Review by Kam007
"Diablo 2 clone that doesn't deliver"
When most gamers think of an Action-RPG, they think of the Diablo series. I was hoping Sacred would live up to that series, and sadly, I was dead wrong. This game has it's glimpses of the addicting gameplay and battle system of it's Diablo ancestors, but it's bugs and lack of class balance ruins the experience.
Gameplay - For me, this is THE make or break category for Action RPGs, and Sacred breaks very badly. It sports the familiar point and click interface that most of us have used in past games, but that's about where the familiarity ends. Every time you want to attack an enemy, you have to click on him/her, which becomes all the more maddening when you have to deal with moving enemies and Sacred's picky and buggy overworld screen. Secondly, only 1-4 skills can be hotkeyed at a time (depending on your level) causing you to either manually sub skills in and out of these slots, or depending on your currently slotted skills to get you by in a tight spot. Also, several skills seem to be the exact same over different classes such as the multi hit and hard hit skills which reduces the diversity and replayability of these classes. On a final skill note, several classes contain uber skills which do things like freeze any enemy or disable all nearby enemies attacks which basically allow you to plow through the game with ease and erasing any challenge the game may offer. One innovation the game did try to incorporate was adding the option of buying and riding horses. Supposedly, the horse would increase your movement rate and give you some extra protection. However, in the final game build, riding a horse causes some quests not to function properly and your horse cannot be saved in any multiplayer game. This caused me a lot of frustration and I hope this potential innovation can be fixed properly in a forthcoming patch.
Story - Most Action-RPGs are fairly light on the story, and Sacred is not much different. The main quest revolves around your character as a mercenary who comes under the employ of a Prince dealing with betrayal and a demonic invasion in his kingdom. Over the course of the game, the story becomes more fleshed out, but it's mainly little more than some extra incentive to kick a few more butts and continue to level your character. Also, the story pacing suffers pretty badly from the freedom the game allows you in roaming around the land doing side quests of other people. These caused me to forget my main quests most of the time to pursue extra levels and rewards in the outlying and usually somewhat easier questing provided by outlying cities.
Graphics/Sound - Sacred's graphics are solid, but can be awkward at times. Navigating the towns can be a chore sometimes as the camera does not provide a clear perspective on small backalleys or paths behind any buildings at all leaving you to a lot of trial and error to find your way. Fortunately, not a lot of time is spent in these sections, but it is troubling.
One high point of the game for me was Sacred's sound. While it has all the grunts and groans of battle, each character comes with several amusing to hilarious sayings that they utter while accepting or completing a quest, or doing battle. These do become monotonous after a while, but they provide a welcome change to most hackfests sound contributions.
Multiplayer - Multiplayer on Sacred borders on the ridiculous. I tried a LAN game and was immediately annoyed due to the buggy questing and experience issues. Many of the quests are broken in multiplayer and either make one of your objectives disappear, or just refuse to acknowledge your completing the quest. Also, experience sharing in multiplayer started as an equal split regardless of level in the early version of the game, but has now been modified so there is very little incentive to play in any group other than others within a level or 2 of yourself.
Overall, Sacred was a well intentioned game that didn't seem to get enough beta testing and skill balancing put into it before it was released. If the skill sets were tweaked and some of the unfairness removed and if the game's bugs were ironed out, this would be a fairly entertaining game. However, as it is, it's nothing more than an incomplete mishmash of annoyance.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 06/05/04
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