It's the standard set up for big shows, rotating visitors in half hour blocks. Presentation, gameplay footage and blam - you're out the door already. Not conducive for a game that demands leisurely perusal; to try different classes, examine each piece of loot, mark up statistics, carefully weigh up gem options. There's a lot to take in with Diablo III.
Do this however, and you're not getting past the first few rooms of the dungeon you're tossed into. With time at a premium, we select the Monk class and metaphorically put our foot down.
Thirty minutes with a game you've been waiting ten years for is not much. But it's enough to know it both looks and feels like the series we remember. Enough to be bitten by that old fever. Enough to laugh on finding new armour, and enough to feel like a bad-ass when taking out dozen of enemies with well-timed attacks.
This is not a sequel cashing in on nostalgia, nor crafted by those not familiar with the original. This is emphatically Diablo.
The hands-on demo takes place early in the game, with our Monk's ability set being counted on one hand. The default attack is highly effective lightning, and a glance at the skill list reveals that it's already maxed out. The right mouse button yields the melee attack, not nearly as effective, and we failed to find a better weapon than the default knives.
I put my first earned skill points to good use: a holy damage attack that deals damage to enemies and heals allies simultaneously, and another ability that temporally blinds enemies - practical in a pressure situation. Enemies drop loot galore, but little in the way of health recharges - a change from the predecessors - and due to the restrictive time limit it's a worry; we've haven't got time to die.
The surroundings are classic Diablo, dark dungeons bathed in the soft glow of torch light. Enemies range from zombies to demons, all coming in different sizes. The former continuing to fight even after cut in half, which is a nice detail.
There's also a lot more traps in third game, though these can be used to your advantage. Less intelligent enemies will wade through spikes and blades, and as we see in one location, a room rammed with zombies can be cleared by flicking a switch to shoot spikes out of the floor.
We stumble on loot, but most is of a type unusable by our character, or inferior to our current load-out. Looking through the skill sets, we note the lack of Town Portal on the list, though the assumption is that its been consciously removed for the sake of the demo.
After clearing the dungeon of enemies and mandatory mini-bosses, we stumble out into the open...and straight into side-quest territory. An NPC asks for help to catch a crook. We accept, and soon are fighting side by side through hordes of monsters. Another requests aid in exorcising spirits and undead from a nearby castle. We're getting into it now, and so its clearly the time for a tap on the shoulder informing us our half hour slot is over.
An abrupt ending, but not an unhappy one, Diablo III being everything we expected - classic gameplay, great soundtrack, nice graphics. This is not a game like Diablo. It is Diablo. For connoisseurs, this is something close to the best praise one can give. We cross everything that can be crossed that the full release lives up to this briefest of teasers.