Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Monday, November 17, 2008

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 9.50
Gameplay: 9.50
Replays: 9.50
Gamelength: 9.50

In a world where Blizzard is king, “Sacred 2” is, for all intents and purposes a very close second.

Almost every PC gamer and even most console gamers know what “Diablo” is. Millions of players worldwide have delved into the hellish story of both the original game and it’s sequel and to this day, a rather large amount of people still play the second game on a daily basis. The first and only real competition Blizzard ever had was “Sacred”, which received decent scores and a good base of players, but it never came close to the sales of Blizzard’s games. “Titan Quest” would have had a chance, but the lack of developer support really destroyed the game’s lasting appeal, although it was still a terrific single player experience. Now, “Sacred 2” aims to push the genre in a new direction with more options, more places to explore and a ton of quests, as well as an improved graphics engine. This time, it’s a bit more on the MMORPG side of things, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Pick your class and venture with me on a combat-filled journey all throughout the world of “Sacred 2” for the PC.

One of the biggest improvements over both “Diablo II” and “Sacred” is obviously the graphics engine. Compared to “Titan Quest”, however, it’s only mildly improved for a small handful of reasons. First of all, the game can be toned down to run on older, less capable machines, but also jacked up in plenty of ways for more visual appeal on cutting edge machines. When the settings are turned down, the game still looks okay, but things really start to shine when the settings are all maxed out. For starters, the biggest improvement to the genre is the inclusion of next-gen shaders and lighting. Real-time shadows, lifelike grass and the day-night cycles really bring the game to life. The textures are equally gorgeous, although the camera could use a small modification. It would have been nice to be able to zoom out just a tad bit farther, but it’s not a huge deal, given that the camera is easily controlled with the mouse. In short, the graphics have all of the bells and whistles of modern day gaming, but it’s by far not a groundbreaking technical marvel. It’s just average by modern standards, as sexy as it may be.

In the sound department, however, this game excels in every way. Superb voice acting at every stop, immersive ambient sounds and a truly epic soundtrack give this game an audio quality that’s going to be hard to beat. For the hack’n’slash genre, this game definitely has the best sound quality to date. The only competition would be the slightly better voice acting of the age-old “Diablo II”.

As for the game design, it stands out for several reasons. The classic “point and click” hack’n’slash action is all there, but the skill tree, attribute and equipment systems have all been greatly expanded and refined to the extent of a high calibur MMORPG. Given the right amount of planning and time, there are thousands of possible builds and they all feel as if they’re a separate class on their own. Not only are there skill trees, but there are trees within’ trees, combo trees, individual trees and all sorts of other things. There’s even a few forms of crafting, including forging and some more classic stuff, like runes. There’s so much to customise in this game that players wont have to worry much about being the same character mold as everyone else at all. On top of that, there are 2 full campaigns to partake in, 6 base classes to choose from, 6 gods that can be worshipped and full closed and open online servers to play on, as well as full support for offline single player and LAN multiplayer gameplay. What’s more still is that the level cap is a whopping 200, spread out across several difficulties and set at a moderate pace that’s sure to keep any player busy for quite a long time and that’s not even to mention the 450+ optional side quests that are guaranteed to extend the length of the game quite a bit. The standard campaign length varies between 18-25 hours, depending on how fast you rush through it and how powerful your build is during the early stages of the game, but that can be extended up to as much as 120+ hours if you take your time and do every sidequest. The best part is, as is the tradition with the genre, there’s no monthly fee if you choose to play online. So, what I’m getting at is quite simple really: This game has a lot of content and is extremely fun to play over and over again, with or without other people, online or offline and has a single solid fee without recurring charges or monthly rates. “Sacred 2” is currently my favorite title in the genre, but “Diablo III” is likely to change that, given Blizzard’s track record. We’ll just have to see what happens in the future, now wont we?

Overall, “Sacred 2” is an impressive mash of MMORPG and hack’n’slash that’s likely to get an expansion and plenty of content updates for many years to come. I know one thing’s for sure, though: I’ll keep playing, at least until something better comes along.

Pros:
-Top-notch visuals, even if a bit standard.
-A-grade soundtrack.
-Voice acting is superb.
-Ambient sounds do a lot to immerse players.
-No monthly fees.
-Has both closed and open servers for online play.
-Very, very long; ranges from 18-150 hours.
-Tons upon tons of options for skills, spells and everything in between.

Cons:
-Camera gets a little annoying at times.
-Persistant world servers would have been a cool feature.

Bottom line:
There’s a lot to say about this game, but all told, the simple fact is that it has a lot of content, it’s fun to play and is worth every penny. This is a game that’s sure to last you a very long time. If you have an interest in the hack’n’slash genre, check out “Sacred 2”, but prepare to forget about the real world; it’s an addictive experience!

Overall Rating: 9.50

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