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Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
By Lewis Denby, covered in bugs and being chased by wolves.

If there's one thing Sacred 2 is good at, it's being absolutely enormous.  This is one of those RPGs of old, somehow managing to slam upwards of a hundred hours of gameplay into an essentially linear world.  Quests pour out of the many cracks around this universe, but unfortunately it's those cracks that stick in mind first and foremost.

Interesting point: I can absolutely imagine a lot of people loving this.  It's immediately reminiscent of a simpler time in PC gaming, and that alone may land Sacred 2 a place in the hearts of many.  This is action-role-playing at its purest: countless monsters, destroyable with simple clicks of the mouse; endless character stats and literally hundreds of optional quests.  If that sounds like the kind of thing you're after, and you're prepared to wait patiently while it has a few 'moments', then read no further.  You'll probably lap this up.

For the rest, there's far less to love.  The narrative picks up pace after a few hours, but the opening is as dreary as they come.  In fact, I wasn't even sure what was going on until a good half hour after I first stepped into the oversized boots of my ballsy female character.  In an embarrassingly poor introduction, your pal is rather unconvincingly slain by two besworded enemies, and with his dying breath he urges you to complete his quest.  Whatever that might be.  There's an awful lot of mindless slaying to be done before you come any closer to realising your goal.

Unfriendly NPCs are as thick on the ground as treacle on toast, and it's rare to go more than thirty seconds without another morbidly depressing encounter.  The Witcher proved long ago that point-and-click combat could still work in modern 3D engines, so Sacred 2 feels badly dated in its wake.  The engine seems to respond far too slowly to the left mouse button and, in the early stages before you begin to level up, often decides to make your character miss entirely.  From half a metre away.  With an enormous stick.

In fact, the engine seems badly lacking in a great number of areas, from visual prowess to base-level stability.  The pre-release screenshots looked stunning; what's happened since then to create this ugliness?  The fact is, this is an engine that excels in its rendering of close-up detail, yet more often than not the camera swings around high above the heads of the characters.  If you get the chance to zoom in, then sure, it looks rather pretty.  From a distance, however, things become a little messy and repetitive.  A fitting analogy for the game itself, perhaps.

"...wait while it has a few 'moments'..."

It runs awfully on anything but the most modern computers, and I'd hate to think what attempting to play with the minimum spec would be like.  Even if you can get it running smoothly, it won't be long before you find yourself slamming your head against the desk at the sight of yet another ridiculous bug.  One piece of dialogue looped a total of eight times before finally stopping halfway through a sentence.  Enemies all over the place pop up out of thin air and begin surprise attacks.  Occasionally, clicking on essential items does absolutely nothing.  This was not ready to be released.

I finally gave up when I suddenly realised that, for the past god-knows how many wasted hours, I'd been slaying wolves that dropped gold when killed.  If you can forgive this, and the rest, then - blimey - you're the new messiah.  If you're a mere disciple, look elsewhere.

PUBLISHER: Deep Silver



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