Review – Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Diablo-style RPG from our German friends.
There appears to be two types of action RPG these days. Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3 are mainly first person affairs which have tons of detail but are mainly story driven. Then there is the more action orientated approach which is what Sacred 2 is going for, in fact Ascaron have pretty much read Blizzard’s book ‘How to make a action RPG’ from cover to cover and pretty much copied the entire formula and used it for their own ends.
This is not necessarily a bad thing because Blizzard made the Diablo series which happens to be one of my favourite game series. That said, a lot of action RPGs on the console, like Circle of Doom, Phantasy Star Universe and Two Worlds, were fun but ultimately very flawed games which lacked the depth and some might say quality, that PC dungeon hackers are accustumed to. This is where Sacred 2 comes in as a console port of a PC Diablo-like title, in fact I would go as far to say that this is almost Diablo 3D or Diablo 2.5.
When you start Sacred 2 you are met with a choice of six characters. A lot of RPGs these days that either have totally customisable characters, which lack any true character, or just set characters with minimal customisable features like in most Japanese RPG’s for example. Sacred 2 characters are a halfway house between the two. They appear set in their ways and not that customisable but as you level them up you will notice that your character will have a ton of unique ‘combat arts’ (spells) and attributes to obtain which means that each of the characters have their own set characteristics and yet are fully customisable which is something very unique for a console RPG.
Speaking of customisable stuff, even if you and a friend play as the same character the chances are they will play totally different due to how the levelling up works with this game. You can not be the master of all things unlike other RPGs. Sacred 2 requires that you specialise your characters with certain combat arts and weapons in mind. This can be a big problem for people starting out in this game because there are so many attributes to pick from and it can be very bewildering at first. That said as you start to get to grips with the game you’ll love the rich and complex character customisation which makes other RPG’s seem dull and simplistic by comparison.
Another possible issue with Sacred 2 is that the game actually expects you to read its instruction manual as it does not have a tutorial that leads you by the hand unlike most games of today, Sacred 2 is officially old school, fact! There are some tutorial missions but they are easily mistaken for a regular quest and I know a lot of people will just click though the text and head out to the mission objective thinking that it’s regular quest. You can re-read quest objectives but still many people who are to lazy to read might be a little confused on how to use the blacksmith or know how to trade unwanted combats arts for more useful ones and so on.
There is a ton of really nice loot for you to grab and each bit of equipment that you collect looks different on your character and will have its own attributes. As you progress, you will earn much better equipment and be able to kill tougher monsters and so on. As well as items downed enemies also drop gold and sometimes combat arts for your character to learn. Each combat art requires a recharge time before it can be used again but depending on your equipment’s regeneration penalty stat will determine how quickly you arts will recharge. Normally heavier amour with better attributes carries a bigger regen penalty.
I guess now is a good time as any to talk about the controls as it’s a big sticking point for Sacred 2 because remember this was originally a PC game with mouse and keys controls. I have to say that the controls on this game are in fact very nice, in fact they are some of the best I’ve used for a action RPG on a console that’s not first person. You can bind combat arts and weapon attacks to each of the fascia buttons and you can use the left and right triggers as shifts, allowing up to twelve things to be bound at once. The controller’s d-pad is used for potions so you can have four of those on the go at once. You can also target which enemy you want to fight by hold the attack button down and pressing left and right on the left stick which is a useful tip for anyone with ranged weapons.
One thing I would like to point out is the right stick is used for the camera. The camera might annoy some people who are not used to playing games like Diablo 2 or people who want to view more of Sacred 2’s worldly beauty (because the world is very nicely detailed in this game let me tell you). Seriously anyone who complains about Sacred 2’s camera saying that it’s too close to the character should check out Diablo 2 again because it’s almost identical. With that said you have more control in Sacred 2 as you can zoom in and out and rotate the camera, something you can not do in Blizzard’s smash hit. That’s not to say I trying to justify the choice here but remember Sacred 2 is trying to be more like Diablo than Oblivion hence the choice of camera angle and after a while you will get used to it as it’s not the worst camera I’ve seen on a action RPG.
The fantasy world of Ancaria, where the action takes place in Sacred 2, is a freaking big world. I am amazed how detailed the world is yet I am also flabbergasted by the size as well. There is plenty to see and do and the great thing it that the entire world is open to everyone in multiplayer, not just small chunks of it like Two Worlds (don’t diss the ‘Worlds, Sucker – Ed). This means you can help your mates out with some particularly tough story quests in four player co-op. This is a riot especially since Sacred 2’s multiplayer experience is very streamlined (easy to find other players and quests on that huge map etc) and every time I have played the game it’s been pretty smooth with no major lag or connection issues.
Since I no longer play World of Warcraft anywhere as much as I used to (around forty hours a week!) I was interested in Sacred 2: Fallen Angel to fill the gap of a massive open world RPG and it does a pretty good job.
First of all, I was very impressed with how well the control scheme has been adapted from a PC keyboard to a console controller. Mapping items to the four face buttons and then using each trigger button to triple the item slots which basically replicates the PC’s tool bar was a great idea. Another thing I though was very clever is the ‘loot circle’ where pressing LB projects a circle around your character and anything within is automatically picked up – it certainly beats having to pick up items individually which can become rather tedious.
After spending some time with three different character types, I finally settled on the Shadow Warrior since I always like to play as the melee-type in games like this. I particularly liked his ability to summon undead skeletons which helps a lot when playing in singleplayer. Summoning a ghostly green hand to basically bitch-slap enemies is also very useful – and funny.
Games such as this are always at there best when played in co-op, and the online in this works surprisingly with minimal lag. Splitting up and completing missions gets the job done quicker and it’s often easier earning XP that way.
Despite being pretty rough around the edges and with screen tear almost as bad as Resident Evil 5, Sacred 2 is a very decent action RPG. It’s just a shame that the quests couldn’t have more variety. There is a wealth of side quests available but many amount to nothing more than repetitive fetch quests, and the main quest line seems a bit disjointed from the story. Having said that, the game world is massive and there is plenty to keep you occupied – whether in singleplayer or multiplayer. If you are a fan of games such as Diablo or Baldur’s Gate, or just a loot fiend, then this comes highly recommended.
Secondary Score: 7/10
While Sacred 2 is a very fun game, in fact one of the finest RPG’s I’ve played in some time there are some flaws that stop this game from being a ‘triple-A’ title. First of all, glitches, not many to be had with this game but when they do happen they tend to be humorous rather than game-breaking like seeing a dead pig floating in the air after I pushed him off a cliff or watching a guy get stuck in an object. These are minor bugs that don’t happen often but there are some major issues that first plagued the game but have been fixed since patches like being able to go in to a cave of orcs get essentially get mad EXP for little work and so on. If they spent a month of two more fixing the glitches this would of done more favourably with critics.
Another problem I have with the game is that sometimes the NPC’s that you are made to baby sit are really fucking stupid. To the point were they are draining all your potions because you have to keep them alive for a mission and they keep wandering off hitting everything they see. Also some of the voice acting quality is a little suspect. Again a couple of months extra and these problems would have been sorted but like I said these are not game killers, just slightly annoying.
There is really nothing else I can say about Sacred 2. It is a very fun, if slightly flawed, game with a lot of do and a lot of replayablity thanks to the deep loot and character growth aspects and the enjoyable multiplayer play. At the end of the day it comes down to this, if you have ever dreamed of playing a game like Diablo that hasn’t been watered down for the console market, and is as addictive as hell, then Sacred 2 is the best thing money can buy right now. That is if you can put up with some minor flaws and that are patient enough to follow a lot of on-screen text. If you can, you should have countless hours of fun with this game either on your own or with friends.