Sacred 2: Fallen Angel

Reviewed by Arep | 11 June 2009
Genre: Action, Adventure | Publisher: CDV | Developer: Ascaron Entertainment
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • Pretty graphics
  • Satisfying combat
  • Cool loot
  • Interesting and huge game-world
The Bad
  • Wimpy manual
  • Can get repetitive in places
  • Main story arc isn’t as awesome as it could have been
  • Some tricky firewall & server issues with PC multi-player

*Reviewed for PC & 360 By Tony DuLac (TOG Wytefang)*

Like most good sequels, Sacred 2 pulls double-duty, revealing that it has incorporated positive aspects from past iterations while delivering entirely new gameplay ideas. Crafting the perfect follow-up title is definitely no easy task - after all, there’s always something that could be tweaked or improved from the original, but the key is in knowing where to stop fiddling and when to let the game become its own unique design. Ascaron Entertainment, Sacred 2’s UK-based development team has put together a remarkably enjoyable sequel that neatly captures that “one-more-level” mindset so crucial to action-based role-playing games. Let’s take a look at why each version is purchase-worthy and also where Ascaron may have dropped the ball a bit.

Any action/RPG hybrid, such as Diablo 1 & 2 (the true fathers of the genre) or more recently, the under-appreciated Titan Quest, need to score well in three key areas to really succeed in their genre: story/setting, interface (including camera & player character controls, and Inventory/Quest management), and combat. Too often these types of games focus on one element to the detriment of others. Thankfully, Sacred 2, on both platforms, successfully nails the run-up, routine, and the dismount with only a modicum of wobbling along the way.

Gametrailers.com

Perhaps the most obvious observation for long-time Sacred fans is that this game is graphically leaps and bounds ahead of its older brother and any other action/RPG for that matter. The higher resolutions on the PC give it a slight edge over the 360 version but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how attractive the game is on the Xbox even when viewed in Standard-definition. Chalk this up to extremely competent use of colored lighting, detailed outdoor scenery (including wildlife, swaying leaves and grass, footprints in the sand, etc…), and really cool architectural designs. Particularly cool are the weapon special status animations. For example, if a sword is imbued with flame damage it may sport a fiery corona blazing along the blade’s shaft. Also, anything worn immediately appears on your character for your viewing pleasure (or chagrin). The game’s equivalent of extra abilities or spells, known as “Combat Arts”, are wonderfully realized graphically; they’re both colorful and unique, offering distinctly different visual cues and animations for each of the game’s six character classes – Seraphim (angelic medium-ranged magic and melee specialists), High Elves (haughty wizards), Inquisitors (evil sorcerers), Dryads (tree-hugging ranged warriors), Shadow Warriors (undead close-range fighters), and Temple Guardians (long and short-range robot fighters).

This game is graphically leaps and bounds ahead of its older brotherWhile setting and story won’t drag a great game down as quickly as a bad interface, they’re still key elements that enhance and refine the overall role-playing experience (limited as it may be in an action-based environment). In this regard, Sacred 2 falls a wee bit flat – particularly for those seeking realistic or clever dialogue and scripting with their adventures. Voice-acting is spotty in some places but great in others while an unfortunate number of quests appear to have drawn their inspiration from the MMORPG template (fetch 10 rat hides, 20 bat wings, etc…). However, for every paint-by-numbers mission, there are an equal amount of creative and somewhat intriguing quests – especially note-worthy are the class-based quests which flesh out character development. The main storyline revolves around the use and abuse of T-Energy, the simplistically named energy that permeates much of Ancaria and while lively enough, didn’t feel as interesting as the character-specific quest storylines.

The third and possibly most important pillar of Action/RPG game design is the User Interface. Players spend copious amounts of game-time interacting with their inventories and the game’s inhabitants; in order to keep things copacetic, developers need to have a snappy, useful, and feature-filled interface. Sacred 2 offers precisely that, for the most part.

The 360’s inventory management screens are definitely clunky at worst and adequate at bestCamera control can be tethered to a player (occasionally causing some wonkiness during battles inside interior locations) or set to Free Mode, allowing you to adjust it on the fly (which helped avoid the aforementioned wonkiness). Inventory management on PC is enhanced by an auto-sort button (both horizontally and vertically) and, perhaps more intriguingly, both versions provide a cash-in now button that allows you to sell loot even when you’re nowhere near a Trade Merchant, albeit for a lesser price. This helps alleviate loot angst when your inventory is filling up but you can’t be bothered to interrupt your current questing just to make a run back to the nearest Merchant in town. It’s a thoughtful feature and one that more games should offer. The interface also allows you to swap between weapons, spell combos (called Combat Arts), Resistances (via RuneStones), Buffs, and Potions, granting more slots as you level-up on the PC version.

The 360 version suffers a bit in this respect as the developers were limited to the button sets rather than an entire keyboard/mouse combo but it still works pretty well. You’re can link actions to the X,Y,A, and B buttons, the Gamepad, or an Alternate set of X,Y,A, and B buttons via the shoulder triggers. It’s functional but less effective overall and more limited than the PC’s excellent interface, which clearly suits this game a bit more naturally. The 360’s inventory management screens are definitely clunky at worst and adequate at best.

One troublesome issue for 360 users is that on SDTV resolutions, the text can be rather difficult to discern, leading to no small amount of eye-strain. Of course, running on HDTV settings removes this issue entirely. One disappointment, endemic to both platforms, is the limited manual which isn’t quite as thorough as could be expected. It’s not a deal-breaker but you’ll occasionally wonder why or how something works (an item bonus, potion, or combat modifier, to name a few things) since the manual leaves you to your own devices at times. Most things are clearly explained in-game so it’s a fairly rare hassle but it bears mentioning.

Sacred 2 has that rare ability to remind us of fond gaming moments spent with their forefathers while pushing us forward into a fun new futureMultiplayer is provided for both platforms with the trade-off between easy online functionality for 360 users via Xbox Live versus more options available for PC gamers. The 360 version offers co-op both online or in person on the same screen as well as PvP and normal multiplayer modes. The PC version doesn’t offer co-op on the same screen but it does offer basically everything else. I did run into some Firewall issues that prevented me from joining a friend on an Open Server (where your character is saved on your own PC) but we were able to hack-n-slash on the Closed Servers (where your character is saved on Ascaron’s servers for cheat-prevention purposes). PvP was more of a novelty experience than anything terribly life-changing, though it was nice to see it offered at least, for those who wanted it. For those tough-as-nails players, with a chip on their collective shoulders, there is a Hardcore mode where death is a one-time, permanent affair. Die in Hardcore mode and it’s time to roll-up a new character. Not everyone’s bag of tea, but again, nice to have the option at least. One other game-design oddity is that player characters, NPCs, and even tombstones, will occasionally break the fourth-wall and address the player him or herself. It’s totally tongue in cheek and in keeping with the game’s lively sense of humor (which also adds to Sacred 2’s fresh feel) but it’s a bit off-putting at first for those not expecting it. One final, impressive note, is that the game world is huge and the incredible variety and landscape sprawl really does lend something of an epic feel to your adventuring.

Strong sequels like Sacred 2 have that rare ability to remind us of fond gaming moments spent with their forefathers while pushing us forward into a fun new future. But what really makes Sacred 2 stand successfully as its own game, is how well each of the three key elements of good Action/RPG game design have been catered to and deftly layered into an enjoyably addictive, index finger-exhausting experience. It’s a game that already has me asking for a sequel, in fact.

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Member reviews

- Draadnor |
| 14 June 2009

Thanks Wytefang, I was a huge fan of Diablo 1 & 2 (+ expansion packs) and have recently 'found' Titan Quest (very cheap at the moment), so now I have another two games to look forward to (haven't played any of the Sacred series).

- Bloodwrych |
| 18 June 2009

I actually have a Collectors Edition of Sacred 2... ive played it already for a bit...but have too many other demands on my time to give it the time it deserves....so if any togger wants it just lemme know and I will give it away to the highest bidder...and put whatever funds i get from it towards TOG as a donation.

- Rog69 |
| 19 June 2009

Great review wytefang, I'm looking forward to playing this one just a soon as I can clear the massive backlog of games I already have at the moment (including Sacred 1 sitting unplayed in my Steam account).

- Gattsu |
| 23 June 2009

I've played the game for about 10 hours or so and while the gameplay seems to have improved from the original, something about the game just seems slow. I like the open world feel of the game where you can go off and do any part of the world at anytime because of the NPCS leveling up with you and not having set level areas. If anyone would like to play sometime let me know I still have it installed.

Sacred 2 - Emmortall |
| 25 June 2009

Well... I have been playing this game for weeks (school is over until Sept) and I am getting to the point where the playing action is becoming tedious. - bad guys are too far apart - my character is too mouthy. but turning his voice off is worse - repetitive equipment drops, too much time spent selling it I could go on and on I finally found a walkthrough on gamepressure.com and a great though non-printable map at labmit.com. I took pictures of sections on my screen and taped them together to get an overall map of the world. Worked well !! Despite all it's quirks it is a good game to pass the time waiting for DIABLO III.

Don't buy this game - Zarlin |
| 30 June 2009

I bought the PC version at release in Australia and was so disappointed with the server lag for online play that i've never gotten to play it. I pop in every month or so to see if it's been fixed but to no avail. I end up with 1000 - 1500ms delay constantly. It's annoying when interacting with objects (click, wait, click, wait, etc) but downright unenjoyable for combat. Personally, I play games to enjoy myself. The lag has been widely reprted by many users. To put this in perspective, I would get around 500ms delay playing Everquest 1 over a dial-up link. In the modern broadband world this sort of lag is reprehensible. I opened a support ticket with the distributer which they simply closed by thelling me there is no problem.

Are we talking about the same - Pure Mongrel |
| 28 August 2009

While I understand that every player has gets different opinion / enjoyment from a game title, after reading the above review I am starting to think that we must be talking about a different game. I recently bought this title and I ... well just read the warning I posted in the TOG Console Consortium: http://www.theoldergamers.com/forum/games-talk/255923-sacred-2-how-waste-100-a.html Items I did not mention in that post that I think I should have included: 1) For the XBOX, these graphics are poor. 2) The interface is just awful. (Everything from combat to just speaking to an NOC that is standing to close to another NPC is an exercise in frustration). 3) The pathing of NPC's is comical to down right criminal. 4) The story is ... well I don't even know what the story is about and I have played it! (I get the impression this game was made only for people that played the first game, story wise at least. I can't see anyone coming back for a second helping of this if Sacred 1 played this bad). 5) Repetitive. This game is like one of the songs that never end ... only sung by a 4 year old at the top of their voice ... and only 2 inches from your head. Sorry Wytefang, I do respect your opinion and I am really happy you enjoyed it, but I for one hope there is no sequel!

Played it now - Draadnor |
| 17 October 2009

Awesome graphics, intuitive gameplay and unfortunately a boring grind (PC version 2.43.0 build 1671). I'm sorry Wytefang but I agree with Pure Mongrel (whilst of course respecting your opinion). I played it on Silver difficulty (Gold difficulty is only one life - no respawn) and found it ridiculously easy. It shouldn't be so easy to knock off boss's but only the Carnach Demon killed me and only once. Maybe I levelled up 'goodly' (played as Dryad archer), I don't know if it would be as easy playing the other characters. Found myself running past the multitudes because I just couldn't be bothered dealing with them. Running back and forth across the map to finish quests was painful. I also hated going into a cave/dungeon and then getting a quest to go back into the same cave/dungeon which new characters 'now' inhabit (I know, I know this is a common problem/feature in these types of games). In the end I tended to follow the main quest just to finish the game. The NPC's are just downright dumb and I never found a way to get them to hold back (there is an 'attack common foe' button that didn't seem to work) as they'd rush in to the nearest enemy and usually get creamed. This was particularly frustrating when you had a babysitting mission and your 'baby' was trying (and usually succeeding) to get him/herself killed. I found Sacred 1 to be a better game, but if you really want a better one then get Titan Quest and it's addon pack Immortal Throne. I should mention that I have not played multiplayer as my headset is broken and doesn't sit on my head anymore :-( I do hope you can pardon my experience of the game Wytefang but I don't want to see a sequel.

Quick follow-up - wytefang |
| 18 October 2009

I appreciate the feedback, Draadnor & Pure Mongrel. It sounds like you just may not really like some of the associated gameplay features of this specific genre. Other than the lag mentioned in one of the posts above (which I've never seen over here), plenty of other games feature the same type of gameplay. One thing that did strike me as odd was when Draadnor said he found it easy. I'm wondering what was different about your play-through?? I had a very tough boss-battle with the Kobold leader, it was intense (the first big boss I tussled with to use one example). Sorry you guys disliked it. :( I felt strongly enough about my experiences on both platforms to wholeheartedly recommend it without too many reservations. Reviews at bigger (more "famous") sites have also commented on the quality of the graphics and my review score (which I always determine before seeing or reading ANYTHING from any other review site or magazine, just to avoid bias) seemed to line up with most reviews. ::: shrug ::: Well each to his or her own, of course! :D

Easy? - Draadnor |
| 18 October 2009

Wytefang, when I said it was easy that was my feeling for the whole game. The earlier fights were harder than the later ones though (I still think it should have scaled better in difficulty as you went along). I played as a Dryad with my main weapon being a bow (of one description or another). I put heaps of points on the Ancient Bark and Sinister Predator buffs (as well as enhancements when they became available). Also quite a few points on Tangled Vine. Usually I could throw a Tangled Vine on any of the bigger bosses or champions and then pepper them from a distance (looked fantastic on the dragons and bigger bosses as it scaled to suit them). Having said that I found I could stand 'toe to talon' with them anyway. Also being a bow person I only ever put points on Dexterity (295 in the end) and lots on the Ranged Weapons skill (69). I also got a complete set of Detheya's Agility armour. Obviously if I'd played as a different character I would have to have considered what their strengths and weaknesses were and potentially had a very different game. Maybe you could say I was just lucky in my choices when customizing my character. I totally agree with you about the quality of the graphics and, once you got used to moving the camera around and zooming in and out, it quite simply looked spectacular. I'm sure that my kids will enjoy it when they get a chance to play it but I can't recommend it to veteran RPG players (I'm sorry Wytefang this isn't intended as an insult to you and I still really appreciate that you've done this review and hope my opinion doesn't dissuade you - or other TOG'rs - from doing more in the future).

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