Everything in D1 seemed perfectly fitting: music, sounds, monster design, colors, level design to make an incredibly immerse dungeon feeling.
D2, albeit fun, is just a bunch of random places that don't really fit heavy gothic atmosphere (sand? jungle? not really...), with bad music (imho). The atmosphere is lacking. the pace and the system is genuinely fun though which makes the game great, but in a different way than D1 was.
Environmentally, D2 did not improve on D1. As a GAME it did, but I'll always remember D1 for it's atmosphere.
Atmosphere was certainly a strenght of its own in D1, but I'll remember it also for the fact how the game rains on your parade every possible second it get, regardless is it enemy, overall difficulty setting or bugs in the game itself
I found the furor over the D3 art style pretty amusing; Blizzard can't kill an atmosphere that was already dead with D2.
Yeah, my thoughts entirely. I didn't get all this "Diablo has such great, spooky dark atmosphere!!" that was going on when they were talking about Diablo 2, not Diablo 1.
Frankly I suspect a lot of it was more talking about lack of bodies/dungeon decorations (see Jail in Act 1 etc) and the over the top green/blue tones that made people overreact and act like Diablo 2 was the spookiest game ever, when really Bashiok got it correct when he talked about neon coloured skeletons and colourful spells all over the place.
D1 was really "grim" and monotone in color, yes. The music was great too. I thought that's where D2 seemed to lose it's greatest strength. They rehashed some old tunes and mixed them together. The soundtrack itself is okay (I'm a big fan of Act 4's and the Palace's music) but it needed more guitar-work like you had with Tristram and the Caves. I thought the atmosphere was just as good though. The improvement in graphics made for really gory playing environments like the Monastery. Bodies littered all over the place, sometimes dangling from pikes? Journeying into the depths of Hell itself? Loved it. The addition of blood (especially when you have something that causes Open Wounds) was a nice touch. D3 looks like WoW with some red blood pixels and "spooky" playing areas like something out of a Tim Burton movie, which is pretty disappointing. I had hoped they would have approached it like Warhammer.