Sacred Underworld PC CD-ROM
Published by Ascaron
Developed by Ascaron
Release Date: Out Now
Sacred Underworld an introduction.
Around 15 months or so ago we reviewed a game called Sacred. The game was developed and published by Ascaron who are known to most gamers for great strategy games such as the Patrician and Port Royale series. Sacred wasn't a strategy game though. In fact it was a hack 'n' slash RPG reminiscent of the Diablo series. With Diablo II now being 4 years old at the time of Sacred's release (and at that time no news of a sequel) the timing of releasing Sacred was definitely ideal. To make things even better Sacred was a damn good game and like the Diablo games offered a great single player experience along with solid, free, online play. Here we have the first official expansion for Sacred, Sacred Underworld.
What's the game about?
Sacred Underworld does what an expansion should do; it expands the game universe and offers players of the original game more choices and more hours of play. Ancaria has been enlarged quite substantially. The interface has been improved and now you'll have more useful information that's quickly accessible. Two new characters, the Daemon and the Dwarf have been added to give you a total of eight characters in all. More importantly you now have another campaign, the Underworld campaign, to undertake. Essentially then it's well worth the asking price.
What's good about the game?
The best thing about Sacred Underworld is that it will satisfy those who have been playing Sacred for a long time. The expansion retains that highly addictive formula that made Sacred so popular. You'll need a level 25 character if you want to import your character into the Underworld campaign. If you don't have a character who has reached level 25 you can use a pre-made, level 29 Dwarf or Daemon. The onscreen information is now presented in a more useful way. Graphical improvements have been made in this area, which is always nice of course, but there's also more useful information on display. When you're attacking an enemy you'll notice a health bar that not only displays the enemy's health but also the name of the monster type, its resistance values and its level. Putting your mouse over the little cross next to your character's portrait will reveal all their bonus, resistance and damage values at a glance. These improvements may not seem like much but they are very useful. The two new characters, the Dwarf and the Daemon, are both well thought out and balanced characters and feel sufficiently different from the original six characters. You can also use these in the original Ancaria campaign if you wish. Ancaria itself has been increased by around 40% offering new locations, and quests, in the South and North. Even if you're an old hand at the game you'll be able to spend hours exploring the new locations.
What's not so good about the game?
There's not a lot wrong with Sacred Underworld to be completely honest. On a selfish note I would probably have preferred more than two additional characters but the two we have been given are well balanced and quite different from the characters originally included in Sacred. The few complaints we had about Sacred in regards to it's suitability for deaf gamers have not been addressed though and still remain in Sacred Underworld. I wish the game would pause when you access your inventory or attempt to level up your character. It's all too annoying to be deciding what attributes to improve only to find your character is being savaged as you do so.
How does it look?
Like other expansion packs, Sacred Underworld doesn't offer any significant visual improvements over the original game. What you will notice though is that the look of the interface has been improved and additional information is now displayed.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
It's exactly the same as Sacred in this respect. When selecting a character the comments are not subtitled. There is text shown for this but it's not quite the same as the speech. Taunts and non-essential comments made by your character and NPC's are also not subtitled. Any speech in the cutscenes is not subtitled (although this is fairly minimal). Important dialogue is shown in text using click-off dialogue boxes so you'll never miss out on anything important. A log book records quests and such like which means you can keep track of what needs to be done. Tutorial messages (should you start an original game with the expansion installed) are shown in text too which is useful. Text chat is also supported in multiplayer modes which is great news for deaf gamers. As you might expect the manual concentrates on the new features and it does this well, leaving you in no doubt as to what changes have been made as well as informing you of how to make the most of these changes.
If you were a fan of Sacred then Sacred Underworld is highly recommended. The additional characters, the substantially increased map of Ancaria and the other additions all help to successfully expand the original game and offer many more hours of play. It is a shame the game hasn't improved upon it's suitability for deaf gamers and there are still a few niggles such as the way the game doesn’t pause when you open your inventory or level up your character. On the whole it's a great expansion that should more than satisfy longstanding players of Sacred.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Sacred Underworld is a great expansion that all players of Sacred shouldn't be without.