Review: Sacred 2

Sacred 2 is actually a prequel to Sacred, taking place 2,000 years prior. The only way I figured this out was with a cursory perusal of its Wikipedia entry, as I wanted to get a quick rundown of the game's background and plot before diving in. In a nutshell, there is a magical force known as T-Energy--which sounds like a virus--is going out of control and its up to you to heal the land or just wreak more havoc. Which method you use depends on whether you pick the Light or Shadow path, which also determines how you handle various events in the game that crop up.

I'd heard that the game tries to use a moral compass mechanic, with (of course) two very distant extremes. I'm not a fan of a game that includes good/evil decisions when there isn't any kind of middle ground. You can't be someone who is mostly bad or sort of good, you have to fully embrace either perspective. That being said, I'm sure that if the game took my own actions into account I'd have been wholesomely evil seeing as I spent a couple of hours rampaging across the country side blasting bandits with my high-tech (?) laser cannon for really no reason other than boredom, and a lack of direction.

In addition to choosing your side, you also get to choose from one of six gender-specific classes. Too often this can be the make-or-break part of a game. If the models look too crappy or fashionably challenged, I just cant bring myself to look at my avatar or care about their problems. I'm not really a fan of female characters looking as if they were going to the beach or preparing to actually get dressed, which immediately served to cut my options in half.
The hammy opening dialogue for each character really didn't cut it for me and reminded me of playing the original Resident Evil. I hurriedly picked the temple guardian because it was the least visually offensive option and also because I couldn't stand listening to them go on and on about their dark and/or mysterious histories, but realized quickly that it wasn't going to stop there because the in-game NPC dialogue was just as bad.

The graphics are alright considering that its a port from a PC game about half a year old, and the sound is decent enough if you turn down the dialogue volume. Hot-keying your attack and item options is a bit tricky and the game doesn't stop for any reason, so you might find yourself being assaulted by bandits allied with boars while you are trying to figure your shit out. There were a couple things that I was totally clueless about, namely special attacks and skills. This is something that I expect a game to make very clear from the get-go, but it ended up being a non-issue since I was able to get by just fine for several hours using only my normal attack and the occasional potion-that-also-heals-robots.
The game itself doesn't bring anything new to the table. It follows the basic formula of running around killing random monsters that drop random loot as you gradually hoof your way to a conclusive story arc, just without the story. This otherwise simple three-step process is only complicated with the obligatory quest provided by people that you just don't care about.
There are a lot of visual bugs in the game, especially since the camera starts panning before the area is fully loaded. When I started the game there were a few floating barrels as well as NPCs and bits of scenery popping in, who proceeded to quickly run through a sitting animation as if they were actors that just noticed that they were on film. Add in some lag to the mix and you have a game that does a good job of reminding you that you're in a game.

If you enjoyed games like Diablo 2 then this should provide good-if-glitchy entertainment. The control scheme is pretty simple, as I was able to play for almost two hours straight with only the X button taped down and running in random directions while performing random tasks for NPCs that occasionally garnered rewards. The main thing that detracts from the whole experience is the fact that there isnt a plot that I can identify. I feel like choosing an ancient canine cyborg carries about as much purpose as picking a specific pair of socks: no one seems to notice that I'm a robot and everyone seems to have gear perfectly suited for my character.
Personally there just isn't enough going on here to keep me gripped. It feels like I'm playing World of WarCraft, just with a lot less flexibility and clarity on the tedious charity that I'm performing for completely aloof strangers that are just to lazy to do themselves. I'm sorry, but delivering worms isn't exactly a hero's quest: its a chore.
In the end Sacred 2 is adequate. You dont find anything terribly innovative here, but if you are looking for a game with that old-school feel then it will likely suffice until Diablo 3 is released.

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