After selling more than 1.8 million copies of the first game, Ascaron Entertainment returns to the world of Ancaria with the release of their new action RPG Sacred 2: Fallen Angel.
A prequel to the original title, Sacred 2 takes us 2,000 year backwards to a world in the middle of a struggle over control of T-energy, the source of all life and magic on the planet. As the struggle escalates the energy begins to go out of control, mutating creatures, destroying cities, and generally being a major pain in the arse. Sacred 2 allows players the chance to champion the powers of good, saving the planet, or evil, plunging it into further chaos.
With new character classes, new powers, and a brand-spanking new 3D engine, can Sacred 2 possibly live up to the success of the original?
Move, Click, Kill: Sacred 2 is an isometric 3D RPG, and it doesn't try to be anything different. It's your standard click to kill affair, which can be quite addictive if you're of the right mindset. I oftentimes found myself planning on stopping for the evening only to be strung along by more enemies off to the side of my mini-map. It's no Diablo III, but until that comes along this will do quite nicely.
Making The Character Your Own: The wide variety of character customisation as you level means that any three Seraphim characters at level 30 are bound to be three completely different builds. Choosing your skills and upgrading them, allocating attribute points, the equipment you choose, your choice of deity to worship, and the combat combinations you create together create an experience that can be different between play throughs and players.
Stuff To Do: Sacred 2 will keep you busy for quite a long time. Between the six different characters, differing story lines for good and evil characters, and tons of optional quests, those stepping into the world of Ancaria best plan on an extended stay. The fact that enemies level with you means that nothing is off-limits, so you won't run into griding problems or level obstacles - you're free to do what you want, any old time.
A Fully Realised World: While Ancaria echoes with themes familiar in usual ROG fare, as a whole it's an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy, a world all it's own. This is evident in monster design, player character choices (go, go Robot Anubis!), and some of the locations you'll visit throughout your travels. The beautiful graphics only highlight the unique artistic design of the game.
With Tongue Firmly Planted: The humor that pervaded the original Sacred is back in full force, with sight gags, text gags, and character expression gags attempting to make the player smile, with varying effect. Both your character and the enemies you fight often display the knowledge that they are merely actors in a game. Quite often a dying bandit will exclaim, "I knew I was only an extra!", while upon leveling up you might hear your character mentioning their stats improving. Your mileage may vary, but I found it a pleasant change from more serious RPG outings.
Lutes, Harps, And Electric Guitars: The uninitiated might be a bit put off by the opening cinematic, which features a theme song created by German heavy metal group Blind Guardian, who also appear throughout the game as NPCs, but in this age of sweeping orchestral RPG themes I couldn't help but smile at the cheesiness of it all. The remainder of the game's music is rather pleasing fantasy music, but it certainly starts off with a bang.
Drop In Anytime: Co-op multiplayer means you never have to go it completely alone. Playing the game in co-op mode is just like continuing your single-player campaign, only with more people running about. Loot is time-locked to your specific player, so you never need worry about ninja-looters. It's a pleasant way for the more MMORPG-oriented among us to not feel quite as completely isolated as we do when playing the game offline.
We Got Lost: With 22 square miles of real estate to explore, it isn't always easy to get from point A to point B in the world of Sacred 2. The sometimes buggy map is your on again, off again friend, especially when you discover the fifth route you are trying to use to get to a quest objective is just as blocked as the first four. Mounts and teleports help ease the problem, but the pain lingers.
Artificially Stupid: Stupid AI isn't limited to the enemies in Sacred 2, who seem to possess only the most limited fight or flight responses. You'll often find yourself travelling with NPCs meant to fight by your side, but instead insist on fighting anything the get their eyes on, which makes you question the whole nature of your follower and leader relationship. NPCs you protect during escort quests are either mentally deficient or supremely confident of your ability to save them from the hordes of enemies they generally wind up running away towards.
Voices Of The Damned: Ladies and gentlemen, the Peachtree High School Drama Team presents Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, a dramatic reading. Seriously, the voice acting in Sacred 2 is horrendous. I'm not sure if this was done on purpose, or whether it was just something lost in translation. The original German voice track might be spectacular for all I know. The English track most certainly is not.
Sacred 2 is exactly the type of PC game I like to play. A lovely mixture of mindless hack and slash with the odd bit of leveling strategy thrown in to keep your mind from melting into a puddle of bandit-killing goo. The combat is repetitive, yet entertaining enough that you don't really mind. Some of the quest challenge the worst fantasy MMO titles in terms of banality, but the chance at progressing your character and the promise of more battles eggs you on. The main story itself isn't the most compelling I've come across, but it certainly gives you something to do between bouts of senseless carnage. It's the type of game that doesn't try to break the mold, resulting in a familiar yet solidly entertaining title.
Mainly Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is just a good time to be had that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's the perfect diversion for the PC action RPG fan looking for something to do between now and Diablo III.
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was developed by Ascaron Entertainment published by Deep Silver, released in Australia on Oct. 15th for the PC. Feb. 2009 for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Retails for $89.95 (PC). Played through Good campaign in its entirety, some of the evil campaign, tried each character class and did some online co-op.
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