Ascaron Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Itching for a little Hack 'N' Slash now that Titan Quest is getting old and Diablo III is still a long way off? Well then Sacred 2 might be your best bet.
- A lot of fun
- Array of technical problems
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is a mindless blend of walking, jamming on the attack button, and repetitive objectives — but it still ends up being a lot of fun, provided your patience can tolerate the crippling halt after a technical meltdown. It's not a deal breaker, but it'll certainly tip the scales in the wrong direction for anyone using Sacred as a genre stepping stone.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
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It hasn't been the best of years for PC gaming, at least when it comes to mainstream titles — but every few months we've seen some diamonds in the rough come out. The latest such title is Sacred 2, sequel to the 2004 original by German development studio Ascaron. Like its predecessor, Sacred 2 is on its face a typical action RPG in the vein of the Diablo and Dungeon Siege series, complete with several dozen hours of hack-n-slash, hundreds of quests, and a fairly robust levelling system but unlike most entrants into the genre Sacred 2 does just enough to avoid being a forgettable experience, and many may end up considering it a guilty pleasure.
Sacred 2 takes place on the continent of Ancaria, where all life and energy is provided indirectly by a substance called T-Energy. Naturally this kind of thing leads to a conflict between good and evil, but as you'll soon find out it's not all that important. The plot is usually on the backburner and even when its not, it's not all that good. Thankfully that doesn't really matter, because Sacred 2 is full of hundreds of other little side quests, simple enough delivery missions, missions to kill such-and-such, missions to find special objects — the natural gambit of cookie cutter quests that could come out of a manual entitled "Action RPGs and You: A How to Guide." Its not all that bad though, because quests are given in such abundance and are generally varied enough that you won't get all that sick of them, even though on their own just about all of them are rather mundane. Moreover, Sacred 2 doesn't have just one campaign, but two split into light and shadow campaigns, depending on what character you select at the start which adds another element of playability to the game which isn't normally seen in the genre.
Sacred also has a few other elements that help to ease some of its more apparent cookie-cutter aspects. For one the game has six classes, divided among good and evil, and these are decidedly unconventional. Among these is a high-heeled angel, a robotic temple guardian that has an energy weapon for an arm, and a now undead warrior brought back by some less than trustworthy necromancers. The other huge and very noticeable item is the fact that the continent of Ancaria is huge and almost totally open to exploration from the very start — the result of a rather nice design decision to have monsters level with you, allowing you to explore the world often independently of the main storyline without having to worry about getting out of your league. When it comes to variety of environments the game never fails to impress, at various times running the gambit from forests, ice fields, deserts, and volcanic environments. The one problem with this is the fact that getting around, at least in the early going before you can acquire a mount or really get used to the teleporting system it takes a long time to get around this gigantic world, with can result in some rather jarring transitions from hectic fighting to long hauls to turn in quests.
A Dry Wit Saves All
Sacred 2 has a unique personality in many ways — Ascaron seems to have really embraced the idea of a dry wit and breaking the fourth wall. Early on in my travels as the aforementioned undead warrior having just emerged from my crypt, I was as usual poking around everywhere to get at treasure hidden in shallow graves. After digging around for no more than a few minutes the game proceeded to tell me to get on with it and quit stalling. Nor is this confined to static world objects, in fact just about everything in the game displays this peculiar design emphasis — many a time a now dying enemy would bemoan his fate as a mere boost of experience towards myself, a creative dig at the genre that does much to ease the eventual tedium that creeps into every game in the genre.
All said, Sacred 2 is a mixed bag. While many elements in the game aren't really that well designed, such as some very needless tedium getting around the world, and while the game is in some dire need of a patch or two to fix up some nagging issues, it has enough in the way of personality and zest to more than likely win over most fans of the genre. Sacred 2 certainly isn't the best of games, but it will offer you plenty of gameplay and an interesting ride while you're doing it so long as you can forgive its faults.
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