Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (PC) review
"This prequel to 2004 Diablo-clone Sacred seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. In attempting to combine in-depth role-playing with hack-and-slash action and odd, self-depreciating humour, Sacred 2 manages to miss the mark in all the key areas, emerging as a horrendously dull and needlessly fiddly release."
Sacred 2 couldn't have arrived at a worse time. The PC has been flooded with brilliant role-playing games this year, with the long-awaited port of Mass Effect, the delectably updated version of The Witcher and, most recently, the best-game-I've-played-in-years divinity of Fallout 3. These are games that have considerably raised the bar in their fields, so being released at the end of such a stellar twelve months does Sacred 2 no favours.
This prequel to 2004 Diablo-clone Sacred seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. In attempting to combine in-depth role-playing with hack-and-slash action and odd, self-depreciating humour, Sacred 2 manages to miss the mark in all the key areas, emerging as a horrendously dull and needlessly fiddly release.
For starters, Sacred 2 has one of the worst interfaces I've ever seen. It's a horrific mess of words and numbers that will mean nothing to anyone except the most devoted RPG fans. It's cumbersomely arranged into an unnecessarily large amount of screens, which don't bother pausing the game when activated. There's no guidance to the use of any of it, meaning it took a fair amount of time - not to mention a hefty dose of trial and error - to establish how to make the bloody thing work.
The complexity of actually playing the game sits awkwardly alongside the extremely basic combat system, which involves clicking and, well, usually missing single targets. The Witcher's different attack styles would have gone some way to fix this, though it wouldn't have made the enemies any less retarded. While fighting is obviously an essential part of the levelling system in an action-RPG, I became so bored of the constant barrage of charging enemies that I decided to just run away. Within about five seconds, they'd given up, and gone back about their business as if nothing had happened.
It's difficult to understand why all these people and creatures are attacking you, anyway. The manual mentions something to do with a never-ending war and segregation between races, but the game itself doesn't have the courtesy to talk about any of that - not in the early stages, anyway, when it's perhaps most relevant. Instead, Sacred 2's intro sequence sees your character magically popping up on the shore of an island and talking to a shaman, who proceeds to get rather embarrassingly murdered by a pair of elves. It's like watching the worst school play ever: after being slashed twice with a sword, my shaman friend stood silently for a couple of seconds, before screaming and crumpling hilariously to the ground. He did use his final breath to tell me I must complete his quest but, unfortunately, the poor bugger popped his clogs before he got round to telling me what that was. The bright orange arrow on my hopeless map would have to suffice.
That's the hopeless map which completely declined to allow me to view more than the exact spot I was standing in, until I'd 'unlocked' the rest of the area. I can understand in-game maps that grey out locations far into the distance, but this is ridiculous. It's like trying to navigate your way around winding country roads, with a satellite navigation system that only lets you see the inside of your own car.
Voice acting's shoddy, the script is embarrassing, speech regularly gets stuck and loops, NPCs appear out of nowhere right in front of you, the camera's rubbish, it runs abysmally despite the awful-looking engine... ah, I can't be bothered moaning any more. Suffice it to say it won't win many points for immediate likeability.
Where it steals a few back is in the creation of an enormous world, teeming with characters, sub-quests and places to explore. It's not strictly open-plan in a Big Brave Bethesda way, but each of the levels is admirably large, and the seamless loading between one area and another contributes well to the illusion of freedom. There's simply so much to do that it would be difficult to ever get bored - that is, if doing anything at all weren't so painfully tedious.
It further scrapes the faint praise of 'mediocre' with the ability to play through the main quest as either a 'light' or 'dark' character. Even though your path through the game doesn't differ a whole lot, the people you meet and the tasks you undertake for them alter quite significantly, so that's a nice touch. Even your specific choice of class defines your experience beyond merely your playing style, as each derivative race depicted in Sacred 2 has its own prejudices, deciding who to side with accordingly.
And, I'll admit, it made me laugh a couple of times with its knowingly ironic gameisms. Only a couple, though; more often than not, it just seemed out of place. Naughty stickers go especially to one loading screen "joke", which informed me that the wrong disk was in the drive, only for it to shout "Got you!" a split-second after I had taken the DVD out and, ultimately, crashed the thing to Windows.
It all amounts to a title that really put me off playing, instead of encouraging me to load it up for another go. In its better moments, Sacred 2 is a reasonable enough romp, and it'll probably come as a pleasant surprise to those who miss the clunky, stat-heavy RPGs of old. But, more than anything, games like Sacred 2 feel like proof that the genre has to move on a little. With the recent surge of high-quality RPGs, you'd be forgiven for expecting Ascaron to have raised the game somewhat, and to have created something that could stand up admirably against the rest of the pack.
Instead, they made something that's just about passable, but hideously contrived, completely uninspiring and mechanically fucked.
Freelance review by Lewis Denby (November 06, 2008)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Sacred 2: Fallen Angel review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!