“Who pwns Bartertown? Masterblaster pwns Bartertown!”
If Diablo and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion conceived a child, their offspring would grow up to resemble Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. He’d be a lanky but good looking lad, cordial, but never reaching the social level obtained by his parents. He’d become a friend known for his dependability and straightforwardness, not for his intelligence or creativity.
Fans looking for an engaging diversion to tide them over until the release of Diablo 3, will find a friend in Sacred 2. Although the game has nary a unique notion or play mechanic, it is an amusing amalgam of Western RPGs that is surprisingly fun to play. Developer Ascaron have created a light-hearted, graphically-impressive title that while derivative, has a synergistic quality that grew on me as explored its expansive world.
Sacred’s narrative centers around T-Energy, the scarce raw material that is in every living organism in the land of Ancaria. At one time, the distribution of T-Energy was monitored by the peace-loving Seraphim, but in a fit of imprudence, the secrets were passed to the High Elves. Overcome with power, the elves were unable to resolve the course of action for Ancaria and broke into factions. These splinter groups battled and ultimately destroyed the land. Now, it is up to the player, using one of six characters to decide the fate of Ancaria. Player selection is made of two characters on opposite sides of the moral spectrum- good and evil, along with four others whose set of ethics straddles the middle ground.
No, this isn’t the rumored Harold and Kumar game. But in the spirit of the infamous duo, you get to ride a tiger.
Players who’ve spent hours clicking through Diablo’s dungeons will feel right at home with Sacred 2’s controls. Using a context-sensitive system, a left click will move the player, communicate with a NPC, attack an enemy, or open a chest. Alternatively, players can use the “W” key to move forward, while the “S” key retreats. For both control methods, the “A” and “D” keys rotate the screen. Typically, Sacred 2’s camera is intelligent enough to peer through lush tree lines, no players won’t have to constantly monitor the game’s camera. However, dungeons present a number of visual obstructions and made it quite easy to be attacked by a hidden foe. Finally, the scroll wheel on the mouse adjusts the zoom and elevation of the game’s perspective.
Anyone who ever played a post- Diablo ‘search and hack’ (such as Titan Quest or Too Human), realizes that this type of game’s success hinges on the loot dynamic. A title must delicately maintain a gamer’s interest as they continue to search for better weapons and armor. Give away the prized possessions too soon, and the game becomes a tedious romp. Wait too long, and the gamer moves on to other, more fruitful diversions. Sacred 2 comes close to capturing Diablo’s miraculous loot-equation, although I never found myself cheering wildly after finding a unusually rare weapon, as I did with Blizzard’s masterpiece.
Sure, that breastplate is sexy, but it lacks protection from disembowelment. Style over substance wins again.
At the main menu, players can decide if they want to go on a solo expedition or log on to one of the title’s servers, which offer a sixteen player adventure. Players can easily drop in and out of a game which means the title could attract a faithful following. I would hope the developers refine the interface- as it stands, there no measure or server ping nor consistent way to invite friends to your game.
Graphically, Sacred 2 offers some great texture work throughout its deserts, jungles, and torch-lit caverns. Players who purchase the collector’s edition, an Amazon exclusive, receive a bonus disk with ultra-high resolution textures. On my older system, with sliders tuned toward the minimums, the title was very playable. On my higher-end system, the game dazzled with its colorful, intricate details, although character animation was a bit clumsy. Some players may balk at the notion of downloading a half-gigabyte patch before play, we are thankful that Ascaron shows a commitment to bettering their product.
Overall, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is the ideal interval game for players eagerly awaiting the arrival of Diablo 3. While lacking in originality, the title is a competent dungeon-crawl that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Players can expect an appealing twenty-five hour main quest, with a formidable amount of side quests.
Good: Riding tigers, a button that collects all the loot in the player’s vicinity.
Bad: The occasional crash, high potential to break the left mouse button with all the clicking.
Ugly: Having to patch the game yourself. Let’s hope Ascaron fixes this pronto.