Sacred 2 - Staff Review  

This World is Saaay-Cred!
by Adriaan den Ouden

Click here for game information
Xbox 360
20-40 Hours
+ Intuitive control scheme is easy to come back to after extended time away.
+ Expansive world with MMO-levels of content.
+ Great character customization.
- Blandly told, almost nonexistent story.
- Side quests are distracting and mostly pointless.
- Almost nothing new here.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   The realm's bleeding, it suffers old and weak. No further argued, there's war at hand. The system's weak, engines running. Then after all I sense the end is starting, these lunatics deny the truth! And I will not fail... There'll be war, it's now or never! We shall stand together one by one, this world is Sacred! Errr... 2.

   I should probably state for the record that I never played Sacred. In fact, I'm not entirely sure when, exactly, the game was released. Whenever I play a game in an ongoing series without playing those that came before, I always worry that I'm somehow missing a vital piece of the experience that could taint what's to come. With that in mind, I can say quite safely that whatever Sacred had to offer, it wouldn't have made any difference to my experience with Sacred 2, which was filled with some good, clean, hack 'n' slash fun. And that's about it.

   Sacred 2 does have a story, but honestly, I couldn't tell you what it was about. It's disjointed, not terribly memorable, and told in the blandest way possible: through World of Warcraft style quest dialogues. The game takes place in Ancaria, and a strange magical energy source called T-Energy is being pumped across the world through an intricate series of pipes. Various leaks in the system are causing hideous mutations and other problems. Aside from occasional bits of weird humor, there isn't much to be missed by simply skipping through the quest text and following the onscreen markers to the next target location. With such a lack of focus on story, it's a wonder that the game features two main storylines, one for light and one for shadow, as well as an individual class quest for each of the game's six character classes.

   Despite a lack of story, Sacred 2 is certainly not lacking for content. The game is practically built as an MMO, despite being available for both single player and multiplayer over Xbox Live. There are hundreds of side quests to complete in addition to the main quest line, and the world itself is massive, easily rivaling some MMOs. Take into account the game's six character classes, four levels of escalating difficulty, and a whopping level cap of two hundred (to put this in perspective, I completed the game at level 45), experiencing the entirety of the game is an endeavor that could easily eat up hundreds upon hundreds of hours.

A simple control scheme makes playing a breeze. A simple control scheme makes playing a breeze.

   The meat and bones of Sacred 2 is its combat and its loot, the hallmark of any good hack 'n' slash game. Sacred 2 doesn't tread any new ground, instead borrowing shamelessly from Blizzard Entertainment, creating a hybrid game that combines the frenzied combat and random loot system of Diablo with the open world and quest structure of World of Warcraft. The result is a game that provides endless hordes of enemies to slaughter with dozens of places to explore, hundreds of quests to complete, and a myriad of loot options for any character build.

   Each character class has fifteen unique combat arts available to them from three different aspects, which the player must pick and choose between in order to build an effective character. Each character can also learn several passive skills which improve various aspects of combat, and even provide the option of permanently adding unique effects to combat arts. The room for customization is impressive, and should ensure that no matter your play-style, you can build a character that you can enjoy.

   Probably the most unique element of character development is how progression of combat arts is handled. Enemies can drop special runes which are used to improve an art's level. While this generally improves its power, it also has the nasty side effect of increasing its regeneration time. Rather than opting for a traditional mana system, every ability in Sacred 2 takes time to recharge. In order to build an effective character, the player must find ways to decrease the regeneration time of their skills. This can be accomplished through a wide variety of means.

   Play controls are another area that Sacred 2 excels in. While porting a game designed for the PC to a console doesn't always work as well as the designers envision, in this case the end result is intuitive and easy to pick up and play, even after extended time away from the game. The character is controlled with the left analog stick while each of the four face buttons can be bound to pretty much any combat skill the player wishes. Additional slots can be accessed by holding either the left or right trigger, providing a grand total of twelve skill slots, more than enough for any player.

A barbarian necromancer riding a giant dog from hell.  What else could you possibly want? An undead barbarian necromancer riding a giant dog from hell. What else could you possibly want?

   It's unfortunate that, despite an elegantly simple combat system to support the game, there's not much of a compelling reason to actually play other than to enjoy the character development or play online with friends. The quests are mostly dull fetch quests or escort missions, and the amount of time spent traipsing back and forth across the map to complete these side quests extends the playtime so drastically that enemies in the area will quickly become too easy to justify wasting time in the area any longer. In order to keep experience gain steady and the combat remotely challenging (even though the game is still quite easy on the two initially accessible difficulty settings), pushing through the main quest and ignoring the side quests is pretty much the only way to go.

   Visually, the game is quite attractive, though unfortunately the camera doesn't allow you to appreciate it as much as one might like. In order to minimize the strain on the system, the camera is fixed to a mostly top-down viewpoint, while the areas nearby load as the player explores. This makes it impossible to survey the surroundings or enjoy any scenery. It also makes it difficult to get a good look at enemies or even your own character, though the starting screen provides a terrific close-up view of the latter. However, it does mean that an extremely large quantity of enemies and allies can be displayed on screen at once. For some reason there tends to be a minor loading hiccup whenever the player enters a town filled with large quantities of NPCs, but aside from that, it runs very smoothly.

   The audio experience is, well, a bit of a surprise. Rather than being filled with the booming orchestral tracks one might expect from a high fantasy game, Sacred 2 instead incorporates an almost heavy metal style of music. The soundtrack features a lot of electric guitar, particularly during battle, though outside of combat the music gets a bit more serene. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is actually a hidden easter egg that can easily be unlocked by completing a side quest entitled "Blind Guardian." The reward is a six minute cutscene of the German band of the same name performing the game's theme song, echoed in this review's opening paragraph, for an audience of orcs, trolls, werewolves, and all manner of fantasy creatures.

   Ultimately, how much you'll enjoy Sacred 2 depends entirely on what you're looking for from the experience. It's a simple hack 'n' slash dungeon crawler, and at that it succeeds. But with virtually no story and a myriad of pointless, distracting side quests, the game relies almost exclusively on multiplayer for a complete experience. Anyone who played and enjoyed the Diablo series' single player campaigns could probably find an enjoyable, thirty hour experience in Sacred 2, but the excitement of character development starts to slow as the game progresses. For Diablo fans wanting something to fill up the time before Diablo 3, however, Sacred 2 is the next best thing.

Review Archives

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy