Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Hands-On Preview

Ascaron's hugely ambitious role-playing game is in its final stages of development. We flew to Germany for a hands-on play of the PC and Xbox 360 versions.

The original Sacred was a massive hit in its native Germany, managing to eclipse even Blizzard's Diablo in terms of sales there. The game may have had less of an impact worldwide, but its domestic success was enough to guarantee a sequel. Offering as huge a game world as the original but running completely in 3D, Sacred 2 is an even more ambitious project for the small development studio of Ascaron. We caught up with the team, which recently moved to new offices in Aachen, as it heads ever closer to the Q1 2008 release, managing to get some play time with the PC and Xbox 360 versions along the way.

The character design may be slightly generic, but the clothing and animation details certainly succeed in bringing the models to life.

The demo we saw revealed some of the different regions in the game, including the cities that Ascaron has modelled on historic European municipalities. Make no mistake: Sacred 2's gameworld is immense, with townships and settlers linked by vast expanses of jungle and desert area. Lying underneath this huge area of topsoil is an equally vast network of dungeons, which combine to practically double the size of what you can see aboveground. Naturally, building this environment has taken a considerable amount of time for the team, who have gone so far as to hand-design every last patch of grass.

Sacred was described as a Diablo clone when it was first released, and even though the genre has changed in the interim, players of Blizzard's masterpiece will recognise the influence. Although now presented in true 3D, you still view your character from an isometric perspective, and use a mixture of hand-to-hand combat, weapons, and magic to attack your foes. Most of the combat occurs in elaborate dungeons, where you have to fight off opposition in order to complete the 400 quests in the game. Travelling around the world would take hours on foot, but you're given a variety of mounts such as tigers--and even dragons--in order to cover ground quickly. Mercifully, you can also use teleportation gates to travel vast distances immediately, although the map itself is darkened out if you haven't been to a specific area before.

The daily cycles in the game will last around 45 minutes in total, with 30 minutes for the day and 15 for night, and the inhabitants of the world will also adhere to this schedule, going about their business during the day and sleeping at night. Missions will revolve around rescuing people, killing creatures, and collecting gold, and the first quest that we saw involved bringing a dog back to a young girl named Mathilda. The attention to detail in the world is pretty spectacular, with authentic-looking fur for the animals and beautiful velvet materials that cover the female warriors. While spot effects such as fire and dust are yet to be placed, the water effects, structural details, and antialiased graphics are all impressive at this stage.

While some questions remain about the game's storyline and characters, the intricately detailed world is enough of a draw at this stage.

While we'd seen the world of Sacred II a couple of months earlier, it was looking a lot more polished during our latest visit. While both versions had their fair share of glitches and crashes, they were also in a very playable state, allowing us to get to grips with the very different control systems. The PC controls are based around a point-and-click system to move your character around the world, while the artificial intelligence takes care of automatically attacking the nearest adversary. With no mouse on the Xbox 360, you move your character using the left analogue stick, and the camera is taken care of with the right stick. Weapons are assigned to the face buttons so that you can quickly attack with a variety of options, while the potions and spells are mapped to the D pad. You can also use the shoulder buttons as modifiers to offer even more slots for weapons and spells, so there really isn't any restriction in using the control pad. There's also likely to be support for a control pad in the PC version of the game, although this hasn't been confirmed as yet.

Multiplayer support differs between the PC and console versions. While the PC version will offer 16-player multiplayer online, the Xbox 360 is limited to four players because of memory issues. Having said that, each version shares the same basic code and will therefore offer exactly the same features in both single and multiplayer. There will be player versus player and player versus AI arenas to play around with, and you can play the entire multiplayer game cooperatively if you wish. Sadly, there'll be no Shadowrun-style support for cross-platform multiplayer, but two players will be able to play on a single Xbox 360 if they wish.

The cities in Sacred 2 have been modelled on authentic European settlements, thanks to consultation with real historians.

While Ascaron was very quick to answer all our questions about the gameplay, the company remains cagey when it comes to the storyline. We know that it will be set several hundred years before the events of the first game, meaning that this sequel is actually a prequel. We also know that there'll be six different playable characters and some 400 different quests, the selection of which will change depending on your moral choices as you progress. As is the fashion these days, you'll be able to choose between following a good or a bad path, and you'll face different reactions from non-playable characters as a result.

We saw plenty of promise from Sacred II on our visit to Aachen. The size and detail of the gameworld is enough to impress, while the six characters and 400 quests are enough to provide longevity. Sacred has made a significant leap into 3D for this iteration, and if Ascaron can combine its attention to detail with a compelling storyline, then the game could go on to do even bigger things than its predecessor. We'll find out when it is released in Q1 2008 on PC and Xbox 360.

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Discussion

65 comments
Eraldus
Eraldus

Speak for yourself (like all the retarded fanboys do) scotland01

KayHangman
KayHangman

It's been announced that this game isn't arriving until September 2008 on the official message boards, in case anyone is still reading up on it.

Scotland01
Scotland01

looks gr8 id hate 2 hav a ps3 right about now SUCKERS

Old_Gooseberry
Old_Gooseberry

Hope this shapes up good, I'm liking what I'm seeing so far

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

The game looks to be very promising a definent buy when it comes out but I guess time will only tell how Sacred 2 turns out to be but I hope this game turns out well through...

graavigala
graavigala

looks great, time to update computer so this works :D the first one was great and hopefully this one will too be.

Oni
Oni

The original game was great. This one sounds like it's going to be just as good. :)

spartan8579
spartan8579

I wish I played through the original Sacred when it was released. A friend at my job loves it. I am looking forward to this game, however. It will be interesting to see what they do with the quests in this game. combatskillz.com

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

So many games...(adds another to the ever growing list)...

moustachesally
moustachesally

The original sacred owned the original Diablo. It had a larger world, larger creatures, a much more immersive plot line, mounts, better graphics, and the best streamlined inventory management scheme (just press a button and it gets all the stuff and when your inventory got messy you could press a button and it would organize it for u). I mean, frankly I'm still waiting for another game to get that last one right. But you have to give the big D his props....pretty much started the genre so therefore the would be no Sacred without Diablo. Also I lost my desire to play Sacred after the first time I beat it....I must have played through Diablo at least 3X.....hmmmm Hope Sacred 2 steps the genre up a notch as I believe the first did.

tomoe-nage
tomoe-nage

I played Sacred and the expansion until their copy protection killed the game and they couldn't find a way to get it back running. So it was removed from the machine. I will wait until I see that people can actually play the game before buying it. The one thing that Diablo had over Sacred in my opinion is the random artifact generator. I spent years looking for new objects.

Kelteel
Kelteel

Okay, got my attention but I will wait and watch and see if they turn out a finished product or a beta game. You can not(!) clone DIABLO because no other game that has come out is like it. DIABLO started a whole new gaming experience that still continues today. Let's drop the sacred DIABLO clone phase for reviewing a game and same something real about the game being reviewed. I think DIABLO III if it ever comes out will have a very hard time of living up to it's predecessors. I am waiting on Sacred II and maybe I will finally play Sacred. Don't know why I haven't played it yet.

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Does any 1 know if i can get a Download try before i buy plz? Diablo 1 Or 2 Lol or Both. ;). Thanx Plz PM it to me i am tracking but i forget where i post :p. Thank You Once Again ! -xxx-

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Quoting Gogoblender :- Or any 1 Els who knows ;). I Want to Buy sacred 2 PC But I also need to know waht Diablo to buy? Diablo 2 on PC? Also i have been told i need a Quad Core PC to Run Sacred 2. Is that True? If it is i wont bether. my PC is not good & i have no £££'s to Upgrade yet & i'm not sure weather to stick with Xp or Upgrade to Vista. Vista has ALOT Of Gaming Problems :(. Thank You Every 1 ! TTFN ;).

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Im Quoting Humerguy-Basic :- People want more than hack'n'slash Diabo clomes nowadays. Even good looking 3D ones. So I think this game will struggle if it doesn't have depth in some areas. I mean 400 quests of hacking and slashing and no real reasoning and charactization is not what most gamers want now. So me and a few million gamers will sit back and wait for the moment, I think. Im quoting you on :- People want more than hack'n'slash Diabo clomes nowadays. Does that mean you have to play Diablo??

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

Nice, i havnt played the 1st 1 but with six characters and 400 quests are enough to provide longevity. I think i will get the PC version i dont own X Box :( . But im used to Analog so i do hope they make the game compatable on PC to use controler's. IMO. It's a Shame i think it would have been Better as a MMORPG with six characters and 400 quests are enough to provide longevity. As a MMORPS PC Game! Does any 1 Agree About the MMORPG six characters and 400 quests are enough to provide longevity. As a MMORPS PC Game? Im a Gaming Addict i will try anything once Lol --> System Wars X-Fire Member. System Wars Ftw ;)

AmrasTaralom
AmrasTaralom

Since I'm not willing to drop the big bucks required to upgrade my PC, any half-way decent looking RPG for the 360 has my attention. I will definitely be watching how this one fairs in the scoring and reviews.

iseeundead
iseeundead

i dunno...as soon a fix my desktop camp. im gonna start playing TQ:immortal throne....and this game looks like its clone....btw, i just finished DiabloII couple of days earlier,im playing expansion now..really great game...guys fron ascaron really need to introduce smth new to the genre if they want the game to be succesful outside germany

kingpong11
kingpong11

meh, im waiting for d3 ill probs get this coz i liked the first one but...you know

rockatanski
rockatanski

I hope it turns out like Titan Quest and also keep it's trademark open ended mammoth world gameplay. I hated Diablo. It was addictive but compared to what's come out lately in this hack n slash rpg genre, man - Diablo just doesn't even touch the surface.

teh_leeto
teh_leeto

Sacred was fun, and this looks kinda cool, but Gothic's return wasn't so great, so I'm not sure about this game...

bodylotion
bodylotion

Sacred wasn't that bad but it sure wasn't very good i hope they fixed the problems of the first one

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

People want more than hack'n'slash Diabo clomes nowadays. Even good looking 3D ones. So I think this game will struggle if it doesn't have depth in some areas. I mean 400 quests of hacking and slashing and no real reasoning and charactization is not what most gamers want now. So me and a few million gamers will sit back and wait for the moment, I think.

blackhammer77
blackhammer77

Sacred 1 was really good even though it was a diablo clone - i mean the boss monsters were MASSIVE - they took up the entire screen if not more. Yeah true, the graphics may not look good, but its not complete yet and also, there's a lot more to the world, so there will be more detail to make up for it. As for the storyline... not sure since the first one's wasnt that great

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

This game looks good. The graphics are excellent although not superb. Gamespot also mention the gameplay , plot and the world of the game to be great too. I hope this turns out to be a surprise hit.

Demon9Tom
Demon9Tom

First I've heard of this game, looks cool!

LordDarkstorn
LordDarkstorn

cool, dunno if it'll get enough publicity to be a hit tho...

veitari
veitari

Wow, how did I miss this till now? Definately something to keep an eye on. :D

QuasarZ71
QuasarZ71

Maybe it will have less bugs than the first one. I don't think it would be possible to have more.

Diernes
Diernes

I played, the original, but didnt enjoy it very much. Ended up going to Titan quest to get my "diablo" fix. Ill keep an eye on this game, but I would much rather that Iron Lore release a new Titan quest with a fantasy theme as opposed to a Ancient world one.

alice204
alice204

im just happy for an rpg title that looks good =D

boofchops
boofchops

i loved the first one, despite some major bugs in it, it was extremely fun, yet i hope they wont rush this out, followed by tonnes of patches to attempt to fix issues rather than take there time. The Diablo tribute in part 1 was awesome too ^.^ i wonder if they can do something similar in this without being chased by blizzard to the courts lol

VenDaler
VenDaler

Sacred was a cool game. Like Diablo in a large Morrowind-like world (perhaps a little less free-roaming though). The fact that this is also coming out on Xbox 360 might make it even more likely that I will get this. I definitely want it.

noumanmarwat
noumanmarwat

It looks v.good espically the vast world as it is so big it wil be very good to explore it :)

fonzy_13
fonzy_13

Looks gooood and i cant wait

VfighterX
VfighterX

"lots of quests... a big ass world. Great graphics.." aren't cons.

OReilly89
OReilly89

Fantasy RPGs existed before Oblivion, why does everyone insist on comparing them to it? Especially in this case when the gameplay is absolutely nothing like it...

can0of0cheese
can0of0cheese

lots of quests... a big ass world. Great graphics.. Sounds like Oblivion... I really hope they make it less generic and create some real gameplay.

ronnet
ronnet

Sacred 1 was great, but got boring before I could finish it mostly due to the 2D world that looked the same everywhere.But I ca't wait for this one, especially since it has 2 player co-op on a single 360! online co-op is great, but nothing beats playing with a friend on one 360.

tig1979
tig1979

Will keep an eye on this

TTDog
TTDog

Could be worth keeping an eye on.

sridanu
sridanu

Ascaran have developed some pretty good games like "The Fall" and "Darkstar1" but hopefully this will be great game.

countphatula
countphatula

I bought the first game when it came out expecting a successor to Diablo2 and found that Sacred was a game that had huge potential but was marred with so many bugs that it was unbelievable that the game was released when it came out. The crashes, the quests bugging out, very awful multiplayer (over LAN) - it was painful. I hope the second one is better.

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

Played the first, was underwhelmed...hopefully the second will be better.

IBEX333
IBEX333

Quote: "Naturally, building this environment has taken a considerable amount of time for the team, who have gone so far as to hand-design every last patch of grass." Maybe if the devs paid a little less attention to grass and a little more attention to gameplay, this game would be a "huge hit" not just in Germany... : /