The word "epic" sure gets thrown around a lot in video game reviews. It seems like whenever somebody is reviewing a role-playing game, suddenly it becomes an epic struggle between good and bad. And it's not just traditional role-playing games, the word "epic" is often used to describe the length of a Grand Theft Auto game or the way Halo wrapped up. Yet as long as those games are, they pale in comparison to Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, the sequel to hugely successful 2004 PC game. With hundreds of quests, huge bosses and a story that will take you dozens (if not hundreds) of hours to complete, Sacred 2 is the one game I've played this year that can most accurately be described as epic.
Released six months after the PC version, Fallen Angel attempts to mix two different adventure genres. On one hand it's like your standard Diablo II-style hack-n-slash dungeon crawler. However, what Ascaron has done is mix this with the trappings of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. You get an absolutely gigantic world to explore, all without having to worry about thousands of other people getting in your way. The game isn't completely offline; it's just not as dependent on having other players populate the world.
There's a plot here, however it's so loose that you may not even notice it at first. The story mainly involves you running errands for people and solving a lot of problems. Gamers expecting a coherent Final Fantasy-style story will no doubt be disappointed. You play one of six different characters, ranging from a Shadow Warrior, an Inquisitor, a Temple Guardian and more. I chose Seraphim, who is described as an angel-like figure who comes bearing deadly weapons. With her curvy figure (to put it mildly) and uncomfortable high heels, my warrior was ready to take on tens of thousands of bad guys and (hopefully) save the day.
The game starts you out with a traditional quest, it involves you talking to townspeople and then fighting a huge monster. However, at any time you can either choose to run through the story or sit back and take out the many, MANY side quests. In each town there are people with large question marks above their heads, you can talk to them to get quests that will earn you gold and experience once completed. There's no rush on these quests, either. You can talk to a bunch of people and take on these missions whenever it's convenient for you. All of the side quests are in white, while your main quest is denoted by orange.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of side quests early on. I spend the first ten hours of my time doing nothing more than helping parents find their kids, killing monsters that are threatening the local crops and ridding caves of pirates. However, as much fun as these quests are, it's not until you start taking on the main quest that you realize just how enormous the world is. In order to explore the rest of the massive world you are going to have to defeat bosses and advance the storyline.
The entire game takes place in Ancaria, a gigantic world full of diverse locations and plenty of out of the way areas to explore. While I don't know exactly how large Ancaria really is, I can tell you that it's significantly larger than the continent found in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Not only is it larger, but it's also a whole lot more interesting. While I loved Oblivion, I couldn't help but notice how similar everything looked. That's not the case here, in one part of the world you will be fighting through the forests, while in another part of the world you will be in the middle of a sandstorm. And that's just the beginning, eventually you'll make your way through the marshy wilderness, through volcanic tunnels and much, much more. If the game is good at anything, it's taking you to far off lands that look nothing like where you came from.
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