Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Review

Playing Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is both a pleasure and a pain. It's pleasurable because the game is fun, big, and addictive, and painful because it has its own share of flaws, some worse than others. Much like the original Sacred or Titan Quest, Sacred 2 is a game that operates partially in Diablo II's shadow, and partly in the shadow of all of the action RPG's since Blizzard's classic.

Unlike so many of those games, Sacred also creates a unique, interesting experience. Set in a medieval science fiction setting, robots and robber elves rub shoulders in this world. Your avatar can range from a heavenly guardian to an evil mage, and even to a robotic Egyptian dog. You'll use magic, swords and high-tech gadgets to defeat your enemies, and even ride various exotic mounts. Sacred II is nothing if not varied, and it does its best to mix up the done-to-death fantasy setting that it uses as its inspiration.

Sacred II establishes itself quickly as a game that means business: it doesn't mess around with too much exposition, and it starts you on your path to better items and skills quickly. This is good, because Sacred II is refreshingly light on story. I say refreshing because the point of this game is never to transport or entertain with dialogue or narrative. It's entirely bent on providing you with a multitude of interesting and cool options. It succeeds on most fronts, luckily.

Sacred II succeeds not only because it brims with detail and content, but also because these assets are presented with constant care. The mixture of sci-fi and fantasy means that interesting and spectacular combinations can be made out of the different characters' abilities. Auras, damaging attacks and buffs all flash across and around your character, making for dazzling battles.

Things have the potential to get even more frantic, as Sacred II is obviously tailor-made for amazing online co-op dungeon running. As expected, playing the game as part of a group is great. It allows for combos and simultaneous attacks on enemies, using powers that provide various kinds of damage and buff synergies. As of right now, the multiplayer is still finding its land legs, and is pretty unstable. Hopefully CDV will take care of this because it's a game mode players should all try.

Another of Sacred II's assets is its open level design. Unlike many action RPGs, it is neither randomly generated nor frustratingly linear. Instead, at the start of your journey you are faced with a vast map. You can travel to almost all locations on this map from the beginning of your travels.

 

However, like Fallout 3, you'll have trouble traveling in a straight line. Caves, minor quests, groups of elves, kobolds and wolves, towns, guard posts, and many other landmarks will distract you throughout your journey. Still, as games like Oblivion prove, tons of landmarks that all look the same offer little to distract players. In Sacred II, you hardly ever get the feeling that you've stumbled on the same layout of rooms or ruins, the exact same tileset, or any other problems common to large, open world games.

Unfortunately, like the story, the quests leave a lot to be desired. In my present game, I have 10 or so active quests, and none of them distinguish themselves from each other. Sure, the stories behind them may be different, but for the most part they amount to going to a place and killing a certain number of enemies in that place. To make matters worse, while the quest map looks cool, it's difficult to discern where parts of quests end and start. All you see is a circle, telling you that something is happening at that spot. As entertaining as watching the main map dissolve like a Sizzler commercial, it becomes annoying when you have to watch it over and over, knowing that the map won't help you much.

All of these faults pale in comparison to the crashes one experiences while playing Sacred II. About two to three times a session, the game would lock up and restart my computer. You can save at any point, which can save you from losing too much information, but having to do this is extremely annoying. I shouldn't have to remind myself to do this so often, and I shouldn't have to do with the inexplicable and frequent slowdowns that afflict the game.

Sadly, when I sat down to write this review, I thought I'd play a bit more of Sacred II, to see if I could think of any last-minute accolades or anecdotes. In that time, my game crashed twice, and ran about twice as slow as normal. This is the kind of memories one takes away from Sacred II: a fun, entertaining game that you can only stand so much of, because it's eager to disappoint you and stymie your efforts to have fun.

It saddens me to say this, but I'd only play Sacred II if you have a powerful computer, powerful enough to trounce the recommended system requirements. It's either that or deal with appalling and uncontrollable slowness of play. If you have the patience to play this game, you'll be richly rewarded, make no mistake. Or you could wait for the console releases, I suppose, which looks fantastic graphically. Still, this game is at home on the PC, there's no mistake. It's too bad that home isn't a terribly comfortable one.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 75%.