Sunday, 20 May 2012

Peer Pressure and cloning a classic

I don't usually play Blizzard games, (they screwed my account up, long story) so when Diablo 3 was announced I didn't care much. Even on the run up to the actual release I didn't care. Then on the day of release my favorite website (Reddit) was literally packed with talk about the game, the internet was a buzz with praise and at some point I was converted and I wanted it. I wanted it really bad.

Yesterday I finally managed to get my hands on it. The game is good, its the classic Diablo hack and slash but with enough polish to keep a warehouse full of army boots shiny until the end of time. 

It has a pretty simple and slowly unfolding plot that I enjoy a great deal. I played my little wizard through the game to defeat some skeletal boss dude (scary bloke, not very friendly). That was the point when I called it a night and retired to my movie chair (the Chasing Amy Blu-ray was calling me.)
Today I logged in to be told that the servers where down. I expect this from an MMO on launch week, even launch month but Diablo 3 is not an MMO and as such its audience has not been forgiving of this down time. The internet has been alight with rage and hatred from every walk of gaming life. Personally I just logged into The Old Republic and forgot all about Diablo for a while. 

A little later I tried again. Still down, so I fired up the Torchlight 2 beta, this was something that I had no intention of doing but I really wanted to run around in some dungeons slashing some evil entities. Here's the thing, something that was less apparent when Torchlight 1 was released because it had been so long since Diablo 2, Torchlight IS Diablo. It was a shocking revelation that took me a moment to understand in its most pure form. 

Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 are the same game in so many ways that its just silly. Torchlight 2 isn't a bad game, it's a pretty good game actually but that doesn't excuse it from being so similar to Diablo. 

There are artistic differences and in Torchlight you get a pet and some awesome fishing but its not enough to stand apart totally. The strange thing is that I have really enjoyed playing both of the games this weekend. 

I will even buy Torchlight two when it launches. It's good. It really is. The hacker and slasher dungeon game is such as basic concept that it must be difficult to make one stand apart or above another in any real way more so than with any other type of game because fundamentally the controls are always going to be the same and you cant really innovate a sword swinging into a goblin's face. But that said how many times have we shot zombies in shooters yet not been astounded at how similar they all are. 

The conclusion that I came to was that there are so many shooters that we are more able to see smaller differences in their mechanics but with so few hack and slash games its the things that are similar that strike us so much. 

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