Sacred 2 is cdv Software’s ‘version’ of Blizzard’s Diablo hack and slash/action RPG game, a clone basically. It’s also a prequel to the original Sacred game, which itself was a competent Diablo clone, but is Sacred 2? Read on.
Action RPGs aren’t usually big on story, using it only as a framework to hang the combat on as you level your way through monsters and quests in an effort to reach the big bad guy at the end. Sacred 2 is no exception. The storyline, especially at the beginning, isn’t presented well and it’s up to you whether you want to follow the main line or not, nothing’s pushing you to do so. And what there doesn’t seem to be all that compelling (disclosure: I’ve only played about 15 hours or so and have barely touched the main story), but then again, who needs a complicated story? Sacred 2 does, however, allow you to take the story in either the ‘light’ or ‘dark’ direction depending on how you want to play, and character class you are playing.
Hack, slash, kill, loot, level up, repeat. That is the basic loop you’ll perrform in Sacred 2, indeed in almost every action RPG, and you might think it would become repetitive and boring. For the most part, that’s not true in Sacred 2. There are so many side quests littering the world that you could literally spend hours on them (as I have done) and not touch the main quest line and all these quests give you a little something to hang your hat on as you kill, kill, kill. What keeps it from becoming boring is the frenetic pace of the battles combined with cool spell and weapon effects plus a sprinkle of humor (in the form of one liners from your character and the NPCs). All of this creates a ‘just one more quest’ addictive quality that makes you unaware that 5 hours have just passed.
Add to that a terrific control scheme for using your various weapons and abilities and battles become hack and slash joy, until the game starts throwing huge numbers of enemies at you to make up for its poor AI and lack of ability to make the NPCs work effectively together. The AI can be really poor, at times enemies will stay right where they are as their friends are slaughtered by you in plain view, not attacking until you attack them. Other times a single attack will unleash a swarm of enemies upon you. Still, at the end you do get to loot all the bodies for goodies, which is a big part of the attraction.
As mentioned, the main way you level up is by killing things for experience points. You don’t do this at randome by walking around and finding stuff. The main vehicle for this is the questing system whereby various NPCs ask you do things for them in return for rewards (loot) and experience. Most of these quests usually involve you killing everything in your way to reach your objective, although there are a few courier and ‘talk to this guy’ quests sprinkled about. And given the fact this game world is huge (I’ve played 15 hours and seen maybe 15% of it) and there are quest givers literally everywhere you go, you won’t have trouble finding something to do, though it may take time to move to where new quests are. It’s at this point where Sacred 2 tends to bog down as you move through areas that have been ‘quest mined’ so to speak.
For the most part, the rewards you get are money, gear and experience, but I did experience one really interesting quest that went just a bit farther. I met a guy in a town who happened to be the front man for a musical group. His group was waylaid by a bunch of skeletons and he asked me to get the band’s instruments back. After quite a bit of hack/slash/kill I was able to bring all 4 instruments back whereupon he invited me to the bands next gig, which actually turns out to be a quest of sorts. Upon accepting the quest, Sacred 2 immediately went to a 3+ minute long cut scene of the band playing a song during their concert, all the while the camera was panning around like you’d see in a concert movie. At the conclusion, I was given the instruments (which turn out to be fairly powerful weapons) as my reward. Unexpected and very cool.
Sacred 2 does a few other things well. The graphics are nice, especially the combat effects, with a decent variety in the locations you visit. The sound is quite good, though there is the occasional bad voice actor. And one welcome addition to the action RPG genre is the early acquisition of a mount. You get to buy your choice of mount early one which really helps cut down travel time. The nice thing is there are types of mounts to buy: some that help in combat (yes, the horse will actually help you fight), some that help in travel (these move faster than the others but don’t fight as well) and some that are a combination of the two.
I do have a few issues with Sacred 2. I’ve mentioned the use of hordes of enemies to overcome poor AI, but there are a few more. The major annoyance I have with the game is the camera. Diablo, being old school, had a fixed isometric camera, which worked well for it’s non-3D world. Sacred 2, however, is 3D and I wanted to be able to move the camera down and view the action from a more ‘over the shoulder’ view, like you’d get in Mass Effect or Gears of War. No go. You can go from very high/straight over head to lower down/behind the character. It made seeing what around your character very difficult, plus accidentally touching the camera controls can move the camera in ways you don’t want.
I also thought the intro tutorial was too short, both in terms of length and explanation. I actually gave up on the first character I used because I couldn’t figure out how to control him effectively. Choosing a more melee based character helped, but neither the game nor the manual explains much at all. With a lot of trial and error you can figure out how things work, but it’s a bit frustrating.
Overall, Sacred 2 is a good, at times great, action RPG that is a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a game of this type for your 360, pick up Sacred 2.