The Lion’s Toes #5: The Cream of the Crap


The Cream of the Crap

I love Diablo II. And you love it too. Why else would you be reading this article, short of a substantial bribe?

It?s more than just a game, too. It?s an experience. For some it?s even a way of life. Cheaper than a lobotomy, at any rate.

Oops, that sounded like criticism. And alas, I cannot allow myself to atone. For as good as this game is, it is not without its flaws. For all those fixes and patches, there remain a number of imperfections, minor though they may be.

So am I to drag these faults out into the open, parading them about as a plague upon the integrity of Blizzard?s masterpiece? Well, nope. The mood is light and my brain is fizzing, so why not celebrate, rather than denigrate?

I present to you now?Diablo II ? The Worst Bits (and why they ain?t so bad, really).

Worst Character
For our first category we actually have a tie, with the Barbarian and the Sorceress each laying claim to one half of the victory oatmeal. Why do these characters suck? Let?s examine them more closely:

-The Barbarian is the purest form of fighter possible in a game that refuses to stoop to the pathetic, self-satirising levels of Dungeons and Dragons. He is more equipment-dependent than he is level-dependent, and he excels at taking on single, powerful opponents. And multiple weak opponents as well, come to think of it.

-The Sorceress is the purest form of spell-caster possible in a world lacking in pointy hats. She is more level-dependent than she is equipment-dependent, and she excels at taking on multiple weak opponents.  And single, powerful opponents as well, come to think of it.

In short, they are two sides of the same coin (a coin that just happens to have a grand total of seven sides, metaphorically speaking). One is all physical, the other all magical. One relies on health potions, the other on mana. Both kill effectively until you reach Hell, at which point they turn into Messiahs and promptly start dying. Or something.

Of course the biggest similarity of all is that they are both extremely dull to play as. When was the last time you ran into a Barbarian who fought using a longbow (or even an axe, for that matter)? When did you last encounter a Sorceress who wasn?t a one-trick-pony? They have little potential outside of the roles they?ve been cast into, and the natural consequence of this is drudgery.

I guess Blizzard didn?t see the folly in giving all the beefy projectile spells to a single character class. Or the fact that a class with no potential for greatness outside of melee combat would never become a favourite (Throwing Barbarian? Never heard of him).

Yet the Barbarian and the Sorceress will always remain the most popular characters amongst newbies (the Amazon nearly held this position once, but the dreaded Nerfmonster got her in the end. Nobody has seen her since).  It seems that extremes really do attract (it?s certainly the only explanation I can offer as to why there are so many fat people in this world). Ironically enough, these two dullards do nothing that a Druid cannot (parentheses are fun!).

Why these characters aren?t so bad
Bards and Enchantresses. Need I say any more? They become hopelessly ineffective when stepping into these boots, but they also become fun to play as. And contrary to popular belief, entertainment is the most important factor.

Also you can play a Barbarian with maxed out Leap, Leap Attack and Mace Mastery, and spend all your time jumping around hitting enemies with your hammer whilst shouting ?Can?t Touch This!?. If you don?t see the fun in this you?re not human.

Worst NPC
If this game were 3D, she?d be a sex symbol. As it is she?s little more than a plot device, and not much of one at that. We may see her role expanded in the inevitable World of Diablo; in fact her very inclusion in this game would appear to suggest such. Otherwise why bother at all?

I am of course referring to Anya. You know, that NPC you occasionally rescue before trundling off to smack Baal up some. The one that cooks up garbage and presents it as a fabulous reward, right before sending you off to suffer at the hands of the dreaded Pindleskin. I think she sells javelins as well. Whoopee.

Why she isn?t so bad
+10 to all resistances is none too shabby. Also she personalizes items, which is great for pissing off purists.

Worst Skill
Fire Bolt, Molten Boulder and Holy Fire (see a pattern?) were all contenders for this coveted award, but in the end not even they could compete with the sheer uselessness that is Increased Stamina. Otherwise known as ?Oops we ran out of passive abilities?, dumping points into this skill is a good indication that you?re an addict. So unless you?re vicariously living out your dreams of becoming a track and field star through the magic of the pseudo-RPG?just stay away.

Why it isn?t so bad
No need for stamina potions ever again! Yeah, you?re excited.

Worst Item
Give me a ?B?! Give me a ?U?! Give me an ?R?! And the rest!

It?s called the Buriza-Do Kyanon. It means something approximating ?Blizzard Cannon?. And Blizzard worked very hard to ensure that it didn?t discredit its namesake. It?s a wonder they didn?t do the same for a certain Sorceress skill.

Why it ain?t so bad
Where would crossbows be if it weren?t for this item? Why, back in the blacksmith?s pocket where they damn well belong! Diablo II only goes on to confirm what we all previously suspected: that the medieval longbow is vastly superior to the crossbow in every conceivable way. Huzzah!

Worst Enemy
The Hell Bovines might have had this one in the bag, were it not for the fact that they don?t happen to be two-foot-tall, teleporting, fire-spitting bundles of pure, unadulterated hatred. Those dastardly imps! I could go on, but quite frankly I don?t need to.

Why they ain?t so bad
They don?t have mana burn.

Yet.

Worst Act
Hmmm?hard to say. Act IV is not known for its longevity, but nor is Act V praised for its difficulty. And Act I is often chastised for being repetitive?

Okay, I?ll cut the crap. It?s Act III. It always has been. If you don?t believe me you?ve never been outside the Durance (which sucks anyway, stupid Durance). It?s almost like a rollercoaster made of poop. And not that nice poop that you?ve no doubt seen on the Tele. This is the nasty kind. The kind that?s made from alligators and dead babies and old episodes of Neighbours.

Why it?s not so bad
It just keeps going on and on and on and on and on, not unlike me. It?s a good metaphor for life if you happen to live in a swamp surrounded by blowpipe-wielding midgets.

Other than that, it just bites.

And that brings me to the end of this exercise is negativity. I?m sure everyone had a fantastic time, and I hope we all learned a lot. And if nothing else, at least now you know why I don?t get paid to write these.

It?s truly a testament to the greatness of this game that articles like this even exist. Diablo II grows old and creaky, but she never ages in the eyes of her beloved community. Yet she?s so close to perfection that all the minor issues become major.

I really do love this game.

Disclaimer: The Lion’s Toes was written by Leon (Robert McGrath-Kerr) and hosted by Diabloii.net. The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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