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My partner is a short bearded man that is handy with a crossbow. I, on the other hand, am taller, clean shaven, bare-chested and like to hit people with a sword. In reality, none of this is true as my partner is actually above average height, not a bloke and does not have a beard; although I bet she's handy with a crossbow. This was the situation we found ourselves in when playing 'Baldur's Gate' on the original Xbox. A dungeons and dragons game was not the type of thing that I thought my partner would want to play, but the great gameplay meant that she did. I played as the Barbarian who ran in close for the kill, whist she supported me as a Dwarf. For 10 years we have been looking for another game that could recreate these great moments, but none were forthcoming - even on the more powerful HD consoles. Could 'Sacred 2' fill the hole in our relationship?
There are certain games that dominate a genre to the point that other games are described in terms of them e.g. GTA-esque. When it comes to the hack 'n' slash genre this game is 'Diablo'. 'Sacred 2' is a Diablo-esque game  You choose from a range of characters and set out on a series of quests and depending on you actions you can take a good role or a bad role in the world. The action is third person and is viewed from an overhead/behind angle to the player so that you see a lot of the gaming world as you move around. As a hardcore Role Playing Game (RPG) you must equip your character with weapons and armour, as well as level up regularly.
The game is as much about magic as it is about weaponry and each character can unleash up to 12 spells. You unlock these spells as you advance and must map them to the various buttons on your control pad. In essence you have a lot of control of how the game is played. For people new to RPGs this will be extremely off-putting and they should try something like 'Fable 2' which offers a similar, but easier experience. 'Sacred 2' is unashamedly hardcore in its outlook and will alienate many players. However, those used to the fickle world of RPGs will discover a huge game that has plenty to offer.
Overall, I enjoyed the first ten hours or so of gameplay, but the repetitive fighting mechanics meant that I eventually grew bored. The difficult button presses and the strange camera angle all made the game as much a chore to play as fun. (2 out of 5)
With gameplay lasting up to 40 hours the RPG genre is rightly seen as one of the best places for a gamer to get good characters and story. Unfortunately, in the case of 'Sacred 2' you get some of the most generic fantasy ever put onto a screen. The olde worlde language and cheesy missions are not enough to entertain a modern audience. As for the character you play I had little idea what their motives were. (2 out of 5)
With a huge central storyline and around 500 side missions there is no denying that 'Sacred 2' offers a lot of game for your money. A purposeful run through the main missions would still take you around 10 hours and that would be missing most of the game. The 360 version has the added bonus of achievements that require you to play as each character type and complete the game as good and evil. If you are someone that needs to get 1000Gs in every game then you will spend a long time with 'Sacred 2' (5 out of 5)
Alongside its impressive game life 'Sacred 2's other saving grace is the online aspects. There is drop in drop out co-op for up to four people at once. A bland slog of a game suddenly becomes far more entertaining when you are joking with three of your friends. The connections are not perfect and you may get thrown out once or twice, but the fact that so much can be going on at once and four of you are together it is worth it. For RPG fans looking for a real co-op experience after the failures of 'Fable 2' this game should get a look in. (4 out of 5)
Like so many elements of 'Sacred 2' the graphics have seemingly suffered in the name of scale. The size of the world is so large that the story was unable to cover it and attention to detail has not been lavished. There are many bland textures and the same character models appear regularly. Perhaps the polygon count is lower to allow a smoother online experience, but having played the buggy online they have ended up with an old looking game that still won't play well online! (2 out of 5)
The world of 'Sacred 2' is undeniably huge, but also undeniably bland. There are vast open spaces that you need to rush through to get from mission to mission. Why rush you ask? Because you are constantly chased by hoards of enemies that hound your every step. In fact, the bad guy population is so high that the world could not function on any sort of economic level. The 50 people who live in the town must walk through over 1000 enemies just to get to the nearest farm.
The level design does improve with some of the main mission stories. It is with these dungeons that Ascaron have decided to show their best work. Unfortunately, they are not really of a better standard that Blizzard were doing ten years ago and at times the levels feel more like a rip off, than a homage. (2 out of 5)
Perhaps 'Sacred 2' was a title that was made on a budget as the sound is another area that feel a little too unpolished for a HD game. The characters all have sound bites that arise on occasion. Although amusing at times they do repeat often. Most of the dialogue is text only, with only the core missions having recorded speech. This is probably a space saving device for the DVD 360 version. What voice acting there is can be considered a little hammy and wooden. Sound effects are passable with the clash of swords etc, but not brilliant and the music is a subtle affair that actually suits the game. (3 out of 5)
At full RRP I could never recommend 'Sacred 2' to anyone but the most hardcore of RPG players. Even at a lower price the game has so many half finished elements that perhaps it not worth it for the majority of gamers - do you really want to spend 40 hours on mediocrity? The game is a below average 2 star game, but for those people who like the genre and have an online pal then it does become fun to play. With a co-op ally you can joke at the games limitations and enjoy yourselves together. For these people the game is 3 stars. (2 out of 5)
Maker: Ascaron RRP £50
Amazon uk £11.72