Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Released in 2004, the original Sacred game was a simple and cheerfully unabashed Diablo 2 clone that offered up some interesting ideas of its own as well as being very acessible to those new to the genre. Its sequel – Sacred 2: Fallen Angel – is an altogether grander affair with a similar mixture of intriguing character classes, many lush and detailed landscapes to wander, a huge variety of monsters to fight and quests to complete, two distinct campaigns to play through, several difficulty levels and various online play modes. There truly is enough in this game to keep even the most hardened of fantasy roleplayers occupied for a very long time indeed.
The setting is Ancaria, a world of the brink of war and possessing a bloody history. Controversial ancient magic called T-Energy used by the High Elves to become the dominant culture on the planet resulted in a huge ancient war in which Dragons, Humans, Orcs and Temple Gaurdians joined forces against the High Elves but were crushed by them. This war left much of Ancaria in ruins and the High Elves isolated themselves in the aftermath. Now the Elves themselves are fighting over who controls the T-Energy and to make matters worse the enrgy is spreading out of control, poisoning the land and mutating creatures into monsters. It is into this chaos that your character sets out. Do you take the path of the Light and avert the coming war or take the path of Shadows and push Ancaria further into chaos?
One of the most pleasing aspects of the original Sacred was the choice of character classes which managed to put an interesting twist onto some well worn fantasy class cliches. Sacred 2 continues this trend. On offer are High Elf, Seraphim, Dryad, Inquisitor, Shadow Warrior and Temple Guardian. Take the Shadow Warrior for example, although he mainly fits the profile of the melee heavy “Warrior” class, good for beginners thanks to his heavy armour and powerful weapons. His undead nature means he can summon fallen comrades for help in battle giving him some “Necromancer” style abilities as well. Most interesting of all is the Temple Guardian. This is a dog headed cyborg with an arm mounted gun that fires out pure laser like T-Energy, adding a sci-fi wrinkle to an otherwise heavily fantasy orientated gameworld.
Your final choices on the character creation screen are which God you swear allegiance to and the difficulty option you wish to start in. The Seraphim cannot chose an evil god nor the Inquisitor a good one (also the Seraphim is restricted to the Light campaign and the Inquisitor to the Shadow one) but the rest are free to choose who you please. The god grants a powerful spell to your character that can be improved by visiting Temples and praying. Bronze difficulty eases your character into the game slowly with further ones unlocked as you complete the game. There are also LAN and online multiplayer modes available, with a special hardcore difficulty available that sees the game ended the first time your character dies.
The meat of the game is found in its questing and combat. A symbol over the head of an NPC allows you to collect a quest from them. This generally involves killing a certain number of enemies or collecting a certain number of items. Killing yields experience, and when enough has been acquired you level up giving you points to spend on your characters development. Skills come in the form of combat arts, either as special attacks or magic spells. As you progress in the game you’ll discover runes that allow you to learn new arts or upgrade existing ones. Characters can learn a maximum of ten skills, although they have more than that to chose from. Runes which can’t be used by your character can handily be exchanged at the Runemaster for ones more appropriate to your class. Although this system lacks the depth and variety compared with other roleplaying games, it’s not as potentially overwelming making it perfect for those who always wanted to try the genre but have been put off in the past by the reams of stats and skills than can easily bloat games of this type.
The main problem with Sacred 2 however is the incredibly hefty system requirements needed to run it. There is a whopping twenty gigabyte minimum hard drive install for a start and a decent dual core set up and powerful grapics card are a must if you want it to run smoothly. To be brutally frank it’s hard to see why all that power is necessary. Although the game has some very nice dynamic lighting effects, the character models and environments don’t have the same level of detail that the likes of sayEverquest 2 manage to display on a lesser machine. The voice acting is very variable with some suspect lip synching lending the cut-scenes a slightly scruffy quality.
But with that said, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel still manages to be an entertaining romp. Ancaria is an interesting world to explore, with many weird and wonderful creatures to slay along the way. It’s not the most original game you’ll ever play, but it does what it does very well and if you are twiddling your thumbs waiting for Diablo 3 to come out, this is a more than acceptable way of spending your time until that happy day.