success. Why do I say that Diablo III isn’t innovative and that Blizzard played it safe with the development of the game? Unfortunately, it’s because Diablo III is pretty much just a 3D version of Diablo II with several features stripped away or dumbed down. For each step forward this game takes, it then takes a dozen steps back.

An absolute mess of a skills menu.

Remember socketed gear in Diablo II? Don’t even think about seeing it until midway through the game’s second act. Socketing works the same as it did in Diablo II, though there are not as many kinds of gems available and the socketing rewards are not as exciting. You see, since Diablo III also removed stat point allocation, the process of distributing additional stat points has been placed upon gems and socketing. Gems now increase strength, dexterity, and other stats rather than offering additional bonuses like in Diablo II. The whole socketing meta-game feels a little cheapened in Diablo III, but there is one definite feature which I welcomed with open arms. You are now able to remove gems from items and reuse them again. While I like this feature and find it to be incredibly handy, I will admit that there is a definite disadvantage to it. Without having to worry about permanently socketing an item anymore, the risk of losing gems or using them on something that will soon be obsolete no longer comes into play. There’s no risk and reward gameplay involved in socketing anymore, removing the aspect of gemming that sort of felt like a lottery at times. Plus why bother hunting down new gems when you can just take out the old ones from your previous pieces of equipment?

The greatest change, aside from stat point allocation going the way of the dinosaur (which I’m fine with), is the streamlining of player abilities. This is a feature that I’m glad to see, but it was implemented horribly and is an awful mess. Rather than choosing which skills to learn and refine via skill points that you gain as you level up, players now learn new abilities upon each level up. It’s not a bad system because it allows players to try out everything and figure out what works best for them rather than playing what I like to call “skill point lottery” by sinking a bunch of points into skills that may end up being garbage later on. All abilities scale with your level, so they’re all viable throughout the entire game. Combined with runes, which are performance changing modifiers that you unlock as you level up, each class has dozens of different combinations to play with. Now, what makes this a horrible mess? The ability menu does. It’s clunky and not at all user friendly. It feels like something I’d expect to find in a children’s game, as everything it tucked away into little categories that you have to click to access. The game practically recommends what abilities to use and in what slots, which takes away from the player’s independence a bit and really holds their hand. Thank goodness for elective mode, which lets you place any skill into any slot on your hotbar.

Scrolls of identify and town portal have vanished as well. Players can now use town portals whenever they want, but the spell to cast a portal must first be obtained from an early quest in the first act. As for identifying items, almost everything already comes identified for you. Rare items must still be identified, but this is simply done by right clicking the item and waiting a moment for your character to identify the item in question. Pointless feature, I know. If identifying no longer costs money or requires Deckard Cain, why even have it in there? The cost of identifying items has become three wasted seconds of your time.

I want those precious seconds back too, Hans.

I’ve also noticed that Diablo III is very light on randomization. Outdoor areas are no longer random at all (though they do contain random dungeons and events) and are entirely static. As for quest dungeons, they all seem to feel the same to me each time I visit them. I’ve seen people claiming that the game does randomize their layouts, but I can’t help but feel like I’m running the exact same path through the Tristram cathedral each time I play, which I attribute to the fact that there are very few set pieces used in randomization. Expect to find the same rooms and hallway layouts almost constantly in this game. There’s very little in the game world that is any bit interesting to look at or explore and, since nothing appears to ever change, I can’t think of any reason to thoroughly explore any given area on additional characters. Unlike the world of Diablo II, Sanctuary is a very static place in the newest installment.

Gameplay thankfully feels a lot like Diablo II. The AI has been improved significantly and the newer game engine allows a lot of interesting things to occur during important boss fights. The only part about the gameplay that feels a little off is the graphical presentation. Diablo used to be a dark, gothic 2D adventure. It’s now a semi colourful 3D experience, so a bit of the game’s personality has been lost and it is felt during gameplay to an extent. Everything else in the gameplay is pretty much the same as before, right down to spell properties and how certain monsters behave in battle. Fallen shamans still resurrect the dead and the barbarian’s whirlwind still annihilates everything in sight. This is the same ol’ Diablo experience that we’re used to but, as I said at the start of the review, Blizzard played things too safely. This is pretty much just a colourful Diablo II with new classes.

I mentioned elective mode a few paragraphs back. This is a feature that you can enable in the game’s options menu which allows you to place any skill into any slot on your hotbar. Without enabling elective mode, you are stuck putting certain skills of one category into a sole slot on your hotbar. So, if you have two offensive abilities that fall under the same category which you really like and don’t have elective mode turned on, you can’t use them together. Elective mode makes things a lot nicer and allows users to fully customize their hotbar, but I still have one beef with it. You have to unlock slots on your hotbar, and you won’t have them all unlocked until around level 20. This is because certain slots on the hotbar were designed to be used by certain skill types only by users without elective mode on. I can understand the reasoning for this, but it really gives users of elective mode the shaft. If you have four skills that you want to use early in the game but only have three hotbar slots unlocked, you’re screwed and have to deal with it until you unlock the next slot.

I’ll also take a stance against the bosses in this game. While they are all very well designed and are loads of fun to fight, they’re simply far too easy. Players are extremely unlikely to be challenged by any of the game’s major bosses on normal difficulty, and even on nightmare they’re still relative pushovers in comparison to what you’ll face in the wilderness. The unfortunate truth with Diablo III is that random monsters can pose as greater threats to you then the leaders of Hell itself. This isn’t terribly evident in normal difficulty, but once you move onto the harder difficulties you will encounter champion and unique monsters that have pretty terrifying affixes that are designed to make them more challenging than they would normally be. These affixes give monsters some pretty scary passive abilities such as poison clouds, molten magma trails, and magical arcane beams. Every single one of these affixes is designed to either harm you severely or lock you in place. On nightmare and above, the combinations that some monsters are given are just downright frightening. They provide great challenge and are fun to fight, but I really do take issue with them being more challenging than the big boss fights of the game. For example, I’m yet to die on the game’s final boss, but I died to an amped up champion or two on normal difficulty. The contrast between bosses and lowly champions grows even larger once you hit nightmare difficulty. It’s a pretty strange anomaly, and I hope Blizzard buffs the bosses considerably. They should be evoking apprehension and fear into the players but, at the moment, they’re just not doing that at all.

I don’t recall ever saying “I want to be a witch doctor” as a little boy.

I don’t want to knock on the game’s visuals too much because I know that Blizzard designed the game to be able to run on a wide variety of systems (a feat that is easier in 2D than 3D without sacrificing visual style), I can’t help but shake that the WoW influence in the visuals is extremely worrying. Diablo never used to look like this at all. Models all have jagged, pointy edges along with very colourful but simplistic textures. At times, this game seriously looks a lot like WoW from an isometric angle with slightly better graphics. Looking like WoW isn’t really a bad thing, but it’s not the visual style that a Diablo game should possess at all. It just doesn’t fit and it makes the game feel like an imposter parading around in Diablo’s skin, which is a bit of a role reversal since that is usually Diablo’s specialty.

It’s also worth noting that there is some visual inconsistency in the game. Characters and NPCs look fine for the most part, but the are several varying styles in Diablo III’s monster designs. For example, the two Lesser Evils looks pretty Diablo-esque while other models, such as the Butcher or Maghda, give off serious “designed for WoW” vibes. Other monsters don’t look like they belong in Diablo or even Warcraft, such as the huge exploding zombies and the suicidal fallen demons that blow themselves up. There is also one enemy type appearing in the third act that I can’t immediately recall the name which looks downright cartoon-like in nature. This visual inconsistency in the game’s monster models is very disappointing and unfortunate when you take into consideration how consistent and detailed the game world itself is. One last note on the visuals. The cinematics in this game reminded me that Blizzard really needs to make a movie. They have the talent to do so, and it would certainly be a gorgeous film to watch… but the story would probably be something worth worrying about for sure.

That was a pretty good segue so, next up, the story. It’s pretty bad. Without spoiling anything, Blizzard can only rehash the same formula so many times before people know what’s going to happen to every character in their games. There are twists and turns in Diablo III, but they are all very predictable and anyone who has played Starcraft or Warcraft will know what to expect. There’s nothing groundbreaking in this game, but the actions of one character did bother me slightly at one point in the game. Also, as if a poorly crafted story wasn’t bad enough, the writing is pretty lousy as well. Outside of Cain, Leah, and Tyrael, I cannot think of a single character with good lines. To make matters even worse, the games two big baddies Belial and Azmodan, frequently appear and taunt you in a manner I’d expect from a high school jock. It’s just so juvenile and silly. It’s beyond evident that Blizzard North’s writers were in a league of their own when compared to the current crop of writers employed by Blizzard.

What to say for the sound effects and music? Very generic, really. None of the sound effects are particularly satisfying and the music is entirely forgettable. I don’t even have the music on anymore when I play because I never notice it anyway. I just play my own tunes now or put Diablo II music on loop instead. The voice work isn’t any better. I love a few of the voices for the playable characters (the male monk is just awesome) and a few well known talents such as Dominic Keating and Jennifer Hale do a good job in the game. Other characters (mostly NPCs) sound absolutely dreadful, and don’t even get me started on the voices of the antagonists. Are demons supposed to sound like Saturday morning cartoon villains? Azmodan, buddy, I can’t take you seriously with that voice!

Jennifer Hale's awesome voice brings Leah to life.
Jennifer Hale’s awesome voice brings Leah to life.

I didn’t even touch upon the fact that you have to be online to play at all times and that everything occurs server-side. This is a pretty terrible system that prevents you from playing the game whenever you want and it makes progressing through the game a real challenge when you have to log out of the game before you can complete an objective that you’ve been on for a good amount of time. It will all reset unless you hit a checkpoint. There’s also the issue with inevitable lag spikes which are completely out of the player’s control. This can make playing a hardcore character extremely risky. Would you be okay with permanently losing a hardcore character to a lack of skill or a lapse in judgement on your part? Sure you would, it’s to be expected. Now, how does it sound to have your character die for good due to an unexpected increase in latency that results in you being unable to respond to monster attacks in a timely manner while also being hit by melee creatures standing halfway across screen? Not very good, right? Not at all, and I learned that the hard way with my own hardcore character that I lost due to a random lag spike. Hardcore characters are now very risky to play. Given how you can now lose your character due to factors that are out of your control, it definitely does raise the question as to just how good of an idea it is to play a hard core character, especially for those who may already have existing connection issues.

Diablo III is a good game, but it is littered with many flaws and minor issues that hold it back from true greatness. There were just too many questionable design choices made during the development of this game and they really do harm the overall quality of the product. Fortunately Diablo III excels where it matters, and that’s hacking up dozens up dozens of monsters while fighting for your life. The combat-heavy dungeon diving is a sheer blast in this game and serves as a nice counter to all of Diablo III’s surprising shortcomings. Make no mistake, this is a very good game. Diablo III simply isn’t the masterpiece many people expected due to Blizzard’s hesitance to raise the bar and push the boundaries of the action RPG genre. This game is light on new features and some aspects of the game fall short, but the overall gameplay is certainly right on the money.

Final Score

8.1/10

Pros:
+ Cinematics are absolutely amazing to watch and are satisfying conclusions to each act.
+ Classes are quite varied and there’s at least one here for everyone.
+ Gameplay is still fast paced and a lot of fun for those who enjoy action RPGs.

Cons:
– Requirement to always be online to play means you will not be able to play whenever you wish.
– Story almost feels like it is over before it even begins due to the four acts being very short.
– Very little innovation in the game, if any at all.

Can Torchlight 2 Beat Diablo 3?

DISCLAIMER:I’m not against Diablo 3. I intend on buying it and loving it and anything that appears to be anti-Diablo below is simply done in an attempt to highlight what Torchlight has to offer as an alternative to Diablo 3 (or as a game that can peacefully sit beside Diablo on your desktop). Both will be great! So take anything that appears negative with a grain of salt.

Blizzard Entertainment. Diablo. These two names have become legendary in the gaming industry. Blizzard rose to fame by churning out RPG and RTS titles during the mid to late 1990s that were literally unmatched in quality, and it garnered them a lot of respect. If gamers were to be polled several years ago and asked who they thought were the best video game developers in terms of integrity and game quality, you can bet that the top three would’ve been Blizzard, Valve, and perhaps Bioware. If the same gamers were asked to name some of their favourite games of all time, quite a few of them surely would have said Diablo or Diablo II.

Oh, how times have changed…

Diablo III is rumoured to be on the way to store shelves as early as this November or December, but something interesting is happening… People are turning their backs on the game, but why? Aside from Blizzard throwing in some questionable new features and gameplay mechanics, the answer to the question lies in the year 2009 when a little known company known as Runic Games released an action RPG called Torchlight. It was quickly labelled a Diablo clone by many angry Blizzard fans until they realized that, hey, Runic Games WERE Blizzard! Well, maybe not by name, but Runic is made up of former Blizzard North employees who left Blizzard a few years back. What is Blizzard North, you ask? It is the division of Blizzard Entertainment that planned, designed, and developed Diablo and Diablo II. That’s right, the guys at Blizzard who brought us two of the absolute best action RPG games of all time founded Runic Games and decided to stick it to Blizzard by releasing Torchlight.

So what was so good about Torchlight aside from the fact that the developers of Diablo and Diablo II made it? Well, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the original Diablo with the main overworld town and lengthy monster-infested dungeon that keeps descending lower and lower into the bowels of the underworld. It had three classes (a warrior, ranged fighter, and magician), scrolls of identify and town portal, and… Well, face it, Torchlight was just Diablo. Runic knew that they wouldn’t be able to sell a fifteen year old game all over again though, so they essentially made Torchlight into a vastly superior version of the original Diablo. Overall gameplay was better and the game was very user-friendly. It also introduced a few neat concepts like having a permanent pet companion that can transform into monsters and take your items back to town to sell, and you could even relax and go fishing in the same style as World of Warcraft.

Torchlight was the smash hit of 2009, and droves of Diablo fans urged all of their fellow action RPG loving friends to give Torchlight a try. Well, all of those friends did try Torchlight, and they loved it. Torchlight took the orginal Diablo and then not only modernized it but also perfected it. With the same guys working on Torchlight who made Diablo (heck, they even have the same music composer), it was indeniable that Torchlight would be the spiritual successor to the Diablo series. Runic’s little discount gem retailed for only $20, and it made a lot of folks happy as it looked like the wait for Diablo III wasn’t going to end any time soon.

Diablo III wins in the graphics department, but does this also reflect superior gameplay?

It is now 2011, and boy does it ever look like we’re in for one heck of an exciting final quarter of the year. Aside from about a dozen amazing games being released in October and November, we’re also getting Torchlight 2 and, supposedly, Diablo III. This truly will be clash of the titans. Allow me to explain why in a silly way.

In the red corner, weighing two hundred and ten pounds, we have the reigning heavy weight champion of the wooooorld… The Diablo franchise’s new contender, Diablo III! This title defending warrior is sure to sell millions of copies by sheer popularity alone even if the game does not meet expectations! But will the hype be met? With practically all of the former Diablo designers having left Blizzard, and with a whole slew of new faces working on Diablo who obviously worked on World of Warcraft (you’d be a dummy to not realize this), is the magic still there? Will fans love this fighter as much as past champions Diablo and Diablo II?

And in the blue corner, weighing one hundred and ninety four pounds, we have the challenger from Seattle, Washington! None other than Runic Games’ Torchlight 2! This ambitious young contender has the same faces, ideas, and voices behind it that orchestrated the creation of the original two Diablo games. There is more knowledge of the action RPG genre behind this game than there is behind Blizzard’s fierce title defender. Torchlight 2 is indeed the spiritual successor to the previous champions Diablo and Diablo II. Resembling Diablo more than Diablo III actually does, can Torchlight 2 topple the well financed giant and become champion of the genre?

Here are the facts which favour Torchlight 2.
1. Torchlight 2 is developed by the same people who made Diablo, Diablo II, and Torchlight. These people are NOT working on Diablo III.
2. Torchlight 2, despite being a high quality title, will sell for either $20 or $30. Diablo III will be available for the standard $60 before tax, but could run higher at some retailers (I’m looking at you Gamestop).
3. Torchlight 2 promises to be what Diablo II was, only improved and refined significantly. Diablo III is a huge unknown and has only maintained two series mainstays… The barbarian class and Deckard Cain. Yay?
4. Diablo III is not going to be moddable and will have many features that are being made to suck extra money from your pockets. Torchlight 2 will be fully moddable and, once you buy it, you will never have to give Runic any further cash except to buy the inevitable Torchlight 3.
5. Diablo III requires a constant and persistent internet connection to play on even singleplayer mode. If your internet dies, expect to be taken out of the game in an awful hurry. With Torchlight 2, no internet connection will be required except to play multiplayer.
6. Torchlight 2 promises to give us all of the features we are used to and enjoy while Diablo III is wiping the slate clean and throwing questionable features at us that are intimidating many long time fans.
7. Torchlight 2 will allow players to select faces and hairstyles for each individual class as well as choosing the gender they wish to play as. In Diablo III, players will only be able to select the gender of their chosen class.

Torchlight 2, made by guys who created the Diablo franchise, will cost $20.
Diablo III, made by a bunch of folks who had to step into a vacant void at Blizzard to create the game, will market for $60 or more.

The choice is yours, guys! I’m excited for both games myself, so please don’t paint me as having a bias or anything of the sort. I will definitely be buying both games and will surely love them both! Anyway, to finish things off, here are some pictures of Torchlight 2. Since a lot of folks are still unsure of what Torchlight is since it is still a relatively new series and is living in Diablo’s shadow, these pictures may help a little.