Familiar and Fun
New technologies continue to push the boundaries of PC gaming with more powerful processing capabilities, improved physics, and better graphics. Still, some gaming genres remain very much steeped in tradition. Since Diablo first entrenched the hack-and-slash RPG sub genre in the annals of gaming history just over a decade ago, not a whole lot has changed with the core formula of these click-fests. Like other recent offerings falling under the same banner, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is a largely entertaining exercise in rapidly-clicking your mouse to eviscerate foes and collecting more treasure than you can possibly use.
Set in the world of Ancaria nearly two millennia before the events unfolding in the original game, the story in Sacred 2 follows a time of conflict caused by the corrupting power of the T-Energy unleashed on the land. The angelic Seraphim bestowed their knowledge of the magical substance to the High Elves, who broke into factions and mounted a civil war for control of the energy. This attracted other races who sought to possess the power for their own corrupt aims, as well as those seeking to preserve it for good. With T-Energy creatures marauding through the land and a massive war in full swing, you join the fray to either help the land recover from the dark times or work to push it over the brink of chaos.
At its core, the gameplay in Sacred 2 should be nothing new to anyone who’s dabbled in the genre before. Setting out on the path of adventure, you’ll encounter scores of creatures that require you to click frantically in order to hack at them and chip away at their health. Once you’ve cut them down, you’ll loot their corpses for gold and artifacts, equip anything better than what you’re already using, and move on to the next group of foes to do the very same. The acquisition of magic powers, unique character abilities, specialized mounts, and cool items offer variation and incentive to move onward. The main adventure and scores of side quests will keep you running all over the different ends of the game’s giant realm. Adventuring with friends greatly amplifies the fun, thanks to a robust multiplayer component. Despite possessing many of the same old tried-and-true genre elements, a combination of unique characters, a sense of humor, and other subtle nuances in Sacred 2 make it stand out from the pack.
While the Seraphim are carried over from the last game, the other five classes are new to Sacred 2. The High Elf, Dryad, Shadow Warrior, and Inquisitor are more traditional fantasy characters, while the Temp Guardian – a cybernetic, Egyptian humanoid dog – is entertainingly outlandish with his laser arm. Pegged on the opposite ends of the alignment spectrum, the Seraphim and the Inquisitor characters must walk the paths of good and evil respectably, but other characters are free to choose either. Your alignment selection will have a big impact on how the game plays out. Also, each character can pick from a handful of deities to follow, which shapes what types of powers and combat abilities will be available from the onset of your quest.
Gaining experience through slaughter and questing levels-up your character in the traditional method, granting you points to acquire new skills and boost stats. Thankfully, magic abilities, dubbed combat arts, don’t rely on mana to function. Instead, each power has a cool-down period that can be shortened through extensive modification. This interesting mod function also lets you tweak abilities to boost the power and effect of these crucial skills. New combat arts can be learned through purchasing runes during the adventure. Additionally, deity-specific abilities provide tremendously powerful attacks that often are delivered with very cool visual effects.
Between the visual differences in classes and the subtle variations in skills, abilities, and weapons – not to mention the differences in alignment and starting location – each character provides a unique experience. It’s definitely worth playing through the adventure more than once to fully explore how the different classes handle. The same goes for their mounts. General mounts greatly improve the speed you can navigate the land, but they limit your abilities to simple attacks while riding them. Later on in the game you’ll come across more exotic rides, depending on your character selection, and these mounts can be upgraded and equipped as well.
The size and scope of the land of Ancaria is truly impressive. None of the areas are randomly generated, and the entire map (not including the numerous subterranean dungeons littered here and there) spans over 22 square miles of real-world distance. In a nutshell: it’s freaking huge. Navigation in the overworld is seamless, and load times during transitions to the underground are very brief. All of the terrain is packed with detail and different regions have their own unique climates, inhabitants, and land features. Also, the characters, monsters, and other elements look excellent.
One of the downsides, which will likely be fixed with patches, is the game’s general bugginess. There are times when the pop-up map disappeared completely, making it damn tedious to navigate. Sometimes clicking on people to speak with them had no effect whatsoever, and certain actions would yield sounds but no visual or gameplay effects. In one instance, a crucial item required to proceed in the main quest was not where it was supposed to be, making it impossible to proceed. Occasionally, the direction indicator that points to the next main object disappeared completely. Most of these issues were remedied by quitting and reloading the game, but they were a nuisance when they arose.
A hack-and-slash RPG quest of massive proportion, Sacred 2 caters to the throng of players who are anxiously awaiting the eventual release of Diablo III. PC gamers who’ve been salivating over the prospect of the next Diablo will undoubtedly seek temporary solace in the familiar gameplay found in Sacred 2 and be willing to turn a blind eye to the title’s annoying bugs and occasionally repetitious play mechanics just to get their fix. Indeed, overlook the few minor irritating aspects of the game, and you’ll find Sacred 2 to be surprisingly enjoyable.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
It’s generally a beautiful world to explore. 3.8 Control
Incessant clicking is still a winning yet repetitive formula. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Funny dialogue. A cool fantasy/metal soundtrack is provided by German metal band Blind Guardian who also makes an appearance in the game. 4.0 Play Value
Though repetition does eventually set in, there’s a huge world to explore and plenty of reasons to stick with it in the long haul. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.