I have to say, without a doubt the worst aspect of this generation has so far been the utter lack of quality RPGs, both the Western kind and Japanese kind. The list of traditional RPGs available for the PlayStation 3 is slim to none, and the future doesn't hold much in store, aside from a game or two. With that said, games like Sacred 2, while not traditional, do appease a number of RPG fans, even if it's for a short time. Much like Baldur's Gate, and the Elder Scrolls games, Sacred is a hack 'n' slash Action-RPG. But unlike Baldur's Gate, and the Elder Scrolls, Sacred 2 suffers from a number of problems that were unfortunately never corrected between the preview build and this final copy.
First off, just like other Action-RPGs, you'll start the game off by creating a character. Well, actually, you don't do much creating, because the only aspect of customization you have in the creation process is the type and color of your hair, and that feature is available to only the female fighters. There are six classes of character to choose from, and none of those classes give you the option of being a male or female – so if you wish to be an Elve, you're stuck playing as a female. Likewise, if you wish to be a warrior, you're stuck playing with a male zombie (literally, the warrior is a ressurected zombie).
So the creation process is absolutely non-existent, and that's just lazy. Of course as you progress through the game, you'll be able to customize certain aesthetic aspects of your character when you acquire new armor and weaponry, but that doesn't really cut it for me, and I doubt it'll cut it for others who are used to games like Oblivion. The game's combat, obviously, works with both magic and physical attacks. Your fighter can use a variety of different items and magic spells, and they can all be mapped to either the D-pad (magic spells) or the standard face buttons (physical attacks).
But Sacred 2 is fundamentally flawed as it lacks a number of touches that are supposed to make a hack n' slash enjoyable; most notably, the combat. What I don't like about the combat system is that it feels clunky. Where as games like Champions of Norrath, and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance boasted utterly smooth combat with impeccable fluidity, this game just feels choppy and clunky. There is simply no attention to detail in how the combat plays out, and that's a shame because it makes fighting feel boring and redundant fast. Furthermore, for some reason your supporting cast of A.I. fighters will take it upon themselves stray the course and pick fights with enemies. What's worse is that they'll often piss off enough enemies that you'll be forced into the fight, as well. Why can't my damn partner just stick to me?
The game career is split into two quests, Light and Shadow. There is a co-op option, which, unfortunately for the PlayStation 3 version is limited a bit. You see, with the Xbox 360 game, you can have two people playing local, and have two others join from the online world. The PlayStation 3 version only allows two people, so if you want to have online jumpins, you can't be playing with someone else – you are limited to just you and a partner. Not that this omission bothers me terribly, because I don't find Sacred 2 to be a very good game, anyways. It falls well short in a number of important gameplay elements that Action-RPGs are required to have. Oh, and navigating the game world sucks.
An HDD install is presented to you, requiring full install of 8GB. Loading times are essentially wiped away with a full install, although we still experienced two to three second transitions here and there.
Back in the preview build, Sacred 2's biggest issue wasn't the gameplay, it was something far worse: it was the deathly slow framerate. Had the game shipped with the framerate seen in the preview build, I'd have scored this game no more than a four. But because of the delay, Ascaron was able to clean up the slideshow that this game was initially. It's still not perfect, as I still noticed dips when moving the camera around, but it's nowhere near as bad as it once was. Additionally, from afar, the visuals may look pretty, but once you take a closer look at the texture work, you quickly realize Sacred 2 is not a good looking game. In fact, I had to go back and pop in my PS2 copy of Champions of Norrath, and I'd go as far as to say that Champions looks prettier than this game. Sure, there's a pretty color palette here, a nice variety of monsters and enemy designs, but beyond that, this game is bland and below average.
Lastly, the audio is ho-hum. A pleasant ambiance plays in the background, but the voice acting may upset some. Listening to the dialogue can be pretty painful at times, and it leads me to wonder exactly who approved and/or was in charge of directing the voice actors. It also doesn't help that the story is pretty dumb, and to make it worse, the voice acting only contributes to that. Beside that, what you'll mostly here is the sound of your attacks, grunts, and a few random comments from your character. Nothing impressive. Nothing worthy of turning the volume up.
Sacred 2 has the potential to be a good game. Ultimately, it's combat, boring story, convoluted world map, and lack of character customization drags it down considerably. With just slightly more fluid gameplay, this could've been a fairly enjoyable experience that fans of the genre would like. But unfortunately, all of those flaws coupled with bland visuals make for a game you're better off passing.