>The Vitals: 8-9 hours, level 16.
I’ve always kinda enjoyed hack-and-slash RPGs; they’re relatively mindless but if the combat is satisfying and the environments are interesting it’s pretty easy to find that a few hours have mysteriously vanished, and dealing with loot is a fun, diverting meta-game in and of itself. For my money, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is the finest console iteration of the genre – that game kicked an insane amount of ass. I always felt bad that I kept playing these so-called Diablo clones without having played the actual Diablo games – I picked up the Diablo battlechest a few years ago and, well, they haven’t aged well. I mean, you can see why they’re awesome but they’re still pretty dated.
Anyway, I’ve put in a non-inconsiderable amount of time into my first Sacred 2 campaign – 8-9 hours is usually the entirety of most console games – and yet I feel like even though I can give you a pretty good idea of what you’d be in for should you decide to try it, it’s still too early for me to speak to certain elements of the experience. I have absolutely no idea where the story is going, or what it even is, for starters, and I’ve only seen a tiny part of the world map; everything I’ve seen is standard-issue midevil forestry and small towns, with some unexplained and conspicuous steampunk architecture dotting the countryside. I’d love for the environments to be a bit more varied; I’m not ruling that possibility out just yet. I’m reminded a little bit of Titan Quest, actually, in terms of the graphics. Make of that what you will.
Sacred 2 debuted on the PC last year I believe, but you’d never know it – the controls on the Xbox360 are remarkably intuitive and easy to manage. My only real problem with the interface is probably a bug – when looking through loot, there’s a “Compare” button mapped to the LB, but it doesn’t seem to actually perform that task. This isn’t really that big a deal, but I suppose it may turn into one later, when the quality of loot improves.
Combat isn’t quite as responsive as I’d like it to be – it can occaisonally feel like it’s lagging, like playing WoW on a shitty connection. I’ve been doing a lot of sidequests, so generally speaking I’m getting one or two-hit kills, but when I get mobbed and my character isn’t responding to my button presses, it can get frustrating. It’s not a deal-breaker yet, but since games like this pretty much live or die based on how much the player can ignore the repetitiveness of pressing the attack button over and over again, I can see myself getting annoyed after a while.
The biggest problem in the game, by far, is the voice acting – this game very well might feature the worst voice acting I’ve ever encountered. I’m playing as a female Seraphim (which is what the game defaulted to when I first started it), and every time she opens her mouth (which is never necessary in the first place), I want to jump into the game and punch her in the face. This sin could maybe be forgiveable if it was just her, but the townspeople and questgivers are also this same, paradoxical mix of being too wooden and too expressive. It’s so bad that I’m tempted to say you should rent the game just to hear how bad it is. Jesus Christ. Of course, you don’t really need to play this game with the sound on anyway – so if you can’t handle it, you won’t be missing anything.
I guess I’m enjoying it, overall – in this dry season, it’s just nice to be playing something – and I’m certainly going to be keeping it in the tray for the forseeable future. But it’s got problems, and I’m not sure I’ll miss it if something else comes along.