During the years when I was waiting for the revered action role-playing game (RPG) Diablo III to be released, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel quenched my thirst for an hack-and-slash action RPG.
Now, Sacred 3 is finally here.
Despite its hack-and-slash nature, Sacred 2 had an open world game environment. You could explore the world, kill monsters, earn loot, discover side quests and meet merchants to trade and buy your wares.
Sacred 3 has none of the above.
It has a paper-thin linear storyline that is played through a series of missions. In each, you just finish off monsters in one area, then move to another area.
You may occasionally get to do something interesting in some of these areas, such as moving wheels or stopping enemy ships. But you always have to fight the stage boss at the end of the mission. Kill it and you finish the mission.
Four character classes - warrior, archer, paladin, lancer - are available for you to play. You can buy an additional class - assassin. But you cannot select the gender of each character class, nor change the given names of the male warrior or female paladin.
Each character class has a light and heavy attack. You can also do an execution move. Even if you are a warrior, there are magic spells that you can use, such as a storm of meteors to attack your enemies.
Combat is quite fun as a result, allowing you to vary your attacks accordingly.
Regardless of the character class you choose, the narratives remain the same. So, its humorous dialogue and witty voice-overs quickly sound tired, as you will play through the same missions.
After the missions, you will end up at the lobby, as in multiplayer games where people gather to join ongoing games. Sacred 3 is essentially built for this. It is single-player only if you opt to make it a private game. If not, anyone can join you at any time.
It is only in this lobby that you can upgrade your character class, in terms of skills and equipment.
The gold you earn during missions is for upgrading. The gold is actually refundable when you decide to downgrade. So you can always change your mind when you decide to concentrate on other skills.
Sacred 3 is like Sacred 2 only in that both are played in the same isometric viewpoint. The graphics are gorgeous with diverse and detailed environments on the ageing Xbox 360 platform on which this game was tested.
Visual and sound effects are great.
Unlike in Diablo III where structures disappear to reveal the characters and enemies, here they are hidden under structures and show up as shadows. At times, you do not even know where to attack the enemies.
Thankfully, controls are simple and easy to master, at least on the Xbox 360. So I got away with it by moving around quickly and luring the monster out to where I could see it.
Still, the gameplay gets repetitive. There is also no incentive to keep grinding and upgrading your character when there are no prospects of good loot, which is the hallmark of hack-and-slash RPGs.
There is rarely any loot or equipment you can recover from killing monsters, not even the bosses. You just get more gold. Nonetheless, I still found myself playing just to upgrade my character.
Sacred 3 is not a bad game, as it is easy to play and fun at times. But when missions and gameplay get repetitive with little customisation options and lack of loot, your enjoyment drops a few notches.
Yet, you will somehow still feel the need to keep on hacking and slashing.
$49.90 (PC), $74.90 (PS3), $74.90 (Xbox 360, version tested)
This article was published on Aug 20 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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