Sacred 2- Staff Review  

Hack, Loot, Repeat. Fun!
by Tom Goldman

20-40 Hours
+ Pretty, detailed graphics
+ Deep character customization options
+ Gargantuan world to explore
+ Massive amount of quests
- Repetitive
- Humor is hit-or-miss
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   There are two types of Diablo clones on the market these days. The first and most common type will usually make itself look as close to Diablo as possible while not doing anything new, becoming just another clone. The second type will draw from Diablo as its inspiration but actually add to the hack and slash aspects. Sacred 2 has plenty of hacking, slashing, looting, questing, and skilling up, so it is definitely Diablo-esqe and fits squarely into one of the two types. Thankfully, it is more of the latter than the former.

   Yes, Sacred 2 may be considered a Diablo clone, but only in the basics of its combat and loot systems. What Sacred 2 does best is to ditch randomly generated areas and substitute the absolutely massive world of Ancaria in their place. Absolutely massive may be understating Sacred 2's world as it is just stunning how big it is. Plus, Sacred 2 is filled with dungeons that can be quite large themselves, immensely detailed towns, snowy mountains, cliffs navigated by rope and plank, shorelines, and vast plains. The world isn't just big; it's detailed and well designed.

   As players travel across Ancaria they will encounter many types of enemies to fight, but that doesn't mean that the world can be emptied on one trip. Ancaria repopulates itself during play; not just after quitting and reloading. While Titan Quest has an enormous, non-random world, once an area is cleared of enemies it is empty until the game is reloaded. The way that Sacred 2 repopulates its world makes it feel more expansive, alive, and worth re-exploring. Furthermore, quests in Ancaria number easily in the hundreds. Quests are available everywhere and their resolution points are simply found using the game's map system, a very helpful and welcome addition. Though most quests involve running from point-A to point-B and killing certain monsters, they all have different mini to mega storylines associated with them.

Every class gets their own unique mount Every class gets their own unique mount

   Even with the most vibrant of worlds, a hack and slash game is nothing if it cannot create a connection between player and character. Sacred 2 is rife with character customization options that are sure to create this connection. It begins with the choice of one of the game's six classes: Seraphim, Shadow Warrior, High Elf, Dryad, Temple Guardian, or Inquisitor. Though some fit better than others into typical archetypes, none are as vanilla as the norm, especially the Temple Guardian that has a cannon on his arm like Mega Man and looks like an Egyptian god. Some classes can also choose between taking a Light (i.e. Good) or a Shadow (i.e. Evil) path through the game's story and each begins in a different area of the world.

   Upon reaching certain character levels, players are able to add skills from three class-wide categories, improving basic character attributes like attack damage or evade rate, and one class-specific category that upgrades a class's abilities. Abilities, meaning a character's spells and high-powered attacks, can be strung into custom combos that extend up to four. These abilities also have their own mini upgrade trees. The skill system and character abilities, in addition to the genre-typical loot system that sees players finding plenty of randomized loot to equip and sell, allow for a deep and enjoyable level of character customization. Difficulty is customizable too, with Bronze and Silver difficulties available when first creating a character and higher difficulty levels unlockable in the standard fashion.

   Though the skill and ability systems seem complicated, Sacred 2's interface keeps everything smooth and simple so nothing ever becomes cumbersome. Chat, inventory, and skill windows quickly slide on and off-screen and are easily navigable. It's often the little things that count, and in the case of Sacred 2 it's the little things that make great improvements. Looting can be an annoyance in the hack and slash genre, but Sacred 2 simplifies looting to a single key press that picks up all loot within a certain radius of the character's position. Characters don't have to run over to each piece of loot either; it is all immediately picked up and put into the character's pack. The typical grid-based inventory feels larger than in other games and has a sort function that works perfectly. Even health potions are a non-issue, as plenty are found during play and usually won't need to be bought at a vendor, plus both visual and audio warnings indicate when character health is getting low.

There are a whole lot of these in the game There are a whole lot of these in the game

   Sacred 2 does a lot of great things, but it isn't perfect. At its core, it is still based on a game that was released over ten years ago. Though it makes smart improvements on the genre, Sacred 2 becomes repetitive. While the skill and loot systems are great, sometimes it can be hard to understand or see the effects of a new piece of equipment or skill, and it doesn't help that the game's font is small and unclear. Also, the "I" in Sacred 2's companion A.I. likely stands for "idiocy" or "imbecility" rather than "intelligence." While the game launched with some bugs, patches were released fairly quickly, along with a free Christmas quest add-on.

    Sacred 2 has a story, but it's tough to take seriously with the often corny humor that has been injected into every single part of the game. Sacred 2 feels caught between wanting to draw the player in with the narrative and wanting to take the all-out humorous route like Dungeon Runners. Though the game earns a chuckle here and there, the humor is very hit-or miss. Sacred 2 does succeed at injecting a hard rock feel into the game, as larger battles will often be accompanied by a tune played by German heavy metal band Blind Guardian, and the rock-opera introduction cinema sets Sacred 2's tone perfectly.

   If you like Diablo-style games, Sacred 2 is for you. The single and multiplayer options included provide nearly endless replay value for fans of the hack and slash genre. The lack of seriousness in the world of Ancaria stopped it from pulling me in as worlds in games like Diablo have. Regardless, Sacred 2 provides a very customizable character system, nearly endless quests to complete in a huge world, and improves a few notable aspects of its genre to boot.

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