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All site related info and text is 2001 J. Meinzer and J. Uchman unless otherwise noted. Games and their prospective logos, slogans and images are their prospective companies.  Yeti doesn't have my stick Bob.  I still hate Peter Forsberg.  Mushroom power.  Scissors, scissors...

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

PUBLISHER / DEVELOPER:  Blizzard Ent.

WEBSITE

RELEASE:  SUMMER 2001

It only gets more painful from here

Overview

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction picks up in Act 5, continuing your adventures after handing Diablo his ruddy, red ass at the end of the first game.  You star as... well, whoever you played, or whoever you want to play.  You must travel into the Barbarian Highlands of the north to stop the final Prime Evil, Baal, from seizing the power of the Worldstone and doing bad things in general to all of existence.

The expansion pack ships with some nice news toys, including some needed tweaks to the engine, two new classes, a whole shwack of new gear, new skills, new monsters (though some seem to be recycled a bit)  and of course, Act 5.  Lets hop right in and see what Blizzard has given us...

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Soon after I installed my Beta CD and patched up, I converted my level 47 amazon and was preparing to 0wnz0rZ the Lord of Destruction.  Baal be damned, my Bowazon was a lean mean arrow shootin' machine, and she was going to mow through Act 5 like there was no tomorrow.  So I talked to a bunch of people in the barbarian town, summoned my Valkyrie and prepared to blow away the enemy.

Oh how wrong I was.

Icy ouchies

I died.  A lot.  Blizzard did a good job of forcing you to change your tactics, and I had to here.  While my 'Zon was an offensive force, she was weak... poison throwing catapults became a nightmare, and kamikaze, exploding creatures were almost instant death.  Every time I pushed with my old tactics, Baal sent me packing.  It was time to reassess my strategy... it was time... for a hireling!!

Oh yes I know what you're thinking, "Fen, hirelings suck in Diablo."  I guess Blizzard agreed, because you now have the ability to equip and resurrect your hirelings and not only that, they will level with you, gain new skills and even follow you from act to act... for someone like my tank-dependant Amazon, this was just the trick.  Soon after adding a henchman to my family, and with a few changes to my standard attack format, I was back on track cutting down evil wherever it grew.    As troublesome as it was, the changes to a lot of the skills and tactics was a breath of fresh air.

In terms of hands on play, D2:LOD plays much like D2... in fact, nothing is really changed except for the new expanded hot key system, an enlarged stash size and new gear - including some nifty class specific items like Paladin shields and orbs for the Sorceress.  Other features are new creature types (like fortifications and catapults), new Horadric Cube recipes and 6 new quests to go on in Act 5 including a cool one that allows you to name one of your items.  All in all, Blizzard gave us a solid show in terms of new stuff... they're not blowing our minds here, but most Diablo2 players will like these changes.

Above all, there are the two new classes, the Assassin and the Druid, and with each, 30 new skills per class.  The assassin makes her way with her martial arts, trap setting and skills of the mind.  I dabbled with her a bit, and by far her coolest feature is her "finishing move" which uses charges.  Basically, you use a specific skill to charge up... up to three charges... then switch to a finishing move to destroy your opponent.  This works great on bosses, where you charge up by killing their minions, then finish the boss with a final, lethal blow.  Charges vary, from damage increasing to health/mana drain.

Everybody was kung fu fighting...

The Druid is similar to the Necromancer, but depends less on his minions and more on his own ability to lay the smack down.  I didn't spend too much time with the Druid, but needless to say their shapeshifting powers make the druid an incredible force to be reckoned with as he increases in level, especially in werebear form.  His other skills lay in elemental spells and animal summoning.  Once again Blizzard has done a top rate job with balancing their classes, which I have always thought has been one of the strongest features of Diablo2 (despite what some people may say).

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Pretty much everything is the same here as it was in Diablo2 except.... now we have 800 by 600 mode!  Yahoo!  This was seriously a long time coming, and while it doesn't knock you out of your seat visually, the new res setting can make for some pretty scenery and intense battle scenes.  Kudos to the art team as well for a lot of the design and texturing... while the ice caves did get pretty repetitive, the plateau scenes and temple maps were, in a word, cool.  Especially the little scrolling feature they have in there to make it look like you're on a cliffside thousands of feet above the land below.  It's touches like this that make the expansion pack well worth the investment.

Hi res mode! Oooo

The audio is strong, a Blizzard mainstay, but with no real advances... Baal is appropriately creepy sounding, and much of the environmental sounds are right on track.    Perhaps the best audio to the expansion is the feisty kung-fu cries of the Assassin (Ai yah!!).

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Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is a sure winner, based on name and reputation alone.  But Blizzard really has gone to great lengths to give us a solid offering here.  With some real fan service, a few surprises and two great and enjoyable new classes, D2:LOD is not only worth buying, it's necessary.  There's something in the pack for everyone, from the excellent Adopt-a-Hireling program, to nifty new gear, to enhanced graphics, all players will go home happy.  Its the next challenge, the ultimate challenge if you will, and you owe to yourself and that poor, neglected D2 character on your account to pick this expansion up and breath some life back into your old game.  Evil lurks again in Sanctuary... it's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum.  And of course, we're all out of bubblegum.

Don't be the only person not slapping Baal around this summer.. you deserve better.

GOOD STUFF:

-New gear, classes, monsters and skills.
-Expanded stash size.
-New Hi Res mode.
-Hirelings are actually cool.

BAD STUFF:

-Monsters get recycled a lot in Act5.
-Act 5 still not enough game!
-Werebear sheds.

Overall I'd consider Diablo II: Lord of Destruction a must-buy for anyone who owns Diablo2.  You will not be disappointed.

-Fenris

D2: Lord of Destruction Links:

the Chaos Sanctuary

Planet Diablo

Diabloii.net

the Lurker Lounge

Diablo2 Realm