A few people saw that I’ve been playing Sacred 2 on the Xbox 360 and have asked me how it is. Rather than try to answer 140 characters at a time, I figured I’d offer very early thoughts here.
Honestly, I don’t know how it is yet. I’ve only put in about 4 hours, and have only gotten to level 9 with 1 character class (the goofily over-sexed Seraphim, of course). I *think* I’m going to like it once I figure everything out; the game really throws you into the lake and expects you to learn to swim on your own. The manual isn’t much help and even though I have Tutorials set to “On” I haven’t really seen anything I’d call a tutorial.
The game is really about growing a character. You have attributes (ie, Strength, Dexterity and so on) and you have Skills (Sword Mastery, Shield Lore) and then you have Combat Arts. Combat Arts are your “active” abilities. You power them up by slotting Runes into them. For every Rune you slot into a Combat Art, the art gets stronger but the cool down time increases (substantially). Both attributes and skills (which you get points for when you level up) can be used to reduce cool downs.
So you have this balancing act of making abilities as powerful as possible without making the cooldown times so long that they become less useful, but you also don’t want to spend all your skill and attribute points on reducing cooldown times, since that cuts you off from all the other benefits of skills.
And if you slot enough runes into one “School” of Combat Art, then you can enhance a combat art in another way. Each art has two ‘upgrade’ paths and it seems like you can only choose one of the two.
And the runes that you slot into Combat Arts can also be slotted into weapons, giving them a bonus.
And that’s just a quick overview of character development. I still don’t really get it all and I’m guessing I’m growing a gimped first character.
Gameplay wise, you map both combat arts and weapons to the face buttons of the 360 controller. So that gives you 4 weapons/combat arts. Then you can map another 8 to the Face Buttons + Left Trigger and Face Buttons + Right Trigger.
For some reason, I’m finding it really hard to keep track of 12 combat arts/weapons, in spite of the fact that I can be very comfortable playing an MMO with 4 banks of 10 hotkeys full of skills, consumables and the like. I think it’s because you can’t see all 12 at once? Since they aren’t always there, you don’t memorize them like you do skills in an MMO.
Potions get mapped to the D-pad, although Up on the D-Pad is always mapped to your Deity special ability (which I haven’t really looked into yet).
Basic gameplay here is very Diablo-like. If you don’t love top-down hack & slash RPGs, don’t even bother with Sacred 2. It isn’t good enough to convert anyone, and it is a pretty pure example of the genre.
A few gripes… the combat doesn’t have a lot of “umph” and you tend to have to play with the camera pulled way out (so you can see enemies before they see you) which means the onscreen foes become pretty tiny. This doesn’t impact gameplay — you can see their health bar clearly — but it kind of distances you from the action. The game also feels a little rough at times. Sorting through inventory is more cumbersome than it should be (you can’t see the stats of both equipped gear and gear in your backpack at the same time) and I’ve had Details screens refuse to pop up, and Quests get ‘stuck’ until I quit and restarted.
But on the other hand, there’s nothing really like this on the 360. The world seems huge and the environments are pretty lush. Your character persists between games, so you can play through again and again at higher difficulty levels with the same character, leveling up and maxing out gear. There’s a Chest in towns that you can store equipment, and all you characters have access to that chest. So if you’re playing a Seraphim and a really sweet piece of Shadow Warrior gear drops, you can stash it in the chest and roll a Shadow Warrior just to put the gear to good use. If you’re a hack & slash fan, you’ll get why these features are important.
I started playing at Silver Difficulty (2 of 4) and so far the game feels really easy, and that’s my biggest beef so far, but I’m led to understand it gets a lot harder later on.
I’m still on the fence with this one. I haven’t yet played enough to give it a thumbs up *or* down.