Buyer’s Guide: ‘Diablo III’ and ‘Max Payne 3’

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Have a spare vacation day? Good, because tomorrow, May 15, is the day that two eagerly awaited sequels are being released: Diablo III and Max Payne 3. Let’s take a look at each one and help you decide whether either one (or both) are worth your hard-earned money.

Diablo III

What is it?
Diablo was first released in 1996 by Blizzard, the company that also brought you World of Warcraft and StarCraft II. Like in the first two Diablo games, this installment takes place in Sanctuary, a hellish fantasy world full of monsters that look like they came out of Hellraiser via Lord of the Rings.

Blizzard calls it an action RPG game, meaning you’ll be constantly hacking away at enemies inside of randomly generated dungeons. You’ll get to choose from five classes: barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk and demon hunter. You can play by yourself or cooperatively with up to four players on, although you’ll have to wait for Blizzard to add PvP in a free post-release patch.

What’s new?

The big news is the inclusion of an auction house, where you can buy and sell items with in-game or real money. Is it distasteful to let rich gamers buy their way to glory? Perhaps, but it should make hunting for good items a lot more rewarding.

Also new is the ability to “respec” at any time, which means you’ll be able to experiment with your character and play with all of their abilities, as opposed to just hoarding skill points and concentrating on an ideal build. Every Don Quixote needs a Sancho Panza; your character will get a little help from Followers, similar to Henchmen in Diablo II except that you’ll be able to upgrade these characters’ skills as they fight alongside you.

Why should you buy it?

A lot has changed since 2000, the year Diablo II came out. In case you haven’t noticed, online gaming has improved a bit since then, so you can expect a much better multiplayer experience and better support from Blizzard.

Price: $60 (PC / Mac)

Rockstar Games

Max Payne 3

What is it?

Do you like shooting stuff? Good! The Max Payne series is all about never taking your finger off the trigger, often while flying through the air in slow motion. It’s from Rockstar Games, maker of Grand Theft Auto, so you can expect plenty of gritty crime scenes and characters straight out of ’80s action movies.

In the first new Max Payne game since 2003, Max finds himself in beautiful São Paulo, Brazil “in an effort to finally escape his troubled past.” This, predictably, does not go so well and he finds himself once again gobbling up painkillers and using his Bullet Time and Shoot Dodge abilities to perform Matrix-style moves while shooting his way through the criminal underworld.

What’s new?

This is the first game in the Max Payne series to feature a multiplayer mode. The idea is to adapt Max Payne’s third-person perspective to a multiplayer environment, complete with Bullet Time, letting you slug it out in slow-motion with the player you’re targeting. The main multiplayer mode is Gang Wars, in which rival gangs duke it out for four rounds, with each round’s objectives changing according to the outcome of the previous one.

Why should you buy it?

Pick it up if you’re tired of playing your old Halo and Call of Duty games and want a fresh perspective on multiplayer shooters.

Price: $60 (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC)