Grrrr, Fresh Meat
Any of us who remember Diablo1 probably remember the rather unusual expansion pack developed by Sierra. The expansion added two nice new areas, some extra features like running in town, but didn't do too much else. But much has happened to Diablo since the original game. While the graphics still remained nearly as bad as the first game's (actually, worse, since the first game was actually anti-aliased), the gameplay has changed a lot for the better. Naturally the expansion pack would have to evolve with the game.
The Diablo II expansion pack, Lord of Destruction, is a very unusual type of expansion. Usually the main portion of an expansion is an additional set of areas, however, Lord of Destruction, while it does add a nice new area, does not focus on the new area. In fact, the new items and the new types of items are the biggest benefit to the game, and literally change the entire way the game is played.
Unfortunately, there was quite a deal of change made in the 1.07/1.08 patch that had begun to make the game similar to what the expansion would be like, and it really ruined quite a few things for non-expansion players, though it added quite a bit too. I'd have to say I did prefer even the original game with the patch due to increased item drops and the like, but I feel for the level 60 characters that built up on skills that were modified down. Its really bizarre for a game to be that majorly modified nearly a year after its release. But this is a review of the expansion, so why would I mention that? I mention it for two reasons. The first is that it does give you a taste of what the expansion will play like in terms of item drops and the like. The second is that the expansion takes all these changes and makes them far more beneficial. I'll get to that later.
There are quite a few surface-level modifications that were made. The biggest is the ability to play the game in 800x600 resolution. The game looks far more tolerable in high resolution, and the "new skills" and "new stats" buttons are set into the bottom interface rather than popping up in the game screen. Unfortunately, there are sections in the game (for a few specifics: The entry to the Kurast jungles, next to the palace in Act II, the bridge near the blacksmith in the new Act V, and several other areas) which have such incredibly low framerate. Even on my system, the framerate has dropped as low as 4 in these areas while playing in 800x600. I'd still rather play in high resolution with a little framerate loss in a few areas than have to play with those blocky pixels in 640x480 again, though, that's for sure.
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