Easily the best video game deal on the face of the planet, the Diablo Battle Chest pack showcases Diablo II which, for all intents and purposes, is the equivalent to video game crack. Yes, that's right... This game is that good. As in, be prepared for marathon play sessions ending in the wee hours of the morning with you calculating just how much sleep you need in order to continue playing the minute you get up again.
And now with the development of Diablo III well underway and with the petition protesting against its World of Warcrafty artwork approaching 60,000 signatures, Diablo II remains more and more a PC game classic and is destined, in my humble opinion, to become the quintessential Diablo experience. (Having seen Diablo III trailers, I doubt very much Blizzard will be able to recapture the sense of creepy macabre that permeates throughout Diablo II).
Of course, critical acclaim is not something Diablo II is exactly short on, what with its official entry into the 2000 edition of the Guinness World Book of Records as the fastest selling computer game of all time. And although this record has since been broken, Wikipedia still lists Diablo II as the best selling computer role playing game of all time selling over 4 million copies to date.
So what's all the hoopla about?...
Diablo II is the very definition of a computer role playing game. Essentially, you select one of five characters and then you meticulously develop this character in order to take him or her into battle. The game presents your character as a sprite which you control from a kind of isometric top down view as you explore dozens of randomly generated regions —or maps— hacking and slashing through hordes of zombies, demons and various other monsters. As you progress through the game, all the monsters get tougher and tougher requiring you to develop your character well enough to defeat them.
Your character is developed throughout the game by continually earning 'experience' points with every monster you kill. When you have accumulated enough experience points to match each of a series of predetermined levels, your character 'levels up' or achieves the next character level. You continue on this manner, earning more points and succeeding to the next level. Each succession to the next character level grants you 5 attribute points and 1 skill point which you may respectively assign to various general attributes (strength, dexterity, etc) and special character-specific skills (double swing, chain lightning, etc) as you see fit.
Of course it doesn't stop there.
Each monster you kill out in the battlefield also means the possibility of triggering an item drop which could be any of literally thousands of pieces of armor, weapons and magical jewelry as well as gold (the game's currency). You collect all the dropped items (and the gold), equip the items you like and then take the rest back to town (a designated non-combat area) and sell them to various NPC vendors. The vendors also have even more items for sale which you may purchase with your accumulated gold.
Diablo II very quickly then becomes a highly detailed and delicious journey into micromanagement. The main thrill is in building your character up with just the right attributes and skills as well as equipping and re-equipping him or her with an assortment of cool armor and deadly weapons to suit the particular beat-down you wish to inflict on the wide variety of demons and monsters in the game. Diablo II character builds have become the source of much discussion across various forums on the net where you'll hear talk of 'Paladin tanks' (a Paladin focussing on high defensive traits) or 'Sorceress glass cannons' (a Sorceress focussing on powerful attacks at the expense of an adequate defense).
Since your character may be developed in an infinite number of manners, the possibilities are endless and needless to say, Diablo II has replay value stretching well into the next century. Detailed character building will have you engaging in some of the most elaborate, rocket science level number crunching you'll ever do in a video game. Rare item finds —such as armor that instantly freezes any enemy that touches you— will have you salivating for more while you search every nook and cranny of every map or have you spending more time pouring over vendors' item screens than actually doing battle with the stuff that you buy. The point-click-kill-find-buy-cool-stuff style of gameplay in Diablo II is just so much damn addicting that it should probably be illegal.