Hardcore gaming is where it all started!
The geeks' definition of hardcore would be, an intransigent nucleus resistant to change, permanent death or playing with callous regard to the character. The user might leave a few drunken tales behind as a legacy if any primary character warranted such recognition. Even then it's more likely to a tale of the multitude of spawned characters and what those represent as an overall whole. The actual physical memory would have been cleared as the next player stepped up, dropped a quarter and added a new credit.
In the early years of the video arcade, hardcore was the only way we played and it's still around. The most basic early arcade action was driven by a simple checkpoint system, hardcoded into the game so if the electronic version of yourself died then you were started at the beginning of the same level, grid or sequence. Usually popping back in without any upgrades, a full health but minus one of the little "lives remaining" icons in the corner of the screen and about 2 seconds to decide where to go before the program has fully resolved the program for taking damage. The whole point was to play a perfect round or figure out the best way to defeat the pattern, in order to advance to the next, gain extra lives, warp to the next level, etc.
There was also the infamous 10 second blackmail they used at the arcade to 'continue' the game with a new credit. Often a credit that is currently showing a zero balance which then requires a quick decision when there is more change in the pocket ready to go. Deposit coins or we are going to derez the memory! and you'll have to start over, from the beginning. My longest arcade stretch was on the first Tron game, duh! more than 8 hours on my second life in a two player game. My opponent left on about hour 3 after only playing 1 of his 3 lives. What then makes a hardcore player? Perhaps it's anyone who recognizes the futility of getting sentimental about any game or character.
Besides, it wasn't until gaming with the PC and Consoles that we got saves, now better than ever with complex stats, inventories and quest logs. No surprise that one of the coolest games to give us complex saves was Diablo and Diablo2. Then that tradition continues for Diablo III, full of ways to transform your primary character into a hero that saves the Kingdom of Heaven! It's still the same shit on a different pile, ... maybe I was expecting more, something different, new and exciting. Instead, somehow, we got less and more at the same time and Blizzard does that better than anyone else!
Diablo III vs. Hardcore
After playing my first round on Hell difficulty, I decided it was time to express my concerns on this latest edition of World of Warcraft, oops, I meant to say Diablo III. The skills tree is gone and has been replaced by a very rigid selection tree and only 3 passive ability slots. There are 6 quick functions, 1 - 4 and Lft/Rgt mouse buttons, that you can assign typically to 1 of 4 skills, modified by one of 6 runes.
Then they added a delay after you switch skills!? What stupid butt head came up with that idea? It is very frustrating when you need to change your weapon in the middle of a battle and there is a delay before you can use it? You also need to find a safe spot because the action requires an open sub window over a battle scene that continues to wage on. Everything has 5 second delay, so there is no dropping a town portal for a quick escape, no secondary weapon slot and function keys cannot be assigned. Gone are the days of instantly switching a weapon, an aura or my favourite; to/from werewolf form. I preferred the Diablo2 skills tree over this limited control panel. I liked deciding how to add runes, jewels and gems to my equipment in order to make legendary weapons!? Most of all, I liked being able to instantly switch things up for the bigger battles. It was a challenge to go online and look-up data for crafting, rune words, set items, etc. Now a blind monkey could play this game with one hand tied behind it's back.
Diablo III's possible failure was written the day they decided to make it all online play only. Playing without an Internet connection is no longer allowed. I know people who may never get to play Diablo3 for that reason, they don't ever plan on having Internet. I'm sure that what drove many of Diablo III's failings was the need to simplify, shrink and compress the data stream so they could stuff it through a lite DSL connection. The issue now is having an overpowered PC, even on the fastest DSL, the hardware now needs a pause to let the BattleNet servers catch up to it! Quite often my primary takes a leap back in time and everything I've clicked on for the past 10 seconds is back or alive and has been hitting me without resistance for the last 5 seconds, Grrr :) A great way to lose that hardcore character you've managed to level up. I've already lost a hardcore barbarian to a network glitch. My wireless went down in the middle of a battle and no doubt the battle continued for at least a few seconds before battle.net knew I was missing. Just enough time for the monsters to tear me apart. Blizzard's first clue this was going to be a mistake should've been when they decided to add a lag meter on the command bar so we can measure our level of frustration.
Coming Next ... a review of the 2012 Canadian Video Game Awards, held at FANeXpo, Vancouver, BC, with limited seating, I have brought back videos and more opinions ...
It was nice and strangely disappointing that Blizzard kept the minimum system requirements low. It all adds up to World of Warcraft in disguise, only without the monthly fee and all of it's drawbacks. In any case, managing to level up to 52 before losing interest in the game will be a stretch now to get past the "servers undergoing maintenance", Internet lag time or my character standing in one spot while the shots appear out of thin air a couple of yards away because Battle.Net hasn't caught up to me.
The great news is that the graphics are awesome, the gameplay follows most of the basic commands as before, with a few improvements like [Z]oom. A faster PC with a decent video card, will definitely improve the experience. Otherwise you'll just get 800x600, again, for the third time ... playable? Yes, an improvement? Not enough of one to make up for all the other mistakes. This is proof positive that Blizzard needs to start standing up to the whiners on their forums. I would gladly give up the extra backpack space, the low cost crafting, side-by-side inventory comparisons and specialized mana, just to get back the offline playability.
Well my gaming schedule didn't go from overtime, into overdrive and then 'way too much'. Occasionally my eyes got blurry and I start to nod off whilst in the middle of a fight. That's a good indication its time to take a break and let the world know how I feel about this bomb coated with sweetness. I'll be heading back to Batman, Dragon Age and Deus Ex. My return to Diablo III will be no different than my mood for other games. It certainly didn't knock my socks off with greater class and sophistication that we were expecting. There are still some pretty impressive moves and battles that you can get into. Especially battles that can end with the little birdie wave at the computer that declares a solid, "take that evil monsters in cyberspace!" kind of adrenaline rush ...
Title: Diablo III
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 15 May 2011
Published by: Blizzard Entertainment
Developed by: Blizzard Entertainment
Blood and Gore, Violence