PC REVIEW: SACRED UNDERWORLD

With new characters, weapons, quests and an incredibly larger world, Sacred Underworld is the quintessential definition of an "expansion pack." It's also beginner-friendly yet maintains the same tough and involved gameplay that is certain to appeal to fans of the original. How can this be everything to everybody? Read on!

As the expansion pack to Sacred, a Diablo-style game that managed to stand on its despite some technical issues, Underworld picks up where the original left off forcing us into new territory with the advantage of familiarity and comfortableness with the gameplay and characters. Some of the problems have been addressed but you'll still get your ass kicked by hordes of enemies at virtually every turn.

Underworld allows you to import your favorite character from the original game long as he or she has a level of 25. Beginners can choose either of the two new characters, a succubus (female demon) or a dwarf. They both come loaded with experience points but there is still plenty of upgrading to be done so you can tailor them to suit your personality or fanciful whims.

As I mentioned, there is an awful lot of combat. There are monsters, demons and humanoids of every shape and size imaginable. They drop tons of goodies and can be worth thousands of experience points if you kill them. Points, armor, weapons, upgrades and abilities are offered by the ton. You'll collect so many things that you won't even have enough storage space to keep it all. Will it all come in handy? I don't know, I've only played the game for a couple of days but with all these points, powers and items the game could seemingly last for years considering that items can be enchanted and upgraded. Even the blacksmith can do some further customizing for you with the weapons and armor. There doesn't seem to be a limit to what you can and can't do.

The fact that you can level-up your character to ridiculous levels means that you'll be able to take on some very large enemies. This all comes at a price. You really have to amass plenty of points to reach such levels but with all the fighting you'll encounter on your journey it won't take as long as you might think. If you're like me you'll want to avoid some of the fighting and try doing some more exploring but that's not easy. You can choose to ride on horseback, if you can afford it, but you'll have to dismount every time that you want to pick up some loot which can be often.

Building on the same graphics engine you will be familiar with the art style but not the environments. There is almost fifty-per-cent more new areas than in the original version. Unlike Diablo these environments are pre-rendered which gives them an atmosphere of being well established - and thus more realistic. There are some nice 3D lighting effects that highlight the 2D backgrounds and make them appear more rounded and lifelike. The soundtrack perfectly accompanies new scenes and situations but it's also very sparse in places and prone to repetition during exploration and at the beginning of battles.

If you're looking to revive an old friend, Underworld will bring Sacred back from the dead to live another virtual lifetime.

System: PC
Dev: Ascaron GmbH
Pub: Ascaron GmbH
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1 - multi online
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
4.5