Sacred 3, Review - Games Weekly

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sacred 3, Review

Corrupted save game slots and numerous glitches, an interface so cumbersomely ported from the PC version that it required shields and swords to be mapped to the same button… but a lot of heart, a lot of varied monsters, a lot of open world and an awful lot of loot.

Action RPG Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was leagues away from being perfect but, despite numerous cantankerous issues, it still managed to win over a dedicated console fan base that has been left eager for similar but improved explorative adventuring, excessive slaughter, casual burglary, occasional confusion and a fair amount of oddball charisma. Unfortunately what they’ve got here is a reasonably
enjoyable but heavily cut-back version of Diablo III.

When it comes to the development of sequels there are two ways to go. You could simply carry on from the last game, just add a few improvements and so run the gauntlet of being lazy, or you could do what Sacred 3 does and ditch a massive amount of what made the previous entry (as well as its genre in general) so popular in the first place. The open-world that fans dug so much? It’s been replaced by levels so linear that the lack of a map isn’t ever an issue any more than it was
in Sacred Citadel.

That dizzying amount of loot? Ah, well the constant thrill of discovering new arms and armour and other such powerful accoutrements is noticeable only by its near absolute absence. Even on the rare occasion when you do find a chest that’s not just filled with gold or energy orbs, but actually contains a new weapon or other such kit, you won’t be able to fiddle with  it until after the level is complete. 

Still, at least there’s a day one patch that seems to have stamped all over the game’s bugs, while the interface is greatly streamlined and the controls are tight. Indeed, when it actually comes to playing, there are elements that justify picking up a pad and ideally doing so with someone else doing the same next to you. Four-player co-op is only available if you play online, but even with one extra character in play what was passably enjoyable for a single player becomes far more interesting.

It could even be argued that a lack of loot makes for a lack of time wasted, as there’s no pause while weapons are switched in and out and so more time can be spent doing what Sacred 3 does well fighting.

Whether you choose to play as a Safiro Warrior, a Kukuri archer, a Seraphim Paladin or ancarian Lancer you’ll be using one button to bash enemies that are equipped with shields before they’re introduced to whatever weapon you hold with a few presses of another. Weakened enemies can be thrown at each other,  while fallen but not quite dead ones can be leapt on from the other side of  the screen when an execution move is triggered.

Then there are the light and heavy combat arts to enjoy and how they, along with the Battle Prayer, can be developed or swapped for other extra attacks that can be discovered. There’s some level of customisation, but the game’s core value is certainly in the way it makes beating up an unending series of enemies feel worthwhile. Not so much because their deaths boost experience points, but mainly because combat is solid and engaging throughout and working together to defeat larger combatants does provide a reasonable amount  of gratification.

definitely more of a straight forward hack-and-slash affair than it used to be, Sacred 3 still retains the humour of previous entries that imbues the entire experience with a pleasing lightness. It could do with providing more time for players to revive each other, and it could also do with a way for someone who has been playing for a while to be able to play with a fresh chum who’s only ranked at level one without the newbie being impossibly weak, or having to resort to starting from the very beginning.

Its lack of loot and other such  RPG touches certainly makes it play much more like a side-scrolling arcade game that just happens to be viewed from on high than something that fans of Sacred 2 will be hoping for but, when it comes to beating on bad guys and taking apart entire hordes with a certain level of skill and grace, Sacred 3 actually does justify its existence and with a certain amount of panache. It just doesn’t quite justify its name.


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