Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Publisher: CDV Entertainment USA
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 05/12/2009
Back in November of last year, Atari published the PC Version of Sacred 2 for the PC. Now I had never played, nor even HEARD of the original Sacred that was released back in 2004. However, Atari sent us a review copy of the PC game and our own Mister Rose’s review of it intrigued me enough that I decided I would try the PS3 version when it became available. After all, I haven’t had a truly good hack and slash RPG for a console since Dark Alliance 2 or The Bard’s Tale and those were nearly half a decade ago.
I’m not sure why Atari didn’t retain publishing rights for the console versions of the game, but after spending thirty hours with the game and not even being close to halfway done with this monster, I figured it was time to write the review anyway. Joel gave the PC version a partial thumb’s up – how will the PS3 version fare.
There really isn’t a plot to Sacred 2. Sure they give you some back story about various races fighting over a substance that is called T-Energy and how can shape (or destroy) the world, but it’s all fluff. More the vast majority of the game you’re just running from one point to the next, killing things mindlessly and then moving onto another sidequest or stop on your way to advance through the chapters. You’re not playing Sacred 2 for the story , or rather if you are, you will be in for quite a disappointment. Quests and goals are summed up by a wall of text and then it is action time again. Repeat until done or dead.
That being said, there are seven character classes, each with their own class-based storyline. You will also get a different overall storyline depending on if you are playing as a good or evil character. That means you’ll have 14 different possible storyline combinations, which is impressive and helps to make up for the lack of depth. There are also over 600 sidequests that you can engage in. It’s this volume of quests and the size of the game world (which I am exploring like crazy to get those map trophies) that factor in why I have put so much time into this game and yet have so far to go. Thank god for mounts or I’d still be plodding around the landscape at a snail’s pace.
Again, if you’re looking for substance, character development or an epic plot, you will NOT find it here. Sacred 2 has chosen to balance this out with a lot of subquests and quest arcs determined by your combination of class and alignment. To be honest, when you have eight to ten quests open and you’re running around killing swarms of monsters , you’re too busy running back and forth and completing this side ventures to think about the plot. Sometimes the text is amusing or interesting, but most of the time it’s just filler. Think of Sacred 2 as giving you quantity over quality. Indeed, this is the largest action RPG’s I’ve ever played. It even dwarves The Elder Scrolls, another series low of story but high on options.
Story Rating: Mediocre
This is a very pretty game. Even when there are well over two dozen characters on the screen, you can zoom into the action and see say, your Shadow Warrior and your three Death Knight sidekicks against a miniature army of kobolds, ghosts, and giant rats and the detail is amazing. You can make out the bones in your allies, the distinct pieces making up your piecemeal armour and even the flicking of flames on your magically enhanced blade. I was really impressed by how well done the visuals were, especially as I would spend most of the game zoomed out as far as I could so that I could have a better tactical view of my surroundings. When you zoom in though, you’ll find yourself hard pressed to think of a better looking action RPG for the PS3.
I also loved the fact that Sacred 2 used colour and a large abundance of it. I’m so sick of how every game is going for some weird dark and gritty colour scheme that is actually used to hide the flaws in the visuals, in addition to taking you out of the game. I’m sorry people, grass is green and the sky is blue, no matter what the latest FPS tries to tell you. Sacred 2 uses an amazing amount of colour in its monsters, environments and backgrounds. The game manages to be very pretty even when you have a horde of corpses at your feet.
My only problem with the visuals is that slowdown tends to happen inside of a larger town. Either you’ll find yourself unable to proceed because the game is loading visuals, or the camera will zoom in or out without you adjusting it and it will stick at that depth while the game is loading. These are minor quibbles thankfully, but if something like this occurred in an actual battle or dungeon, you can bet I’d be more than a little annoyed with it.
Sacred 2 is a beautiful game and you’ll often find yourself exploring the world of Ancaria, just to look at how varied the environment can be.
Graphics Rating: Great
A good part of Sacred 2 is silent save for the clanging of weapons and the occasional comment from your character or opponents. On those rare occasions where there is music, the score ranges dramatically from speed metal to bardic singing. Although this diverse soundtrack may putt off some gamers who expect only high fantasy type classic music from their RPG’s, I have to say I really enjoyed the musical options – especially the fast metal pieces. It was such a change from what I’m used to in this genre and the fast frantic guitar work actually fits the hack and slash aspects perfectly. This was a great choice and it was nice to see a small little chance like this being taken.
The voice acting in the game is really well done and there were several times I laughed out loud due to comments being made. I can’t really say the script of Sacred 2 is good, but I can say the voice actors are top notch and the one-liners can be a lot of fun.
Sound effects are quite nice and as this is the bulk of the noise you’ll be hearing, they pretty much had to be. Whether you are running through a field, clanking your sword or pole arm against an enemy, shooting off a fireball or lightning bolt, or just listening to a giant boar squeal right before you kill them, the effects are varied, plentiful, and one of the high points of the game. Even if you get bored having to walk all over the place ala Oblivion, you’ll get some sound effects to accompany you along the way.
The aural aspects of Sacred 2 are exceptional and it was great to see a company take a chance with the type of music in an action RPG, as well as decided to have copious amounts of time without ANY background tracks at all.
Sound Rating: Great
4. Control and Gameplay
If you’ve played Diablo II, Neverwinter Nights, Dark Alliance or nearly any other hack and slash action RPG, you know what you’re in for here. This is a dungeon hack in its purest form, and the controls benefit from Ascaron following nearly every tenant laid out for this genre in the past twenty years. There is absolutely nothing here you haven’t seen in a prior game, but what Sacred 2 lacks in originality, it makes up for by building off previous games and their engines and tightening things up beyond the progenitors .
You have 12 different slots for attacks. These can range from basic weapon attacks to your Combat Arts. Each character has 15 Combat arts, divided into three categories unique to each character class. These can be learned in any order, but you’ll have to get runes to update these abilities.
Like any RPG, your character has stats that you can somewhat modify with each level gained. You can put points into your Attributes (such as Strength, Willpower, Dexterity, etc), skills that you have unlocked, (such as Sword Weapons, Armour Lore, Riding, and the like) and if you put points into Lore and Focus skills, you’ll get enhancement points for your Combat Arts. Please note that with the Combat Arts, these enhancements don’t always work. For example with my Shadow Warrior (I like the undead), I primarily focused on the Combat Art of Nether Allegiance, which gives me Death Knights to fight by my side. The first two enhancements for this power are supposed to give me extra troops, but even though I was supposed to have five, no more than three showed up. I’m confused as to why this is and can only chalk it up to bad programming.
You can also use a blacksmith to enhance your weapons with various items (or learn how to do it yourself), gain a mount for faster travel (but crappier combat) and kill things to your heart’s content as monsters respawn unlike a lot of other action RPG’s.
Sacred 2 also boasts the largest world I’ve ever seen in a video game, so get ready for a lot of roaming and killing things along the way.
The controls of the game are solid and very responsive. You can up your attacks however you like using the shape buttons and the L2 & R2 triggers to switch between them all. You use the left analog to move and the right to control the camera. The D pad controls your potions and Divine Gift, which is a power given to you by one of six gods, which you chose during character creation. I prefer Nature’s as it is a super healing/regen spell and it works amazingly well with warrior class characters.
Gameplay is solid. There are few issues I have such as not being able to use Combat Arts when on your mount, that you can only have one monolith active at a time or that escort quests automatic end in failure is you save the game and then turn it off. For the most part though, Sacred 2 is an amazingly solid action RPG devoid of any real flaws or foibles save perhaps being too big of a game and tedious to those who want their action RPG to be well, more ACTION and less RPG. If you’re able to deal with the lack of any real story and are in need of a very (and I mean VERY) long action RPG, you will be hard pressed to find a better option for the PS3 than Sacred 2.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
With seven classes, two alignments, and six gods making up your possible options for character creation, you can be sure that you’ll never have the same exact gaming experience with Sacred 2. With all those optional subquests and the different ways to build your characters being additional factors, it is hard to think of an action RPG that allows you more exploration or possibilities.
The only downside to the replay value is just how long it is. Doing all six hundred quests and exploring the full map will set you back easily 100 hours. EASILY. We’re talking Dragon Quest VII length here. Because of the sheer length, a lot of gamers probably won’t wall to play this more than once. In fact, many will probably be burned out before they beat the game even once. Sometimes there can be such a thing as too much content. Personally, I’m still going and loving it, but this subgenre of RPG’s sucks me in like nobody’s business.
You also have the wonderful option of two player co-op play on the same console. This can be fun, but there’s no way you can do a full campaign in this way. It’s best used to create a bunch of different characters and get them up to level 15 so that you can get various trophies, if you’re into that sort of thing. Multiplayer gamers are great too, although they are reliant on the host’s internet connection, meaning this mode works best if the host is on FIOS or a very stable and fast internet connection.
For $60, you’re getting an unbelievable amount of content. This is arguably the second longest game for the PS3 right now, with Disgaea 3 taking top honours. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on games, the amount of content and time you’ll spend with this title more than justifies the cost.
Replayability Rating: Great
One of the two big flaws of Sacred 2 is right here. To put is simply, the game is far too easy. Because of all the quests in the game, you’ll level up quite quickly and get to the point where you are much too powerful for any of your opponents. Even if you bum rush through things, healing potions are so prevalent that you’ll never have to worry about dying. In fact, I’ve been at 99+ potions since a few hours into the game and even when I was chugged them for fun, my number NEVER DROPPED BELOW 99. I have no idea how many I drank except that it unlocked a trophy and yet my count was still maxed out. What the hell?
It gets even easier when you are a shadow warrior. I could walk away from my screen and take a shower and come back and my guy wouldn’t be hurt. My undead creations just killed everything in the dungeon or in the overworld for me because they were too were way overpowered compared to my enemies. I eventually tried to enter the human lands as I wanted a challenge and neither the subquests or main game quests were going to earn me more than 1XP per kill as I was that far ahead of the game…and I couldn’t. Thus I was denied any sort of challenge. Killing a hidden boss in the White Griffon netted me a whopping 8XP. I was that untouchable and I am the type of gamer that refuses to munchkin or level up in order to power game through something. Here it happened anyway and I actively avoid this type of gaming. INSANE!
Other balance issues include only having one resurrection point working at a time (For teleporting purposes), the horse Combat Arts aren’t effective or useful (and for the amount you pay for one, this is criminal), and the fact that free items drop so regularly you will never have to buy anything in your entire game save for a mount, and even then you can get by without one until you run the special mount quest.
In all, Sacred 2 is a pretty broken game, but at least it is broken almost universally in your favour. It’s near impossible to die and not once when I ever remotely threatenedwith my hit points dropping below the halfway point. I guess the moral is “Necromancy = Win.”
Balance Rating: Bad
…and here we have the other downside to Sacred 2. To say that Sacred 2 is bereft of even the slightest semblance of original thought or design would be an insult to copycats and dopplegangers everywhere. The entire game is pieced together from Dark Alliance, Neverwinter Nights, Diablo II, Oblivion, Morrowind and other hack and slash games that all fit into the same carbon copy mold.
HOWEVER, if you’re going to emulate, at least make sure you emulate the very best this genre has ever seen and that’s exactly what Sacred 2 has done. This is a game that has taken the best parts of each those aforementioned games and they either expanded them, given you more options or, in terms of the game world, larger than you could have conceived. So although the game is masterfully done in all the aspects that count, it is just a bionic/enhanced version of other games we’ve all played and loved before. I honestly can’t think of a single aspect that is unique or highly original to Sacred 2, which is a shame.
Originality Rating: Worthless
Wow, I still can’t believe what a time sink this game is. Even while writing this review, I’m plotting to go back for more. What? I want a legion of maxed out undead sidekicks. PVP my army of the damned baby! I had so much fun with this game. I loved the insane and creative enemy designs. I loved travelling the world and finding hidden dungeons, weapons, deserted towns and haunted derelict mansions. Sure there wasn’t much story except for “Go to Point A, collect Item B or kill Monster C, and return to Point D,” but the quests had such interesting stories behind them (if you bothered to read the text) and such weird goals, that it made up for the lack of depth.
Here’s a great example. There is a quest where you had to guide a girl into the underworld to see her dead lover. Once you brought them there you are given a choice to kill the lovers or fight the demon. Well, I didn’t KNOW I was offered a choice because I was so into forwarding through the text that I just kept hitting x to advance the wall of writing that I didn’t see I had an option until otherwise. Sorry you star cross lovers, but at least you’re together now. At least you can rot in Hell with the knowledge you showed me that sometimes it is importance to read the test in this game and that it isn’t all pointless filler.
I haven’t been sucked into a game like this all year save for Phantasy Star Portable, and that game is only a third of the length of Sacred 2. Sure this thing may be insanely long and boring to those with short attention spans or who don’t have time to devote to this, but this is the Disagea or action RPG’s in terms of length and amount of crap to do. I have a feeling that this and PSP are the games I will play for fun when I’m not reviewing.
Addictiveness Rating: Great
9. Appeal Factor
I think most people like a good dungeon hack. It’s mindless fun. It’s entertaining crap. The fact you can play this game online with friends just makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
Although the game’s length and easiness may turn off a good portion of gamers from finishing it, Sacred 2 is fun enough that any gamer can enjoy it for at little select periods of time. For gamers without a lot of expendable cash and who can only purchase a few games a year, this is an amazing buy as it is fun and exceptionally long, ensuring your dollar will be stretched as far as it can possibly go.
I you like action games, RPG’s, customizable characters and prefer hand-eye coordination (and a lot of repetition) over a meandering story, then you’ll probably have a lot of fun with Sacred 2
Appeal Factor: Above Average
Content is king for me, and I have never seen a game with this much to play around before. Well, at least one not published by Nippon Ichi. With multiplayer options, the biggest world I have ever seen in a video game, a lot of character creation options, over a dozen unique attacks for each character to learn, and over six hundred quests (I haven’t even done half the quests. HALF!), you could feasibly buy Sacred 2 and nothing else this year and not need anything else. It has that much to wade through.
If you’re one of those people that played Diablo II several times, just to try out each character or who played Dark Alliance 2 to unlock Drizzt and Artemis and then played as them, Sacred 2 is the game you’ve spent years waiting for. For the MSRP, this is a bargain, especially compared to other previous “biggest world(s) ever” games like Phantasy Star IV? I paid like $90 for that when it came out! Think how much that is with inflation. God knows I would never say S2 is a better game that PSIV, but the amount of content to dollars ration is decidedly in Sacred 2’s favour.
No Sacred 2 isn’t a top tier action RPG as it’s missing the substantive story featured in the best games of this genre (oddly enough, all of which are D&D based games. Weird.) However, it comes close in spite of itself. Until Diablo 3 comes out (and let’s hope it actually hits a console), Sacred 2 is holding the throne as the king of hack and slash RPG’s.
Miscellaneous Rating: Great
Control and Gameplay: Great
Appeal Factor: Above Average
FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary
Sacred 2 has almost everything a gamer could want from an action RPG. It boasts a solid engine with gameplay that works far better than you could ever imagine a PC to PS3 port being capable of. It has beautiful graphics and a great soundtrack. Monsters are entertaining in both design and voice acting. Multiplayer mode is well done and adds more to the game that mere words can express. The only true negative quality is that the plot is pabulum at best and that the game is too long save for even the most ardent of dungeon hackers. Still, the amount of content you get is amazing, even with the $60 price tag, so if you have room on your hard drive (Say, five gigs) to spare, Sacred is well worth the cost and time investment as long as you can live with a constant feeling of, “Didn’t I already do this in Game XYZ?”