For those who have a definition of the genre 'RPG' there are certain immutable attributes: loot, elves (or some pointy-eared, kick-ass, pseudo-human race), a back story of betrayal and intrigue, loot, fantastic magic, mythical creatures, more loot, and the ability to customize a character just to your liking. Oh, and loot! Having spent time with Sacred 2: Fallen Angel in the past, I've been confident it would fill the need of the RPG-junkie pretty well. My recent experience assures me that it is just the right mixture swords, sorcery, breast-enhancing armor and high fantasy to be a serious contender for a very long term addiction.
First, the betrayal and intrigue...
Ancaria is a magical land powered by T-energy. The Seraphim, guardians of the world, in their infinite wisdom entrust the elves with the secrets of said T-energy then leave Ancaria and the elves to... whatever it is elves do. As they say, absolute power corrupts and all that... so that over time, the elves squabble over just exactly how to manage all of this T-energy to their best advantage. One spat leads to another, the balance of the T-energy is thrown out of whack leaving an opening primed for the other races of Ancaria to enter and attempt to wrest power from the elves. For a time, a shaky peace would prevail but all good things must come to an end. The world has been plunged into conflict over the all-important T-energy only now the Seraphim have returned to bring order to the land.
If only it were that simple!
Though it may sound as if you will pick up the standard of the Seraphim and right the wrongs of the world, nothing could be farther from the truth. You must choose your path — the Shadow or the Light — and from the no fewer than six races. Two, the virtuous Seraphim and malicious Inquisitor, must walk the paths of Light and Shadow respectively. The High Elf, Dryad, Shadow Warrior and cyborg Temple Guardian must choose. And then, you must choose your god who will bestow upon you unique abilities and open secondary quest lines...
Go! Start exploring and fight for the T-energy! You've only 22 square miles of land to cover. Seriously. Just start running; it should take no more than 6-7 hours if you never stop to fight. Be sure you get yourself a mount, be it horse, hellhound or white tiger — get a mount. Or portal. Or boat. Just don't run.
There is a reason this title has been four years in development with a team of 100 people. Environments range from the expected volcanic calderas to lush forests, with a few that simply aren't seen enough — swamps and archaeological ruins. The desert is, as expected, a barren wasteland; the reward for daring this area is oases which provide powerful unique items.
Monsters and creatures of all shapes and size dot the landscape ripe for the kill, and looting! To clear an area does not mean to do so permanently, but only to cull the initial spawn.
The monster AI adjusts its aggression levels based upon character and party size, but not by scaling the difficulty of the monster. It uniquely adjusts the group size of the attacking mob until the fight becomes even. If you are of no consequence, you will be left alone; if you are too powerful, the mob will wait until it can gather additional creatures before attacking.
With drop-in/out multiplayer and character saves as opposed to world saves, the gameplay is endless. Advancement in single player mode will not affect the story line in multi-player as the mobs adjust to both party size and level, not just size alone. Character saves that are independent of the status of the world (and quests completed) allow any two or more players (depending upon the platform) to simply pick up and go.
Explaining skill advancement can be an exercise in futility without visuals, not because it is convoluted and difficult but because the options for customization are so great. (I hope I get this right!) As you level you gain additional prowess in various attributes which then allow you to unlock skills. Over time, you can unlock additional skills related to that attribute or you may change the nature of existing skills. The example used was a lightning bolt that at level 1 was a single bolt, but at level 2 became a small lightning chain.
Skills can also be chained together to form unique combinations which are then placed in hot key positions. (Hot keys on the Xbox 360 are easily accessible using the bumpers and face buttons.) It is entirely possible and even likely to see skill chains of fire-sword-lighting.
Dungeons dot the landscape with unbelievably large boss monsters. Did I mention they are huge? If you have been craving the epic kill seek no further. The elf we were exploring with was no taller than the width of the tentacle of the Giant Squid she was fighting. Developer god-mode is a wonderful thing.
Think of your favorite RPG, then make it look better, put it on next-gen consoles and the PC; add multi-player; crank up everything you like about it to an eleven. If Sacred 2: Fallen Angel stays on track until release later this year, that is the game you'll be playing.
My children both play games so I often play them first, getting to know exactly how something may effect my sensitive and easily stimulated older child vs. my stoic and imperturbable younger.
I like games for games; for the pure enjoyment of them and believe that no game is wholly bad, though some are real stinkers.
I also have the dexterity of a camel in mittens so find playing FPSs difficult (and I also don't like the gore) and RTSs at times can stump me. I just can't seem to move quickly enough to keep up with them. Some of my favorite games are arcade games and I'll spend 3-5 years on the same 5-6 levels because I just never get any better. But, I have fun.