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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment    Genre: Adventure & RPG    Expansion For: Diablo II
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 800 MB    4x CD-ROM    Graphics: 800x600 @ 256 Colors

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
July 30, 2001 | Michael Phillips

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Throughout the ages groups of Three have terrorized our world, leaving only horror in their wake. Such groups include the Three Stooges, the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary. However, there is one triad of evil in particular that nearly spun all of mankind into the fiery depths of Hell. These Three who nearly toppled humanity were the Prime Evils, Diablo, Mephisto and Baal. Thankfully, Diablo and Mephisto were cut down before they could do any serious harm to our Sanctuary. Yet, we are not safe for Baal still roams the earth, seeking to avenge his brothers and ultimately finish their work. In Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo II: Lord of Destruction players once again take up arms in order to do battle against the forces of evil and chaos. Does this expansion set live up to the rest of Blizzard’s top-notch titles or does it fall flat like so many Richard Gere films? C’mon folks, WAKE UP! Lord of Destruction is a Blizzard Entertainment title, of course it’s amazing. The only question is, just how amazing is this latest installment of the Diablo saga? Read on and all questions will be answered.

Gameplay: +9 Against Demons
Lord of Destruction features a number of gameplay additions and enhancements to Diablo II, making an already grand game even better. The most noticeable of these changes is the addition of an entirely new Act (Act V) set in the Barbarian Highlands and 2 new character classes, the cunning Assassin and shape-shifting Druid.

Act V takes place after the death of Diablo, deep in the Barbarian Highlands with Baal the Lord of Destruction climbing Mount Arreat in order to reach the sacred Worldstone. The Worldstone’s energy is what blocks the forces of Hell from entering the mortal plane, thus Baal wishes to corrupt it with his demonic powers. Act V is my absolute favorite Act, sporting 6 side quests and a host of NPCs, it’s extremely action packed and challenging.

Upon exiting the barbarian city of Harrogath, players are thrust into an active battle complete with barbarian NPCs fighting in deadly combat against Baal’s bloodthirsty minions. Baal’s forces have also dug trenches and setup catapults that rain death upon Harrogath, this gives the player a real sense that an ongoing battle is taking place. Act V also introduces destructible walls and barriers. If a wall’s in your way, just kick it in!

Ok, enough about Act V, let’s talk character classes. The Assassin and Druid are both insanely fun to play, each with their own special abilities. Personally, I find the Assassin to be the better of the two, but bear in mind that I tend to be partial against druids. They’re a bit too “earthy” for me, but I digress.

The Assassin
Shrouded in mystery, the Assassin’s purpose is to seek out and eliminate rogue magi who are corrupted by the forces of darkness. This practice began following the horrid tragedy brought on by Bartuc and Horazon against the Vizjerei. Assassins do not utilize the magical arts directly, but rather, they make use of enchanted weapons that mimic elemental powers. Assassins are also well trained in the powers of the human mind and the deadly martial arts.

I’m quite fond of the Assassin; her melee skills are nothing short of stunning. Armed with the new Claw-class weapons introduced in Lord of Destruction, an Assassin can easily hack and slash her way through large groups of foul demons. The Assassin basically uses 2 main skill types, Charge-up skills and Finishing Moves. Charge-up skills are a way to make Finishing Moves even more deadly. Each consecutive hit made by the Assassin creates a “charge”; the charges are then released by invoking a Finishing Move. For example, a few hits with Fists of Fire followed by a Finishing Move creates a lovely explosion of flames. The Assassin also employs assorted traps to maim her foes. For example, Charged Bolt Sentry shocks enemies that get too close. All in all, the Assassin is a crafty demon killer.


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