Published on May 22nd, 2017 | by Justin


KBMOD Staff’s Best Game Ever: FakeGhostPirate – Diablo II

It’s the year 2000, I’m at my dad’s apartment in Houston because it’s summer time and I always came down to visit after spending the school year in Connecticut with my mom.  I’m in my father’s bedroom where our one and only computer is located (I think it was a Packard Bell, in fact I know it was because I just did a Google image search and found a picture of it almost immediately).

We had gone to the store because I wanted a video game, specifically Unreal Tournament.  I even remember going to the Walmart (you know, the one on Westheimer in the Galleria area) and perusing their selection of PC games.  I knew what I wanted, I knew what I came for, and I acquired my target within moments of reaching the single half-size aisle of computer game boxes that was available at the time.  Being 15 years old, though, I wanted to see what other games were available, when suddenly my dad said he wanted to buy a second game as well.  He had already played Myst and was quite a fan of it, so something with roleplaying elements sounded more appealing to him when compared to the fast-paced, gore-infested arena shooter that is Unreal Tournament.

The box that caught his eye was, through some twist of fate that would shape my future for decades to come, the titular red and black box art for the original Diablo 2.  Since this was a bonus game and I was getting Unreal Tournament regardless of his selection, I didn’t particularly care what he got, and rather was more interested in his own happiness with his choice.  We went home and, being 15 years old and on summer vacation, I had literally nothing else to do that day, so I played Unreal Tournament for hours on end.

Interestingly, I have almost no memory of my initial time with Unreal Tournament.  It had been out for over half a year already and I’d played it at a friend’s house previously, so maybe the shine of a new game had been lost by that point, or maybe the memories of that day have been completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the experience that I was about to have with my first Blizzard game.

My dad worked at the time, but was a bit of an early bird and would usually go to work in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the rush hour traffic and come home around mid-afternoon.  Having no license, no car, and not many friends on account of living in Connecticut ten months out of the year, my days were pretty much spent watching SNL and Kids in the Hall reruns on Comedy Central, stealing quarters from my dad’s change jar and walking down to Kroger’s to get three donuts for a dollar, and cruising the world wide web or playing games on the computer in my dad’s room.

Obviously using the computer during the hours that my dad was home really depended on whether or not he needed to use the computer for something, but using the PC while he was sleeping was of course completely out of the question.  So it goes without saying that I would try to maximize my game time during the hours he was working.  The first day I loaded up Diablo 2 was a sunny day, I remember that.  There was a long window in my dad’s room and the amount of light coming through it that day indicated to me that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky (not like I could confirm that, I wasn’t going outside).  The 800×600 resolution window launched (or was it 640 by 480 back then?  I actually don’t remember), I was greeted to my first Blizzard cinematic, and saw for the first time a character select screen that would remain burned into the deepest parts of my mind until the day I die.

I, like many others, was immediately drawn to one particular character.  Now I’m not saying everyone was drawn to the same character as me, but I am saying that the characters were distinct enough for someone to look at them for about two seconds and quickly know which strengths and weaknesses and spell types and armor types each class would have.  For me, it was the Necromancer.  The man dressed in black and covered in armor made from the bones of his enemies, a haunting blue fire emanating from his torso. This was the one. He is who I identified with.

The amount of hours that I ended up putting into Diablo 2 and the subsequent Lord of Destruction DLC is unknowable.  The amount of days that I sprinted home from the after-school bus that dropped me off at the end of my street is lost to the annals of time.  The thought of sprinting a mile with a backpack full of text books to play a video game is something I couldn’t fathom at my current point in life (mainly because I have a car now, but let’s not dwell).

A couple of months ago Hex wrote about his “Best Game Ever” selection, which was unsurprisingly a Zelda game (come on, you knew it would be, have you met the guy?) and he wrote a touching article about how Zelda (the game not the guy who is the main character, because his name is Zelda, or so I’m told) helped him bond with his brothers and to discover things about himself.  In a lot of ways Diablo 2 did the same thing for me, although I don’t have any brothers.

D2 taught me that I fucking love PC gaming.  D2 was the first game that I became obsessed with.  It got to the point where I was running a Pindle Bot (shoutout to anyone who remembers Pindle Bots) whenever I was asleep or at school, actively trading in the Battlenet chatrooms, making mules to carry all of my SoJs, and even sneaking downstairs to play when my mom was asleep (yeah, I installed it on my mom’s computer too).

The term “Best Game Ever” dictates a level of quality that Diablo 2 certainly is not lacking, but I nearly wrote this article about Shadow of the Colossus because that was the first game that made me cry.  D2 certainly never made me cry, or indeed feel any emotion but happiness, and maybe the occasional frustration, but it did change my life completely.  Without my unhealthy obsession of Diablo 2 then I might have never played Warcraft 3, or World of Warcraft, or Diablo 3.  Without D2 I might not have joined KBMOD, I might not even be a PC gamer today, and that alone makes it the Best Game Ever, at least for me.

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that I recently lost my father and it’s been a difficult few weeks for me, but as I write this I’m reminded that he changed my life for the better in more ways than one, and the simple act of buying an “extra game” during a trip to Walmart has opened me to an entire world of games, people, and experiences that I might have otherwise missed out on completely.  As I mentioned earlier I will never know the exact number of hours that I put into D2, but I certainly played it a lot more than D3, and I’ve got thousands of hours in that game.

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