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LONG BLOG

The Devil's In The Controls: Diablo III Console Fears Illegitimate?

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Namely this one.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a unique isometric-view Tomb Raider title released on the PSN and Xbox Live, and possesses a distinctive Diablo-esque feel. Players make their way through a series of tombs in pursuit of an angry Toltec demigod, fighting hordes of twisted monsters and traversing trap-filled dungeons. The only key differences with LCatGoL are that players use guns instead of magic or medieval weapons and there are significant platforming elements involved in traversing the game's locations. Since Diablo is purely a combat-oriented game, we can ignore the platforming aspects here.

Exactly like in Diablo, enemies approach the player (who occupies the center of the screen) from all directions and the player must quickly flick between targets to avoid becoming swarmed. This is intuitively accomplished by relegating movement to the left analog stick and directional aim to the right analog stick. Since all of the weapons in LCatGoL are projectile weapons, the player simply uses themselves as a point of reference and points the right stick in the direction of an enemy, relative to their character. For those who may have difficulty hitting the mark, the game also allows for varying degrees of aim-assistance. From here, firing is as simple as pulling the right trigger button. By arranging the battlefield as a circle expanding from a central point (the player), the game beautifully facilitates fighting swarms of enemies.

Not all weapons in Diablo are projectiles; in fact, a very even proportion are melee weapons. With the control scheme outlined above, this does not pose a problem. Simply get close to your enemy and replace the word "fire" with "swing." The same can be said for alternate attacks. In Diablo, the player typically has a weapon as a primary attack and an ability as a secondary attack. That's why God gave us two trigger buttons. By adopting this control layout, the meat of Diablo's gameplay is faithfully represented on a gamepad. I know what you're thinking, though, "what about selecting abilities on the fly and using potions without function or number keys?"

While I agree that those hotkeys make switching tactics on the fly a breeze, a gamepad won't be far behind. We are still left with the shoulder "bumpers," and the D-pad. The horizontal D-pad buttons could be used to switch abilities on the fly, while the vertical ones select alternate equipment sets on the fly, or vice versa. The bumpers could be used to quickly drink potions from different tiers of the player's belt. Using potions in Diablo III won't be as demanding of finger dexterity as previous installments, since enemies now drop health orbs that instantly add to the player's life. I doubt this was instituted with gamepads in mind, but for better or worse it makes for a nice handicap to console players.

There are plenty of other concerns to be addressed before a console adaptation of Diablo III will see the market, such as "will PC and console gamers play in the same servers?" I don't have the answers to those kinds of questions, and only time will tell for sure. However, in the meantime, don't worry about a console Diablo title stealing the PC's thunder, and try not to sweat the control questions too much. If they're smart, Blizzard will adopt a clever control layout like that of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Speaking of which, if you haven't played it yet, I highly recommend it. At $14.99 it's a very reasonable and very fun download. Pick it up and see what I mean.
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About DiscoStuone of us since 1:34 PM on 05.02.2011


Stu Strock has been gaming since his parents sat him in their laps while playing games on an Amiga. Raised mostly on RPGs, he has since developed a keen interest in the narrative potential and immersive qualities of games. As games progressed and evolved over the years, that interest grew and Stu decided to keep games and their culture close by. During high school and college, he worked part-time for Gamestop and became exposed to a wider range of thought concerning what the word game means to players. Now a recent graduate, Stu is currently living in Atlanta, GA and maintains his blog, Experience Points, which seeks to encourage the open discourse of the creation, enjoyment and potential of modern games.

Stu's favorites: Metal Gear Solid (series), Chrono Trigger/Cross, Breath of Fire (series), Grandia, Suikoden (I and II), Final Fantasy (VIII, X and XII), Mirror's Edge, Demon's Souls, Silent Hill (series), Eternal Sonata, Fallout: New Vegas, Batman Arkham Asylum, Legend of Zelda (series), Okami, Ys (series), Valyrie Profile, Kingdom Hearts (series), Tales of Symphonia, Twisted Metal (series), Legacy of Kain (series), Gex (series), Heavy Rain, Wing Commander IV, Ace Combat (series), Zone of the Enders (series), Atelier Iris (I and II), Ico, Shadow of the Colossus

Stu is Currently Playing: Demon's Souls, Grandia
PSN ID:StuttgartStu87


 

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