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Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Platform: PlayStation 3
Publisher: cdv Software Entertainment USA
Developer: Ascaron Entertainment
Genre: Action RPG
Format: BD-ROM
Release: US 05/12/09



Scorecard
Graphics: 80%
Sound: 75%
Gameplay: 75%
Control: 68%
Story: 50%
Overall: 70%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Now that's what I call some almighty power.
 
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Don't jump! Think of all the hack-and-slashing you have to still do!
 
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You mess with the bull, you get the horns.
 
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There's no denying Sacred 2's beauty.
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Kimberley Wallace
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
07/19/09
Kimberley Wallace

When I first embarked on my journey in Sacred 2, I was mesmerized by the vast world before me. The environment was tantalizing to my eyes, especially its lush colors and realistic atmosphere. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to explore and dive in. Once I spent a little time in the world, however, I discovered that looks can be deceiving. The fun that Sacred 2 provides is very fleeting–there's an initial high and excitement, but that soon disappears.

Sacred 2 is a game that will most likely provide everyone with a few hours of fun hacking and slashing away at enemies, following arrows on a map to complete mindless quests, and dressing up your character in new equipment. The game will most likely appeal to those who are hardcore adherents of the genre, those who thoroughly enjoy leveling up characters to maximum proportions. Since the Diablo II days, fans have been waiting for another hack-and-slash game of its caliber; unfortunately, Sacred 2 is not that game.

Wait, What Story?

Sacred 2 poses an interesting choice in its story: you can either play a light or shadow campaign. Since Ancaria is on the brink of the war, you can either end it or prolong it, depending on the campaign you choose. There's a lot at stake, since T-Energy, the force behind all living things, is at the root of the war. Different classes are fighting over control of T-Energy, because it helps civilizations thrive with its power. However, T-Energy also has some nasty consequences; it's poisoning the land, eliminating forests, causing mutated monsters to spawn, and wiping out villages as it spreads. You have a choice to be greedy and do what's best for you, or do what's best for the land of Ancaria. It's an interesting choice; a decision I feel hits close to home with what society faces daily.

Unfortunately, that's about as thrilling as the main quest will get. The story lacks many important elements, such as an array of cutscenes, cohesion, and memorable moments. The story also isn't presented in an engaging manner, and I was never compelled to see what would happen next. In addition, the main narrative will feel nonexistent at times, and you can tell that the main effort went into the gameplay and not into creating a breathtaking narrative. It's unfortunate when you play a game and really have to ask yourself: what is the main story? I became so distracted by mundane side quests and being attacked by hordes of enemies that the majority of the story seemed lost on me. There's a story lying dormant beneath all of the quests, but my main complaint is that there's nothing that really separates the story into something other than a tool to make players continue to mash buttons.

There are NPCs in Ancaria, though they don't add any gusto to Sacred 2, and they offer very little insight and personality into the areas they're in. When you're playing a game with so many different villages and that you can log a substantial amount of hours into, having NPCs that would spice things up and add something different to the equation would have been appreciated. It also would have been nice if NPCs, similar to a lot of Japanese RPGs, offered some back-story or hinted at what was going on. It's clear developers didn't necessarily want the story to be the reason you play Sacred 2, its main attraction is it's hack-and-slash Diablo-style gameplay.

The Art of Complication

On the surface, Sacred 2 may seem like a simple Action RPG; however, once you delve deeper into the game you will discover a game full of complexities that are way beyond the average gamer's grasp. The game does nothing to ease players into the world of Sacred. The obstacles that are sure to overwhelm new players could have been easily overcome by including a thorough tutorial. The game desperately needed one, not only to explain how to use certain elements of the battle system, but also to explore how the parts all fit together in the overall scheme of things.

With its lack of instruction and mandatory requirement of mastering the system to advance in the game, Sacred 2 flat out makes this game accessible only to hardcore fans, and not the casual gamer. Sacred 2 should have taken a page from games such as Diablo II and World of Warcraft, where there is a deeper statistical system to master, but it is not required and does not punish players who are unable to grasp the complexities of that system. These games can still be fun for those who don't want to get into the nitty-gritty of the games, but Sacred 2 will not be an enjoyable experience for those who can't fully grasp every precise detail of the game.

This may all seem surprising, considering at its core Sacred 2's gameplay may seem rather simple. Basically, you pick your character from one of six classes: Seraphim, High Elf, Dryad, Temple Guardian, Shadow Warrior, or Inquisitor. The game then leads you with some choices. You can either play a light or dark campaign, and you can further customize your character by choosing a specific God to worship. Depending which God you choose to idolize, there will be bonus abilities granted to your character. After this you are on a crash course that involves mainly accepting quests and unleashing your fury on hoards of enemies that get in your way as you try to complete them.

Sacred 2 features an expansive world that often mimics an MMORPG, as the game is definitely not linear, thus breaking tradition with most console Action RPGs (of course, it should be noted that the game was originally created for PC). Sacred 2's lack of linearity isn't the only thing that sets it apart from other console hack-and-slashes; it also features a unique targeting system. No longer are your fingers committed to button mashing to destroy enemies, instead you can simply hold down one button and your character will alternate between ranged and melee attacks. You can also change your target with ease using the analog stick. While this will seem like a blessing for your fingers, it is also not without its faults, however. I can't count the number of times my character instead chose to shoot at a faraway enemy, instead of the mass of enemies around me that were totally annihilating me.

There are also other ways to take down enemies besides basic combat. Characters also have access to combat arts, which allow them to use special skills and spells to get an edge in combat. While combat arts will do more damage to enemies, they also are on a cooldown timer as opposed to using a mana bar as many Action-RPGs use. This creates a challenge. On the one hand, you can't abuse your higher damage skills, but you also may find it easier to just grind down the enemies rather than worry about the time passing to use these skills. The game also allows you to combine two to three combat arts to create even more robust powers. Personally, I didn't find combat arts all that impressive aside from a few stat buffs, because I found it easier to just hack away at enemies to eliminate them. At times, they only seemed to come in handy for boss battles. Combat in Sacred 2 isn't by any means terrible, but other titles such as Champions of Norrath have pulled off the console hack-and-slash better.

Sacred 2 does deserve credit, though, for putting more into the game than most console titles in its subgenre, especially in terms of customization. Regrettably, this also comes with a price; Sacred 2's complex system detracts from the combat more than enhances it. Players who are fans of min/maxing, making sure every stat is exactly where it needs to be, and who want to make their character the most powerful one on the field will thoroughly enjoy Sacred 2. Unfortunately, most, like myself, will probably find the system overly complicated. There's a lot to keep track of, such as equipment, runes, skills relics, mounts, and potions. Sure, mounts and potions may not play as heavy of a role, but the other three systems are extremely deep in themselves, and extremely confusing for any but the most hardcore.

The most straightforward aspects of the game are equipment and skills for character modifications. Equipment modifies the simple statistics: damage and protection. Depending on your equipment, it can also affect skill levels and movement speed. Skills are rewards that players earn as they level up. Leveling up will also net players points to distribute to certain attributes. This is about as simple as the game got for me. Soon, I was bombarded with considerations to take into mind while specializing my character. Since most skills aren't impressive unless you net quite a few skill points into them, it's especially tough to consider for a first-timer.

I found even systems I thought would be effortless, such as alchemy, to be more trouble than they're worth. Relics are another example of a convoluted element of the game. They are split into four types: magic, frost, flame, and poison, and only three of a given type can be equipped at once, and only six total. These modify general statistics and general damage types, similarly to standard equipment. These simply could have been other pieces of equipment, without having to be a separate type of item, but even that could be forgiven if there weren't a more convoluted system.

Without a doubt, the most complex system, and by far the most confusing, is the Rune system. Runes are items that can be found and memorized to increase the level of a combat art, or you can attach them to weapons to give the weapon an additional effect. This may seem simple on the surface; however, there is a lot of thought that must go into memorizing a rune, as a higher leveled skill will have a longer cooldown to use, even if it is more powerful. The decision you make with runes also appears to be irreversible as well, so if you don't like what you've done to a combat art, you are out of luck. This isn't desirable for those who are inexperienced and just learning the game, which as I said before is my big problem with Sacred 2; it punishes those who are unable to immediately grasp its complex gameplay. At least, to calm down the madness that will no doubt ensure in your mind from all this complication, you have a breathtaking backdrop to lose your thoughts in.

A Feast for the Eyes, But Not for the Ears

There's something that immediately attracts to you to Sacred 2, and that something is the scenery. It's what motivates you to explore the vast world that awaits you. You're always wondering what you'll find, whether it be a new cave, a harmless deer wandering about the forest, or an enemy camp. Everything is vibrant and attractive to the eye. It was also refreshing to see how realistic the majority of the scenery was, and it just made the game come alive right before your eyes. I enjoyed the simple touches; the birds flying from tree to tree, the friendly animals traveling around, the lakes hidden in the middle of the forest, these examples are what really made the game flourish. There's no denying that a great amount of detail went into this game. However, I wish more detail had gone into the dungeons, because after awhile I found them painfully similar.

The game attempted to provide even more detail with the soundtrack. Unfortunately, I can't say it quite measured up to the graphics. Yes, the soundtrack added some flair and personality into the game. I appreciated the influence nature played in the soundtrack, as you explored the atmosphere; however, the tracks had little variety. In a game as immense as Sacred 2, the soundtrack should have been much larger and less redundant. I became so tired of hearing the same themes that I began to block the music out from my mind. The music will probably not leave much of an impression or impact on you, which is a shame considering the atmosphere is so prevalent in the game. The voice acting in the game follows the same vein–it's passable, but nothing spectacular.

The Final Fate for Sacred 2

Sacred 2 is definitely not a game I can recommend to anyone and everyone. Only particular players are going to enjoy this game, while others will log a few hours into it, and quickly lose interest. It's a shame because it has been a long time since we've had a strong console hack-and-slash game, and while Sacred 2 will provide you with something to fill the hack-and-slash void, it will not leave you entirely fulfilled.



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© 2009 Ascaron Entertainment. All rights reserved.


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