Sacred 2: Fallen Angel PC DVD
Published by: Deep Silver
Developed by: Ascaron
Release Date: Out Now
Given how popular Diablo II was and still is, it's a mystery why Blizzard has taken so long to develop a sequel. The one positive aspect of Blizzard taking so long however has been that it's given other developers a chance to get to grips with the action RPG genre and there have been some impressive results. Sacred, developed by Ascaron who were previously noted for their excellent Patrician strategy titles, was definitely one of the action RPG's to have been released in this post Diablo II period. One successful expansion pack and a gold edition later, fans of Sacred were pleased to learn that a sequel was in development. Sacred 2 has been a long time coming, four and a half years after the original game in fact, but it's a game that will definitely satisfy fans of Sacred even though it's not without its problems.
Sacred 2, like the original game is set in Ancaria. There are two campaigns to play through: The Campaign of Shadow and The Campaign of Light. There are six different characters to choose from. Female characters include a Seraphim, High Elf and Dryad whilst the male characters are a Temple Guardian, Shadow Warrior and an Inquisitor. You can't change the look of these characters but there's a great deal of customisation you can make as you level them up and choose what skills and abilities you wish to assign to them. The game offers three difficulty settings although only two are initially available.
The core experience of Sacred 2 isn't that different from what was in the original Sacred. You'll left click to attack and right click to cast spells and use special abilities. Enemies seem determined to make mincemeat out of you and will often attack in numbers. Most enemies won't cause you many problems at all but there are several who are a real pain to deal with. Whilst this is certainly nothing different for this genre, the humorous comments your enemies make definitely is. The game claims to have over 500 quests which certainly seems like a good thing although most of the quests we undertook were actually quite tedious. Sure we all know that quests are just a way of earning XP but we like to have the illusion that the quests we undertake are worthwhile. Probably the biggest disappointment is that the game has shipped with quite a few bugs, some of which cause the game to crash.
The range of multiplayer options are impressive and it's a fair bet that most will spend more time with the multiplayer side of the game than they will with the single-player campaigns. The multiplayer modes include Drop-in/Drop-out Co-operative Campaign play. PvP (Player versus Player) and PvE (Player versus Environment) modes are both included for up to 16 players for LAN and Internet play. Item trading is supported too, which is a nice touch.
Visually, Sacred 2 is quite impressive but you'll need a decent PC specification, particularly a beefy graphics card, if you want to see the game in its full glory. Our ATi X1950 Pro couldn't really cope with the game running at the maximum settings and you have to make a few graphical quality sacrifices to have the game running fairly smoothly. Still, even with the settings turned down a notch or two it's still a respectable looking game. There are some glitches however and they do take away from the visual quality of the game. We've seen enemies stuck inside various objects and quite a few whose legs have sunk into the road so that you can only see the top half of their body. The camera is a little cumbersome at times and it can feel rather restrictive.
It's unfortunate that Sacred 2 has to be regarded as being rather poor for deaf gamers. The game's cutscenes are not subtitled. Whilst these cutscenes aren't that good it's still a shame that deaf gamers will be unaware of their dialogue. Only the crucial in-game dialogue is subtitled. During the game you'll see question mark icons over NPC's who have a quest for you, or something important to say to you, and the conversations with these characters are subtitled. Other NPC's will also talk to you but you won't be aware of what's being said. During battles your enemies will taunt you and their comments will not be subtitled. Likewise, the comments that your character makes during a battle are not subtitled. Comments made on the character selection screen are not subtitled. What's particularly annoying about this is that there are some rather humorous comments made and deaf gamers will be completely unaware of them. It's still possible for deaf gamers to play the game, after all the quest details are in text and can be recalled at any time and tutorial messages are in text, but it's almost as if deaf gamers are getting a sterile version of the game with its humour and personality stripped away.
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is a good follow up to the impressive Sacred which first appeared over four years ago. However, deaf gamers will feel as though they've been given a raw deal seeing as so much of the dialogue isn't subtitled. The bugs and graphical glitches are unfortunate and it's hoped that the developers will iron these out as quickly as possible. Sacred was a surprising success when it released back in 2004 and probably the biggest disappointment with Sacred 2 is that it hasn't improved upon that winning formula. In some respects Sacred 2 isn't as good thanks to the bugs and glitches it's shipped with and mostly uninspiring quests. Despite its problems however, Sacred 2 is still a good action RPG and, with future patches hopefully fixing the main problems, it will be a game that's worth the asking price for fans of the genre providing you're not put off by so much dialogue not being subtitled.