Several years ago, I played two great titles in a unique genre back-to-back. Over the course of a couple of months, I enjoyed these two gems in a co-op setting with friends back before co-op was the new kool-aid. These two discs were known as Baldur’s Gate 2: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. They were hack-n-slash games. And they were brilliant.
Since that time, there haven’t been many hack-n-slash games that graced us with their hacking presence. Sure, there was Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but true RPG dorks really wanted a full on fantasy experience complete with leveling, grinding, slashing and most of all, loot. I feel that we may have finally found that game in Sacred 2.
Let’s get this out of the way: as I’ve already laid out, Sacred 2 (PC, XBox 360, PS3) is primarily a hack-n-slash game. If you are not a fan of either hacking or slashing, this is not your game. This is a different kind of RPG, and it rules.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Sacred 2 is the layout and the interface. I have to say that the HUD functions very nicely, though the menus could use a little work. I really was pretty worried once the game started up and I was browsing through what seemed to be a plethora of menu screens, none of which made any sense to me. The game really would have benefitted from a tutorial in the early moments, but once you get the hang of things, it isn’t as daunting as it first appears.
The confusing menus are further addled by the almost non-existent story. I have to be honest, I don’t typically care about the narrative in these types of games, and this hasn’t changed for Sacred 2. The story is its weakest point, but I really don’t care. I like leveling up.
The game takes place in Ancaria, which is beyond big and lands somewhere in the “friggin’ huge” category, with quests waiting around every corner. Having performed somewhere around 100 of these, I’ve not yet got the 20% achievement. Meaning there are at least 500 or more. Yikes. That’s a good yikes, by the way.
A lot of RPG’s result with little to no character variation, but Sacred 2 really gives you the tools to create a character that isn’t quite the same as someone else’s. For starters, there literally dozens of skills you can learn to level up in such as Toughness, Dual Wielding, Swords, etc, but only a handful of slots that you can fill. This means that what I choose for my slots will more than likely be different that someone else’s slots. In addition, the spells and magical abilities have trees that allow you to level up each one, with a couple of different branching paths that you can mix and match on.
In terms of the combat, Sacred 2 offers several features that make it stand out for a console RPG. I think the biggest thing that the game does is mapping your spells and abilities to not only face buttons, but also switching between sets with the use of the left and right triggers. This means that with a couple of button presses, you instantly have access to about 12 abilities, more than almost any other console hack-n-slash I can recall.
But the real question is about the grinding, the mobs and the loot. And all of them are great. There are endless monsters to kill, tons of experience to net, and many great locales to explore, full of creeps. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your damage numbers go up on these baddies with a new weapon or piece of equipment (you can equip 10+ things at once in terms of armor and accessories), and you can even modify your equipment to make it more unique for dealing out damage or deflecting it. The loot is randomly generated and you’re constantly swapping your gear to tweak your character even further. It’s glorious.
All in all, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is a solid entry into the hack-n-slash genre, and perhaps the best one so far this generation. It’s by no means “greatest game evar”, but if you’ve been hurting for a hack-n-slash fix, then this just might be the game for you. And to be honest, the game has a stupid amount of replay value. With multiple dark/light campaigns, 4 player co-op over the Web (2 from the couch), and a level cap of 215, you’ll be playing this game into next year, easily. Sitting at about level 35 on my first playthrough, that’s definitely a welcome thought.
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