Sacred 2: Fallen Angel PC Review
The PC market is full of western style RPGs. The system has had some extremely popular RPG games, which at the time of their release were fresh. Companies now seem to have to borrow concepts and ideas, or even go as far as to try and clone the successful competition to get some market share. At this time it seems a lot of people are working towards breaking into the online RPG arena, a place that World of Warcraft has dominated for the past few years. Not everyone wants to pay to play online, or even play those types of RPGs in general.
The other group of RPGs are the ones that are mainly played with a small group of people, or just by a single player. Usually classed as action RPGs, it’s a genre that can be said to be inspired by Blizzard’s other game, Diablo. Games are often given the title of “Diablo Clone.” It is also a genre that has seen countless games thrown onto the PC. It’s as if companies thought the PC section was Gemma Atkinson and she was offering herself up to people every time they created an action RPG. Man I wish I could make games.
Seeing the potential to be had, Ascaron Entertainment first released their attempted at a Diablo clone back in 2004, entitled Sacred. While it didn’t spark the world on fire, it was praised for its graphics and the open world gameplay. Ascaron is back with a sequel that while trying to improve on its predecessor, isn’t going to change the well known tried and tested formula of the genre.
In story terms the game is actually a prequel, not a sequel. It still set in Ancaria but 2,000 years before the events of Sacred. The world of Ancaria is powered by a mysterious force called the T-Energy. T-Energy is the alpha and omega of all life and magic in the world. It was once watched over by the Seraphim, but they got bored with the world and passed on their knowledge to the High Elves. Becoming Knowledgeable of the T-Energy prepared the High Elves to become the dominate race on the planet.
From historical experiences we know power brings destruction and the same happened to the High Elves. They ended up fighting between each other to see what to do with the T-Energy. In the end they ended up creating a war so devastating it caused chaos in the land. Every other race tried to get their hands on the T-Energy but alas the T-Energy went out of control, which lead to mutated creatures and devastated cities.
A cry for heroes is needed and that is where the player comes in. The game allows you to pick from one of six classes. Technically you aren’t really selecting the classes as the game is essentially making you pick a character. The characters at the start cannot be edited, so they will always look the same in terms of skin, face and the like. Each of the characters look entirely different in design and features their own personality. When making a character you get to choose their campaign, with a selection of light or dark. That is unless you select the Seraphim class. These girls can only be taken through the light story. It’s the same for the Inquisitor. He’s so evil that he can only play the dark side of the campaign. The other four characters are the alive but actually dead Shadow Warrior, The High Elf, Dryad and the amazing looking Temple Guardian, who looks like some freakily awesome looking dog faced robot.
The differences between the campaigns mainly boil down to the quests for each one. If you are on the dark campaign then expect this to feature quests that were on the light but altered to fit the evil attitude of your character. There are also points in the storyline that cross over with the light. So say in one campaign you had to protect a city from invasion. The dark one will have you attacking that city instead. There’s a few of these situations throughout the game.
After you’ve made your hard decision whether to be good or evil, you then have to select your God from a choice of six. Gods give your characters a powerful skill to use. If you select Ker the Goddess of Chaos, then you’ll be able to summon a demon who will fight for you. Other examples are the God of Light, Lumen, who lets you shoot light beams for super damage. Some of these moves look great and do crazy amounts of the damage. The last thing to select is the difficulty. Bronze or silver are your selection for easy or normal. There’s also an option to stick “Hardcore” on. This is a mode that if your character dies, it’s game over… forever. No resurrections happen in hardcore mode. Finishing difficulties unlocks even harder ones to play through.
If you are a player who has played countless point and click action RPGs then as soon as the game starts you’ll feel right at home. The character can be moved by clicking the mouse on a location. Ascaron have also allowed you to physically control the character yourself by the way of the standard WASD keys. I found this to be more exciting than clicking where to go. When combined with the free camera option, using WASD makes you feel there is more control. You still have to click on the enemies to attack, but you are free to walk around while using the other hand to do all the clicking.
Getting quests and missions are done in your typical way. Speaking to some of the NPCs (None Playable Characters) in the game will give you tasks to complete. Directions are show on the map, so you always know where you need to go.
With all the types of spells and features you get in these games, you always need a good interface to access everything. Sacred 2 has a small clear layout that doesn’t take over the screen, yet the interface isn’t compromised because of it. The upper left of the screen contains a picture of your character with bars around it. The red bar shows health, the green one is experience and the little number at the top of it is your character’s level.
The top right shows your mini map with the options to change the size and scale with a simple click on the icon next to the map. Using tab will also bring up a big box with a zoomed in version of the map to be able to see roads and the things around you, very handy.
At the lower right is one of the most used features if you are too lazy to learn all the shortcut keys. It features a circle with buttons to access to different information. The book will bring up your missions; the helmet shows your inventory, the eye for your character information and the lighting shaped thing for your skills. The circles above this are there for you to stick in buffs and to disable the mounts. The last corner is for your god spell and relics. Relics are little items you can get to add resistances against properties. A funny thing is that I never saw a tutorial explaining the interfaces. I started the game as a Shadow Warrior, got some introduction scene, then murdered some guys in cold blood and off I was on an adventure. The game really should have had an in game tutorial rather than making the user read the game’s instruction manual.
Sacred 2 is one of those games that you are always constantly getting items from enemies you kill. There’s a feature that with the quick press of the Q button, allows you to pick up all the items in range around you. It’s a good feature but you soon find yourself having to empty your inventory or sell off items because you just can’t carry enough of them. Speaking of armour and weapons, they are plenty to find throughout the twenty two square miles of Ancaria. There are 40 different classes of weapons and plenty of varieties of armour. Veterans will understand all the weapons and items with coloured in. They are all here, your gray, white, gold, and green and so on. If you don’t understand what I’m speaking about, don’t worry. Each item has a colour and depending what colour it is depends how rare it is or if it is a set.
Levelling up is done in classic fashion. Kill enemies and you get experience points. Once you’ve got past the required amount you level up. This allows you to give new skills and stat increases to your character. Mounts become available later on. They are even special mounts for each character, so you won’t be just limited to riding a white coloured horse.
Another thing with the levelling up system is to do with magic attacks. Rather than levelling that up with points, you instead level up with stones that you find from dead enemies. Every time you find one that is of the same magic ability, it will level up that ability. All the character’s magic is found throughout the game like this. It’s a bit different than the norm, but it also allows you to get some high level magic early in the game by just going around killing enemies.
Once you’ve explored the entire world, they won’t be any more surprises. There’s no randomly created dungeons in Sacred 2. Everything is put there for a reason to make the world feel alive. Saying that though exploring all of the game will take some time, with over 140 dungeons and 500 side quests, there’s plenty to keep you going well into the three digit hour mark. If you decided to rush and just beat the main story, you’d be looking at around 20-25 hours. The world has this open feeling to it as you can pretty much explore anywhere from the get go. It’s kind of a feeling you got from Oblivion, just not on as a grander scale as Bethesda’s epic.
A lot of readers are probably thinking “Well it sounds pretty cool, but it is still the same type of gameplay that we’ve seen before” and that is true. There’s something about hacking and slashing enemies to get new items that stops it from kind of getting old. Ascaron Entertainment have tried to make the players who enjoy that kind of stuff have something good to experience. One thing that really stood out for me while playing Sacred 2 were the massive bosses you get to take down. They tower over you and fill up your screen. They come across as epic monsters and it’s certainly one of the highlights of the game.
If you’ve got a great gaming PC to be able to see Sacred 2 in all its glory then you’ll be greeted with some very nice looking graphics with some highly detailed textures. From an artistic point of view the game is lovely. The world of Ancaria is vivid and full of colour. The vegetation, mainly the grass looks gorgeous as you traverse through it. There’s a lot of fancy light and shadow effects going on, which when put together with the games fluid animation, makes Sacred 2 a very pretty game to look at. There’s also a full on day and night cycle and random weather effects for boot. The specs are quite high for a game of this type, but from looking at it you can understand why.
Audio is done quite well. The voice acting is fine, with lots of voices included for the characters. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is shown from the get go when you are hammering into the first enemies you encounter. One of the lines that comes out of their mouths is “I knew I was just an extra” There’s plenty of these moments in the game. There is a strange glitch I must alert you to about the audio. It’s only happen to me twice, but god damn it was annoying. I was doing a quest which required having some help off some guards. The guard got stuck in a loop of saying the same words, which lasted the entire mission. It was very irritating and I really wanted to smack him down, but the game doesn’t let you kill helpers, so I had to put up with it till I beat the mission. This will probably be fixed soon.
One thing that we haven’t touched upon yet is the multiplayer. I ran into a bit of a problem at first when going online. I was getting laggy servers, network errors and all the other nasty stuff you really don’t want when you want to simply play a game online. From browsing around some forums I found out that I needed to update with a patch. The game didn’t even tell me that I needed a patch though, that was very bothersome. I’ve read that Ascaron are going to put an updater in the next patch, which should sort that problem out.
The multiplayer itself works fine. The co-op works just as you would expect it to. You and your fellow team mates go around together doing the quests available. People can drop in and out at anytime too. This means that if you make a co-op game and you keep playing, anyone can freely come in and out to play with you. The campaign can be done with you and four other players. There’s another mode though where up to 16 players can work together. This mode is the free game mode where you are all sent to an island. From there you can explore the world of Ancaria with generic side quests to take on. If I was to make a complaint, it would be that at the moment there’s no way of telling how responsive the server is. There’s no ping readout, so sometimes you enter a game where it’s just too laggy. Hopefully that will be added in a patch too down the line.
Sacred 2 has come out at a really tough time in the year. The fact that this game plays like a fancy looking old school action RPG doesn’t help it in the wide range of classic RPGs that the genre has seen this year. With the PC having the addition of Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and a World of Warcraft expansion pack, you can see where I’m going with this. It’s just not going to grabs people’s attention.
For the people on the lookout for a new RPG to play and especially the ones who are awaiting Blizzard’s Diablo 3, Sacred 2 might just pass the time for you. It won’t replace your Diablo 3 thirst, but it will give you something to play in the meantime. It’s a decent enough RPG that if you look past the ancient style of gameplay will give you something entertaining. It looks nice, lasts long, plays fine and it does most of the stuff it set out to do. So if you fancy spending hours smashing peoples face in and pimping out your character then by all means try it out, just don’t expect something overwhelming.