The strongest aspect of the game – by far – is the beautiful game world you play in. We’re talking 22 square miles of rendered terrain, ranging from lush rainforests to dry deserts to soaking swamps. Every type of terrain has its own flora, fauna, enemies, and lighting, making every type of terrain truly unique. The day and night cycle affects NPCs, and there’s also a weather system at play.
What further sets Ancaria, as it’s called, apart from other game worlds is that it has multiple levels; when you go down into a dungeon, you don’t disappear into some strange alternate dimension, no; the dungeons are actually part of the world, and progressing through a dungeon or a cave means you’re also progressing through the world above ground. In other words, Ancaria has multiple layers; you have above ground, but also a number of levels below ground. The benefits are clear; anyone who has tried to navigate through the DC Wasteland in Fallout 3 using the metro tunnels and the in-game map will know what I mean (moving though the tunnels didn’t actually change your location on the map in Fallout 3).
The world lacks loading times – mostly. What this means is that you can walk across the entire map without ever encountering a loading screen, which I find a major, major achievement. The only places where you will get an actual loading screen is when entering or leaving dungeons/caves. However, it is important to note that in some of the large cities in the elven and human areas of the map, you will see a spinning disk indicating the town is being loaded; you’ll be able to walk around, but the camera will be fixed. This process usually takes no more than about 5-10 seconds.
The developers of Sacred 2 have clearly put all the money not spent on voice acting and storytelling into designing and building Ancaria. This is by far the most detailed and most beautifully and lovingly crafted game world I’ve ever seen. And it’s not due to the graphics – the graphics aren’t that good on the XBox 360 – but more because every part of the map feels new, unique, and hand-crafted. There are no auto-generated parts of the map here, and you never get the feeling “hmmm, I’ve seen this before”.
There were several occasions during the game where I just put my controller down, just to enjoy the streams of water, the tiny river with fish swimming in it, the birds flying through the air, wind rustling leaves, the lush vegetation, the swaying grass, and the soothing music which perfectly fit in with the scenery. There are places with waterfalls dozens of metres high, there are tiny islands with ruins on them, underground caverns with water seeping through the ceilings – and so on and so forth. Buildings truly look like buildings, each with individual ornaments and furniture; heck, even what’s on the furniture is unique.
You can clearly see that the developers put a lot of effort into making every part of the map, every city and every ruin, every dungeon and every cave, unique. The end result is that as a player, you just want to see it all. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that tickled that primordial human urge to explore as much as Sacred 2 does.
A special mention goes to the countless graveyards, catacombs, and statues littered throughout Ancaria. Each and every statue and gravestone has a unique epitaph or famous quote on it, making them very entertaining to read. The prize winner so far is definitely a grave somewhere in the human or elven realm which read: “Here lies Basil. He mentioned the war.” The developers of Sacred 2 are German.
Sacred 2 by far isn’t the best game you’ll ever play, there’s enough to dislike, and I’m sure that most of you will not enjoy it.
However, you have to judge Sacred 2 for what it is: it is one of the few (only?) hack and slash RPGs currently out, and the fact that the developers ported it to the Playstation 3 and the XBox 360 only makes it more unique. They receive a massive amount of brownie points for making a game in a rare genre, and for not following the current trend in the gaming industry to dumb down games just to reach an as massive an audience as possible. Sacred 2 is a game for fans of the genre – not for everyone.
However, even if you’re not a fan, Sacred 2 might turn you into one. The beautiful world and its scenery alone are worth buying the game, as well as the extensive character development, but you’ll have to put up with a crappy storyline and atrocious voice acting.
Since Blizzard is too busy milking its World of Warcraft cashcow and screwing over fans with Starcraft II, Diablo III will most likely remain a PC-exclusive, so Sacred II will be your only choice if you’re on a console.
For me, it has been worth every eurocent of the 64 EUR I paid for it.
- Title: Sacred 2: Fallen angel
- Platform: PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360 (reviewed)
- Release Date: June 2009 (XBox/PS3)/November 2008 (PC)
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